Eight miles north of Lincoln City, a mile or so off the Oregon Coastal Highway, down the tree-lined stretch where seaside scents mingle with the inland forest breezes, across the road from the local gas station, at the the flashing yellow light sits the best place for french toast along the Oregon Coast. A quick nudge down Old Highway 101, across from the blue, metal canopy covering the permanently parked travel-trailer of Wiggles Seafood, into the parking lot and next to the post office, pull in under the swooping arrow, right in front of the cozy, little red building and home to the Otis Cafe.
We were two days in to our road trip up the the Pacific Coast, on our way to Seattle and wanted a good hearty breakfast without the exuberant prices of the nothing-to-brag-about fair “but you’re eating in front of a glorious ocean view” establishments we found ourselves frequenting thus far. After an amused smirk from the gas station attendant when I asked him where to find such food, he suggested the Otis Cafe, “…just up the road, not too far down highway 18.” It had to be a good sign, that was right on our way.
It’s a little place, seven tables and a few stools at the bar. If it’s busy, don’t be shy about sharing a table. What better way to meet fellow travelers, right? The couple we met were staying in Lincoln City, with family who first introduced them to the Otis and ever since they make the effort to stop there at least once every visit to the coast. Another good sign that we made the right choice. French toast is apparently their specialty as is their biscuits & gravy with German potatoes. Order your french toast from such homemade breads as cinnamon roll, pumpkin, black molasses or wheat. They’ll even send you off with loaves of your favorite flavor of which also include banana nut, sourdough and others depending on the season.
They don’t seem to have a problem with customizing your own breakfast. Ask for whole, half or even quarter portions or substitute waffles for pancakes. They’re also cognoscente of those with food allergies, even those poor souls severely allergic to pork. Damn the bacon! Forever taunting!
Should you be an avid, road trip souvenir collector the Otis sells t-shirts (white black, red & blue), hats, sweatshirts and ceramic reproductions of the creamers and mugs they serve you with. So feel free to walk away with a full belly and arms full of fresh bread, new coffee service and enough apparel to show-off your true tourist colors, loud and proud!
If you find yourself heading up, or down, the Oregon Coast, on your way out of Portland for the weekend or winding your way up from northern California for any reason you choose, keep the Otis Cafe in mind. And by the way, if you do make to the little red house on the side of the highway, it’s worth noting that Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose is only 50 miles on up the road in McMinnville.