Yesterday driving back from Eugene after the marathon I made a long-planned stopover in order to have lunch at the Palace Caf in Ashland, Ore.
If you’re a regular Planes, Trains & Automobiles reader than you may recall the post I wrote last month about Ashland’s Railroad District, an area of the city close to the tourist epicenter but largely ignored by visitors.
When roaming the neighborhood in late March taking pictures and notes for the post, I observed a restaurant I hadn’t seen before: the Palace Caf. Unfortunately for me at the time, the restaurant would not be open at any point during my visit. Its hours were Monday-Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Clearly this was an establishment aimed at a local clientele.
But knowing already that I was planning to drive to and from Eugene less than two months later, I resolved to build a stop into the return portion of that trip in order to try the Palace Caf. It would provide my sore legs a chance to stretch as well as build a reward midway through the six hour drive.
Boy, am I glad I did.
While I am an omnivore, I often go weeks without eating meat, poultry or seafood. I guess another way to put it is that I’m an episodic carnivore. I don’t get cravings for meat; it’s more like now and then the mood strikes when I’m out for a meal so I go for it.
This certainly was such an episode. Maybe after a week of eating carbs, carbs, carbs, my body said to me “protein, protein, protein”.
My selection from the menu was the “Smoked Juniper Fennel Cured Pork Sandwich [with] Applewood roast pork, crusty bun, onion confit”.
One word description: outstanding.
When finished there was nothing left on the plate and if sandwiches carried names this one would have been Goliath.
“And did you save room for dessert?” Regrettably that would be “no” unless a hotel room for the obligatory nap were included.
But I was well set for the three and a half hours remaining in the drive to Chico.
The menu is extensive and while it will certainly make carnivores swoon, do not fear if you’re a vegetarian. There are plenty of appetizing choices here for you, too. The day I was there the caf also carried quite a list of specials so the chance that one couldn’t find an agreeable choice is farfetched.
Now I did say that they do not serve dinner and that is technically correct, but offered periodically are scheduled dinners. If you’re considering an Ashland visit and are flexible then you may wish to plan it around one of these dates.
Another idea if you’re planning a big event (anniversary party, birthday party, company event, etc.) is to consider having them host a private dinner for you. The website reports that the restaurant sprang from twenty years of catering experience and the owners clearly still do lots of it. That undoubtedly is why the restaurant does not schedule retail hours over the weekend.
At the very least, try to arrange your next Ashland trip as a long weekend allowing you the opportunity for a Friday or Monday lunch there.
From what I saw on a blustery Monday in spring, the Palace Caf has quickly earned a dedicated local following. Find out why on your next trip.
The Palace Caf is located at 542 A Street, half a block east of the intersection with 4th Street. Parking is a cinch.