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Guest Author | 11/29/2021 | Breweries, Wineries & Distilleries, Restaurants

24 Hours in Culinary Corvallis

I don’t normally equate cutting-edge cuisine with a college town. But since my college days in Corvallis, Oregon, over a decade ago, I’d heard the city had blossomed into an incredible culinary destination, brimming with delicious, locally sourced and sustainable food and drink. My dear friend from those graduate school days, Rebecca, still lived in the area. So, when she invited me back for a mini-reunion, I jumped at the chance to spend a weekend experiencing this new foodie destination. We set out to eat and sip our way around Corvallis, ready to taste this town’s revitalized flavor.

Block 15 Brewing Downtown Pub in Corvallis, Oregon - Photo by Reed Lane PhotographyBlock 15 Brewing Downtown Pub in Corvallis, Oregon. Photo by Reed Lane Photography.

Rebecca and I started our tour east of town at 2 Towns Ciderhouse's tasting room. Long-time friends Lee Larsen and Aaron Sarnoff-Wood founded 2 Towns Ciderhouse in a rented three-car taxi garage outside of Corvallis in 2010, and have since grown their business into Oregon's largest cidery, serving the entire West Coast from their production facility in South Corvallis and their tap room and production space on Highway 34. In their charming tap room, we sipped Cosmic Crisp, their imperial cider, its bubbly, fruit-forward flavor brightening my senses.

We crossed the Willamette and journeyed into downtown. Rebecca raved about Block 15 Brewing and their locally-sourced, casual menu. I had to try their chopped pork sandwich, made with Carlton Farms chopped pork, along with their crispy, rosemary and sea salt beer battered fries. I paired it with a Rough Cut IPA. The bourbon barrel wood smoked pork and crispy, savory fries complimented the slightly bitter hop flavor in the beer. The cool carbonation of the beer perfectly followed the warm, tangy treat on my tongue.

“Alright, so far I’m impressed,” I told Rebecca. “Probably a good thing these places weren’t here when we were in college – the Freshman 15 would have been a Freshman 25.”

That evening, we found our way to Magenta, which has been a favorite of mine ever since I was an OSU student in the late 90s. Back then, their upscale Asian fusion cuisine served in their cozy, yet elegant restaurant was a rare treat, enjoyed when my parents came to town. Savoring the memory, I ordered the Laotian street tacos, enjoying the spicy ginger ginger sauce, and finished the meal with Magenta's Kiger Island peach and cream cheese wontons. The flavors brought back memories, a little taste of heaven in my mouth.

“This place isn’t new, but it’s definitely a favorite,” Rebecca said between bites of her seared duck. 

“Mmmm,” was all I could manage in between bites.

I paired my meal with a handcrafted Eagle Rare peach mint smash cocktail, featuring fresh peaches and mint from Magenta's Kiger Island Farm. Rebecca opted for something a little chocolatier, the coco chai latte, made with a house-crafted spiced chai simple, Oregon Coffee & Tea coffee, coconut cream, and spiced rum.

“To a tasty return!” Rebecca said, raising her glass.

Corvallis Farmers Market, Corvallis, Oregon - Tents and booths along First Street in Corvallis, Oregon, making up a busy farmers market.Corvallis Farmers Market, located at 1st Street and Jackson Avenue in downtown Corvallis.

The next afternoon began with lunch and a beer tasting at Sky High Brewing and Pub, a new favorite for Rebecca since they opened a few years ago. Here, not surprisingly, local craftsmanship and sustainability is a way of life. I laughed when I learned that they deliver kegs around town on a cargo bicycle built in Eugene. I ordered a burger, made with local purveyor Carlton Farms’ natural beef. The spicy pepperjack cheese layered over the tender, savory meat was only improved because it was paired with a Dream On Pale Ale, which balanced delicately between malty and hoppy.

Rebecca swears by her weekly trips to Corvallis’ downtown farmers markets, so that was our next stop. Here, everything is a unique local product, from blooming flowers to fresh meats and produce from Corvallis farms – like Afton Field Farm, Gathering Together Farm and Wandering Farms – to hydroponically grown herbs. The colors, sights and smells overwhelmed our senses, making us hungry again even though we’d just eaten.

“This is a dangerous place to shop on an empty stomach,” Rebecca told me. “Thank goodness we had lunch first.”

Regardless, we gathered as many items as we could carry, a collection of fresh produce, cheeses, meats and baked goods made within the Willamette Valley and grown with that local charm. With the scent of lavender lingering and a basket full of handcrafted goods in hand, we carried the items to Rebecca’s house, inspired to make a delicious, home-cooked meal. However, I stowed a good amount of it away in my suitcase for use when I got home.

The next day, it was time for me to go home. When Rebecca helped me with my luggage, she lifted my bag a couple times, like she was pumping iron. She smirked at me, realizing that’s where most of the farmers’ market goodies had disappeared to.

“I’m definitely coming back for more,” I said. “Fresh, local goodies and your company, of course.”

“Oh, of course,” Rebecca agreed with a grin.

Discover Corvallis’ culinary delights crafted with locally sourced products.

Article by Gertie Rodgers. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our email newsletter.

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