The Best Seafood Spots to Try While Living on the Oregon Coast
The idyllic standard of coastal living brings to mind a list of ocean views, sailboats, maritime fashions and, of course, seafood. The Oregon Coast will not disappoint those in search of fresh, local cuisine that celebrates its proximity to the chilly Pacific. The seafood market in Oregon benefits from its Hawaiian and Alaskan neighbors, and cultural influences are highlighted in the cuisine as well. Diners can experience Native American traditions of cooking fish on cedar planks or Japanese expertise in crafting sushi. The Oregon Coast hosts some of the best seafood spots in the Pacific Northwest.
While visitors may be tempted by more familiar fare, including tuna, halibut and sole, the region has a variety of undersea creatures to offer its local foodies. Oregonians know their coast provides a bounty of delicacies: Dungeness crab, Chinook Salmon, pink shrimp, Pacific hake, cabezon, rockfish and prawns contribute significantly to the fishing economy, with millions of pounds caught and sold each year. Diners can find tempting dishes that highlight these local favorites: basil and phyllo-wrapped jumbo shrimp, pan-roasted ling cod with hedgehog mushrooms, smoked salmon bellies, horseradish-crusted steelhead with parmesan, rock cod tacos — the menus evolve and change with what’s in season. The local fishing economy is booming in Oregon. In fact, Newport, the state’s busiest fishing port, reported over 120 million pounds of seafood transported through its harbor. The marine fishing industry is a major source of jobs and revenue for Oregonians, and their seafood is a point of pride for local restaurateurs.
“Keep Portland Weird,” the city’s slogan, can apply to dining options throughout Oregon’s coastal restaurants as well. Bacon in sushi? Tomato clam dill broth? Seared jumbo scallop with a blood orange reduction? Butter clams paired with fermented cabbage? Bloody Mary oyster shooters? There are plenty of unique flavor combinations to discover throughout the region. Hawaiian culture shines along the Oregon Coast with poke bowls and island-style fresh catches featured on many menus. Restaurants with their own specific themes incorporate Oregon’s seafood into their cuisines, such as Colombian, Thai and even Viking fare. Locals need never be bored.
Clam chowder with pink shrimp or an Albacore tuna melt may feel a bit more comforting for the less daring food savant seeking a meal with an Oregonian twist. Oregon’s larger cities, like Eugene or Portland, are known for their expansive dining options. But the smaller coastal locales, such as Newport, Gold Beach, Coos Bay or Harbor, feature their own casual choices for real, oceanfront dining out, and they can be far friendlier on the wallet. These hotspots feature staple entrees like beer-battered rockfish and buttermilk popcorn pink shrimp.
Sushi for Days
Oregon is home to a growing Asian American population, so it’s no surprise to find excellent Asian-inspired seafood hot spots along the coast. In fact, some of Japan’s most popular restaurants opened their first American locations in Oregon. Sushi aficionados have exciting choices in the Portland area — just about every neighborhood boasts its own favorite sushi bar, and humblebrags abound when celebrity chefs grace the dining rooms. But smaller cities along the coast feature their own sushi hot spots. Newport hosts dozens of sushi restaurants. Menus feature creative taste fusions with items like the Double Sexy roll or the Sir Shrimp a Lot roll. Diners in Newport can also find sushi featuring Oregon favorites, including Dungeness crab and pink shrimp caught right off the shore. Sushi lovers in Florence can try raw baby scallops with seaweed paste and avocado.
Restaurant menus on the Oregon Coast highlight their sustainability initiatives. From sourcing local seafood to featuring in-season ingredients, these efforts can make a big difference on each plate’s environmental footprint. Oregon’s fishing industry relies on sustainable practices, and many companies are small, family-owned operations. Coastal seafood restaurants have created authentic partnerships with their vendors, often featuring them on menus and emphasizing their eco-friendly fishing techniques.
Diners can do their part by ordering mindfully and trying new species that might not be as overfished, such as sablefish (also known as black cod) and Oregon’s pink shrimp (or Pacific spot prawn). Oregonians can participate in sustainable fishing CSAs (community support agriculture businesses) through which small fisheries can provide fresh seafood directly to consumers. Fishing in the Pacific waters can be unpredictable, but fishermen and restaurateurs throughout Oregon’s coastal cities are proud of their product and its prominence in the food culture.