Bad Ass Coffee Gone!

Bad Ass Coffee, Gone

Shocker in South Salem, the Bad Ass Coffee drive thru and cafe is out of business. I drove by it today and a sign out front says the space is vacant. Closed signs adorn the doors. Bad Ass is a national chain with franchises all over the country from Hawaii and Alaska to New Jersey and Florida. There's even a couple of stores in Asia. The coffee business seems to be taking a beating these days. They say that coffee is a luxury item and it's the first thing that people cut back on during tough economic times. I do not know what caused Bad Ass to go out of business in Salem but I did observe them try to lure customers into their store with lots of signs, mascots and coffee coupons. There was one coupon in a mailer for a free small coffee. Although I said earlier that I would never go in there, for free coffee, I might have changed my mind. I clipped the coupon and put it in my wallet, hoping that I might get a few minutes to go in there one day. I never got the chance. Another time, I ate at one of those fast food chains next door, I think it was Samurai Sams, which was pretty bad and expensive by the way, I peaked in on Bad Ass Coffee to see what it was like. Inside was a tropical Hawaiian scene with bamboo furniture and a stuffed donkey. As written earlier, I don't understand the marketing of associating coffee with a mule. Starbucks, founded in Seattle, is built around the image of a twin tailed siren from Greek mythology. Dutch Bros., has a windmill and the association with the Netherlands, a liberal European country, north of Belgium. When I think of the phrase "bad ass," I think of someone riding a Harley, tattoos, leather, bandannas, and facial hair. If you fit that stereotype, I'm guessing you don't need to buy a cup of coffee to prove your badness. I don't mean to kick a business when it's down and out, but this place really irked me because of it's bold use of the word "ass." At the time when they first opened, my son was learning to read and he was noticing the signs around town and reading them to us. It was a wonderful parenting moment for both my wife and I hearing our son see the world in a new way. It wasn't so much that a business tried to do something like this as it was the City of Salem allowed these signs to go up. Don't we have an ordinance against profanity? I guess not. So long, Bad Ass, I truly hope that the owners and employees find other work soon.

Posted 7/9/07
When I was a kid, if my grandmother ever heard me say the "A" word, she would wash my mouth out with soap. Nowadays, it's become more acceptable and in Salem they are putting the word in neon red lights for all to see. This coffeehouse on Commercial Street near Walgreen's is proud of it's ass and they are hoping that ass will bring in lots of thirsty customers. Looking at their ass closely, I can't figure out why they think it's so bad. It's not big or too hairy. Maybe their ass smells bad. It's funny because I never thought of putting an ass and coffee together. When I taste a beverage, hot or cold, I never think about asses because they're dirty and I wouldn't want one near my drink. But the owner here must think that Salem is ready for his ass and they want you to drive thru and get a tall dark one. (coffee that is) So Eat Salem welcomes this new business and their ass mascot to our city even though I will probably never go there.

Almost as quickly as I can type the words "ass mascot" does one appear on the streets of South Salem. I almost drove my car off the road, when I saw someone dressed in an ass costume waving customers into their coffeehouse. I felt sorry for this poor person who must have been sweating his ass off inside the furry costume on this hot summer day. If the owners or employees of Bad Ass Coffee read this blog, please email me when the ass will be back on the street. I would love to get a picture of it.

4340 Commercial St SE
Salem, OR 97302

La Hacienda Real West Salem

Reviewed by mama2dylan 4/24/08

475 Taggart Drive Northwest
Salem, OR (Oregon) 97304-3986
Phone: (503) 585-3855

As a resident of West Salem, and a frequent diner I am embarrassed to say it took me this long to try La Hacienda Real West Salem. I have been to the South Commercial location many times, and frankly until today I never knew they were the same restaurant or I would have gone sooner! I am a fan of the South Commercial location. And after last night's visit I can honestly say I am now a fan of the West Salem location as well. As many people know there are NO dinning choices in West Salem other than fast food. Sometimes we just don't feel like trekking across the bridge and all the way to Lancaster or out South to eat out.

As my family and I entered the restaurant I was pleasantly surprised to see all the work and detail that went into the interior design. All hand laid tiles, makes you feel almost as if you have been transported to Jaliscio for a moment.

The staff greeted us immediately with warm smiles. We arrived at about 6:30 p.m. and were seated right away at a very private comfy booth in a side enclosed room w/ 5 other booths in it. As they seated us the girl called out to let the server know there was a table seated. We were greeted right away w/ a friendly waitress toting the usual chips, salsa and bean dip with cabbage, tomatoes and carrots as a garnish. She took our drink orders and promptly returned for our dinner order.

I wanted to try something different than I normally order in a Mexican restaurant, but frankly there were so many choices I was overwhelmed so I chickened out and ordered my usual favorite chili verde. My husband ordered the shredded beef enchilada & chili relleno combo. We ordered a kids bean & cheese burrito for my son. The menu is huge w/ many choices and pages as well as pictures of about a dozen dishes on the back.

While we sipped our cold bottled beers and waited for our entrees we munched on the chips & salsa. I didn't think the chips were the best I have ever had, the salsa and bean dip were tasty however.

Dinner arrived in a timely fashion w/ the usual very hot plates you get in Mexican restaurants. The food was piping hot. My entree was very good, my only complaint was that the pork was cut into very small pieces; I prefer chunks of pork in a chili verde. The homemade tortillas made fresh on premises were just ok. They smelled of oil that was used over and over or old, not so fresh smelling. The rice & beans were very tasty.

My husband’s only complaint was that the chili relleno had no cheese inside of the pepper! A chile relleno, literally means "stuffed pepper", a Anaheim or poblano, stuffed with cheese, covered in an egg batter, and fried and covered w/ a tomato sauce. This had all of those elements minus the cheese inside, very disappointing.

With dinner had 2 beers apiece my son had strawberry lemonade. Our bill came to $43.00. On a scale of 1-10 I’d give them a 9 for ambience, fast courteous service, cleanliness, menu choices and food preparation.

Reviewed 9/27/07 by Salem Man
We all complain about restaurant choices here in Salem but the people who should be the most outraged are those who live in West Salem. When you're hungry and you cross over the Marion Street bridge into Polk County, you won't drive very far before you start looking for a u-turn to head back over the bridge. Except for fast food, the western bank of the Willamette river has very few choices for dining. When La Hacienda Real opened up recently on Taggart Dr. NW, the people of West Salem must have been dancing in the streets. La Hacienda has a very good reputation for family style Mexican Food in South Salem and the word must be getting out over in Polk County because that place is hopping with customers. On the night that my family dined, there was a fifteen minute wait for a table. No problem, the waiting room has comfortable seating and there is no where else in town to go. The restaurant is clean and decorated from top to bottom with the hacienda theme. The chips and salsa are excellente and the bean dip comes with a delicious topping of cabbage, tomatoes and carrots. Hoping to eat light, I ordered a large Albondigas which is a Mexican meatball soup for $9.95. I should have ordered the small because they brought a huge bowl of the spicy soup filled with carrots and celery. Sweat beaded up on my brow as I dug into the fiery hot bowl. The soup was a bit oily but it was so good I didn't mind. My wife ordered the Pollo Alla Crema, boneless chicken topped with mushrooms, carrots, onions and a Parmesan cheese sauce. Not my style, but there was very little on her plate when she was done. La Hacienda has a large menu with only a couple of dinners over $20. Most meals are around $10.

Chula Vista Mexican Restaurant

(Is now closed)
260 Liberty St Se
Salem, OR 97301
(503) 588-7037

Before they put in the jumbo tron billboards all over Salem, the biggest eyesore in town was the pinkish, orange Chula Vista Mexican Restaurant on Liberty St. I think the color they're going for is mango. This building sat vacant for a number of months before the current occupants expanded their State St. restaurant into this downtown building. It gets your attention. Not wanting to judge a book by its' cover, I've been wanting to see if this place is any good. The theory is, if a restaurant can be painted a gosh awful color and remain in business, the food must be exceptional. In theory. In reality it would take more than a scientific hypothesis to get my family into the doors of this restaurant. What did it take, the words, "Kids Eat Free" on a banner draped over the window of the restaurant. If you have young kids, as I do, you've probably paid thousands of dollars on meals that were discarded after one bite. So when a restaurant offers to comp my kids, I'll walk through fire to eat there. It certainly wasn't an inferno here, in fact, it was freezing inside. They tried to seat us on one side of the restaurant but it was so cold and empty we asked to be moved to the other dining room where we thought more people would provide body heat to the chilly room. Chula Vista has a huge menu of Mexican dishes including the typical fare like enchiladas, tacos and burritos. But the menu is filled with dinners like Pollo en Mole Verde, Molcajete, and Pulpo a la Diabla which is a spicy octopus dish. The kids ordered the ever popular Chicken Tenders and Fries and the Taquito plate. Yes, those "blobs" are chicken tenders. To summarize the kids meals, the fries, chicken and rice were eaten but with not a lot of excitement. I played it safe and got the Steak Tacos al Carbon. Not bad, the tacos were a bit greasy. There wasn't really anything memorable about this dinner. The atmosphere was the same. The furniture was kind of mismatched for the space, and the lighting was dark and flat. All of the servers seemed happy though. They made a nice effort to smile and engage in small talk with the customers. I overheard one table near us, tell the server that they really enjoyed their dinner as she brought out the check. I can't imagine ever eating here again unless I drive by one day and a new banner reads, "Adults Eat Free!" Then again maybe not.

Coupon, Coupon

The coupon page is now online, click here.
Looking for new customers? Lots of people in Salem are online and looking for a place to eat tonight. Why don't you you entice them into your restaurant by offering them an online coupon. The Eat Salem blog is growing and we're putting together a page of coupons for our readers. To get it started we're offering free space for any restaurant or business in town that wants to try out an online coupon. You have nothing to lose, we'll even make a coupon for you if you don't already have one. It's easy to get started. Send me an email at and we'll get you online. No purchase necessary.

Big Wait for Fast Food

People are saying that lines at the new Sonic on Lancaster are very long. The thought occurred to me, since I'm the Eat Salem guy, to eat there on opening night. I'm so glad I didn't. I wouldn't wait an hour in line for any restaurant. Maybe Sonic should start taking reservations. I'll review it when the hamburger hysteria goes away. In the meantime where should I eat tonight?

Sonic Drive in Review Click Here

Chained Up!

The big news in Salem dining this week is the grand opening of the Sonic Drive In on Lancaster. Seriously, did I just write the biggest news in Salem dining is a fast food chain on Lancaster. Anytime a burger joint opens up in town and it's not one of the usual suspects, McDonalds or Burger King, it's like seeing a light at the end of a tunnel. Compared to our usual fare, Sonic seems almost exotic. Looks like you pull into a carport and a server will roller skate up to you and take your order. It's called car hop service and its a throwback to the fifties when restaurants used this business model before drive thrus became a raging success. It probably saves the restaurant money on dining room space and cleanup, since all the mess is in your car. The last restaurant that I've seen doing car hop service was a Bob's Big Boy in SoCal years ago. I wonder how long it will take them to figure out that rollerskating in a wet parking lot has got to be a pretty miserable experience. Not to nit pick, but another potential problem I can see, is servers approaching strange vehicles at night and skating around with cash from customers. Let's hope Sonic provides adequate security and lighting for outdoor employees.
Overshadowed by Sonic's arrival, a new Carl's Jr. opened it's doors on Mission Street somewhere between the bikini barista and the adult shop. They broke out the star costume and waved in drivers headed east on 22. Some of those drivers probably saw the shiny new building and the mascot and thought that they were being led into the Sonic grand opening. Even with another Carl's just a few blocks up the road, a Dairy Queen, Jack in the Box and Burger Basket within a stone's throw, a line of customers waited patiently in the drive thru. Hopefully this Carl's will have better service than the franchise on Commercial St. and Baxter near the south Walmart. That store never gets your order correct. One time they put a wedge cut fries in my child's happy meal.
The 17th of April was also supposed to be the opening day of the Bigfoot Bar and Grill but it seems that it has been postponed again. The owners tell me that the city's plumbing inspector wasn't happy with a pipe in the kitchen and won't allow them to open. It's hard to figure, that KFC on Commercial was built in like three days and a remodel of an existing restaurant has taken since September. The good news is that next door to Bigfoot is a bar called Monaghans II and they are opening today. The head chef there is Mike from the restaurant formerly known as Mike's Steak and Seafood and he'll be making steaks and burgers in that half of the building. The original Monaghans is on Lancaster so technically this is a chain but it is a local one.

Did I Love, Love, Love?

It's been awhile since my last time eating at Love Love Teriyaki in the Sunnyslope Plaza next to Roth's. New this time, is an expanded dining room and a couple of high definition plasma screen monitors playing a rotation of photos of menu items. It seems like everywhere I go these days they have a jumbo tron playing commercials in my peripheral vision. At least here I'm not driving. The dining room was nicely done and is seamless with the original restaurant space. But on this visit I was getting it to go. The service was quick, much better than I remember from the last visit where one employee was handling take out and table service. A stream of customers came in and were helped promptly.
The take out teriyaki was a full portion for $6.95 and it came with an equally large amount of rice. I wish it was more generous with the flavor. You really need to douse it with the extra serving of sauce to enjoy the teriyaki flavor. The Beef Yakisoba, for $8.50, was even less desirable. As soon as I opened the styrofoam lid, I was disappointed by the soggy vegetables and soupy sauce. I'm glad that it didn't spill out in my car. The beef wasn't too beefy and the noodles, not to notable. Next time, I'll remember to read my own review where I commented similarly about the food.

4555 Liberty Rd S, #250

Reviewed on 9/6/07
Previous Comment
jeff said...
Love Love Teriyaki, out in the Sunnyslope shopping center. You won't be disappointed. There is one in the strip mall on the far side of the North Salem Fred Myers as well, run by relatives of the original.August 16, 2007 9:34 AM

When you walk into Love, Love Teriyaki next to Roth's on South Liberty, there is a sign next to the door that says "Help Wanted." That is an understatement, it should read "Help Desperately Needed." On a week night, one young woman at the front was taking walk in orders, answering the phone, serving food, busing tables, and bagging food to go. The gal was doing the best that one person could possibly do but she was overwhelmed at times. One of those times was when our food was ready. She brought two of the four dinners we ordered before the phone rang and a customer needed help at the counter. We sat and waited for her to finish up before we got the rest of our dinners. I don't understand why someone in the kitchen couldn't just bring out our food and serve it while it was still hot. I hope the owners don't take this as criticism of their cashier because she was put in an impossible situation and handled it very professionally. As for the food, my wife ordered the Spicy Vegetables with Chicken for $7.50. That dinner came out steaming hot and was pretty good. It was a full plate served with rice and just spicy enough that a drink nearby came in handy. I made the mistake of ordering the Teriyaki Beef plate, a mistake that I made last time I was there. The beef didn't have much flavor so I doused it with soy sauce. This made it much more edible and I did eat all of it. Next time I go back to Love, Love I will have to reread my review so I can remember what not to order and get it to go.

Las Vegas Comes to Salem Oregon

Sorry folks, Penn and Teller aren't performing at the Convention Center and there's not a new flight at the Salem Airport. A two dollar breakfast buffet isn't in our future and neither is a hotel that looks like Paris France. It's worse. Heading north on South Commercial at Kuebler, a new digital billboard will be competing for drivers attention at that busy intersection. This is not a new concept, they have them all over the country. My initial thought when seeing it, is that it looks like a high definition jumbo tron tv screen that you see at baseball games. There isn't any ads yet, just beautiful pictures of exotic animals and one screen that advertises the billboard owner, Lamar. Now there's already a couple of ads. It's a very effective ad space that grabs your attention from about 1/4 mile down the road with the image changing every few seconds. Although it must be great for advertisers this will be horrible for pedestrians and automobile traffic at that intersection. It's a major distraction for drivers at a time when they need to be paying attention to the road. There's two lanes of traffic going up Commercial and two on Kuebler that have this billboard in plane sight. In fact, last night, when I came to a stop on Commercial and I looked back at the intersection to concentrate again on the road, I could still see the brightly lit billboard changing color in my peripheral vision. At one point, the sign turned green grabbing my attention causing me to do a double take at the signal that was still red. This is a dangerous location for another distraction to Salem drivers. Think about how it's going to be when it's raining at night. Are you going to see the bright flashing billboard or the pedestrian in the yellow parka struggling to make it across the street? It's amazing that something like this could be approved by our local governments at a time when they're putting up red light cameras all over the place and trying to ban the use of cell phones because they feel that drivers aren't paying enough attention to the road. I'm sure that advertisers will find that this is an effective way to get our citizens to pay attention to their products and this will pave the way for more jumbo trons to be built throughout the city. I fault myself for not paying close enough attention to city government and assuming that our elected leaders have the interest of the safety of our citizens in mind when they make decisions. My vision of the City of Salem is a charming town, in the beautiful Willamette Valley with sweeping views of the Cascade mountains on a clear day. Where families are safe to walk, take public transit or drive without the distraction of commercials playing on jumbo trons strategically located above major intersections. Commercial Street and Lancaster will look like Las Vegas if we allow more of these digital billboards to be built. This will be a major issue for me in the upcoming election for mayor and I plan on asking the candidates how they feel about it. Even with the distractions, it's pretty clear that an ordinance outlawing moving LED billboards or jumbo trons is the appropriate action to keep our city pedestrian friendly which will also make Salem driver friendly. I know this is a food blog so I will get off my soap box now.

Eat Salem: Blog Feedback

OK folks, here's your chance to give some us feedback. How can this blog better serve Salem? We'll take into consideration any ideas you may have. Please be honest, even if you think it may hurt our feelings but keep the criticism constructive. Thanks for being loyal readers over the last year and we hope to better serve you in the future.

Off Center Cafe

Off Center is now Patty's Off Center Cafe

Reviewed by Salem Man 4/5/8
So many people have been talking about Off Center Cafe I was excited to give it a try. To start with, the name is just perfect for a place that's just a stone's throw from the Oregon State Hospital, the forensic psychiatric facility made famous by the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest starring Jack Nicholson. From the outside it looks like your run of the mill diner with a bright sign directing you into the front door. As soon as I walked in, the sense I got was that this place is dirty. A circle of flies buzzed over one of the tables at the front of the restaurant where plates with breakfast crumbs lay in wait for a server to clean. I looked to my wife and said "if you want to go let's go." Before we could do a 180, a server led us to a corner table where a hole in the wall above our heads looked into the kitchen. We quickly found out that this window was how the dirty dishes were brought back to be cleaned. Yuck. But we still sat there and found ourselves looking over the menu and ordering coffees. I ordered the Huevos Off Centros with corn tortillas for $6. It came with eggs over easy on top of fried potatoes and piled high with a terrific red salsa. It wasn't a very spicy dish but it was flavorful and fresh. After eating the entire breakfast including the slice of grapefruit, my mouth wanted more. I wasn't embarrassed, in this place, to reach across the table and try some of my son's pancakes. With fresh maple syrup, these were some of the best pancakes I've ever eaten. I think they were whole wheat and three of them were stacked high on the plate. They also make a bear pancake for younger kids where the face is formed with fresh fruit. The Huevos may not have been a strong enough dish to get me to go back to Off Center but I would tolerate the uncleanliness for that tall stack of flap jacks again. One other thing you ought to know, it's kind of a hippie hangout. The walls are covered with liberal cartoons and posters. If you voted for Richard Nixon Off Center may not be your cup of tea or coffee for that matter.

Don't forget your cash or checks when you visit. They don't take debit or credit cards.
1741 Center St. NE
Mon.-Fri.: 7 AM-11AM
Sat.-Sun.: 8 AM-2 PM

Reviewed by JCB 12/16/7

The Off Center Cafe is off-center in more ways than one. It's not the easiest to find, tucked behind a dry cleaners and Noble's Bar on the corner of 17th and Center, with a poorly marked sign. The restaurant is also on the quirky side. Old Formica tables, mismatched chairs and a smorgasbord of art, maps, newspaper articles and bumper stickers dot the walls. The food, though, is fantastic. It's a great breakfast joint (I'm not even sure if they do lunch or dinner), with awesome omelets, humongous breakfast burritos, scrambled tofu, home fries, pretty much everything under the sun.

I've been coming to the Off Center for breakfast since I was a teenager. And really, nothing has changed. The food is still great, the coffee is still strong, and honestly, the service is still spotty. Some mornings, I'll get a good server, and everything will be great. Other times, I'll have to flag someone down to get my coffee refilled, I can see my food sitting under the lights for several minutes before someone thinks to bring it to me, and it takes awhile to even get someone to take my order. It's worth it though. The food is fantastic. They usually have a Sunday Special of a smoked salmon and asparagus omelet. It's my favorite. And whatever you do--no matter what--order either the homemade bread or the orange date bread. It's so great, and much better than store bought bread.

Sasquatch In Drag And The Latest Move By The Bikini Barista

Click here for review of the BiGFOOT Bar and Grill

UPDATE 3/3/08
I was given an exclusive look inside the Bigfoot Bar and Grill today. They're putting the finishing touches together on both Bigfoot and Monaghans II, both are expected to open April 17th. The Bigfoot half looks like the inside of a mountain log cabin with big wood chairs and wood paneling. They tell me that they will be targeting the thirty something and over crowd with classic rock posters and even a Spud's McKenzie statue. They will be open until 1AM with live music and karaoke four nights a week. So far so good, this place has lots of potential.

Update...South Salem Bikini Coffee Co opens on Thursday, April 3.

South Salem's most popular attraction has either been the victim of a high school senior prank or the owners of the Bigfoot Bar and Grill are having some April fools fun. On Tuesday morning the Sasquatch statue on Commercial St. SE was wearing a blue dress. Hmmm, lets see, Bill Clinton visit Monday, blue dress incident Tuesday. It might be a coincidence but I did have a chuckle when I drove by the restaurant yesterday. The headline here "Sasquatch In Drag" but I guess it's sexist of me to assume that our Bigfoot is male. Until I hear otherwise, I'll refer to our friend out there as a she but I'll leave the headline because it's catchier. She's lucky, she gets to wear clothes on these cold spring days. Down the street, a drive up coffee stand is moving in where the baristas have to take off there clothes and put on a bikini. The now world famous Bikini Barista has opened shop right next to Bad Ass Coffee. The owners of Bikini Coffee Company must believe that skin sells in South Salem and I suspect it might. There shop over on Mission St. always has a line of customers in a section of town with lots of coffee competition.

Caesar's Garlic Wars

I should know by now, that when a restaurant's parking lot is empty during the rush hour, try somewhere else. Being in a hurry and interested in trying something new, I went ahead and made the dining mistake of the year. Caesar's Garlic Wars is an Italian restaurant that's been in business now about six years. They're located in an industrial area on Turner Rd. just south of Kuebeler. This place was completely off my radar screens until I saw it while doing business in the area. As soon as I opened the door of the restaurant, the smell of some sort of floor cleaner or brass polisher almost knocked me over. There was a shirtless man working underneath a table in the corner with a towel and a bucket full of whatever that stinky chemical was. Not the most appetizing scene but being far from any other restaurant I forged ahead. The gal at the counter took my order and apologized for the smell. She was friendly and I almost felt bad when I left the tip portion on the credit card receipt blank. I know this sounds awful and cheap, but I hate it when restaurants ask for a tip when it's an "order at the counter situation." For more, refer to this earlier post leftovers of two. So with more than three strikes against it, I made another huge mistake. I asked where the bathroom was. The gal said, "around back" and handed me the key. To my horror, the key was attached by shoelace to a toilet plunger. I was in a state of disbelief and almost walked out the door when I started to think that it was my duty as the Eat Salem blog guy to expose this place. How could a restaurant have such a disgusting and unsanitary practice in this day and age. Fortunately the bathroom was stocked with paper towels and I used them like gloves to return the plunger back to the kitchen. My appetite was almost completely gone when they called out my order. I got the Sockaroni Marinara for $8.50. It was surprisingly good. The sauce was made with spicy red and green bell peppers and it was a very large portion of pasta. Taking a closer look at the pasta itself, I noticed that it was a mix of spaghetti and linguine. It was as if they used two different boxes to save a few cents. Even though it was good, the smell of the room and the thought of the chef using the plunger, stopped me about half way through my meal. It was more than I could take and I left hungry. I've never said on this blog, that you shouldn't eat at a particular restaurant, but this place is so bad, I would strongly advise not eating here. It's places like Caesar's Garlic Wars that have lowered the bar for dining in Salem and opened the door for chain restaurants to take a foothold in our community.

4964 Turner Rd. SE
Salem, OR 97317