Corvallis’ Secret Menu: Hidden Foodie Finds

by Magdalen O’Reilly

If you live somewhere long enough, you start to learn when the best places to eat are. And it’s never the Applebees, or TGIFridays in the mall…or if it is, God help you. Every town has a hidden menu, little restaurants and bistro’s tucked away where only locals know where to find them. Often the best restaurants don’t look like much, and are so small you may miss them if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So here is a roundup of some of the best unsung restaurants of Corvallis!

Bento Express
1425 NW Monroe Ave, Ste F, Corvallis, OR 97330

This absolutely tiny restaurant isn’t going to win a beauty pageant. It only sports about 3-4 tables. Upon walking in you’ll see a bizarre mural of a dinosaur which may actually predate the restaurant. You’ll also notice the place is usually brimming with people. That’s right, don’t let the exterior fool you, Bento Express has the best Chinese food in Corvallis. Customers will often order and then wait outside to let new people in. It’s that good. The portions are huge and inexpensive, but be warned they don’t take cards.

Recommended dishes: Pan Fried Chicken, Wonton Soup.

Natalia and Christophoros
351 NW Jackson Ave, Ste 2, Corvallis, OR 97330

It’s always stunning to run into a friend whose lived here for years who says, “Natalia and Christophoros? Never been there.” Tucked away across the street from the Courthouse is the best deli sandwich you’ll find in Corvallis, and possibly in the Willamette Valley. Fresh meats and cheeses piled high with crisp vegetables on baguette or hoagie buns. Owner Greg Leytem has the place filled with photos of his family, souvenirs from Italy, and of course and huge case of authentic meats and cheeses. If haven’t treated yourself yet, do so immediately.

Recommended dishes: The Bober, The Traditional. Anything.

Squirrel’s Tavern
100 SW 2nd St, Corvallis, OR 97333

Squirrel’s Tavern looks like just another bar in the middle of downtown… and it’s possibly one of the best kept secrets in Corvallis. Standard pub food- burgers and chips, sandwiches, and specials- oh the specials. Sometimes it’s pot roast, other nights maybe it’s pork chops with mashed potatoes. It doesn’t matter. It’s all delicious. The meats are always tender and juicy, and sides are always plentiful and full of flavor. It’s not fancy or complicated, it’s just awesome. Squirrels takes meat and potatoes fare to a whole new level.

Recommended dishes: The Special.

Kim Hoa’s Kitchen
1875 NW Circle Blvd, Corvallis, OR 97330

This medium sized Vietnamese restaurant is right next to Albertson’s on Circle. The staff is friendly, and the walls are full of pictures of family members and friends. Standard Vietnamese food done very well. Salad rolls, curry, steamed pork buns etc. Kim Hoa’s is beloved to many because of it’s Pho. Pho (pronouced “fuh”) is a beef noodle soup that is popular Vietnamese cuisine. The process to make it authentically is complicated and time consuming, so it’s the perfect dish to order when you’re out.

Recommended dishes: P1 Pho noodle soup, spring rolls.

Honorable mention goes to…
The Woodsman
529 Main St, Philomath, OR 97370

The Woodsman only didn’t make the list because it’s not technically in Corvallis. This bizarre find is located on the far end of Philomath on your way to the coast. And when you pull in the last thing you’re thinking they would serve is… exactly what they serve. You wouldn’t think it, but The Woodsman had got some of the best Thai food in the area. When you walk in the confusion continues, the place looks like a diner that caters to rural folk and loggers. And you’re thinking if they do sell Thai food, it may kill you. But no joke, it’s amazing. Sometimes the best places make the least sense, and that is definitely seen here at The Woodsman.

Recommended dishes: Drunken noodles, Yellow curry.