Restaurant Review

As a kid, I spent a lot of time visiting Centralia.  I had grandparents, great-grandparents, great-aunts, first cousins once removed, second cousins and more all in and around the Twin Cities (Centralia and Chehalis, that is).  As a kid, the only restaurant in Centralia I ever ate out in was the café in Yardbirds (a huge everything sort of department store back in the day).  My Grandfather would bring me along to coffee with his friends, and I’d drink a coke, get bored, and wander the store.  Fast forward a few decades, and my trips to Centralia to visit with relatives involved more dinners out and fewer home-cooked meals.  And, surprisingly, Centralia has a few restaurant gems.  I’m perhaps most experienced with meals at Roy’s Chuckwagon, but thankfully that closed quite some time ago.  Today, my go-to restaurant of choice is the Olympic Club ( - 112 N Tower Ave, Centralia, WA 98531), right in charming downtown Centralia.  It is a McMenamins property, and they did a nice job keeping the look and feel of the prohibition-era cardroom and hotel it once was.  A gorgeous wood bar, dark paneling, plenty of pool tables, and a monstrous pot belly stove greet you when you walk in the door.  And McMenamins delivers on the pub fare – the usual stuff if you’ve been to any of McMenamins locations before – good sandwiches (I like the Reuben), burgers, salads, and their signature cajun tater tots, of course.  When my Grandfather passed away a few years back, and on the day he died, the family all met at the Olympic club to tell a few stories and hash out who was doing what about the funeral and burial – we Nylands are nothing if not practical people.  My grandfather lived lots of lives – he owned a bike repair shop in the early 30’s, drove a lumber truck at the start of WWII (smuggling hams in from Canada, to the delight of his parents) and then as an electrician in the shipyards as the war progressed.  After the war he was a builder of grain silos, seller of milking machines, bank lending officer, and probably things I’ll never know about.  There were lots of good stories that day at the Olympic Club; the atmosphere lends itself well to tales of the 20’s and 30’s.  Anyway, if you’re in Centralia, I’d recommend a stop in.  If pub food isn’t your forte, you can do far worse than La Tarasca (1001 W Main St, Centralia, WA), authentic, made from scratch Mexican food (from the Michoacan region) or Boccata (405 N Tower Ave, Centralia, WA) a stellar Italian/Greek/Mediterranean place that puts out some lovely sandwiches, salads, and entrees, all made from scratch as well.  The best coffee (and some lovely pastries) in town is at Santa Lucia Coffee Roasters (202 S Tower St, Centralia, WA).        

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