4. Port Bistro
The Ilwaco Marina may be redolent of wet rope, fish bait, and boat fuel, but inside this dockside bistro, the air undergoes an olfactory transformation. That’s because the Chicago-born chef, Larry Piaskowy, grills thick steaks like the stockyards are out front rather than the ocean. But the seafood dishes like a tender, saffron-perfumed poached sole let you know you’re in the hands of a cook with a sensitive palate. Grab a table by the window and watch the boats unload their quarry. Or sit at the copper bar and ask Larry where the oysters are from (he’ll point to the bay). Closed Wed; 235 Howerton Way, Ilwaco, Wash.; 360-642-8447
5. The Ship Report
Wondering what in the blimey those hulking container ships are carrying up the Columbia River? Next time you’re in Astoria, satiate your curiosity by tuning into the morning Ship Report on the town’s community radio station, KMUN. For five minutes—starting promptly at 12 minutes to 9—host Joanne Rideout identifies each ship scheduled to pass, what it’s carrying, and where it’s bound. For the next five minutes, she delivers maritime news, a marine forecast, and a description of ocean crossing conditions—a rich backdrop against which to imagine life aboard those big ships slowly steaming by. Listen to the Ship Report from 8:48-8:58 a.m. on KMUN 91.9 FM.
6. Drina Daisy
When Astoria’s fog clamps down, you’ll find no better consolation than Drina Daisy’s Bosnian-style comfort food. Owner Fordinka Kanlic makes meals much like she did in her restaurant outside Sarajevo for more than 30 years, roasting whole, tender young lambs on a spit; baking fresh bread; and stewing richly spiced beef goulash. With a half-liter of Karlova?ko Croatian pilsner and a seat near the kitchen, any meal here can turn a gray day in Astoria into the best damn foggy afternoon you’ve ever had. Closed Mon, Tue; 915 Commercial St, Astoria; 503-338-2912
7. The other Flavel house
You’ve likely seen the Flavel House Museum, the grand Victorian in downtown Astoria built by Captain George Flavel in the 1880s. But there’s another Flavel house just eight blocks away—a weather-beaten mansion that sits idly in disrepair. The house has been vacant ever since its former occupant, George’s great-grandson Harry, went on the lam in 1983 after his conviction in connection with a stabbing. The cops eventually caught Harry—he was busted for stealing towels from a hotel. But the ghostly manse still stands, kept by the Flavels, according to local gossip, in a state of purposeful neglect as a revenge of sorts, intended to remind all who know the house’s story of the Flavels’—and Astoria’s—former glory. To gawk at the house, drive to the corner of 15th Street and Franklin Avenue.