Welcome to Oregon.WineCountry.com - for more information on wineries, click the
Don't see your site listed?
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Eating in the Northern Willamette Valley
Looking for some Wine Country dining recommendations in Dundee, McMinnville, Dayton or Newburg, Oregon? Just ask the locals.
I was hungry. The kind of hungry that makes you do crazy things--like pull into the first drive-thru restaurant you can find and eat a half-pound of french fries in the parking lot.
Driving southwest on Route 99 from Portland toward Yamhill County, there's not much but strip malls and fast food for the first thirty-five minutes or so. Dangerous driving for rumbling tummies. But for those who hold out, the wait is worth it.
Though finding a restaurant with, well, a winelist and cloth napkins used to be pretty rare outside of Portland, the booming Yamhill Wine Country has fostered an impressive collection of chefs and restaurateurs.
Holding back my hunger pains until Dundee turned out to be a good idea. Sliding up to the kitchen/bar at the Dundee Grill, just of Highway 99 (100-A SW Seventh St., Dundee, 503.554.1650), I got a soul-satisfying lunch and an earful from the chefs about their favorite local places to eat.
Though the restaurant's table service and outdoor patio are calm oases of upscale dining, the bar is a fiery, chatting, bustling hotbed of action. Don't be surprised if your front-row seat ends up being nudged a few times by busy wait staff picking up orders. It's a small price to pay for this kind of entertainment.
Here at the bar, it's not unusual to find off-duty chefs
or local vintners chatting with the chef and sampling some of his daily
specials. Order what they do and you'll likely get the best eats on the
menu. Though there aren't many bad choices here. The food is simple, elegant
Northwest cuisine, with a focus on regional ingredients like potatoes,
crab, local produce and hearty meats. The menu changes frequently, but
when I visited, the Yukon Gold potato soup and an amazingly-crafted crab
salad in fried rice paper were both exceptional.
Owned by the Ponzi family, which is one of the larger wine
producers in the region, the restaurant has a large selection of Ponzi
wines, as well as other local producers. The wine list is Oregon-centric,
so don't go looking for a Napa Cabernet or French Burgundy—you're
in the Willamette Valley after all.
Where else to go:
There are plenty of other local choices, as well:
- La Rambla: Almost hidden in the nearby
town of McMinnville, this tiny Spanish restaurant is a new addition
to the increasingly cosmopolitan North Willamette Valley restaurant
scene. French doors open to the sidewalk, but inside, everything is
dark and woody, with an Old World charm. It's a great after-tasting
spot to settle your tummy with hearty small plates of smokey fried potatoes
and aioli, warm homemade turkey meatballs in tomato sauce and luscious
desserts. 435 NE Third Street, McMinnville, 503.435.2126. Upscale
- Painted Lady: A few miles north in Newberg
is The Painted Lady, an elegant Victorian home serving anything but
staid cuisine. With starters like watermelon gazpacho with smoked shrimp
and entrees that include brined pork tenderloin and seared duck, the
menu is a blend of American and French high cuisine with a healthy imagination.
201 S. College Street, Newberg, 503.538.3850. Elegant dining.
- Joel Palmer House: The Palmer house
has become a Wine Country institution, despite being less than 10 years
old, and mushrooms have everything to do with it. The menu, which is
dedicated to solid pairing of the region's food and wine, is dominated
by mushroom dishes, which have become the chef’s specialty. 600
Dayton St., Dayton, 503.864.2995.Elegant dining.
- Hotel Oregon: They've got a rooftop
bar and annual UFO sightings, along with a ghost or two. Located in
a historic McMinnville hotel (now called Hotel Oregon) are three choices
for travelers who just want a hamburger and a beer (or some more Pinot).
Casual and fun, the hotel includes a pub restaurant with sandwiches,
salads and burgers, along with a basement wine bar and a rooftop bar
that looks over the valley. 310 N.E. Evans St., McMinnville, 503.472.8427.
|Related WineCountry Features