One of the local food thrills of the Pacific Northwest is mushroom foraging. The damp, rich soil around Eugene from the Willamette Valley and up into the Cascade Mountains is aptly suited for mushrooms, so much so that this area is known as a year-round mushrooming destination and a home to the acclaimed Oregon truffle. If you are curious to try mushrooms or if you are already a devout mushroom fan, there are many ways to get a taste of these local treasures.
We've collected our top tips for trying the delicious mushrooms in the Willamette Valley below.
Mushrooms on the Menu
Start with the region's best locavore restaurants that tailor their menus to the seasons. While mushrooms can't be promised every night, these local restaurants are some of your best bets for enjoying what fungi have been freshly foraged from the fields and forests. If mushrooms on the menu are the deciding dining factor for you, we recommend you call ahead for a sneak peek at the day's menu.
Party Downtown & Party Bar
Sprung up from a food cart, this special occasion and casual dining duo features locally-source ingredients in creative southern-style dishes. For example, a sweet corn polenta with summer chanterelles, greens and herbs right from the owners' garden. Delicious! While Party Downtown never aspired to be a fine dining destination (they are still the cart from the block), the quality of food dished up here makes this a go-to restaurant for visitors and locals alike.
Marché & Le Bar
In the '70s, Chef Stephanie Pearl Kimmel spearheaded locavore and slow dining before they were recognized movements. Today she presides over a Eugene-based culinary empire that excels in some of the finest dining around town. Her dishes are frequently focused on mushrooms from chanterelle pizzetta to grilled portobello sandwiches. If you are lucky, Marché will also be offering one of their quarterly French regional dinners sourcing primarily Oregon ingredients to replicate traditional French dishes.
North Fork Public House
This farm-to-fork experience at North Fork Public House makes northwest comfort food with seasonal show stoppers like wild mushroom tagliatelle, lobster mushroom pappardelle and even a truffle burger with grass-fed Oregon beef dressed with a truffle aioli. Don't miss their bacon Bloody Marys and their Oregon Duck football watch parties.
Mushrooms at the Markets
Another place to get your fungi fix is at the local farmers' markets. Foragers and cultivators with commercial permits do the dirty work and share the spoils with you. At the Lane County Farmers Market there are two top notch mushroom vendors worth wading through the throngs around their booths.
RainForest Mushroom Company
This Oregon Coast family has been growing Oregon Tilth certified organic mushrooms for thirty years and are best known for their medicinal maitake mushrooms. They also raise shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, buttercap mushrooms, scallop mushrooms and lion's mane mushrooms. They have a selection of dried mushrooms and grow-at-home kits if you're feeling the DIY spirit.
The variety of mushrooms displayed by the Mushroomery is amazing. Both organically grown and ethically wildcrafted in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, these mycologists offers mushroom tinctures, mushroom powders, dried mushrooms and, of course, fresh mushrooms. Learn from them all about how to cook with mushrooms and snag some great recipes. And seasonally, there may even be opportunities to pitch in with work in their greenhouses.
Oregon's mushroom bounty is honored by two outstanding annual events. Attending these celebrations is a great way to learn more and have a lot of fun.
Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom Festival
Held in October, this annual one-day affair attracts mushroom hunters and enthusiasts from across the region. Browse a display of over 300 local species, ask experts on mushroom identification, take guided nature walks and learn about cooking with mushrooms. Don't miss the creative scarecrow contest! Additional entertainment from live music and food vendors to hay rides and crafts makes the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom Festival a festive, family-friendly event. Last year this show was virtual due to pandemic protocols, this year the plan is for an in-person, but smaller, event. Check ahead for tickets and policies.
The Joriad North American Truffle Dog Championship
Watch the Joriad North American Truffle Dog Championship as truffle dogs compete to unearth truffle-scented targets at the Lane Events Center. This is a really fun event to watch for both dog and truffle-lovers! Formerly, the championship was accompanied by other Oregon Truffle Festival events celebrating Oregon's truffles, but those local dinners, markets and tours have been suspend due to the pandemic at this time.
Want to find wild edible mushrooms yourself? Immersing yourself in nature to forage for fungi can be a fun adventure – but to be safe and successful it's important that you educate yourself first and consult with local experts. Go with a guide (ask if they offer special mushroom tours or know someone who does) or take a course on mushroom identification (when in doubt, throw it out!). Be aware of your surroundings and only seek mushrooms on approved public lands. Follow our Adventure Checklist before you head out in Oregon's outdoors.