I’ve driven by this spot about a zillion times. The South Store Cafe. I had seen it before, and likely heard about it, but hadn’t had an opportunity to stop. It’s a great thing that this new venture allows me the excuse to stop an partake those places I’ve been meaning to stop into for all this time. Seriously, I’ve literally been driving by this place for years!! I’ve been meaning to visit for all that time and have just never allowed myself the chance. Today I did. The South Store Cafe is located at the end of Highway 219 south of Hillsboro, so it’s pretty close to me – luckily it’s one of the places that is within thirty minutes of me so I’ll be able to visit when I’m on call, which is a good thing to remember!
The sign for the South Store Cafe might be a little tough to see – depending on which direction you’re coming from – but the building is plenty visible. When you’re coming from Hillsboro on 219, like I was the sign isn’t visible, and is on the other side of the building and pretty concealed, however if you program your GPS it should lead you right there. The building was originally built in 1903 as an odd fellows meeting location, so it looks a century old and has a tremendous amount of character – suiting the local area and the Willamette Valley perfectly. The parking lot is pretty big and looks like it could fit fifteen or twenty cars. And there is parking across the street and up and down the road, so there should always be some place to park nearby.
There are some very quaint outside seating areas that if the crowd at 9:30 would indicate (I arrived at 8:55 – 5 minutes before opening, expecting crowds!) are completely necessary. The South Side Cafe has a wonderful breakfast and lunch menu, but is not open for dinner, so be sure to visit when they are open, it’s really worth it!!
Once entering the real sheer “Oregon-ness” continues. The chairs don’t match (which I love) the tables are all different (also fantastic) and the all of the artwork frames are different. The sheer differences between everything makes it all work beautifully. Just inside is a nice display with fresh flowers and menus for customers to browse and make their way to the ordering counter – they no doubt are aware that there will be lines for hungry folks! There are also a few bar stools near a counter which feature many many fresh baked goods that can be ordered and taken away immediately. There is seating for over 50 diners and a most comfortable looking couch right near a fireplace that must be heavenly on wintry days.
I asked the proprietor for a suggestion from the menu – this being my first time visiting the South Store Cafe. He had several the Biscuits and Gravy, the Italian Torta (which looked amazing!), and the Croque Madame. I decided that I needed to try more than one as my favorite (chicken fried steak, but you already knew that) wasn’t available here and I was being adventurous. I ordered half an order of the Biscuits and Gravy and the Croque Madame.
I ordered a half order of biscuits and gravy and Croque Madame and an ice tea – my go-to drink most of the time. The food arrived very quickly and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the plates didn’t match. Perfect!!! Love it! The esthetic is just fantastic here. This place is just so wonderfully Oregon. I hope nothing ever changes. It is perfect.
The food was amazing. The biscuits were very light, more so that I would expect and just amazing. The gravy was just a little spicy and absolutely delicious, very thick and super good. Never have I wished so much that I’d ordered a full order rather than just a half order!!! I managed somehow not to embarrass myself and not clean the plate too much then moved onto the Croque Madame. This is a sandwich made from two pieced of bread with ham and sauce in the middle and parmesan cheese and a fried egg on top. I’d never had anything like it before and if it’s even possible it was better than the biscuits and gravy. I’m absolutely kicking myself for not getting a chance to visit the South Store Cafe before now. This may become a place I visit much more frequently – especially considering it’s proximity to me, it’s amenities (great fast wifi), awesome esthetic, and fantastic staff.
Overall I give the South Store Cafe 5 huge big HeyWillamettes way way up for their amazing food, the great location, good parking options, and awesome interior. I found myself regretting that I’d driven by this place a zillion times but never stopped. I’m sure if you get a chance to stop by during breakfast or lunch (any day except Monday) you’ll be pleased by whatever you try.