I’m infatuated with the Pacific Northwest. I loved my trip to Seattle last January, aside from the whole trip to the urgent care, and can’t wait to go back to explore. Portland is always fun to visit for a short amount of time. A road trip I took through the Olympic Peninsula sticks out in my mind for some of the most beautiful terrains in the United States. On that same trip, I drove through the town of Astoria, Oregon. Best known for the iconic 1985 film The Goonies and the whole Lewis and Clark thing, Astoria is an example of the coastal Pacific Northwest: gloomy, woodsy, and quaint.
After receiving an invitation to my friends' summer party at their home in Astoria, Oregon, I made reservations for The Commodore Hotel, a restored historic hotel in downtown Astoria. These were the most affordable accommodations available at $89 a night for one of the cabin rooms. The room here was small but comfortable and clean. The cabin rooms do not have their own bathroom or shower, so we had to use a shared bathroom and shower down the hall. Because of this, they provide you with some of the most comfortable bathrobes I’ve found at a hotel of this cost. We never had a problem with waiting for the shower or bathroom. Both my showers were hot and there’s a dispenser for shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel in the shower.
My only complaint is the bedding. We both found the comforter and other bedding items to be too hot for the season even with the window open and fan on. Perhaps we were there during a heat wave.
Food and Dining
The first floor of The Commodore opens into the Fourteenth Street Cafe, a coffee, breakfast and lunch spot serving Stumptown coffee and dishes sourced with ingredients from local producers. Since we were staying in the hotel above, we decided to eat breakfast here on Saturday morning (plus, it came recommended by my friend). Al ordered the Sunrise Sandwich ($7.50), a breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese, and sausage on a biscuit. Al enjoyed his breakfast sandwich, but when I tried a bite I found the sausage had a funky off-putting taste. Food preferences are such an individual thing.
I ordered the Ferry Street breakfast ($7.75) which came with two poached eggs, toast, a side salad, and seasonal fruit. To drink, I got the honey cinnamon latte with local dairy. The latte was a little sweet for my taste but otherwise good. The poached eggs were a little over, yolks just starting to harden, but I’d much rather eat slightly over eggs than slightly under. The sourdough toast was crusty and chewy with a well-developed, but not overpowering, sour flavor. The side salad was a refreshing addition to the morning meal that should be done more often. The fresh fruit was meager, sliced apple and several blueberries.
The next morning we checked out of our hotel at 6:30 in the morning and Fourteenth Street Cafe was open (I love a place that opens so early and provides me with coffee). This time around I ordered a lavender latte because I’m weird and I like lavender-flavored things. Holy crap! The baristas need to ease back on the syrup. Lavender goes from pleasantly floral to potpourri real quick. My first sip was almost inedible. The syrup intensity lessened as I sipped my drink but I’m not sure if it was improperly incorporated into the drink or if I just got used to its intensity. If 1980s wallpaper had a flavor, it would be an excess of lavender.
Al ordered a regular coffee and a lemon poppyseed scone. I could taste the butter in the scone and it had the perfect crumbly scone texture. I would definitely recommend.
Fun Things to Do and Stuff
Before breakfast, and before Al got up, I wandered around downtown Astoria and discovered The Garden of the Surging Waves. The Garden of the Surging Waves is an in development garden commemorating the history and contributions of the Chinese immigrant community in Astoria. Chinese immigrants played an integral role in the history of Astoria working in canneries, constructing the jetties and railroad, and building the city’s first sewer system. You can learn more about the project and its history here.
After breakfast on Saturday morning, we drove up the hill from our hotel to the Astoria Column ($5 parking fee), a 90-year-old column commemorating the history of Astoria, Oregon. Done in the sgraffito technique, the column towers over the rest of the town and its lookout is the best place for views of the surrounding landscape. The gift shop sells $1 balsa wood planes that can be thrown from the top of the tower; they are the only thing that is allowed to be thrown from the tower. I purchased one and threw it from the tower. Mine nosedived and almost hit a parked car. I had more fun watching other people throw their planes (more successfully than I).
Josephson’s Smokehouse sells smoked fish and canned fish. For a listing of their products visit their website. I purchased a half-pound each of the hot smoked wine maple salmon and hot smoked pepper blend salmon, a quarter pound of each was for my friend’s party. Their hot smoked salmon is amazing. Go for the end pieces because they’re just as good as the regular product and cheaper.
After purchasing our smoked fish treats, we wandered along the trolley tracks behind the fish warehouses. This is where you’ll find the rusting remnants of piers and get the best views of the Astoria-Megler Bridge.
My friend’s shindig was the real reason we were here and most of our time was spent at their home. Without giving too much away about personal lives on this blog, I have some friends who live outside of Astoria and were throwing a summer party. Their home and land were something dreamt up by a Sunset Magazine editor and brought to life. Highlights, besides seeing my friends: making friends with two pet geese, learning about the intricacies of chicken flock politics, and eating blackberries picked from their yard. The evening ended with the moon hovering above the mist shrouded green hills. Sickeningly bucolic. They also gifted us with two dozen eggs which I’m looking forward to using.
That evening we wandered around downtown some more; great signs and store names are to be found in downtown Astoria. In many ways, it reminds me of Fort Bragg on the Mendocino coast but with more delicious smoked fish and fewer tweakers.
I enjoyed our stay in Astoria, Oregon. I’m looking forward to a return visit and am always looking for an excuse to hit up the Pacific Northwest.