A locals guide to Astoria

I fully admit to stealing this idea from Lucy Feagins of The Design Files. She recently did a  guest blog at design*spong about different neighborhoods in her native Melbourne, Australia.
I think the way she and her fellow local designers take you through their favorite spots is so inspiring – I want to travel to Australia even more now!

And so I bring you, my favorite places in and around Astoria, OR.

[Photo credit John Riutta of Born Again Bird Watcher]
Coffee Girl – I must of course start off with my favorite coffee shop of all time. Nestled in a cozy room at the end of Pier 39, it has one of the best views in town. The Columbia River has constant river traffic, so there is always something to see. On clear days you can see the waves crash in the Pacific Ocean and on rainy, grey days it’s like being wrapped up in a big fuzzy blanket.
On top of having a fantastic environment, the Coffee Girls make a pretty mean cup of coffee. Known for making every latte and mocha into a work of art, you can tell how much these girls love to make you smile when they hand you a perfect latte with a heart, flower, leaf, or season-appropriate design (I saw someone drinking a latte with a witch on it a couple weeks ago!). Beyond their coffee skills, these girls have such a tender spirit. More often than not they great regulars by their first names and at times even have their drink ready by the time they reach the counter. Everything on the menu is delicious and the baker, Mary, makes the best scones and carrot cake around.
Open 7 days a week (7-3 during the week, 8-3 on the weekends), these girls would love to serve you breakfast or lunch with one the best latte’s you can get in town.

Fort George Brewery and Public House – If I’m not at Coffee Girl, you can most likely find me here. I mean, what’s not to love? The best beer in town, a great historic building, a staff always willing to crack a joke at your expense (in the best way possible, of course), BBQs that bring the whole town out. And who could resist this love story connecting Fort George and Coffee Girl?
Open everyday for your beer enjoyment, these guys also make some mean food. They use rolls and breads from The Blue Scorcher, the amazing organic bakery located right next door. Their specials board is constantly changing, with a new tantalizing desserts and fresh sausages made from their very own beer daily. Every Sunday they have live music [for free!] and on Tuesdays if you show up wearing your Fort George gear, you get a dollar off your pint.

Cannon Beach Books – You should know by now that I love books. I love books more than I love coffee and beer. I may even love books more than I love to dance, but that is questionable. When I was younger and got in trouble, instead of grounding me from tv or from friends, my parents would ground me from books. They knew if they were to ground me from tv, I’d just sit in my room reading – which I most likely would’ve been doing anyway!
So trust me when I say Cannon Beach Books is practically the perfect book store. Tucked into the quiet street that is the main drag of Cannon Beach, OR, the display windows beckon you to enter. Once you step inside, you’re surrounded by tables and shelves of books – top sellers and book-list favorites, hard to find editions, local lore, and a wonderful children’s-young adult section.
I could honestly spend hours in there – almost. My only complaint is there aren’t any comfy chairs to curl up in (which are really only necessary on rainy days when it’s a bit to wet to bundle up outside with a book) – though I suppose they would rather me actually buy the pile of books I end up carrying around instead of just reading bits and pieces while still in the store.
Though since I stopped working in Cannon Beach almost a year and a half ago, I’ve only made the 45 minute drive once or twice, I always make a point of stopping in to smell the books.

Columbian Theater – I love this place. Every night at 7pm you can catch a recently out of the theaters movie (though when I was younger it was usually “six month out of the theaters movie”, but then again, DVDs come out a lot quicker than VHSs ever did) for $4. Order a pizza or nachos, drink a beer, and sit on a fabulously comfortable couch, and have a great night out with friends.
One of my favorite date ideas is a fantastic dinner at the Columbian Cafe, pre-movie drinks at the funky VooDoo Room, then popping upstairs for a movie in the theater. One stop shopping for all your date needs!

T. Paul’s Urban Cafe – A quintessential Astoria restaurant. Located in the middle of downtown, Urban is the perfect place for a quick lunch (my mister and I can easily eat there without rushing during his hour lunch break) in the middle of the week or a girls night out dinner on the weekend. They feature a great [mostly rotating] menu of local seafood and awesome nachos (as well as pasta, sandwiches, and salads).
They recently opened T. Paul’s Supper Club across from the Hotel Elliott, around the corner from the Urban. This has quickly become my friends and my favorite place for our Sex and the City dinners – a bit bigger and more open than Urban, the menu is similar, but as they put it “a bit grown up”. They have a full bar (featuring Fort George beer on tap) and the best strawberry lemonade you’ve ever tasted.

Three Cups Coffee House – Otherwise known as The Coffee Roasters, this is my other favorite coffee shop in town. They are located directly below the Astoria-Megler Bridge and have a great space. Vaulted ceilings and super comfortable couches. Home of Thundermuck Coffee (roasted by Columbia River Coffee Roasters), it always smells amazing and coffee-y in the store. This is another favorite lunch date spot for us, where we can cuddle up with each other, our coffee, a fresh panini, and a paper.

I know there are a ton of other great local favorites I’m forgetting, but if I were to include them all I’d be writing this same blog entry for a month (as it is, I started this last week!).
So tell me, where are your favorite places in your hometown?


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