CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Steelhead with abalone mushrooms, wild onions, and sea lettuce at Restaurant Beck; Local Ocean’s “Fishwives Stew”; Pelican Pub; fish and chips at Bowpicker.

Jagged bluffs, moonscape beaches, mind-blowing monoliths...sure. But the Oregon coast is not generally known for its culinary achievements. The finds are here, though—you just need to know where to look. Whether it’s a microbrew on Cape Kiwanda or fresh-off-the-boat Dungeness crab in Newport, this stretch of sand holds a superlative sequence of edible delights. We’ve got your treasure map.

The Best

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Image: Mary Saunders

Fish and Chips

Bowpicker After you taste the beer-battered albacore tuna emerging from the window of this ramshackle fishing boat, you’ll come up with plenty of excuses to visit Astoria. Owners Ron and Linda Ford have perfected the delicate art of fish and chips: a shell of crispy fried goodness cradling moist, flaky fish. 1634 Duane St, Astoria;

Clam Chowder

Norma’s Seafood & Steak The secret ingredient in Norma’s chowder? Thirty-seven years of experience. That’s right: this Seaside gem, now set in a baby-blue house, has been ladling out its award-winning potion of quahog clams since 1976. It’s no surprise they burn through 40 gallons of the perfectly creamy and impossibly flavorful concoction each day. 20 N Columbia St, Seaside;


Fishes Sushi For a region fronting an ocean replete with salmon, albacore, and crab, it’s proven quite the chore to find a memorable cut of sashimi on the coast. At Fishes, an elegant, airy sushi house on Cannon Beach’s main drag, the local bounty finally gets the skillful Japanese preparation it deserves. 240 N Hemlock St, Cannon Beach;


Cannon Beach Distillery Open for just over a year, Mike Selberg’s quaint one-man operation produces singular gins, rums, whiskeys, and even agave spirits. Selberg’s distilling mission? Everything should be delicious even when sipped neat. Duck in for a tasting in this welcoming nook and you’ll leave a believer. 255 N Hemlock Bldg, Ste C, Cannon Beach; 503-436-0301

DIY Crabbing

Jetty Fishery Perched on the edge of Nehalem Bay, the Jetty Fishery is a raucous amalgamation of seafood market, RV park, campsite, and crabbing/fishing/clamming hub. Arrive hungry, so you can watch as Dungeness crabs are hauled from the ocean and tossed into boiling vats only to land steaming on your lunch tray. 27550 Hwy 101 N, Rockaway Beach;

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The Schooner Whether you take them on the half shell with mignonette, doused with cocktail sauce in a shooter, or Rockayaki-style (roasted in the wood-fired oven and topped with bacon, spinach, garlic, and Motoyaki sauce), there is no more appropriate venue for Oregon bivalves than the Schooner. 2065 Boat
Basin Rd, Netarts;


The Pelican PubSipping a Kiwanda Cream Ale on the patio, pondering the shadowed contours of Haystack Rock in the warm, salty breeze, it’s hard to imagine a better place to land than Pelican Pub. Be sure to take the turnoff for Cape Kiwanda and snag a seat at this oceanside theater, where the waves are littered with surfers, the beach is a carnival of volleyball games, and award-winning microbrews keep showing up in front of you. 33180 Cape Kiwanda Dr, Pacific City;


Restaurant Beck With Restaurant Beck, rising star chef Justin Wills pioneers a thrilling brand of coastal fine dining: fanatically local, enthusiastically modern, and enveloped in hypnotizing views of Whale Cove’s towering cliffs and roiling white water. Splurge on a room at the attached Whale Cove Inn, and settle in to take a closer look at that wine list. 2345 US 101, Depoe Bay;

Seafood Experience

Local Ocean Seafoods This casual bayfront eatery takes sustainability seriously: from menu sourcing to fishery management, Local Ocean is a crucial part of the seafood supply chain. And the results are delicious. It’s worth the wait for a seat in the fish market–cum–dining room in downtown Newport, where the fresh catch is transformed into chile-garlic-marinated fish tacos, herbed Dungeness crab soup, and panfried Yaquina Bay oysters. 213 SE Bay Blvd, Newport;

Sea Foraging 101

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Restaurant Beck chef Justin Wills guides us to the ocean’s harvest.

Sea Beans

These salty, crunchy vegetables are great pickled or raw, and they pair well with fatty meats and fresh seafood.
FIND THEM: In tidal zones like Siletz Bay, when the tide goes out and leaves them in lush clumps.

Wild Arugula

Like arugula, but with a kiss of salt from the ocean air. The white blossoms have a nutty, floral quality that’s a great touch in salads, crudos, and sashimis.
FIND IT: In the sand toward the land side of the beach.

Sea Purslane

This citrusy, bitter, leafy vegetable is a lovely, textured addition to a salad with vinaigrette, or can amp up a seafood stew. Eat it raw rather than cooking it.
FIND IT: In the sand toward the land side of the beach.

Wild Peas

The peas themselves are best in spring, but their nutty tendrils are delicious throughout the year. Sauté them with kale or turnips, or serve them raw.
FIND THEM: In the sand, right next to the sea purslane.

For more foraging fun, check out our slide show below, featuring Wills, Departure's Gregory Gourdet, and Jacobsen Salt Co.'s Ben Jacobsen for an afternoon of edible treasures on the Oregon coast.

Hit the Road

PackA towel, to dry off after bracing plunges into the ocean whenever possible

Hot tip: Take Route 18 to the coast and stop for lunch at Red Hills Market in Dundee.

Soundtrack: Radiation City’s sunny new release, Animals in the Median, pairs beautifully with glittering Pacific views from US 101.

This article appeared in the September 2013 issue of Portland Monthly.
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