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Essential Dining Guide

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Now that New Year resolutions have ebbed away, and those pledges to eat only a single leaf of lettuce each day and nary a drop of alcohol have receded, it is time to once again jump in, face first, to the abundance of restaurants in southern Oregon.

This is not a comprehensive list—no, we don’t quite have the stomachs to fit all of those tastings into our bellies—but instead an “essential” listing of many of the great restaurants in the region. Organized by type of dining experience and color-coded for which Rogue Valley city the restaurant is in, we hope that our annual Essential Dining Guide gets you, fork and knife in hand, out the door and trying some place new, or revisiting an old favorite.

Have we missed some place whose very name makes you salivate? Is there a restaurant you want to share? Please leave a comment here.

Color-code
Ashland = Blue
Medford = Black
Grants Pass = Green
Jacksonville = Red
Talent = Purple
Applegate = Orange

 

SCHMANCY PANTS NIGHT ON THE TOWN

Amuse
Upscale French-inspired cuisine served in a modern environment. The perfect thing pre-theater or special night out place.
15 N 1st St, Ashland, 541-488-9000, amuserestaurant.com, Tue-Sun, 5:30 -9pm, $$$.

 

Alchemy Restaurant and Bar
Housed in The Winchester Restaurant, this upscale eatery in a converted Victorian house is Ashland at its classiest. And if you happen to drink a little too much of the fantastic wine selection, then book a room and stay overnight in the inn.
35 S 2nd St, Ashland, 541-488-1113, winchesterinn.com, Wed-Sun 4 pm, $$$

 

Applegate Lodge
Upscale steakhouse style cuisine served in a rustic environment. Live music on weekends. Be sure to make reservations if you’re going for dinner.
15100 Highway 238, Applegate, 541-846-6690, applegateriverlodge.com, Wed-Sun 5pm-8pm dinner hours, bar menu available later. $$$

 

Bambu Restaurant
Award-winning pan-Asian cuisine from chef Adam Ward. Small plates available. Many vegetarian items. Try the Indonesian fried noodles.
970 N Phoenix Rd #106, Medford, 541-608-7545, tigerroll.com, Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2 pm lunch, Mon-Thu 5pm-9pm dinner, Fri-Sat 5-9:30 pm dinner, $$$

 

Blondies
Succulent steaks and creative martinis grace the tables of Blondies. An intimate atmosphere enhanced with gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options make this essential Grants Pass restaurant fit anyone’s fine dining needs.
226 SW G Street, Grants Pass, 541-479-0420, blondiesbistro.com, 11 am-8 pm, Mon.-Fri., Noon-9 pm, Sat. and Sun., $$

 

Brickroom
The spacious, brick-decorated butterfly that emerged from the cocoon of Alex’s steakhouse in downtown Ashland, specializing in American fare and fine beers. Live music from local and touring bands on weekends.
35 N. Main Street, Ashland, 541-708-6030, brickroomashland.com, 4 pm-1am daily, $$

 

C Street Bistro
Located in a converted house with a pleasant patio just off the main strip in historic Jacksonville, is a hidden gem for anyone looking for a fresh, local and handmade American meal.
230 E. C St., Jacksonville, 541-261-7638, Tue-Sat 10:30am-2:30pm, Thu-Sat 5:30-8:30 pm, $$

 

Capers
Clean and comfortable comfort food made from fresh high-quality ingredients in downtown Medford. The lunch buffet may be the best in town, if you can get to it before it sells out around 1:15 pm.
35 N. Central Ave., Medford  541-499-6655, capersmedford.com, 11am-1:30pm, 5-8 pm, $$

 

Jacksonville Inn
Fresh seafood, and locally-grown meat and produce prepared and served for a fine dining experience you won’t soon forget. The champagne brunch is popular enough to require reservations. Call ahead of a Britt performance and they’ll prepare a picnic box for you to take to the show.
175 E. California St., Jacksonville, 541-899-1900, jacksonvilleinn.com, Mon-Sat 5pm-10pm, Sun 10am-2pm, 5-10 pm

 

Kobe Modern Japanese Cuisine
Fine Japanese food with succulent steaks, fresh seafood and the best selection of sake in town.
96 N Main St. Suite 101, Ashland, 541-488-8058, thaipepperashland.com/kobe 5pm-11pm, $$$

 

Lark’s
Top-notch American-inspired cuisine focused on using as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible. Private meeting space available at the Medford location.
212 E. Main St., Ashland, 541-488-5558, larksrestaurant.com, Sun-Thu 11:30am-2pm, 5-8pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2pm, 5-9pm, $$$ THRIVE
200 N. Riverside Ave., Medford, 541-774-4760, Sun-Thu 11:30am-2pm, 5-8pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2pm, 5-9pm, $$$

 

New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro
New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro may lay claim to the title of Southern Oregon’s most exclusive restaurant. The tiny bistro only rocks six tables that can require reservations up to a month in advance during peak season. But with a rotating menu of exclusively local, organic and hand-made dishes and a top-notch wine list, it’s worth the trouble.
2210 S. Pacific Highway, Talent, 541-535-2779, Wed-Sun Noon-1:30pm, 5-9pm, $$$

 

Porters
Housed in a restored train station, Porter’s is kind of classic old-school steakhouse in which one swirls brandy and make business deals. Also has a great patio and won 1859 Magazine’s award for best happy hour menu in the state. Try the martini. You deserve it.
147 N. Front St., Medford, 541-857-1910, porterstrainstation.com, 4 pm-close. $$$

 

Pomodori Ristorante
Rotating menu of fine Italian food with a NW flair. Offers gluten-free pasta, or to swap the pasta out for a succulent bed of spinach and veggies. Hosts regular special winemakers dinners.
410 E. Main St., Medford, 541-779-4162, pomodororistorante.com, $$

 

Sesame
Modern updates on classics from the breadth of Asian cuisine. Has patio dining with a view of Lithia Park and the creek.
21 Winburn Way, Ashland, 541-0119, sesameasiankitchen.com, 11:30 am-9 pm. $$

 

Smithfields
Meat, meat and more meat. No one in the Rogue Valley makes it better, with everything from housemade sausages to duck-fat fried potato-cakes, all local and organic. Served in a clean and modern environment that feels both classy and casual. Brunch served on weekends.
36 S. 2nd St., Ashland, 541-488-9948, smithfieldsashland.com, Mon-Sun 5 pm-10 pm. Sat-Sun 10am-2:30pm. $$

 

Taj Indian Cuisine
Indian food done right including many vegetarian, organic and GMO-free ingredients, and served in a classy atmosphere. Lunch buffet from 11am to 3pm every day.
31 Water St., Ashland, 541-488-5900, taj-indiancuisine.com, 11am to 3pm for lunch. 5 pm to 9 pm for dinner. $$

 

Thai Pepper
Fine Thai dining in the heart of downtown Ashland with arguably the best patio in town, right on the creek overlooking Bluebird Park. Great happy hour specials.
84 N Main St, Ashland, 541-482-8058, thaipepperashland.com, Lunch—Fri 11:30 AM—2 PM Dinner—Mon-Sat 5 PM—9 PM • Sun 5 PM —8:30 PM Bar—Open 7 Days from 5 PM to Close, $$

 

The Twisted Cork THRIVE
With over 800 bottles of wine from 115 wineries from Oregon, California and Washington, the Twisted Cork has a glass, a bottle or a flight for anybody. (Except minors, who are not allowed inside the establishment.) Their full menu-including warm cheese stuffed dates with bacon crumbles and macadamia nut crusted fish-makes any evening complete.
210 SW 6th Street, Grants Pass, 541-295.3094, thetwistedcorkgrantspass.com, 11am-last seating at 8pm, Tues.-Thurs., 11am-last seating at 9pm, Fri. and Sat. $$

 

The Vine 
The Mecca for gluten-free Italians. From pizza to pasta to pepper crusted steak with Oregonzola cream sauce, The Vine has mastered not only special dietary needs, but amazing taste for gluten-addicts as well.
1610 Allen Creek Road, Suite 111, Grants Pass, 541-479-8463, dineatthevine.com, 11am-8pm, Mon.-Thurs., 11am-9pm, Fri. and Sat. $$

 

HANGING WITH FRIENDS

4 Daughters
Massive, high-ceilinged two-story Irish pub with old style wood and iron beams and lots of comfy seating.
126 W. Main St., Medford, 541) 779-4455, 4daughtersirishpub.com, Sun-Thu 11am-11 pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2pm $$

 

Bella Union
Pizza, pasta, sandwiches and salads, and plenty of the beers that go best with them. A Jacksonville standard.
170 W California St., Jacksonville, 541-889-1770, bellau.com, Mon-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-9pm

 

The Black Sheep
A comforting, high-ceilinged English-style pub dishing 20-ounce pints and UK-delights in arguably the best location in downtown Ashland. Try the vegetarian shepherd’s pie.
51 N. Main St., Ashland, 541-482-6414, theblacksheep.com, 11:30am-1am, $$

 

Bohemian Club
Medford’s rebirth of cool, with a southern-inspired menu designed by award-winning chef Neil Clooney and an upstairs bar with an ample dance floor.
123 W. Main St., Medford, (541) 973-2145, thebohemianclubmedford.com, 4:30-10pm, $$

 

BricktownE Brewing
Medford’s neighborhood microbrewery and gastropub, with classed-up pub food that pairs perfectly with the brew.
44 S. Central, Medford 541-973-2377, bricktownebeer.com, Mon-Sat, 11:30am-10pm, Sun noon-6pm. $

 

Caldera Brewery
Gargantuan brewery responsible for Caldera’s many beers, and dishing up top-notch gastropub food. Patio has a lovely view of the mountains south of Ashland.
590 Clover Lane, Ashland, 541-482-4677, calderabrewing.com, 11am-11pm, $$

 

Caldera Tap House
Cozy tap room on the Ashland creek serving up pub food and the full array of Caldera beer. A nice place to grab a quiet drink at dinner and then to party hard with live music a little later in the evening.
31 Water St. #2, Ashland, 541-482-7468, calderabrewing.com, 2pm-late, $

 

Creekside Pizza Bistro
Downtown Ashland’s iconic local party spot, with microbrews and pizza by the slice served until late. Eat inside or on the patio overlooking Lithia Creek.
92.5 N. Main St., Ashland, 541-482-4131, creeksidepizza.com, 11 am-1 am, $.

 

Elements
Medford’s first tapas bar, specializing in small-plate contemporary Spanish food. Brunch on weekends.
101 E Main St, Medford, 541-779-0135, elementsmedford.com, Sun to Thurs: 4pm to 12am  Fri to Sat: 4pm to 1am, $$

 

G Street Bar and Grill
Grants Pass’s premiere sushi bar, burger bistro and live music venue. Whether you like great pasta dishes, or punk rock nights, it’s got something for everyone.
125 SE G St., Grants Pass, 541-956-5427, Mon-Thu 11am-9:30, Fri 11am-midnight, Sat noon-midnight, Sun 4-9 pm. $

 

Granite Tap House
A wide selection of microbrews and upscale gastropub food served until late in a beautiful location overlooking the Ashland plaza. Features live music, dancing and brunch on weekends. Makes pizza crust from a 150-year-old imported sourdough starter.
23 Main St., Ashland, 541-708-5055, grantetaphouse.com, Mon-Sat 11:30am-2am, Sun 10:30 am-1 pm, 3 pm-2 am.

 

The Haul
The new kid on the block in Grants Pass is now the cool kid. Just opened in 2014, the combination of Conner Fields Brewing and Fulcrum Dining has brought tasty cocktails, great beer and excellent food.
121 SW H Street, Grants Pass, 541-474-4991, thehaulgp.org, 11:30am-10pm, Wed., Thurs., Sun., 11:30am-11pm, Fri. and Sat. $

 

 

Oberon’s
The closest thing to a ren faire you’re likely to find in a local restaurant, with a tree and sword-decorated interior, mead on taps, and bartenders in period dress. The best bangers and mash in Ashland and regular live music.
45 N. Main St., Ashland, 541-482-2316, oberonstavern.com, Mon-Thu 4pm-2am, Fri 4 pm-2:30 am, Sat-Sun noon-2:30am. $

 

Paddy Brannan’s Irish Pub
Low-key neighborhood pub in the Irish style, with high ceilings, wood decor, plenty of beers and Irish pub classics on the menu. Try the corned beef dinner.
23 S 2nd St, Ashland, 541-488-7973, www.paddysashland.com, 4pm-late, dinner served 5pm-9pm, $

 

Pasta Piatti
New world Italian served in a modern atmosphere.
358 E Main St, Ashland, 541-488-5493, pastapiatti.com, 11:30am to 9pm, $$

Public House
Cozy neighborhood pub serving Irish-style cuisine in Ashland’s railroad district. Low-key live music.
258 A St., Ashland, (541) 488-9128, publichouseashland.com, Sun-Thu 4pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-9pm, $$

 

Portal Brewing
Friendly, neighborhood microbrewery where everyone knows your name, serving up gyros and a rotating cast of craft-beers. Great for a lazy afternoon drink with old friends, or to make new friends over a lazy afternoon drink.
100 E. Sixth St., Medford, 541-499-0804, portalbrewing.com, Mon-Sat 4-10pm, $

 

The Rocky-Tonk Saloon
Large-scale cowboy danceapalooza, with regular live music; aka, “where to get your boot-scooting boogie on.” Also houses Bacco, a bacon-themed restaurant specializing in all things pork candy.
E. Main St., Medford, 541-973-2888, facebook.com/therockytonk, 11am-2am $

 

Ruby’s
Low-key neighborhood cafe in a converted house that specializes in sandwiches and burritos. Has a great patio with a mountain view.
163 N Pioneer St., Ashland, 541-488-7717, 7am to 8 pm, $

 

Standing Stone Brewing Company
Ashland’s original gastropub and microbrewery, with a rotating cast of fine beers and high-end pub fare to go with them. Paired with your choice of sitting in an industrial-themed interior, or a beautiful back patio, Standing Stone is a local favorite.
101 Oak St., Ashland, 541-482-2448, standingstone.com, 11am-midnight $$

 

Yogurt Hut
Fun, low-key local dessert chain that has self-serve build-your-own frozen yogurt bar with everything but the kitchen sink available as toppings. Seriously. They even have bacon and mac and cheese.
140 Lithia Way, Ashland, 541-482-0111, yogurthut.net, Sun-Thu, noon-9pm, Fri-Sat noon-10pm $
1345 Center Drive, Medford, 541-858-0111, yogurthut.net, Sun-Thu, noon-9pm, Fri-Sat noon-10pm $
67 Rossanly Drive, Medford, 541-282-0111, yogurthut.net, Sun-Thu, noon-9pm, Fri-Sat noon-10pm $
162 NE Beacon Drive, Grants Pass, 541-956-0111, yogurthut.net, Sun-Thu, noon-9pm, Fri-Sat noon-10pm $

 

DON’T FEEL LIKE COOKING FOR THE FAM

Brother’s
Brunch-choice of the native Ashlander, serving upscaled takes on American sandwich and diner classics in a bright and welcoming atmosphere.
95 N. Main St., Ashland, 541-482-9671, brothersrestaurant.net, 7am-2pm, $

 

Casa Amiga
If their logo of a flaming chili pepper isn’t enough to get you excited, perhaps their ribs will. They serve their signature Mexican dishes from their brick and mortar, and they are also often found at events throughout the Valley with their taco trailer.
200 McDonald Lane, Grants Pass, 541-956-8602, casaamigagrantspass.com, 10am-8:30, Mon.-Thurs., 10am-9:30pm, Fri.-Sat., $

 

Circle J Cafe
Awesome appetizers. Awesome salads. Awesome burgers. Circle J has got it all for a hearty lunch or dinner in downtown Grants Pass.
241 SW G Street, Grants Pass, 541-479-8080, 11am-9pm, Mon.-Sat., $$

 

Greenleaf
Ashland’s original funky deli, dishing up fresh breakfasts and sandwiches of the gods at shockingly reasonable prices for downtown Ashland. Try the challah French toast.
49 N. Main St., Ashland, 541-482-2808, Mon 8am-2pm, Tue-Sun 8am-8pm, $

 

Homestate BBQ
The menu at Homestate is short and delicious: ribs, brisket, chicken, sides. All from hormone and antiobiotic free meat. It’s the taste of Texas that Southern Oregon has long hankered for. Try the vinegar sauce.
376 E. Main, Ashland, 541-690, 7621, homestatebbq.com, 11am-10pm, $$

 

Ma Mosa’s
Yes, they have mimosas. Ma Mosa’s is also committed to local producers and organic ingredients for their menu. From their marinated tofu sandwich to “the staple,” Ma Mosas’ healthy fare is sure to satisfy. 118 NW E Street, Grants Pass, 541-479-0236, mamosas.com, 8am-8pm, Tues.-Sun. $  

 

NW Pizza and Pasta
The kind of family pizza parlor using high-quality ingredients that’s all-too-rare in the by-the-slice modern world. Also makes a mean burger. Great for large groups. Features a killer open mic on Thursdays and a monthly poetry slam.
1585 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland, 541-488-2080, nwpizzapasta.com, Mon-Fri 11am-9pm, Sat-Sun 11am-10pm (stays open later on event nights)

 

Punky’s Diner and Pies
Classic ’50s style diner with sparkly booths and pies by the wazoo. All fresh, all handmade, all serenaded by the sweet sounds of classic oldies on the jukebox. Brunch, burgers or banana crème, Punky’s is the spot.
953 Medford Center, 541-494-1957, punkysdinerandpies.com, Mon-Sat 6:30am-3pm, $

 

Sauce
The rare restaurant that takes flavor as seriously as it does healthiness, bringing tasty bowls full of whole foods in flavorful Indian-inspired sauces. And even more impressive, managing to do at totally reasonable prices.
1640 Ashland St., Ashland, 541-482-5863, saucewholefoodcafe.com, 11am-8:30pm

 

TOT
Laid-back but classy Vietnamese-inspired cafe with noodle bowls, bahn mi sandwiches, and killer salads.
And if you’re a fan of spicy food, Tot will gleefully indulge your requests to turn up the heat. Try the spicy kale, if you dare.
310 Oak St. #1, Ashland, 541-488-7986, totrestaurant.com, Mon-Sat 11:30am-8 pm, $$,

 

Wild Goose Cafe
A comfortable favorite for Ashland locals, serving classed-up takes on diner classics. The attached bar has legendary karaoke nights on weekends.
2365 Ashland St., Ashland, 541-488-4103, wildgoosecafe.com, 6 am-11 pm, $

 

Wild River
The quintessential pizza and beer joint for the whole Valley. Try the Fresco with just about any beer they offer, and prepare to be happy.
595 NE E Street, Grants Pass, 541-471-7487, 10am-10pm, Sun.-Thurs., 10am-11pm, Fri. and Sat.
533 NE F Street, Grants Pass, 541-474-4456, 11am-10pm, Mon.-Thurs., 11am-11pm, Fri. and Sat., 4-9pm, Sun.
249 N Redwood Hwy, Cave Junction, 541-592-3556, 11am-9pm, Mon.-Thurs., 11am-10pm, Fri. and Sat., 12-9pm, Sun.
2684 N Pacific Hwy, Medford, 541.773.7487, 10:30am-10pm, Sun.-Thurs., 10:30am-11pm, Fri. and Sat.,
wildriverbrewing.com, $$

 

Wiley’s World
Ashland’s most affordable Italian serving organic housemade pasta and sauces including a wide variety of speciality raviolis in a casual atmosphere. Lower-cost lunch options and a new brunch menu.
1606 Ashland St, Ashland, 541-488-0285, wileysworld.com, $$

 

POWER LUNCH

Ashland Food Co-op
Before Southern Oregon was ever an organic food mecca, there was the Ashland Co-op, specializing in the good stuff. In addition to its many grocery offerings, the Co-op has a rocking deli with a hot food and salad bar sold by the pound. It’s fast, fresh and fabulous.
237 N. 1st St., Ashland, 541-482-2237, ashlandfoodcoop.com, 7 am-9 pm, $

 

Basil and Berries
The Rogue Valley Mall’s most unlikely resident, serving up fresh, local, organic sandwiches, soups and waffles, and donating a portion of every sale to charity.
1600 N. Riverside Ave., 541-500-1630, basilberries.com, 10am-9pm, $

 

Blue Stone
Comfortable coffee house/bakery setting with a view of downtown Grants Pass hurrying by. From their cheesy chicken tortilla soup to their truffle cups, sweet and savory choices abound at Blue Stone.
412 NW 6th Street, Grants Pass, 541-471-1922, bluestonebakery.com, 7am-3pm, Mon.-Fri., 8am-3pm, Sat., 9am-3pm, Sun., $

 

Blue Toba
Spices straight from Indonesia paired with organic tofu, rice and vegetables and all-natural meat combines for a truly authentic Indonesian experience.
1690 Ashland St, Ashland, 541-708-6214, bluetoba.com, 11:30am-7:30pm, Tues.-Fri., 12-8pm, Sat. $

 

Buttercloud Bakery
Comfortable and well-lit artisan bakery specializing in lunch and sweets. The best biscuit sandwiches in the valley.
310 Genessee St., Medford, 541-973-2336, buttercloudbakery.com, Mon-Sat, 7am-3pm, Sun 8am-2pm, $

 

Cocina 7
Authentic Mexican food, but it is mostly about the tacos. Located out in Williams, these tacos are worth the drive. Organic tortillas, all-natural meat and house-made hot sauce should seal the deal. 132 Blodgett Rd, Williams, 541-846-6666, cocina7.com, 11am-3pm, Mon., 11am-9pm, Tues.-Fri., $  

 

Downtown Market
A rotating menu of artisan sandwiches and salads made from fresh local ingredients in a brightly-lit and comforting high-end grocery deli setting. Killer brunch on the weekend.
231 E. Main St., Medford, (541) 973-2233 downtownmarketco.com, Mon-Fri 11am-4pm, Sat 11 am-3 pm $$

 

Infuzed Xpress
Infused Xpress is the ultimate healthy drive-thru experience. All of their unique and tasty offerings include ingredients “infuzed” with flavor-from infuzed water to infuzed meat. Their smoothies are equally flavorful.
401 NE F St, Grants Pass, 541-226-8162, infuzedrestaurant.com, 9:30am-8pm, Mon.-Fri., 10 am-7 pm, Sat. $

 

The Lunch Show
Hip, modern lunch counter serving tasty sandwiches, soups and salads made from high-quality ingredients that have garnered rave reviews everywhere from the local press to the New York Times travel section.
165 E. Main St., Ashland, 541-488-7713, thelunchshowashland.com, 11am-3pm, $

 

Martolli’s Hand-Tossed Pizza
Artisan pizza by the slice with creative topping combinations and tasty crust.
38 E. Main St., Ashland, 541-482-1913, martollis.com, Mon-Sun 11am-9pm, $   1469 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland 541-482-1913, Mon-Sun 11am-9pm, $

 

Milagro’s
Fresh-mex style burritos and tacos served in a low-key environment. Live music late nights and weekends.
1465 Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland, 541-708-0190, milagrosashland.com, 7am – 9pm, $

 

NW Raw
The answer’s in the question, or the name of the restaurant as it were. NW Raw specializes in raw foods, which are both rich in flavor and nutrients. In addition to an array of tasty salads, NW Raw has all the juice and smoothies for those looking to cleanse.
370 E. Main St., Ashland 541-708-6363, NWraw.com, 7am-7pm, $$

 

Pangea
Wraps, soups, and a healthy lunch worth sending a postcard about. Pangea is fresh, healthy and just what you want come lunchtime.
272 E. Main, Ashland, 541-552-1630, ashlandpangea.com, 11am-9:30pm, $

 

Sammich
Chicago-style hot Italian sandwiches served in a rapid-service modern cafe setting with a patio. Anyone claiming the best pastrami in Southern Oregon will have to go through Sammich first.
424 Bridge St, Ashland, 541-708-6055, sammichashland.com, Mon-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 11am-4pm, $

 

Spoons
Rapid-serve lunch counter in downtown Medford specializing in hot soups, made with love.
33 N. Central Ave., Medford, 541-220-6993, 11am-3:30pm, $

 

 

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