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Weekend Break: A guide to outdoor eating in South County

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Pelican Brewing Co.

Pelican Brewing Co. in Cannon Beach.

Many restaurants are striving to survive during the coronavirus. And many of us are staring into our cupboards and refrigerators, simply sighing. For those of us who are cautious about eating with others indoors, there are inventive and welcome alternatives. This week, we venture to South County for a survey of more ideas for dining alfresco on the coast.

Cannon Beach

If it’s pub grub and beer you’re after, you’re in luck with Public Coast Brewing Co. Seating is limited so expect lines when you order inside and hope to grab a table outside. There’s also Bill’s Tavern & Brewhouse in the heart of town. Or, follow Hemlock Street to Pelican Brewing Co. for table service on the patio or try the nearby Warren House Pub. This cozy pub has table service in front. Order inside and take your drinks and food yourself for the beer garden in back.

The Local Grill & Scoop

The Local Grill & Scoop in Cannon Beach.

Park the car and wander downtown for a dizzying selection of eateries from charming cafes and bistros like Bistro, Local Grill & Scoop or Osburn’s Ice Creamery & Island Coffee Roasters.

It may sound a little unconventional in a seaside town bursting with art galleries, but there’s something alluring about a hardware store with two glorious stories of stuff and food. At Cannon Beach Hardware & Public House on the ever-busy Hemlock Street, you can order beer along with the done-just-right ahi salad or terrific burgers and sandwiches.

Pizza a' fetta

Pizza a’ fetta in Cannon Beach.

Enjoy a decadent chocolate milkshake or load up on chocolaty gifts at Cannon Beach Chocolate Café on Spruce Street.

Next door, there’s the fishing-family owned Ecola Seafoods. Back on Hemlock, visit Tom’s Fish & Chips for seafood baskets and burgers, which you order inside, then take your items to outside tables when ready. Tucked in a courtyard maze, Seasons Café has wraps, salads and sandwiches, including an albacore tuna melt.

Seasons Café

Seasons Café in Cannon Beach.

If you’re in need of a scrumptious breakfast, head to Lazy Susan Café. For gourmet pizza, Pizza a' fetta is in the middle of town, where you order at the take-out window to eat outdoors.

It’d be hard to miss Driftwood Restaurant and Lounge, a seafood and steakhouse favorite with a big deck out front and a fire pit for cool nights. The Table, formerly The Irish Table, is now on Beaver Street, but is still a happy go-to spot for yummy comfort food. If you want the best crab cakes ever, head to Newman’s 988, up the hill on Hemlock.

Driftwood Restaurant & Lounge

Driftwood Restaurant & Lounge in Cannon Beach.

South of town on Hemlock, Sea Level Bakery + Coffee is known for its homemade pastries, breads and goodies. Order online and your items will be delivered outside (sealevelbakery.com). The Wayfarer on Pacific Drive serves tasty good-old American style food with hearty breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Lastly, down the beach at Tolvana is the seafood chain, Mo’s, where you can order inside and take your chowder or fish baskets to picnic benches overlooking Haystack Rock.

Manzanita

A Mighty Thai

A Mighty Thai in Manzanita.

On Manzanita Avenue, you’ll find the delightful A Mighty Thai, where you can enjoy noodles, curries, veggie and seafood dishes, and excellent cocktails at umbrella-shaded patio tables.

A block south, the main shopping street, Laneda Avenue, has a few delicious options to dine in the open air. If you have an inclination to have a lavender lemon drop or another fancy cocktail with crab risotto, ribeye steak, classic wedge salad or truffle oil garlic fries, visit Neah-Kah-Nie Bistro, at the top of the avenue.

Downhill, toward the beach, Left Coast Siesta serves fresh, large-portioned Mexican food. Across the street and down a block, you can get your burgers, fish tacos and other bar fare at the long-established San Dune Pub on its inviting deck with colorful patio umbrellas.

Between Manzanita and Nehalem on U.S. Highway 101, Manzanita Lighthouse Pub & Grub has 20 beers on tap and outdoor seating to indulge in beefy burgers or hand-made pizza, fresh fish, ribeye steaks and home-style soups.

San Dune Pub

San Dune Pub in Manzanita.

Nehalem

Look to the left for Wanda’s Café + Bakery for pastries, baked goods and excellent breakfasts and lunches.

In town, check out the view of the quietly meandering Nehalem River from The Pizza Garden’s deck. Here, you’ll find hand-made pizzas and pastas, salads, and vegan and gluten-free options. Also, with a few tables on the riverside, through the bar to the back, BayWay Tavern is a gem of a dive and has a limited but hearty menu, including great burgers, broasted chicken and jojos. For fish and chips, there’s Riverside Fish & Chips, a tiny food cart with nearby tables at the river’s edge.

Wheeler

Handy Creek Bakery & Café offers take-out for coffee or tea, along with breakfast, pastries and lunch items. In the heart of town, tucked on a side street beside the Old Wheeler Hotel, the Rising Star Café is a must for delicious, locally-sourced seafood, salads, soups and meat entrees served with delectable flair. Relax and enjoy in the flower-festooned gazebo. Reservations are necessary.

Hours and days of operation for restaurants can be fluid these days, so it may be best to call ahead when dining out. Here’s hoping a little change of scenery can help lift the spirits.

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