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Beckie’s Cafe epitomizes old-fashioned fare

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Buffalo chicken is one of two salad options at Beckie’s Cafe in Prospect. [Sarah Lemon / Mail Tribune]
The patty melt at Beckie’s Cafe is one of several sandwich options. [Sarah Lemon / Mail Tribune]
Chicken soup boasts handmade noodles at Beckie’s Cafe in Prospect. [Sarah Lemon / Mail Tribune]
Boysenberry pie is one of a half-dozen fruit recipes at Beckie Cafe in Prospect. [Sarah Lemon / Mail Tribune]
Coconut is one of several cream pies at Beckie’s Cafe in Prospect. [Sarah Lemon / Mail Tribune]
The patty melt at Beckie’s Cafe comes with fries. [Sarah Lemon / Mail Tribune]
Buffalo chicken is one of two salad options at Beckie’s Cafe in Prospect. [Sarah Lemon / Mail Tribune]
Onion rings are beer-battered at Beckie’s Cafe in Prospect. [Sarah Lemon / Mail Tribune]
Nostalgic setting, honest cooking hold steady under new corporate owners

The nostalgic aesthetic and honest menu at Beckie’s Cafe belie ownership by an institutional food service conglomerate.

Not much has changed at the quaint roadside restaurant since it came under Aramark’s control last fall. New managers, apparently, are making good on assurances of staying the course at the 96-year-old establishment that operates under the Union Creek Resort umbrella. Aramark Destinations also is the primary concessioner at nearby Crater Lake National Park, as well as the Chateau at Oregon Caves.

Always a handy stop for National Park visitors, Beckie’s also beckons through travelers headed for Central Oregon or points beyond, not to mention Jackson County residents who plan day trips for more than a dozen types of homemade pie.

Embarking later in the day than intended for a recent drive to Redmond, my family’s vehicle neared Union Creek around noon. I’d packed a picnic against the possibility that Beckie’s — the only eatery for miles in either direction — would be packed. On previous ventures, we’d waited about 30 minutes for a table inside Beckie’s and also bided our time there for takeout during the height of COVID restrictions on restaurants.

The lunchtime forces this time had aligned. We immediately were shown to a table and then watched as parties behind us filled the rest of the restaurant, culminating in a waiting list within the space of 15 minutes.

We didn’t dither too long over what to order. Dismissing the kids’ menu, my 9-year-old son predictably ordered a patty melt with fries ($15), and his 7-year-old brother declared he’d have chicken wings ($14) and a house salad ($7). We managed to convince him of the Buffalo chicken salad’s two-in-one appeal — same sauce as the wings but no bones. And for $15, it cut some of our bill’s total.

He agreed to split the salad with my partner, who along with me, craved onion rings ($12). Beckie’s are beer-battered in house and served with ranch for dipping. We also wanted to sample Beckie’s house-made soup. From split pea with bacon or chicken with house-made noodles, I selected the latter, but my partner and I probably could have polished off a bowl ($9) of each.

We purposely ordered on the light side to save room for pie. Of Beckie’s mainstays, a half-dozen fruit pies — “very berry,” blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry, cherry and apple — were available, along with pecan, coconut cream and peanut butter.

Beckie’s famed huckleberry pie historically isn’t baked until Labor Day. But restaurant staff, according to a server, do have reason under their new owners to speculate on the source of their huckleberries.

The key ingredient for this regional, hyper-seasonal delicacy traditionally has been provided by locals who harvest the berries from native bushes growing wild in the area’s forest. Now it’s unclear whether the corporation known for its all-encompassing supply chain will purchase from small, independent purveyors. To find out, we could return this fall, although the price of $9 per huckleberry slice — $50 for a whole pie — coupled with the cost of gas makes for an expensive outing.

For now, we were content with a slice of boysenberry — more tart and less common in Oregon than blackberry — and coconut cream, packaged to go. The latter was a taller, more impressive portion for the $7 price tag.

Also adequately — if not amply portioned — our lunches were hot, fresh and satisfying after our hour on the road. The salad of mixed greens topped with lightly sauced, prebreaded chicken came with blue cheese crumbles on the side, as requested, and no red onion.

Beckie’s other salad is “Cecil’s chef,” a classic rendition for $14. The dish memorializes the widow of Beckie’s founder, Ed Becklehymer. Following his death, Cecil continued to run the business until the late 1960s.

Epitomizing old-fashioned cooking, the chicken soup was chock full of dense, chewy, handmade noodles. Combined with hearty chunks of poultry, the bowl more closely resembled some versions of chicken and dumplings. “Now that’s what I call good,” my younger son proclaimed, accepting a bite.

Also a prime example of its genre, the patty melt married perfectly grilled rye bread and nicely melted Swiss that amalgamated beef patty and grilled onions. Commenting the onions were more numerous than he wanted, my son otherwise relished the juicy, meaty stack.

Beckie’s other sandwiches include grilled ham and Swiss, Crater Lake club and chicken-fried chicken. Touting a half-pound beef or Beyond Meat patty, burgers run from $15 for the basic “Wood Chuck” to $18 for the “Abbott Creek” with blue cheese crumbles, bacon and Swiss or “Fire on the Mountain” comprising onion rings, pepper jack, jalapenos and smoky chipotle mayonnaise.

After sampling Beckie’s beer-battered onion rings, I’d be inclined next time to the fish ’n’ chips ($16), also beer-battered. Speaking of beer, Beckie’s taps pour Ashland’s Caldera Amber, Bend’s Boneyard IPA and Eugene’s Ninkasi Pilsner, priced at $7 per pint. Other Oregon beers, cider and seltzer are available by the can ($7 apiece).

Beckie’s also serves a small breakfast menu of four items, encompassing eggs, potatoes, pancakes, breakfast meat and biscuits and gravy, from $11 to $14.

Located at 56484 Highway 62, Prospect, Beckie’s Cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Breakfast is served until 11 a.m. See unioncreekoregon.com/dining/beckies-cafe/

Reach features editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4494 or slemon@rosebudmedia.com