Portland may be Oregon’s largest city, but most people don’t know Salem has a thriving dining scene as well. There are local restaurants dotted across the capital city, serving every type of cuisine – from breakfast cafes to exquisite fine dining options. But some are harder to find, and have unassuming storefronts that a lot of diners pass up, even though their dishes go beyond expectations. These are just a few of the many restaurants across Salem that may not look like like much from out front, but you’ll be glad you went in.
1. Word of Mouth
People come to Salem’s Word of Mouth Neighborhood Bistro for big, hearty breakfasts, and they are not disappointed. The huge portions here will either leave you stuffed to the max, or in need of a to-go box.
They have classic breakfast fare, like pancakes with fresh Oregon blueberries, and more creative options like the Vanilla Custard Crème Brulee’ French Toast, toasted burritos (as pictured above), and plump specialty sandwiches. While it’s cold out, we recommend topping off your breakfast with a warm cup of their hot chocolate with whipped cream, truffles, and marshmallows. Take a look at their full menu here.
2. Sassy Onion
Sassy Onion is another of Salem’s premiere spots to get breakfast. They serve World Famous French Toast, made with bread that’s freshly baked in-house and hot maple syrup. Other options include fluffy buttermilk pancakes, omelettes, crepes, hash, benedict dishes, burritos and skillets.
If you’re not feeling like breakfast, there’s plenty more options to choose from on their lunch menu. By the afternoon, you can opt for sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and other specialties like chicken strips or fish & fries. Check out their menu.
3. Patty’s Off-Center Cafe
Patty’s isn’t big and fancy, but this quaint little cafe will make you feel right at home. The family-owned restaurant serves country-style breakfasts about a minute down the road from the usually-more-crowded Word Of Mouth.
They’ll fill you a warm cup of coffee in a homey mug to pair with your breakfast. Some of their offerings include pancakes, omelettes, scrambles, French toast, and breakfast burritos (just to name a few). You can see all of their options here.
4. The Kitchen on Court Street
Ask a bunch of locals where the best place to eat in Salem is, and many will tell you The Kitchen on Court Street downtown. The tavern’s open 24/7, serving comfort food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our recommendation? Waking up with one of their egg dishes, pancakes, and a Bloody Mary, and then finishing off your day with a chopped burger on a housemade bun. (But you can see all of their options here.)
5. Walery’s Premium Pizza
If you leave Walery’s hungry, you simply just weren’t trying. Established in ’86, this unassuming pizzeria has a popular all-you-can-eat pizza & salad buffet where you can dine until you just can’t take another bite.
Their warm, cheesy pizzas are made with a crispy, delicious crust, and come loaded with a variety of classic toppings. Pictured is the Hawaiian, but they also make a Taco Pizza and Vegetarian Pizza, among others. For their full menu & directions, click here.
6. Christo’s Pizzeria
We can’t talk about 5-star-worthy pizza in Salem without also mentioning Christo’s. Though unassuming, their venue serves a handful of delightful Italian specialties, along with wine and local Oregon micro-brews.
They make red and white pizzas, topped with mozzarella cheese and toppings ranging from mushrooms and artichokes to fresh sun-dried tomatoes. Their lounge also puts on fantastic live music and shows on the weekends. For more info, check out their website.
7. La Fondita
Good, authentic Mexican food isn’t easy to come by in Oregon, but La Fondita certainly knows how to do it right. This little hole-in-the-wall has all of the traditional options we know and love, including tacos, carne asada, massive burritos, and enchiladas.
If you’re 21-or-up, you can also get a drink with your food. Pair your tostadas with some tequila, margaritas, Michelada, and brews like Corona and Modelo. Check out everything they have to offer here.
8. Wild Pear
Wild Pear is a popular favorite downtown, for good reason. They use local, seasonal, and organic ingredients, and they make their own soups, dressings, sauces, and desserts from scratch every day to keep things nice and fresh.
Going beyond just the regular cheeseburger, this place serves fresh, creative dishes with several gluten free and vegetarian options. Their menu includes everything from specialty entrees to sandwiches, wraps, and pizzas. Pictured is their French Dip, served on a toasted French baguette with kettle chips. You can view their full menu online here.
Have you been to any of these restaurants? Where are some of your favorite places to eat near Salem?