Last Day to Vote for Restaurant of the Year 2008

Get your vote in today, polls close at midnight. Goodbye 2008!

Vote for Best Restaurant!
Straight From New York Pizza (28) 17%
La Hacienda Real (42) 25%
Christo's Pizza (29) 17%
Wild Pear (36) 21%
The Little Cannoli Bakery (19) 11%
DaVinci's (15) 9%

Total Votes: 169

More Rejected Comments

It's that time again to clean out the bottom of the cage and get rid of some of the nastier comments that didn't make it onto the blog. This time I'll explain why each one was held back. By the way, I couldn't help myself and went back to the Word of Mouth, Neighborhood Bistro without my camera. The lunch was superb and the dining room was busy. Looks like we got another good one here in Salem. I will be back to review, I promise.

Now back to our rejects.
"The staff is unaware of ingredients in their food. I was told there was no nuts in the carrot cake but quickly found myself needing Benadryl and my throat closing, not a minor mistake."

I didn't put this one up because the commenter claimed to have been sickened by the food. Although being allergic to peanuts is a new twist on food poisoning, I treated it as the same thing. It's not that I don't believe this person got sick, I hope that the reaction subsided quickly, I just don't think that a blog is the right place to sort out complicated health issues. I'm not a doctor nor do a play one online.

"Other than the extremely rude service provided by the extremely pissy elderly waitress, I was immediately dissapointed at the tacos provided...
The food was delicious, but my friends and I refuse to go back to their establishment---mostly for the rude service. The woman is tall and ethnic, who barely speaks english and is in a continuously pissy mood. When we ordered she barely listened to us, hunched over and acted haughty as though she was doing a great service to us by waiting on us.
I suggest getting a new waitress that is faster than a two legged turtle and someone who has a somewhat happier disposition than your currently employed rabid dog.
You have lost 8 customers."

This one was held back because of the personal attack on the "pissy" waitress. I hate lousy service as much as anyone but I felt like this woman would have been easily identified by this comment. It would be helpful if this commenter were more vague about the situation.

"I personally would not darken the door step of this restaurant. Because it hires woman that run off with their kids. I do not mean a woman that has a reason for running, other than her own shameful guilt. Maybe some of you know her. Person's name redacted. She destroyed her husbands and her kids life by having an affair, and then ran off with his kids. She then shows up at Restaurant name redacted acting like some kind of victim and they help her by giving her a job. Well let me tell you something, I do not eat at an establishment that promotes terrorisim. And that is what it is when you help rip a family apart by funding the actions of an unfaithful spouse that cannnot admit her guilt. My family knows her and her husband well, and He was the most loving, caring husband and father that I have ever met after knowing him for over 20 years. I am so discusted with how woman and men just destroy their families for nothing but a thrill. It it is pathetic. And for the owners and management team at this restaurant, shame on you for the funding the destruction of young lives of these kids."

I'm so sorry for the above situation, that sounds awful. This is a food blog not a place for airing dirty laundry. And I think that's using the term "terrorisim" a little loosely.

"i think yu haters have tacos in your asses those are th best tacos in the world!!!!!!!! can i get a halleluyah!!!!!? oh yes brotha!!!"

I probably could have put this one on the blog, but i didn't.

"restaurant name redacted is garbage how could that place be considered run by a absolute jerk cookies are stale"

That one smells like a disgruntled employee.

"I'm Mike, i love ladies and survival horror games. I love ladies hard. :)
Joking... :)
I want to leave a link to my website:
It's a survival horror website containing info on Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy and many other survival horror games and the ones that aren't.
Also see my site for info about computer security...
Thanks! Bye!"


"Almost all types of bikinis, starting from Designer Bikinis, Barely String Bikini, Floss Bikini to Micro Bikini, Monokini and Skimpy Bikinis can be purchased by contacting the website As soon as you submit your bikini requirements with the site, it would instantly ensure safe delivery at your place."


"Do you eagerly desire the gorgeous Halle Berry look In “Die Another Day”? Bikini-clad Halle Berry was certainly looking sexy and hot at the beach in the James Bond flick and if you want to make yourself captivating to men like our dear Halle Berry, then go for the attractive range of bikinis offered at The bikinis available at this website are cheap and affordable, just buy them and attain the highly sought after look."

I look forward to sorting through your comments in the coming months. Thanks for reading and tell your friends about us.

Cascade Baking Company

Note to self...Bring cash when dining at Cascade Baking Company. They do not accept atm or credit cards.

I get the feeling that I eat Cascade Baking Co. products more often than I realize. It seems like every time I go out to eat, restaurants boast about having bread made by CBC. Owner Stephen Perkins can easily claim the title, "Salem's Baker" because of his dedication to using only local and natural ingredients in his baking. People love their breads and pastries, including me, but I also really like the bakery's atmosphere. The moment you open the door and smell the warm aroma of fresh baked brick oven bread, you know you're in for a treat. There's a feeling that there's not much standing in the way between the brick oven and your plate. It seems as if as soon as the bread has cooled it's ready to serve and you can't get any fresher than that. That's how I discovered the Tomato and Roasted Garlic Foccacia for $4. It was placed on top of the counter as I was licking my lips trying to decide what I was going to order for breakfast. The sight of the roasted garlic switched my appetite into early lunch mode. It was as fantastic as it looked and smelled but that wasn't much of a surprise because everything here is really good. I sat with my family and ate ate a cozy table in the corner of the restaurant and watched as a steady stream of people smile as they entered the front door of the bakery. Perkins is proving that local is better. Across the board on every category, quality, cost, atmosphere and service Cascade Baking Company is better than any bakery chain in town. By the way, it's not in any way a complaint that CBC does not accept credit cards. It's an added touch, proving that our commerce can be kept local along with our food.

Reviewed by Salem Man 11/16/07
In the morning, you may have noticed the marketing madness in Salem. With coffee companies trying to get your cash for their cups of caffeine. There's one coffee stand near the fairgrounds that looks like a Radio Flyer red wagon. Even gas stations like the Shell next to Roth's Vista, entice you with a free cup of joe when you top off your tank. So where can you go that's safe from the battles in Salem's coffee wars? Quietly operating on the last block of State Street near the carousel, is a little place called the Cascade Baking Company. The welcoming aroma of fresh baked bread, leads you inside to a relaxed atmosphere. Cascade Baking Company buys all their ingredients from local farmers and producers in Oregon and the Northwest. Even the coffee is roasted in Eugene. I discovered this place over a year ago when we all watched McMahan's furniture store burn down. It seemed like the perfect place to show off as a great mom and pop business that Salem is lacking. They bake a variety of breads, including sourdough, focaccia and whole wheat, cooked in a hand built brick oven. But for a sweet breakfast I suggest the Gooey Butter Coffee Cake. One bite followed by a sip of coffee and you will thank me for suggesting this place. This morning treat is a unique find in Salem because it's traditionally only made in St. Louis Missouri. According to legend, this pastry was made by accident when a baker used the wrong amount of ingredients while trying to bake a regular cake. It's no mistake that these sell quickly at Cascade Baking Company along with other baked options that compliment your cup of coffee. Even though it's downtown, I've never had trouble finding parking near by. Also be sure to bring cash because they don't take credit or ATM cards.

Out and About, Without Power

My family's Christmas' joy was dimmed for a couple of days as the snow and icy weather collapsed trees and snapped the power line which brings electricity to my neighborhood. We were without power from Sunday night until Tuesday early evening. The sizzling hot power line scarred the street as it was left on and untouched for over 36 hours. We drove by, wondering if we would be in the dark for Christmas day. Fortunately, the hardworking PGE crews came by and fixed the situation quickly.

It was a humbling experience being without electricity. The forced air gas heater didn't work, so Duraflames and a pile of wood kept us warm in one room of the house. With a four wheel drive we were able to head out and seek the warmth of downtown stores and restaurants. In our travels we tried the new Word of Mouth Neighborhood Bistro on 17th St. and State. The place is warm and friendly and they make an amazing Clam Chowder. I wasn't planning on doing a review but I shot some home video inside so that you can see what it looks like. On my wife's plate is the Homemade Veggie Burger. I'll be back soon for a review.

Salem restaurants open on Christmas

For info about restaurants open on December 25th this year, Click Here!

Willamette Valley Grill, open 6a-11a
Marco Polo, noon to 5p
Almost Home, 6:30a to 3p

Sorry to get this up late. I've been without power and want to thank the PGE crews out there who are working their hardest for us. And thanks to the reader who emailed me with info on the restaurants open on Xmas.

Vote For Eat Salem Restaurant of the Year 2008!

Here it is, the top restaurants in town competing for the prestigious honor of being named "Eat Salem Restaurant of the Year 2008!"

Over fifty quality Salem restaurants were nominated, but these were the top nominees. Good luck to all six restaurants. The poll will close on January 1st.

Willamette Noodle Co. Opens Another Location

~update 7/9/12 Willamette Noodle Co is now closed 

This is from an email sent by the owners of Willamette Noodle Co.

We are so pleased to announce that we will be opening a second location - DOWNTOWN - in the space formerly occupied by The Arbor Cafe.

This all happened very quickly!
(less than 45 days from "Hey - did you know the Arbor is closing?" to "Congratulations - you have KEYS!") - and we are still working out all the details so bear with us and we'll let you know when we will be open.

Willamette Noodle Website

Nominate the "Eat Salem Restaurant of the Year 2008"

It's been a tough year for restaurants in Salem, with the gas prices skyrocketing and customers penny pinching. Through it all, we were able to get some good meals and discover new places to eat in Salem. Now it's time to nominate your favorite eateries for "Eat Salem Restaurant of the Year 2008." It's easy to do. Just leave the names of all your favorite restaurants in the comment section of this post. On December 19th, we will take the most nominated restaurants from this post and allow the readers to vote for their favorite one. The restaurant with the most votes by January 1st, will be named the winner. Some time in January, we'll meet up at the winning restaurant for a meal. I'll start with my nominations.

Straight From New York Pizza...great pizza
La Hacienda...Mexican
Buster's...kid's favorite
Queen of Tarts...wife's favorite
White's...breakfast favorite
Roth's...favorite donuts

Calapooia Brewing Co. - Albany

What a great concert N and band gave us Sunday in Albany! They even sang for a minute or more for one piece. Very impressive!
After the concert we used good old Reggie-the-gps to find Calapooia Brewing Co.
N said there's no way he could've found it without Reggie's help. It's located on 140 Hill St. NE, on the far fringes of downtown, near some railroad tracks and several warehouse type buildings.
I liked the paint combination they used on the outside - forest green and burgundy, is my guess. (BUT then I do have an inherited color deficiency.) I loved the bar area and three tables crafted from rough hewn slabs of big trees. The rest was more utilitarian - made to seat patrons and for playing darts. They also have a big, semi-enclosed, heated, outdoor seating area adjacent to the dining room.
Since we arrived around 4:45, the place was nearly empty and the bartender was ready to let us try whatever we wanted from the many taps. Every stout, porter and ale I tried was rich, complex - excellent! Even the chili beer. :>) It definitely tasted of jalapenos and I can't imagine drinking more than a few ounces of it.
Their burgers and sandwiches were more lunch fare sized(with the exception of Lise's Reuben), but very good.
I would recommend it for tasting some great beers with lunch or a light dinner.
140 Hill St. NE
Albany, OR 97321
(541) 928-1931
What's YOUR favorite local beer?

Coffee Paradigm, Keizer

(Coffee Paradigm is now closed) Here's a review that came in from a reader on December 12.


Thank you so much for your blog. We have learned a lot about Salem restaurants from you and we really appreciate your advice.

I just wanted to tell you about Coffee Paradigm in Keizer in case you haven't tried it. They are at 4765 River Rd N. In my opinion they make the best espresso drinks in Salem/Keizer area. We like it so much we organize our errands so we can stop in there as often as possible.

Their espresso drinks are smooth (not bitter like most of the coffee places in Salem) and the sandwiches, soup and cookies are great. They have ceramic cups for their "for here" drinks and real plates and bowls for their sandwiches and soups instead of paper. The café is spacious, the tables are really comfortable, the décor is nice and they play pleasant background music. The place is spotlessly clean. There's a comfy couch and a copy of the paper for customers. There are also plenty of tables to hang out and study at or play cards or board games at. We go there a few times a week to have the soup and stay for coffee and play cribbage.

The owner and her staff are very friendly. After we went there about half a dozen times most of the baristas had memorized our drink orders. Also, their customers seem to be really nice. I think that people enjoy hanging out there so much that it puts them in a good mood. A lot of other customers have chatted with us while we've been there.

If you get one of their frequent buyers' cards every tenth drink is free. You can put money on your card if you like but you don't have to; you can still be in their frequent buyer's group. Once you're in their system you don't have to have the card with you to get credit for your drink, you can just tell them your name. They also have a drive through window where the service is just as good as indoors.

I am so glad that we found this place. We really like to go out for coffee; it's a nice low cost break that gets us out of the house.

I really like the atmosphere at the Beanery but their espresso drinks are so bitter that it gives me a stomach ache. Also it can be hard to find a comfortable table there. We also tried Coffee House Café because we'd heard great things about it but their drinks were bitter too (in my opinion) and it's pretty run down, though I guess some people think that it's funky and charming.

I hope you'll give Coffee Paradigm a try. I have a vested interest in it because I love going there so much. I hope that their business is really successful. They sure deserve to be.

Thanks for letting me tell you my opinion about Coffee Paradigm!


4765 River Rd. North

Star of India

Star of India is now closed. A bento place is now open in its place.

Warm and away from downtown might be what you're looking for in a restaurant this weekend with the upcoming cold snap and Christmas parade. Star of India on Lancaster satisfies both of those requests. Sizzling hot might be a better description of the food. The Chicken Tandoori came to our table at such a high temperature it crackled and hissed for almost half our meal. We ordered an assortment of dishes including Bengan Bhartha, which is an eggplant curry for $11.99, Chicken Vindaloo, $13.99, and Saag Paneer, spinich curry for $12.99. All of it was excellent and the portions were more than could be eaten by a family with two small kids. We were also impressed with the proffesional service and cleanliness of the midsized restaurant. We are big fans of Indian cuisine and will put this place at the top of our list. Unfortunately, the dining room was'nt very full on this night. It was one of those deals where they tried to seat us in the front so that the restaurant would seem busier than it actually was. Not wanting to sit by the door, we chose a table in the back. During our meal, just a couple of other tables were dining. I know the economy has slowed, so I'm trying my best to spend my dollars at local restaurants as much as possible. Finding a place like Star of India gives me hope that Salem can have quality restaurants with affordable prices. Now's the time to show support for the little guys.

2138 Lancaster Dr. NE
at the intersection of Lancaster and Sunnyview

Local Restaurant Opens Downtown

(Now closed) La Capitale Brasserie is now open at 512 State Street next to the Pita Pit. Dinner entrees range in price from $9 for a "hot dog" to $18 for a steak and fries. Looks promising. Great location.

Chain Chicken

Have you seen the new Popeye's Fried Chicken going up along Mission St. near the new Carl's Jr. Every time I turn around, it seems like more greasy chains are coagulating along our commuter arteries. If you haven't eaten there before, Popeye's is a Louisiana style fried chicken chain with your usual assortment of combos including cole slaw, biscuits, beans and mashed potatoes. I've tried not to talk much about the mega chain industry, which seems to be thriving in Salem, but this is a franchise that was talked about in the Salem wish list post. This place is pretty tempting for a chain, but if you can resist, there are some local options that are competitively priced. Roth's grocery store sells fried chicken by the piece at the deli counter and the price is cheaper than KFC. They also have a wider selection of sides and you can pick up a gallon of milk for the kids.

Caruso's Italian Cafe

Caruso's is now closed

Over the past 8 months, I've read several eatsalem comments highly recommending Caruso's Italian Cafe. N and I have been wanting to try it, but with our budget and their prices (main dishes $20 and up) we needed to save the experience for a special occasion. Our 30th anniversary seemed like the perfect opportunity. :>)
I learned from their website that Caruso's is situated at Inland Shores in Keizer. Once we turned onto Promenade Way from River Rd. N (just north of Lockhaven Dr.), we only had to drive a short distance and through a round-about until the lakeside restaurant came into view. They did an excellent job designing their building. The outside is just as elegant and inviting as the inside.
We're usually late diners and that Tuesday was no exception. We waited in the holiday decorated foyer a short time while the hostess seated another couple who arrived before us. When she returned, she led us to a table for two. Unfortunately, all the lake view tables were taken. Our water glasses were filled and menus brought out. Our charming waitress went over the specials, left for 5 or so minutes and came back to our table to ask if we had any questions about the menu. We placed our orders, along with a glass of house sangiovese and house pinot noir.
Our appetizer was the special of the day -- and the fact that on Tuesday they feature 50% off appetizers did sway our decision. While we were waiting for our appetizer to arrive, our waitress brought out sliced sourdough in a basket and drizzled some spiced olive oil in a small dish for dipping. Our appetizer featured 5 panko breaded shrimp (tender and succulent) laid on top of a thin layer of a light, creamy, pesto sauce. Delicious! One of those moments when I hope I'm not making audible noises while I eat.
I ordered a green salad with the house dressing and N ordered a cup of creamy potato and bacon soup to go with our dinners. My salad was a generous portion of young greens, with Parmesan cheese in addition to the house balsamic vinaigrette.
Just minutes after we had finished our soup and salad, our waitress brought out our dinners. My dinner was Pollo ala Tuscana, a tender, generously sized, rosemary & garlic seasoned, chicken breast, laid on top of delicately flavored Fettuccine Alfredo with an addition of delicious vegetables. N's meal was Ossobuco, a braised veal shank laid atop Risotto alla Milanese. We couldn't resist sharing a slice of their rich hazelnut torte with Marsala wine custard sauce. {sigh}
The service was just right - charming, attentive, but not overly attentive. Thank you, Tonia. I'm glad I took pictures (I apologize for the results of the low light) to remember that delectable meal.
Reservations recommended
Caruso's Italian Café & Catering
5745 Inland Shores Way N
Keizer, OR 97303
Phone: 503-393-8272
Fax: 503-856-9230