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An Oregon Coast Legend: Depoe Bay's Tidal Raves Makes Further Waves

Published 10/29/2019 at 3:43 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

An Oregon Coast Legend: Depoe Bay's Tidal Raves Makes Further Waves

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(Depoe Bay, Oregon) – Now it’s a landmark and culinary destination on the central Oregon coast, making itself a kind of legend. For sleepy little Depoe Bay, the restaurant Tidal Raves is enough of a tsunami of culinary pleasures that it makes waves elsewhere. The little place – well, it’s not so little anymore – is consistently busy on even slower days on the beach.

You could begin to assume that it’s just that view – and what a view, it is. Purely astounding for any eatery on the coastline. With Depoe Bay being a place chock full of whales more than any other coastal town, Tidal Raves has a truly awe-inspiring front row seat. Whales come in close here, cavort and play, spy-hopping, breaching, slapping and marauding sometimes – all in the confines of a cove directly in front. It’s not uncommon to be sitting there dining and all of a sudden the whole room gets up from their meal and murmurs in amazement: some great cetacean is putting on the floor show of a lifetime.

Yet the food is the other big draw – certainly after dark when whale gazing gets nixed and you see only faint shadows on the dark sea. Though storms are still a stunning visage no matter the hour. The grub is the true star of the show, in the end. And that’s what keeps the restaurant buzzing.

These days, it’s owned by Jesse Roberson and Manuel Camarena, until recently longtime employees of Tidal Raves. But owner/found Jon Hamlin sold the place to these trusted right hand men earlier this year, and they took over in June.

The building actually started life as a gas stations in the ‘60s, Hamlin told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. It became a pizza parlor in the early ‘80s, and then Jon scooped it up in 1990, starting down a legendary path.

Roberson and Camarena say Jon started out as a classically-trained chef from a big school here in the states, eventually finding his way to Lincoln City and cooking at the Salishan Resort. In 1990, he started Tidal Raves as a simple mom and pop operation, but from the get-go something was lofty and ambitious here, and it didn’t take too long to catch fire.

“He’s what really made the place shine,” Roberson said. “With all the talent he had to bring to the table there, being classically-trained and all.”

Camarena came to the Oregon coast from the restaurant industry back east, but was working as a welder here. In 1992 he encountered Jon in an interesting way.

“I came to the restaurant to fix the walk in, and that’s how I met Jon,” he said. “He offered me a job, I take it and I’m still here.”

Roberson hopped on around 2012, after working at the Black Fish Cafe for a number of years, becoming a manager of Tidal Raves' bar program and overseeing wine and cocktails.

“That blew up into a huge new project,” Roberson said. “We wound up adding on a whole new bar program, a major renovation. It was during that time that we hit our third or fourth stride there. Now we have this actual bar where people can sit down and dine and have those great cocktails you have in Portland, but here on the coast.”

One of the highlights of the place has been the cioppino, a robust melange of seafood that has amazed for ages. Camarena said it’s been around since he has – back near the very beginning.

“The cioppino sauce is made from scratch and very San Francisco-style,” Roberson said. “You can taste all the seafood, everything compliments each other real well. There’s no meat; sometimes there’s different versions that have a little bacon or sausage. The idea was to make this great tomato sauce and have it shine and compliment the seafood.”

Then for the non-seafood folks, the highlight for two decades has been that filet mignon, now called the Char-Grilled Choice filet. Wrapped in bacon with a demi-glaze, it also features bleu cheese and a host of other delights. The delectable little thing literally melts in your mouth.

“It was called something different, but it’s been around since ‘99,” Roberson said.

Get a mac and cheese with dungeness crab and shrimp, graced with the glorious goo of four cheeses ($19). Salads of lofty aspirations come with a classic Greek vibe or a wild salmon experience. The Green Curry Pacific Rockfish is a spicy Thai creation ($16), or there’s the yummy Gaucho Steak for the same price.

There are, of course, the standbys of fish and chips or fish tacos with Tidal Raves’ own delicate slant.

Between $21 and $27 come more intense and complex wonders like the coconut shrimp with steamed rice and ginger-orange sauce, the herb crusted Pacific Rockfish in a cream sauce with gnocchi, or that insanely delicious Cioppino.

Now, looking to the future, there are no major changes. Obviously you don’t want to fix what is far, far from broke.

“Maybe polish some things,” Roberson said. “We’re always looking for ways to improve.”

These days, you can even make reservations online. 279 NW Hwy 101. Depoe Bay, Oregon. 541-765-2995.


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