2021 Best of Eugene Staff Picks

Best Geeky Mayor

Springfield Mayor Sean VanGordon

As someone who owns Star Wars Jedi robes, I feel qualified to hand this award out. Springfield is lucky to have a mayor who not only rocks Star Trek uniforms but also wonders on Twitter about the governmental structure of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. 

A few weeks before EW’s Best Of issue went to press, VanGordon had a question-and-answer session with residents to talk about policy. I had missed the session, but asked him on Twitter the important question every mayor should ponder: which Star Trek captain is his favorite. His answer? Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) from Star Trek: The Next Generation. 

Sadly, VanGordon didn’t wear his Star Trek uniform for his photoshoot with Eugene Weekly. But he was wise enough not to come to Eugene while wearing the infamous “red” Starfleet uniform — a cursed crew member from The Original Series whoever makes it back alive from their assignment.  Henry Houston

Best Pandemic Birthday Venue

Broadway Metro 888 Willamette, 541-686-2458. BroadwayMetro.com. 

A lot of milestone celebrations had to be skipped during the pandemic. I was not going to let my partner’s 30th birthday be one of them. 

But his birthday was in August — case counts were rising as the Delta variant surged, and ICUs were so full across the state that anything more than a drive around the block seemed too risky.

Enter Broadway Metro. The theater has been offering private rentals during the much pandemic at prices from $90 to $550, depending on the number of people invited and the time of day. A chunk of the cost goes to concessions.

We rented a theater to watch Vanilla Ice’s ‘90s classic Cool As Ice with our vaccinated friends for a Bad Movie Night with all the movie magic perks. With only our group in the theater, we were free to jeer and joke and look things up on Wikipedia as we watched from the best seats in the house without disturbing other patrons by talking through a scene or giving them a deadly virus.  — Gina Scalpone

Best Breakfast Sandwich from a Gas Station

SeQuential Biofuels, 86714 McVay Hwy, Eugene 541-736-5864

When Eugene Weekly Editor Camilla Mortensen first said she was bringing in breakfast sandwiches from a gas station, I admit I was a little skeptical given the reputation of, well, gas station food. 

But I soon realized that Sequential Biofuels Hub Market Café does it differently. It’s one of those breakfast sandwiches that is satisfying, but also leaves you wanting to eat five more. Starting at $3.75 a piece, SeQuential really packs it in there with the opinion of bacon, sausage, ham and seitan (vegetarian sausage, though pronounced like the Prince of Darkness) and a few options when it comes to cheese. If you want the EW Wednesday breakfast classic, I highly recommend the seitan, cheddar and egg on a biscuit.

SeQuential’s café also has a full coffee menu and other meal options from cold sandwiches to salads, and an assortment of Sweet Life pastries for those with a sweet tooth. 

The only issue I have with SeQuential is that it isn’t close to where I live, which means I don’t have a reasonable excuse to go get a breakfast sandwich every morning. But also, maybe that’s a good thing. — Taylor Perse

Best Place for Karaoke If You Don’t Sing Karaoke

Slice Pizzeria and Bar, 325 Blair Blvd, 541-653-9937

On a Thursday evening in March I was on the hunt for a late night slice of pizza and landed on Slice in the Whiteaker. After ordering a classic pepperoni and a veggie, the sound of someone belting out “Get Down on It” by Kool and the Gang led me outside to the back patio. Everyone on the patio faced the man who had chosen this tune to belt, for what appeared to be far from the first time. An elementary-age kid caught my eye right off the bat, who would take the stage after the gentleman had brought home “Get Down on It” with an unforgettable final dance to the outtro. The young boy also appeared to be a regular, and after he walked off stage he told me with a contagious grin that he was nervous but would absolutely be back next week. As someone who has yet to sing karaoke, this young man’s commitment to the venue, and to the tune, has brought me back to Slice for more than just a slice of pizza. — Jenna Comstock

Best Place to Buy a Chainsaw 

Horner’s Saw Shop, 79132 Hwy 99, Cottage Grove. 541-942-5781

Everyone living in Oregon at some point in their life needs a chainsaw. Or a weedeater. Or a riding mower. Or maybe you just want to step back several decades into the comfort of mid 20th century Americana and find a place with a wood stove, a friendly vibe and an amazing collection of antique chainsaws hanging from the walls, along with photos of the logging industry in its prime. Horner’s sells and services Stihl, Husqvarna and BCS equipment and can show you how to use it without seriously injuring yourself or others. They also carry everything the well dressed logger needs, from dungarees, work gloves and safety chaps to those fashionably pin-striped shirts, and can even provide a toy chainsaw for any junior loggers in the household. — Bob Keefer

Best Place to Buy a Gluten-free Wedding Cake

Elegant Elephant, 120 Shelton Mcmurphey Blvd Ste. 150, 541-556-7540. Find on Facebook. 

I knew planning a wedding during a pandemic was going to be tough, even if the invited guests were limited to a dozen family members. But among the easy parts was finding a gluten-free wedding cake. 

Finding a gluten-free cake in Eugene isn’t that difficult, but if the bride has celiac disease — where even a trace of gluten can ruin a wedding night — you’ve gotta be careful. Fortunately, Elegant Elephant has dedicated gluten-free kitchens. Of course, the fun part of finding the right wedding cake is the tasting, which Elegant Elephant offers. The bakery had several cake options, easily surpassing my dessert imagination. 

When the wedding night came, the cake stood three layers tall, decorated with fresh fruit. And no one could tell that it was gluten free (when food is gluten free, you can sometimes tell). We didn’t save any of the cake in the freezer (which is apparently a tradition), but we’re looking forward to returning to Elegant Elephant for our one-year anniversary to remember how amazing their wedding cake is.  — Henry Houston

Best Tiki Lounge in Lane County

The Monkey’s Paw, 420 Main St., Springfield. Find on Facebook.

The first thing you notice walking into The Monkey’s Paw is the darkness. Once your eyes adjust, the lounge is an escape, which is what co-owner Jameson Cowman tells Eugene Weekly is what they went for when designing. Located on Springfield’s ever-changing Main Street, Monkey’s Paw has a big menu of tiki drinks that make you forget that you’re in Oregon and instead are in some tropical den. Cowman says the intent of the lounge was to have a focus on cocktails that are strong but also balance the sweetness well. 

My first time at Monkey’s Paw, I had a few Blue Hawaiians, mostly because of the name recognition with the Elvis movie of the same name. For those who are new to tiki drinks, Cowman suggests the Mai Tai or the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The latter drink is a Kettle One Peach vodka, peach extract and lime, and its name reflects the lounge’s attraction to 1950s horror vibes. 

For those looking for hip places to hang out on Springfield’s Main Street, the Monkey’s Paw is one of the places to head to. And unlike the short story, this Monkey Paw isn’t a cursed wish come true. 
Henry Houston