With clear skies, moderate temperatures and the beginning of off-season discounts on lodging, September is a great time to head to Brookings.

With clear skies, moderate temperatures and the beginning of off-season discounts on lodging, September is a great time to head to Brookings.

This month, in addition to favorite views at Harris Beach and Cape Ferrelo, check out The Vista Pub, 1009 Chetco Ave., Brookings.

Two brothers, Raymond and Ryan Ross, have transformed a former bagel shop at the northwest end of town into a welcoming pub featuring fresh food and quality microbrews in an atmosphere that pays homage to the area's fishing and timber heritage. Since The Vista opened in March, it's become a favorite stop when my husband and I visit his family on the coast.

A burger with a base price of $8.50 is the centerpiece of the menu. The basic Vista burger is a third of a pound of grass-fed beef, but change that out for chicken breast, grilled portobello mushroom or a Gardenburger for the same price. While the guys in the Burke family go straight for the beef, my mother-in-law recommends the portobello burger.

All burgers are piled on buns baked at Bakery by the Sea — just up the street — then topped with lettuce, tomato and a tangy aioli made from a Ross family recipe that features red onion and sweet-pickle relish.

But that's just the beginning. A slew of additional toppings such as Rumiano cheeses, specialty mustards, teriyaki or barbecue sauce can be added for 50 cents each, or go really nuts with $1 toppings such as avocado, sauteed onions and mushrooms, Rogue Creamery blue cheese, bacon, ham or even an egg. With options like these, no one will go hungry.

Each burger is accompanied by fresh-cut fries, which earn rave reviews. Diners can upgrade to freshly made beer-battered onion rings for an extra $1 or go with a side salad for $2 more.

The crunchy, fried bar food is a step above what's served at most locations on the coast or inland, thanks to fresh, often local ingredients instead of old standards from the freezer. I especially like the hearty jalapeno poppers. A $4.99 order included three big, bright, vegetal peppers of varying degrees of hotness, stuffed with cream cheese, sharp cheddar and bits of bacon, then coated in crisp panko breadcrumbs.

A few salads and sandwiches, along with daily specials focusing on the season's bounty of local vegetables, round out the menu. A children's menu includes chicken strips and grilled cheese.

The Vista has six beers on tap, running the gamut from a rich porter or stout to light pale ale or even a pilsner. A selection of bottled beers adds variety. Raymond Ross says he strives to feature "the best beers between San Francisco and Seattle." Indeed, on each visit, I've found the pub offers a fine mix of quality brews.

The bar itself is a gleaming slab cut from a drift log salvaged from Kellogg Beach near the mouth of the Smith River. Ross family members, who also run a woodworking business called W.R. Ross & Sons, milled the bar and tables and also crafted wine and mug racks at the pub, explained Raymond Ross.

Finely crafted woodwork and food are both family traditions, he said. His grandmother, Katie Ross, operated a restaurant called The Island Vista on Orcas Island, Wash., in the late 1960s and early '70s. The brothers' fond memories of that Vista burger — and Grandma Katie's recipes — inspired them to open their Brookings venture.

The Vista also offers live music. Jerry Moffit, a popular retired music teacher in Brookings, plays jazz on Thursdays, bringing a range of guest artists to perform with him, and Ross regularly books other musicians on weekends.

The pub's only views are of Highway 101, but The Vista itself ranks right up with the best of the South Coast.

— Anita Burke