Where in Eugene can you find coffee, pastries, Pad Thai, noodle bowls, double cheeseburgers, Mediterranean burritos, New York-style pizza, bagel sandwiches, Hawaiian rice, carrot smoothies, Beijing dinners, apple strudel and sushi all within a block of each other?
Your answer is right off campus on East 13th Avenue, between Kincaid and Alder Streets.
Located directly adjacent to the University of Oregon, this is where over a dozen small businesses serve a hungry and thirsty population of campus administrators, staff, faculty, a large city hospital, the wider community of Eugene and approximately 24,000 Oregon students.
Espresso Roma Cafe
One of the best coffee spots in Eugene, Roma sits right next door to the Starbucks — but offers superior coffee and better food.
Manager Miguel Cortez believes the coffee shop he and his wife run, successfully in business for over 22 years, owes its success to a simple formula.
“We’ve made a lot of money by selling good coffee and unique pastries,” Cortez said.
Cortez’s wife, Maria, makes the pastries fresh every day at 4:20 a.m.
Some of their most popular items include croissant sandwiches, huge berry scones and succulent strudel.
“We have people drive in from the city just to pick out their favorite pastry,” Cortez said.
Caspian Mediterranean Cafe
Upon entering the door to the campus restaurant Caspian, you might notice the huge iron spoon on the wall to your left. It’s nailed above a fish tank full of black and grey fish. The fish aren’t on the menu, but almost everything else you could ask for is there.
“We have good food that ranges cross-culturally,” said Tamson Ross, a server and cashier at Caspian.
The restaurant offers a combination of Mediterranean food, like hummus dip and rice dishes, as well as burritos, quesadillas, Philly cheese steaks, and scrambled eggs and hash browns for breakfast
“It’s a good place to come and hang with your friends and eat anything from breakfast to gyros,” Ross said. “The double cheeseburger is our most popular item.”
Sy’s New York Pizza
Founded in 1978 and offering 18-inch slices with authentic New York-style crust and over a dozen toppings, this is New York pizza in the heart of Oregon.
Jessamy Fabricant, a cook at Sy’s, has been working there for three years. She believes Sy’s has really become an institution for the UO and city.
“It’s a Eugene staple, a classic place,” Fabricant said. “We haven’t gotten a lot of Olympic Trials people this week, but we’ve still been busy.”
Open until 12 a.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on the weekends, Sy’s is well-adapted to serve college students and any true pizza aficionado.
Besides pizza, the garlic knots are one of the most popular items — and for good reason. Fresh-baked and well-seasoned, they’re a fine replacement to a sugary dessert.
Right next door to Sy’s, this Thai restaurant is a smaller, cheaper offshoot of the larger Sweet Basil in downtown Eugene.
“It’s a quick, simple dining experience,” Levi Babcock, an assistant manager, said. “It doesn’t take more than 10 minutes on a good day to get your food.”
The menu has curry, rice dishes and fresh wraps — with vegetarian and vegan alternatives to meat available. The spot is a popular choice for lunch and dinner.
“We get a lot of college students and people from the hospital,” he said. “Local business people come here and quite a few families.”
According to Levi, the go-to meal is the Pad Thai.
“It’s our most popular dish,” he said. “It’s definitely the most-ordered meal on the menu.”
He isn’t picky though.
“Personally, I love everything on the menu,” he said. “You can’t go wrong.”