Cannon Beach, shrewdly named for the cannon that washed ashore in 1846 (and was found in 1898), is one of the most popular spots along the verdant Oregon Coast. It’s a lively tourist town with a beautiful stretch of beach that includes the coast’s most famous geological landmark: Haystack Rock. Aside from letting your dog run wild through the surf while you take photos of said rock, there are plenty of excellent things to do in town, especially when it comes to eating and drinking. To wit:
Sea Level Bakery + Coffee A Kickstarter funded venture, Sea Level Bakery + Coffee offers delicious, locally roasted coffee as well as batard, baguettes, ciabatta, country loaf, and whole wheat loaves that are made daily. Brioche can be found on Saturdays for those who get there in time to indulge. Pastries are offered here as well, and those looking for a more substantial meal can find quiche, sandwiches, and even charcuterie from Olympia Provisions.
Best place for a hearty brunch
Lazy Susan Cafe After a night out exploring the beach, or if you’ve just made it into town early and want to grab a bite, Lazy Susan should be your top pick. If you’re looking for something more, well, economical, you’ll want to go elsewhere (frankly, you’ll likely want to leave Cannon Beach). But if you’re looking for the best eggs Benedict on the coast, you’ll get ‘em here.
Best seafood joint
Ecola Seafoods Restaurant & Market Whether you’re looking for the town’s preeminent fish & chips, some freshly caught salmon, and/or crab meat, head to the Ecola Seafoods Restaurant and Market. The owner has been fishing the coast since ‘77, and still operates two fishing vessels that bring fresh seafood straight to the market daily. Chowder bread bowls, crispy fish, and salmon jerky are the specialties here, all of it grown wild and line caught.
Best small bite for wandering around
Crêpe Neptune Crêpe Neptune serves, unsurprisingly, crêpes, both in the sweet and savory variety. The names are all coastal in theme, from local beaches like Manzanita (ham and cheese), to landmarks like Haystack (Nutella, banana, and whipped cream). Guests can also create custom combinations, and there are options available for gluten- and dairy-free crêpes. You can hang out here if you want, but grabbing a crêpe and heading to the beach is highly recommended.
Best new brewery to grab a cold one
Public Coast Brewing Named for the fact that, as of July 6, 1967, the state of Oregon protects all coastal lands as public property, Public Coast Brewing is a brewhouse that has hit the ground running with its selection of beers. Will Leroux is the head brewer, and though it’s his first time making beer, his decades of culinary experience made the transition easy. The brewery is bright, lively, and kid friendly, and the tap list is solid across the board. The flagship ‘67 Pale Ale is refreshing with delicate hops; the chocolate orange stout is a crowd pleaser for those who like a touch of sweet malts; and the fruit IPAs, like tangerine, will convince even the most cynical that fruit beers can delicious when done correctly.
Best place to sip on booze
Cannon Beach Distillery There are more than a few great Oregon distilleries, but the one in Cannon Beach is the only one producing tequila. Well, technically it can’t be called tequila, but it IS made from agave. The product the micro-distillery produces is more like a brandy than a tequila, giving it a unique, but familiar taste, and it’s as delicious as the rums and gins produced here as well. Stop by the tasting room for a flight, and you’ll surely leave with a bottle of something.
Best small, local pub
Bill’s Tavern Right in the middle of Downtown Cannon Beach is Bill’s Tavern. It’s absolutely everything one would want in a local pub: friendly and comfortable with good bar food (try the popular bacon cheeseburger or the halibut fish & chips) and handcrafted ales, a few of which have won awards (the Duck Dive Pale Ale and the Blackberry Beauty are both popular standouts worth a taste). Thursdays draw in a crowd when local band The Floating Glass Balls play. Locals refer to the style of music as “beachgrass”, which is similar to bluegrass (obviously), but with a unique beachy vibe.
Best spot to feel like you’re on an actual beach
Castaways The Oregon Coast isn’t exactly what you would call tropical. About 75% of the year, it’s gray and windy, and even in summer the water is so cold and wild that any visiting Californians would balk at calling it a beach. While the Oregon Coast has its own unique beauty, if you’re looking for a more tropical experience, head to Castaways 'Tini Tiki Hut -- with a Mai Tai in hand and a plate of jerk chicken, you can at least pretend the crashing surf is made of crystal blue waves and not filled with massive Great Whites.
Best bar to interact with the locals
Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House “Screw and Brew” is the informal name of the Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House, because it’s the only place in town (in the state?) where you can purchase drywall, a new drill, and a sandwich with a pint of local beer. It’s one part hardware store, one part pub. And the metaphorical cherry on top? It has great food (try an ahi tuna salad or a housemade pastrami on), a solid tap list, and delectable cocktails, many of which are made using local spirits. There’s nothing quite like it outside of Cannon Beach, and it’s worth the trip alone.
Best cafe to bring a date to
Sweet Basil's Cafe and The Wine Bar Tapas, Cajun dishes, and fine Oregon wines make Sweet Basil the best place in town for a romantic night out. If jambalaya or gumbo is too heavy, there are plenty of lighter options. Chef John Sowa -- after 25 years of classic Cajun and Creole cooking -- opened Sweet Basil with the goal of offering healthy, organic, local options in addition to the rich southern cooking he had mastered. All of it pairs fittingly with the local wines served, such as Chehalem, Rex Hill, and Evesham Wood, and it’s best enjoyed to the sounds of the live music acts the restaurant regularly hosts in the adjacent Wine Bar.
Best restaurant for a high-end meal
The Irish Table If you’re looking for a fancier, albeit pricier night out in Cannon Beach, The Irish Table is the move. The seasonal, rotating menu of Irish-inspired cuisine and freshly caught fish is small, simple, and executed with aplomb. Look for dishes like curried mussels, Irish stew, soda bread, and chowders. Irish whiskey, beer, and cocktails are available as well, all served in a cozy, warm, rustic ambiance. The place fills up quickly, especially in the summer months, so if you’re planning on going, make sure you make reservations ahead of time.
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Alex Frane knows that the West Coast is the Best Coast, no matter how cold the Pacific gets. Follow him at @franiacdrinks.