Jessica is a forensic craftologist at DIY Studio and art enthusiast. In her free time she enjoys making meals for her family, playing the ukulele, and chatting with friends about books and concocting creative experiments.

I'm of the Looney Tunes era. I understand ACME to mean generic products that fail at the most inopportune times. Unlike Wile E Coyote, I'm sheepish to the term and probably wouldn't ever order anything labeled ACME. I scoffed when I saw the sign going up, why would anyone name a cafe that? But the reputation of long time restaurateurs Jeff James (of J.James) and Cecilia Ritter James (of Wild Pear) made me curious. After hearing mixed reviews from friends and waiting for the hype of a new eatery to die down, I finally decided to give ACME a try.

I enter ACME at 5pm on a Saturday to find my friend sitting at a booth in an otherwise empty restaurant. The place fills up quickly when families and couples are led to tables in a back room, a few booths in the front, and stragglers bellied up to the bar.

The atmosphere is a modern take on a roadside cafe. Mason jar lighting hangs from the ceiling. Pallet wood accents and antique furniture offset the crisp white walls. Unlike some restaurants where they collect anything and everything with a patina that accumulates dust to adorn walls, ACME is clean and clutter free. The owners put time and energy into designing an environment that is inviting and they make good use of such a long and narrow space.

Now, what to order? The dinner menu is two sided and includes sandwiches, custom salads, soups, burgers, dinner entrees, and kids' meals. My friend immediately points out a definition that I'm unfamiliar with. At the top of the menu is "ACME: the highest point; summit; peak". It all starts making sense now. What I understood as default and inferior, actually means superior. This is irony. I'm getting a restaurant!  

I decide upon the Fish Po' Boy sandwich with beer battered rock fish, jalapeno tarter, coleslaw, and a hoagie roll. My friend orders Tomato pie with smashed potatoes and rice pilaf, and the other ordered the Hot Brown, a open-faced hot turkey sandwich with Swiss and tomatoes covered in gravy. The wait staff is friendly and attentive.
ACME Fish Po'Boy

Our food arrives promptly and everything looks tasty. I try picking up my Po' Boy but opt for using 
a fork since it is large and messy. The coleslaw is rich and creamy...quite possibly the best I've ever had. The rock fish is well seasoned and delicious. My sandwich comes with fries, which were fresh and hot. My only complaint was that it was hard to cut my sandwich with a knife since my meal was presented in a basket with patterned parchment. The coleslaw seeps into the parchment making cutting unappetizing. While the basket is cute and reflects the roadside theme, for dinner I would prefer my meal to be plated.  My friends are pleased with their selections. The Tomato Pie seems more like spinach pie, however, my friend says the flavor is good and she really likes her smashed potatoes. The Hot Brown is also enjoyed and the portion is large enough to save half for later. 

ACME, Salem OregonLooking back on the experience I feel that the food is well crafted, and I will surely visit again. ACME has taken on a whole new meaning. Roadside food that is handcrafted and made from scratch is worth the ACME price, however I wonder if the kitschy basket presentation communicates that quality? Nonetheless I'm glad I took the time to taste for myself, and I encourage you to check it out the next time you need a break from chasing the elusive road runner. "Meep, meep."

Tomato Pie
You can visit ACME Cafe in person:

110 Hansen Ave. S, Salem Oregon, 97302
Tue - Thu11:00 am - 9:00 pmFri11:00 am - 10:00 pmSat8:30 am - 10:00 pmSun8:30 am - 2:30 pm

and online on facebook

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