Venti's 2009

I've only been to Venti's three times, but this cool cafe has become a favorite of mine. The bohemian-artsy-Ikea-inspired decor upstairs totally fits my own personality and style. The downstairs bar, or basement, is like a little dark dungeon styled by professional designer. At first sight I fell in love with this place. My joy was only heightened when I tasted their local beers on tap and ate their wonderful Asian/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern inspired food.

The first time I ate here was with a group of internet friends. We sat downstairs in the basement at high solid looking wood tables. The very first thing I noticed was the large array of local beers on tap and in bottles. They even had my favorite West Salem originating cider for a bit, Wandering Aengus. Local beer is a huge draw for me in a place after living outside of Oregon for a few years where local, or even good, beer was scarce.

The basement is a dark, but chic, hangout. The bartender/wait-staffers are very friendly and attentive, even when they are packed. You can even order the same food in the basement as you do in the upstairs cafe. Venti's as a whole is interesting because it is basically two different, but same, places. Upstairs has a different tap list as downstairs and the feel is a bit different ranging from the Ikea-bohemian-ness of the cafe to the dark-dungeon-ness of the basement. There is even outdoor seating where you can watch the Reed Opera House and all the passersby.

Now, the food...the food is amazing! Venti's menu seems as if it was created just for me. I love Asian, Mediterranean, and fusions of the two with more modern American cuisine. On different occasions I have had the sweet potato fries with spicy sauce, the falafel pita, and the Moroccan chicken pita. The fries were hot, tasty and addicting. The Moroccan chicken was delicious and flavorful. The falafel was good, though I remember wanting a bit more taste to them. I have heard, from my husband and father, that the Thai peanut bowl is very yummy too. The one item that I will rave on and on about though is the little Greek salad that came with the pitas I ordered. They are, hands down, the best Greek salads I have ever had, and probably the best salads. The greens are fresh and dark green. The combination of ingredients from onions to lemon zest are well balanced, and the overall flavor is like a burst of sunshine in your mouth. Need I say more? Your mouth is watering now, right?

I know every place has its problems, but I havn't found any with Venti's yet. The service is great and the selection of food, beer, and ambiance is creative. I know that when you find something so perfect a fit for your taste it is hard to want to find flaws, and I think that is where I am with Venti's.

Thank you Venti's! You've got a new regular!

Venti's Cafe
325 Court St NE
Salem, OR 97301
Ph: 503-399-8733


Salem Man said...

The Moroccan Chicken Pita is my favorite by far. I don't eat there as often as I would like.

Rebekah said...

Nice to see you there. Sorry the Pub Crawl overran your dinner :) I personally have switched to the Morrocan Beef plate. I just think the flavors go perfectly with the beef. I like the Morrocan dinner rather than the pita because of all the fun things they add to the plate!

Lise M said...

It was no problem, Rebekah! I wanted to go on the pub crawl, had I been feeling better and with less stuff going on that day. I was glad to see at least a piece of it. I still have quite a bit of exploring of Venti's menu to do. It all looks so good!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for explaining the difference between the lounge and the restaurant upstairs. I've been wanting to take some friends to the lounge for a while, since I know they're open late with lots of good local beer on tap, but since I didn't really know what to expect I thought I should probably try it myself before I drag a bunch of friends into a who-knows situation :) Good to know you can get all the upstairs food downstairs! I LOVE their sweet potato fries. Like you said, I haven't found a flaw with Venti's yet either... they're doing it right. Great place. I should eat here way more often!

Anonymous said...

Venti's is my first choice for downtown Salem dining, lunch or dinner. Perhaps, as there are more live-in-downtown residences, Venti's will do breakfast. I look forward to the day; I bet they will put a great twist on the breakfast.

Anonymous said...

We go to Venti's all the time. We love it there. And yet, I will say that it is honestly not a consistent experience. Once, my falafal balls were burnt -- all of them. Another time, the hummus was two parts chickpeas to ten parts garlic. I will not stop going there, because when it is on, it is ON. But when it isn't... well, just hope you haven't taken friends that haven't been there before, to your favorite new place.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely, I usually get one of two things there and sometimes it's really good and sometimes it tastes like a completely different dish. Still one of my favorites..

Anonymous said...

It seems most of Salem is content with outsourcing their dining and socializing venues to Portland, but Venti's shows Salem can have a restaurant/lounge that can compete with both Eugene and Portland. I hope it inspires more meals and nightlife experiences here in our little town of Salem.

Jonathan Boys said...

What many people do not know is, Venti's Downstairs has DJ Timmy spinning Mediterranean House from 10 to close every Saturday night. DJ Timmy has spun in some of the hottest clubs in PDX and San Diego. This is just another way that Venti's has chosen to focus their energy on helping to create a hip scene in Salem.

For more info go to