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location:neskowin

The Hawk Creek Cafe in Neskowin in no shape or form can be called a drinking hole of the necessarily seedy kind. It primarily exists to serve good expensive food to the second homeowners in the area who run local business pretty much the same way Ted Knight ran Bushwood Country Club in Caddyshack. The golf analogy fits perfectly because a cabal of these people thwarted the possibility of a nearby wetland (which happens to be a terrible golf course Jack Benny once duffed around) from becoming part of national wildlife refuge and improved habitat for threatened Coho salmon. To their credit, the cafe does a superb job catering to the bourgeoisie in a cozy atmosphere highlighted by warm wood interiors. Their wood-fired pizzas and desserts are fantastic and expertly served by quite possibly the most gorgeous cook and wait staff of any restaurant on the Pacific Coast. In the summer and holiday weekends I avoid the Hawk Creek Cafe. The joint is jammed, and typically a tourist line impatiently waits, fixated on their city bread and circuses, unable to Let Go even while vacationing. But once the black Oregon Coast winter rolls in, and the Valley Barons with their golden brood clear out, drinking a beer here with fellow serfs or alone is a highly recommended experience. The Hawk Creek Cafe is a charming, locally owned, cabin-like structure situated on a riprapped bank in what should be a highly productive estuary where three (formerly) great wild salmon creeks meet. In fact, the word "Neskowin" in the now dead language of the vanished Nestucca Tribe means "plenty fish" and this estuary was once so plentiful it served as a seasonal encampment--probably in the exact spot where today an ill-conceived and flat-roofed motel stands at the water's very edge. It is, simply, a monstrosity that sweats the same sort of bad, bad karma one feels when looking at the drowned Celilo Falls on the Columbia River. I suggest Hawk Creek Cafe patrons consider the indigenous ghosts still lurking about when gazing out the windows to the estuary. Perhaps the best beer to assist this reflection (guilt) is a pint from a brewery out of Enterprise, Oregon called Terminal Gravity. Or perhaps more properly--Terminal Buzz--because this stuff will kick your ass unlike any beer I have ever tasted in my life--and that includes Rainier Ale. It comes in an IPA and Stout and is a local favorite, although Governor Kitzhaber, who owns a recently riprapped vacation home a couple hundred yards from the Hawk Creek Cafe, is said to favor a milder blonde ale also available that I've never tried because it's irrelevant. Speaking of the Governor, I have seen him in the cafe a few times. Friendly disposition. Nice family. Usually got his jeans and cowboy boots on. (Does he take off the latter when he walks on the beach?) His long career in Oregon public service is about over and for the last eight years he's mixed it up hard with the Republican leadership of the political body formerly known as the Oregon Legislature. I haven't agreed with all the Governor's decisions but he did call for breaching the Snake River dams and he really was going to let a few Oceanside condos slide right into the sea. (Christ if it had only happened!) He also went on statewide television and declared he won't fund public education with bonds. That took awesome moral courage and very big balls. He's out of the Oregon game now, so he'll probably be hanging at the cafe more. Let me buy you a beer Governor, but it has to be Terminal Gravity. You need it. You deserve it.
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