EUGENE, Ore. - A visit to a renovated Airstream trailer might reward you with Organic Gingerbread Twinkies that are totally vegan, gluten-free and soy-free.
You can also get yourself a pair of Ninkasi-themed underwear. (Men or women’s are available, don’t worry.)
Or maybe you just want to kick back, relax, and sip a Belgian Lambic beer float while reading the latest issue of BoozeWeek International?
The Whiteaker neighborhood of Eugene is one of the city’s most eccentric hot spots. And would you really expect anything else from a ‘hood with its very own Pirate Flag?
The Whiteaker has a long-standing reputation of rebellion and counterculture. It’s been home to food co-ops, artist studios and vegetarian restaurants for decades. And in the late ‘90s it became a haven for anarchists. In 1999, the L.A. Times wrote an article about the neighborhood titled "A Revolutionary Movement Hits Small-Town America."
The article details the anarchist uprising within the Whiteaker community:
“... this Oregon university town has given birth to one of the most active communities in what seems to be a small but growing national resurgence in anarchist thought--a movement dedicated to wiping away just about everything the last 2,000 years of human civilization has produced: government institutions, industrial development, technology. Eugene, a city of 150,000 that is best known as the home of the University of Oregon, has become a test kitchen for the principles of anarchy applied to small-town America...”
While the Whiteaker neighborhood is now a haven for foodies and art lovers, it still hasn't completely shed its rebellious reputation from the anarchist days. And some KVAL viewers have complained about crime in the area.
Here’s what some KVAL Facebook fans had to say about problems in Whiteaker:
Paula Gregovich: “It has a little charm, love red barn grocery, I like sam bonds, love the trees, and the co-ops and hostel, brightly painted houses with courtyards and porches... but don't like the drug vibe, and don't feel safe there at night.”
Zachary Vishanoff: "Policing in Whiteaker is very different from near the UO campus. The difference is remarkable. The UO campus area is far more mellow. I try to stay East of Willamette street."
Ben Hallert: "Bike thieves!"
Recently, there's also been controversy in the neighborhood about the sale of high-alcohol content beverages. Right now, stores in the Whiteaker are participating in a voluntary ban on the sale of the drinks. KVAL first reported on the voluntary ban back in May. We interviewed Sgt. Terry Fitzpatrick with the Eugene Police Department who told us, "Beverages like this are aimed at the homeless." He said homeless advocates call the beverage "liquid crack."
Despite its ongoing issues with crime, there is a fierce pride in this neighborhood, and a desire to keep it unique.
The neighborhood throws its own block party that is growing every year. This year the Whiteaker Block Party featured more than 30 local bands and several stages, including Eugene favorites Volifonix, Medium Troy and Bazil Rathbone.
The Last Friday Art Walk features more than a dozen galleries in the area You can read more about the art walk and neighborhood gossip on the Whiteaker Last Friday Art Walk Blog. Here’s part of a recent post written by Eugene artist Sean Aaberg:
“Mo Bowen of the new the Voyeur Gallery was telling me about this righteous plan to place an enormous metal gateway over Blair St. (entrance to Whiteaker) with "Whiteaker" in big letters going across as a way of distinguishing the neighborhood. Word is that PRI will financially back the project so it's just a question of making sure the city won’t balk at this awesome gesture of defining Eugene's premier, ultimate neighborhood dude! IT HAS TO HAPPEN.”
TAQUERIA MI TIERRA: 632 Blair Blvd
It’s not fancy, but the food is muy delicioso and affordable. You’ll spot the place because of the giant and brightly colored 99 CENT TACOS sign in the front window. Try the shrimp tacos ($1.25) with homemade tortilla chips and avocado salsa.
EDDO BURGER: 394 Blair Blvd (Airstream trailer next to Tiny Tavern)
The Eddo Burger with Organic Sweet Potato Chips and Agave Mustard is the perfect blend of sweet and savory on a nice summer afternoon. And if you’re lucky, the Organic Gingerbread Twinkies will be available. Cara Eddo only makes them in small batches…
NIB DESSERT AND WINE BAR: 769 Monroe Street
Go on Sunday for weekend brunch and get the Eggs Benedict with fresh Chinook salmon and a House Mimosa with pink grapefruit juice. On a weekday try the Ajo Blanco Soup, an almond and bread based soup with red grapes. (Chef Shane Tracey changes the menu about every month to reflect seasonal foods, but the Benedict is a constant item.)
DRUMRONG THAI: 904 W. Sixth Ave
The Pad See Ew is delightful. Just don’t forget to eat the spinach at the bottom of the bowl, since it’s soaked up all the good sauce!
PIZZA RESEARCH INSTITUTE: 530 Blair Blvd
The pear, vegan pesto and herb roasted potato pizza will make your tongue tingle. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, order the Chef’s Choice with 12-14 toppings in a mandala pattern.
WANDERING GOAT COFFEE COMPANY: 268 Madison Street
The Heart of Darkness with a splash of cream pairs well with soulful music from local singer-songwriters.
The Whiteaker neighborhood's reputation for good art and food also recently caught the attention of the Seattle Times in an article titled "Exploring Eugene, Oregon’s artsy Whiteaker neighborhood."
KVAL News will continue to bring you the latest news about the Whiteaker neighborhood at www.whiteaker.kval.com. And if you'd like to become a community blogger for our website, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
We always want to hear what you think! Comment below or send me your thoughts.