written by Beau Eastes | featured photo by Russ Rinker
Oregon is full of delightful surprises if you know where to look. Whether it’s a wonderful farmhouse-style brewery in Tillamook, a not-quite-underground bluegrass festival in Fossil, or a secret pub in Central Oregon, there are great finds all across the state.
That being said, the tiny community of Crescent Lake might hold the most unexpected—and tastiest—treasure we’ve found in a long while. Manley’s Tavern, an A-frame log cabin off the side of Highway 58, about 80 miles southeast of Eugene, may be home to the best fried chicken in the entire state.
Like the sign boasts outside the tavern, Manley’s proudly broasts its chicken. What the cluck is broasting, you ask?
Popularized during the 1950s in the upper Midwest, broasting is basically a two-step process of pressure cooking breaded chicken and then finishing it off in a deep fryer. The result is mouthwatering, delicious fried chicken that retains its original spice and breading rub more so than if it was simply deep fried. And no pub, tavern, café or diner does it as well as Manley’s.
A favorite haunt for campers staying at nearby Odell Lake and Crescent Lake, Manley’s has a style all its own. With exposed log beams, pool tables, video poker and a healthy assortment of trophy heads on the wall, the place has a bit of a man-cave-gone-wild look, if the man cave belonged to your favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd-loving uncle.Even if you’re not into fried everything—Manley’s also does mean fried mushrooms and fried cauliflower—stop in for a drink. The tavern, which has a full bar, welcomes all and on any given day you might run into leather-clad bikers making a Eugene to Bend run, skiers from nearby Willamette Pass or just good ol’ northern Klamath County folks.
Beer can be had by the pitcher and large booths easily fit six people. If you don’t have a group when you go into Manley’s, there’s a good chance you’ll become part of one before you leave.Like so many great old-school pubs, Manley’s is cash only. Not to worry, there’s an ATM inside the tavern. Worst-case scenario, Manley’s is the kind of place you’ll likely find a friendly stranger to help settle your tab if need be.