Shakespeare, Coffee and Incredible Baked Goods in Ashland, Oregon

By Jen Murphy Posted June 13, 2007

I recently flew out to Ashland, Oregon, for a friend’s wedding and was shocked by this tiny town’s incredibly diverse food scene. Just north of the California border, Ashland is perhaps best known for its Shakespeare Festival, and extreme chocoholics may also recognize it as the home of Dagoba Organic Chocolate.

It’s also home to some of the best bakeries I’ve ever visited, as well as super-funky coffee shops that I longed to hang out in all day. Between the wedding and all of the events that went with it (I highly recommend the Hellgate jet-boat tour to anyone visiting the area), I found time to indulge myself in carbs and caffeine. Some highlights:

I stumbled upon La Baguette, a bakery/coffee shop set back off of Main Street, while on my way to a yoga class. I had every intention of just taking a quick look inside but couldn’t resist a ridiculously large, still warm cinnamon roll that was layered with walnuts. I ate every last bit of it and then struggled through my downward dogs at yoga.

The Rogue Valley Roasting Company is a hidden gem that seemed to always be packed with locals. They made a great soy chai latte.

Mix Sweet Shop, a minimal modern space that opened last July, sells all sorts of sugary yumminess and Stumptown’s terrific coffees. The girl behind the counter recommended a pecan-studded caramel morning bun, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was lined with orange zest. I went back for the banana-praline gelato, which they get from Palazzolo’s in New York City.

I could have spent all afternoon on the outdoor wooden deck in front of Evo’s Coffee Lounge but had to settle for a quick 15-minute pit stop, which allowed me to indulge in a cup of their locally famous SOMA brew, an insanely strong and thick blend made from organic Central and South American beans. I also loved the chunky ceramic mugs they serve their drinks in.

The Village Baker, which makes 33 different European sourdough breads, is next door to Evo’s and makes a super-fresh focaccia with just the right amount of chewiness.

With all of this eating, I found myself behind schedule and ended up missing out on tickets to Romeo and Juliet. On the cab ride to the airport, my driver asked how I could have come to the Shakespeare capital of the U.S. without seeing any Shakespeare. I guess I’ll just have to go back.

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