We don't need to "waffle" about waffles — we love them! So much that the U.S. even has a national Waffle Day proclaimed on August 24. This was established to commemorate the anniversary of the first waffle iron patent.

Before we dive into the best places to get waffles in Eugene, here's a little history on why the waffle iron is significant in TrackTown USA.

Once there was a dedicated, passionate track coach and former Olympian named Bill Bowerman. He was coaching the University of Oregon track team which included legendary talent like Steve Prefontaine, famed for winning every collegiate race he ran, and Phil Knight, who later headed up Nike — thanks to Bowerman, as we will learn here.

Coach Bowerman was fascinated by the science and engineering that went into running. He was always searching for better materials and better designs to enhance athletic performance including experimenting with track surfaces (he even had a special rubber track laid at Pleasant Hill High School) and trying out innovative running shoe designs.

One day while considering the grip, cushion and weight of a shoe sole, he spied the kitchen waffle iron. The waffle pattern provided a lighter shoe base with all its air pockets. He fashioned some running shoes with "waffle treads" and tried them out on his runners, getting good results. Eventually, the story goes, his wife put an end to production in the kitchen and so he set up shop in a Booth Kelley warehouse in Springfield to produce and perfect lightweight running shoes at a greater capacity on a customizable press. 

At this time he also partnered with Phil Knight to sell the shoes out of the back of his car at track meets, and then Knight went on to sell them internationally, and this was the beginning of a fledging shoe company that evolved into Nike. All because of a waffle iron!

Running Shoes at the Nike Store by Melanie Griffin

Running shoes displayed against an waffle iron wall at the Nike Store

Nike headquarters is now in possession of the original waffle iron but tributes to the waffle pattern have been used in Nike shoe displays at their stores. At Hayward Hall, adjacent Hayward Field, you can also see a re-creation of Bill Bowerman's original workshop where he experimented with waffle soles. This interactive display pays tribute to the waffle iron design along the walls, and his workbench houses a waffle iron, a scale, wooden shoe forms and other tools he employed.

The Graduate hotel in downtown Eugene, known for local collegiate theme embracing academics and sports, has also incorporated waffle irons into their decor from wall texture to waffle iron lamps in the hotel rooms. They also have an extensive shoe collection enshrined around their front desk, so you can see some early Nike shoe designs.

Celebrating the Waffle

So in honor of National Waffle day and the local waffle iron legacy — and as a great excuse to enjoy yourself — plan a meal out for some waffles. These local eateries elevate the waffle to fan-favorite heights and should be top of your waffle-seeking list.

Off The Waffle

In two locations, one in South Eugene and one in downtown Eugene, Off the Waffle is a local waffle house, family owned and managed, that built a restaurant all around the waffle. They specialize in "Liege waffles", which are a sweet Belgian waffle that has a slightly crispy sugary crust. Being inventive, the Off the Waffle folks took it further, topping the waffles with eggs, bacon, goat cheese, fresh greens and more variations so you can have your whole meal on top of the waffle! 

They are only open for breakfast and lunch, but you can also pick up bags of frozen waffles to go. Wow guests at your home with a delicious and easy to make (just heat up and top-off) waffle breakfast. Most of their ingredients are locally-sourced and organic. Gluten-free waffles are available.

And yes, while Nike perfected the waffle-soled running shoe... Off the Waffle perfected the delicious, eatable waffle, and started building custom waffle irons just for cooking. Nike then commissioned from them a special waffle iron constructed in the shape of — yes, a shoe! It all comes back around.

Off the Waffle Downtown Eugene by Melanie Griffin

Sweet or savory waffle options at Off the Waffle in downtown Eugene.

Moke's Coffee & Kitchen

These waffles are made with mochi flour which makes them deliciously chewy and also gluten-free. Moke's serves up both sweet and savory waffles. For breakfast order a waffle with one of their coffee drinks and for lunch try a craft beer pairing — after all, next door is 16 Tons, an extensive bottle shop. 

Moke's Coffee & Kitchen waffle, bacon and egg
: Moke's Coffee & Kitchen

Moke's Coffee & Kitchen waffle

Jazzy Ladies Cafe & Coffeehouse

Jazzy Ladies is a Southern-style, locally-sourced, and gluten-free-dedicated cafe that is known for their waffles — particularly their "Chicken & Waffles". Yep, you can enjoy a gluten-free and dairy-free Belgian waffle with two crispy gluten-free chicken tenders and maple bacon crumbles.

Gluten-free Chicken and Waffles at Jazzy Ladies by Rebecca Adelman

Gluten-free "Chicken & Waffles" dished up at Jazzy Ladies.

Morning Glory Cafe

For a vegan treat, this longstanding vegetarian breakfast spot offers "Jivin' Jitterbug's Waffles" which are Belgian topped with fresh fruit and organic maple syrup. Morning Glory Cafe may have lines out the door, so plan ahead. 

South Hills Cafe

This tiny cafe has an extensive breakfast and lunch menu, but waffles are on it, and if you are craving a good old-fashioned waffle smothered in fresh fruit, this is the place. Topped off with syrup and whipped cream, your morning just got brighter! South Hills Cafe also serves take out.