The season for dining al fresco is brief on the north Oregon Coast; one should take advantage of every opportunity. I know, I know, real Oregonians (and you’re right, I can’t ever be a real Oregonian since I came here from New York) know it’s possible, even desirable to eat outdoors in every weather, including heavy wind, drenching rain, fierce fog. Being made of less stern stuff (OK, you can call me a wimp), I prefer outdoor dining when it’s not raining. Or drizzle. Which happens not that much.
While there are multiple opportunities in Cannon Beach and Seaside to dine on restaurant patios — Pelican Brew, Angelina’s Pizza, the Wayfarer, the Driftwood, the U Street Pub — my current favorite al fresco dining happens to be at the various farmer’s markets. I’m loving the Seaside market right now, which happens every Wednesday.
The Seaside Farmer’s Market is growing all the time. There are over 25 vendors selling fresh produce, nut butters, fudge, roasted nuts, berries fresh and dried, fresh eggs, vodka, and wine. Coast Community Radio has a presence, as does the Seaside Museum and Historical Society, the North Coast Land Conservancy, and the Clatsop Casa Program. SNAP, the supplemental nutrition assistance program has representatives on hand. There’s live music and it’s good. The big draw for me, however, is the opportunity to enjoy a simple but excellent al fresco dinner because let’s face it, after decades of cooking dinner, I’m kind of over it.
I really appreciate excellent prepared food and the Seaside Farmer’s Market does not disappoint. Right now my favorite thing is the fish tacos made with fresh albacore tuna at the food cart called Roll and Bowl. The culinary team of Bryan Tiller, Jonathan Hoffman, and Brae Bartlett is a winner. Other folks seem equally excited by their pork belly ramen, their poke bowl, and even their grass-fed beef burger. The fish tacos, which are sublime, are a lot of fish garnished with a spicy Asian-style slaw. They come three to an order, which is ideal for one fairly hungry person who doesn’t care to share. I like to wash this down with a glass of their probiotic lemonade, which has a tart, tangy edge.
When I’m not scarfing down fish tacos, I like a cup of smoked salmon chowder made by the Smoked Salmon Chowder Co. out of Astoria. The chowder is dense and packed with fish; it’s especially good with a slab of garlic toast ($1) on the side. The chowder folks, Dan and Tina Delay, are a husband wife team, who make their chowder from a family recipe, fresh batch by fresh batch. They use their farmer’s market earnings to feed their beef cattle through the winter.
If we’re still feeling peckish, there are some good choices for dessert. You can have a sweet scone or muffin from Dough Dough Bakery, or gelato or a bag of Pilgrim’s Roasted Nutz, or naturally sweetened Crannies. I have a personal weakness for the chocolate covered toffee made by the Columbia Candies Company. Naked Winery, Buddha Kat Winery, Gresser Vineyards, and Nehalem Bay Winery are also represented. You’re a teetotaler? No worries. Pacific Roots Coffee is also here.
The Seaside Farmer’s Market is open Wednesdays until Sept. 29 from 3 til 7 p.m. From Sept. 5 through Sept. 19, the hours of operation are Wednesdays, 4 to 7 p.m. The market is located at 1120 Broadway in Seaside. Parking’s easy. The market is sponsored by the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District. They do a good job and it’s a great place once a week to duck out of cooking dinner.