Saturday, July 29, 2006

Local Eateries Best When on the Road

I have one rule when traveling: Never eat in chain restaurants. This includes quick-serve and full-serve eateries.

Much to the disdain of my children in their younger years, we always eat in local establishments on the road.

Even if the restaurant doesn't contribute to the flavor or culture of the town -- a steakhouse on the waterfront, for instance -- we always eat local.

This noon, my son and I drove down to Old Town Florence to walk the eclectic collection of shops along the Siuslaw River. He picked up a copy of C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at Books N' Bears on Bay Street. I'm still looking for that perfect item.

We found great food at The Firehouse Restaurant & Lounge (1263 Bay Street, Florence, Oregon, 541.997.2800), an eatery with t-shirts, patches and fire department memorabilia decorating its walls. In a town where every other restaurant features seafood, The Firehouse offers hearty sandwiches.

They let you design a sandwich that matches your heat tolerance. Fire levels are classed as 1-, 2- or 3-alarm, which is fitting for a place called The Firehouse.

Who can resist a great blow of clam chowder on the coast? The Firehouse Restaurant gives a choice of sides, fries, garlic fries, cole slaw, salad and chowder among them.

The chowder has a distinct clam flavor, a plus when looking for great chowder. It's thick, chunky and is full of large pieces of clam.

Florence is full of wonderful restaurants. Seafood on the harbor or ribs and barbecue off the Coast Highway -- the selection seems endless.

You'll find great food when you eat local.

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