Newport, Ore.: Otis Cafe a Delightful Slice of Americana
Road Journals Blog—Whenever I arrive someplace new I immediately start asking for food recommendations. In Newport I kept hearing about a place called the Otis Cafe. Perfect, I thought, I’ll pop in between a visit to the aquarium and a sunset walk on the beach. But it turned out the cafe was a 50-minute drive from town.
There’s no lack of great dining in Newport, but the Otis Cafe stands out not just for its food, but its atmosphere. The place exudes nostalgia—it's the kind of restaurant that existed long before smartphones or even microwave ovens, with a long diner counter, mugs for regulars and the kind of no-nonsense service that keeps your coffee piping hot.
The food is old-timey mom-and-pop fare in large portions. Think pork chops and applesauce, burgers and sausage and gravy. The café is famous for its thick slices of homemade bread and the German potatoes—a giant pile of hashbrowns topped with green onions and melted white cheddar cheese.
Otis Cafe isn’t unknown, and was even reviewed a couple decades ago in The New York Times, but the place was new to me when I finally made it on my return trip to Portland. A great neon sign showed me the way. Once inside I grabbed the only seat in the house: a stool at the bar.
The weekday lunchtime bustle inspired me to linger. I shot a few photos of the fresh racks of molasses bread in the kitchen and counted the coffee cups hanging around the doorframe as I ate a creamy tuna melt.
When I finished, I left with one regret: Next time, I’ll save room for a slice of pie and get a loaf of molasses bread to go, so I can share a little slice of Americana with my friends at home.
Lucy Burningham wrote about Newport, Ore., for the July/August 2011 issue of VIA.
This blog post was first published in August 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.