Inferno Lounge pizza

Pizza from the Inferno Lounge in Astoria.

Pizza on the beach: A classic coast combo

Pizza is one of those rarities that can be enjoyed at anytime, anywhere by anyone. Vegan? No problem. At a concert? It’s there. Just woke up? No one is judging. The combination of fluffy crust, melted cheese and warm red sauce is hard to beat.

But if you want to enjoy pizza like a North Coast local, there’s one key ingredient you don’t want to miss: sand.

No, really. The North Coast is the perfect place to feast on a picnic like a pro, right on the beach. But before you head to the ocean, head to Astoria to pick up the pie.

Astoria is known for its up-and-coming cuisine offerings — but as far as pizza goes, Astoria isn’t up-and-coming. It’s there.

A number of places offer delicious pizza throughout the town. On the east edge, Geno’s Pizza and Burgers is full of comfort food. On the other end of town, Fultano’s Pizza offers all the classics atop a delicious cornmeal crust. At the heart of Astoria lies Fort George Brewery, where a woodstone pizza oven cranks out vegan, vegetarian and carnivorous pizza combos.

But if you want classic Astoria pizza, head to the kitchen that stands atop the Columbia itself: Inferno Lounge.

Call in your order, or walk in and order a pizza to go while you enjoy the river. The service is quick and friendly, and you can’t beat the price — a 20 in. pie starting at $20. Grab a salad to-go as well, and bring in your own containers to reduce your plastic use.

After you’ve secured your slices, head to the sand. Sunset Beach is about a 15 minute drive from the lounge and worth the tantalizing smell that will fill the car along the way. Once you’re there, you can pull right out onto the sand in your vehicle and set up camp.

Bring camp chairs, a blanket, or pop open the trunk of your car and enjoy the view from there. It doesn’t matter how you feast, the food and the phenomenon of warm pizza and a chilly view is enough.

As all locals know, a pizza picnic on Sunset Beach is one of the best ways to treat yourself to the wonders — natural and culinary — the Columbia-Pacific has to offer. This crust and coast combo is made for the movies, and it’s right in your backyard.

— Lucy Kleiner 

Crepes in Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach, known for its breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and for the massive Haystack Rock jutting from the sands, has a plethora of quick, convenient bites to grab before heading to the beach or up the trails of the neighboring Ecola State Park.

Just a moment’s walk from the beach, Crepe Neptune has the perfect grab-and-go options for a quick bite by the water. Neptune offers over a dozen different menu items, all wrapped in a thin French-style pancake.

Crepes

A crepe from Crepe Neptune in Cannon Beach. 

Neptune mixes the flavors of lemon curd and fresh strawberries or goat cheese and jalapeños to create locally-themed crepes named for local landmarks and icons like the Goonies and Tilly. The savory Neah-Kah-Nie, filled with fresh apple, brie, balsamic glaze and a sprinkling of spinach, makes the perfect lunchtime snack and is perfectly accompanied by the classic Haystack, filled with Nutella, banana and whipped cream, for dessert. Number 19 on the menu is Neptune’s “Famous Crepe” – Nutella, fresh strawberries, banana, Tillamook vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

Each crepe comes in a little triangle to-go box, perfect for holding the crepe one-handed and keeping your snack sand-free. As you make your way through the crepe, the box has little perforations, allowing you to tear away segments of the cardboard packaging as the crepe gets smaller and smaller. The ingenious design serves well for any beach adventure.

After leaving Crepe Neptune, find an entrance to the expansive beach less than a minute walk away, and enjoy your crepe with views of the Pacific Ocean, Haystack Rock and Ecola Point. Bring a blanket to sit on or find one of the many driftwood logs scattering the beach to lounge on while watching the waves crash on the beach and the sun set, if you time it right.

Crepe Neptune sits on the north end of town at Hemlock Street and Second Street and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the peak season.

— Hailey Hoffman

Bread, ocean in Manzanita

When planning a picnic on the beach in Manzanita the best place to stop is Bread and Ocean.

The deli and bistro is just a few blocks from the beach and offers several breakfast, lunch or dinner items to eat there or take to go.

The restaurant is cozy and bright and offers a variety of salads, deli items and delicious baked goods. The sandwiches are made with bread made fresh daily in their bakery and you can choose from a list of their freshly made sandwiches or prepared food and pair it with a salad.

Bread and Ocean

Bread and Ocean in Manzanita offers several breakfast, lunch or dinner items to eat there or take to-go. 

Order a “Lunch Box” which includes a sandwich, cookie or chips and a side salad to take with you to the beach or enjoy at the peak of one of the many hikes in the area.

A favorite is the roast beef with horseradish chive crema, Tillamook cheddar cheese, pickled onions and arugula on fresh sourdough beard. They also offer vegetarian options like the veggie Caprese with grilled zucchini or marinated tempeh, mozzarella, basil pesto, spinach, roasted red pepper mayo with a balsamic reduction on fresh ciabatta bread.

There are a lot of places to lay down a blanket and have a picnic on the beach. If you chose to take lunch with you on a hike, there are many nearby hikes to chose from at Neakahnie-Manzanita State Park or Nehalem Bay State Park.

If the beach is not exactly picnic weather, Bread and Ocean’s indoor and outdoor seating is a great alternative.

— Nicole Bales

Fishmongers at Fort Stevens

Few places on the North Coast beat the views from Fort Stevens State Park’s Clatsop Spit, wedged between the mouth of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. And FishMongers, an unassuming to-go fish house at the corner of Pacific Drive and Iredale Street in Hammond serving heaping portions of fried goodness, provides an underrated picnic pit stop for carnivores and pescatarians on their way to the park.

Ed Bussert, a former police officer, said he saw the line outside Bowpicker Fish & Chips, the venerated fried tuna dealer on Duane Street in Astoria. He and a partner opened FishMongers in the summer of 2017.

“It’s one of those things, if you build it they’ll come,” Bussert said. “My marketing is, ‘If you find me you’re lucky.’ Because I don’t market.”

FishMongers’ menu stays simple but expands beyond Bowpicker’s, including staples like tuna, halibut, cod, rockfish, squid, shrimp and some seasonal surprises. Most everything is beer-battered and fried into fillets, sandwiches and tacos, aside from a shrimp cocktail. Orders come atop a bed of crinkle-cut fries with side of coleslaw, ketchup, marinara and a lemon wedge, all stuffed into bulging styrofoam containers.

Fishmongers

Fishmongers in Hammond includes a bevy of fried fish varieties served on a bed of crinkle fries. 

FishMongers keeps a cozy lobby complete with a fake fireplace, a hot sauce station and a cooler full of drinks. But no bathrooms mean no indoor dining. The restaurant includes a couple of picnic tables outside looking out on Pacific Drive — fine in a pinch and some good weather, but not much of a view.

Instead, take your mountain of fish and chips down the road to Carruthers Memorial Park, where you can take fido to frolic off-leash in the dog play area. A short stroll down a trail there leads to an elevated viewing platform along the Warrenton Waterfront Trail, with 180-degree views from the mouth of the Columbia to Astoria.

Looking for an even more unique view, or a beach bonfire? Drive out to the northwestern tip of Oregon at the end of Clatsop Spit in Fort Stevens State Park. Hang a left at Parking Lot C to the South Jetty viewing tower, where one can take in the Pacific and Columbia in one glance.

Go even farther to Parking Lot D, where a small hook of land at the end of the spit includes a circular beach directly next to the ship traffic. A short hike from the parking lot is also a wildlife viewing area looking out over Trestle Bay.

— Edward Stratton

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