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A bowl of peas is topped with edible flowers at Okta in McMinnville.
A pea course at Okta.
Evan Sung

Exceptional Willamette Valley Restaurants to Visit Post-Wine Tasting

Where to find ceviche, chawanmushi, steak frites, and more within Oregon’s lauded pinot noir country

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A pea course at Okta.
| Evan Sung

Oregon’s most famous wine region — known for its exceptional pinot noir — doesn’t have the same high-end restaurant culture of, say, Napa. For decades, restaurants of note in the northern Willamette Valley have fallen into two categories: They’re either a) pricey, fancy, and largely aimed at an audience of wine tourists ready to shell out for pinot by the case and entrees in the $50-plus range; or they’re b) casual and fun, but not particularly destination-worthy. The problem with several of the long-celebrated stalwarts is that they don’t have to try particularly hard to be guaranteed an audience, but they don’t always live up to their promised reputations, especially when dinner for two can easily climb past $200.

Fortunately for locals and visitors, there’s a creative crop of youthful restaurants and carts joining longstanding Oregon wine country destinations that still deliver, serving everything from shrimp ceviche tostadas to duck liver mousse. Many of these spots use produce grown or foraged in the nearby farmland or forests, respectively, often served alongside wines made a cork’s throw from the dining room. Some of the best dining spots in the region can be found in McMinnville or Newberg; however, a few outliers in places like Dundee or Carlton can provide a worthy lunch or dinner between tasting flights and glasses of bubbles. For restaurants to visit while tasting in the Columbia River Gorge, this map may help.

Note: Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Pura Vida Cocina

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Pura Vida Cocina is a perennial Third Street favorite, McMinnville’s home for fresh, creative takes on Latin American flavors. Chef and owner Ricardo Antúnez calls the menu a combination of Central American, Peruvian, and Mexican cuisine, thanks to dishes like tacos, vegetable empanadas stuffed with peanut romesco, and guava-chipotle barbecued spare ribs. 

Pizza Capo

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Beloved among locals, Pizza Capo’s wood-fired pies made it an instant hit when Oven and Shaker alums Kyle Munroe and Jeremy Whyte and Community Plate owner Scott Cunningham started it four years ago as a pop-up. Now, Capo’s home is a full-blown restaurant on McMinnville’s Third Street. The pizza is always on point — in particular the Valley Special showcasing seasonal produce — but it’s easy to frame into a meal with starters such as ragu-stuffed arancini and roasted Even Pull Farm carrots with whipped ricotta and Calabrian chile honey. If you go, keep an eye out for limited edition specials of handmade pasta, too.

Community Plate

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McMinnville locals desperately missed the rusticity of breakfast and lunch at Community Plate through the restaurant’s extended COVID-related closure. The charmingly crowded dining area with its communal table, jars of jam, and persistent aroma of bacon was a tough vibe to sustain through the pandemic. Owners Scott and Courtney Cunningham say things are largely back to normal, though the big communal tables are still missing. Whether in the restaurant or to-go, the restaurant’s biscuit breakfast sandwich is worth a try. 

Humble Spirit

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A new addition to McMinnville’s Third Street, Jackrabbit alum Brett Uniss has been turning out polished but unpretentious farm-to-table plates since Humble Spirit opened in July. The restaurant arm of an emerging Yamhill County-based hospitality company called the Ground, Humble Spirit’s food is elegant yet relaxed with an eye towards the omnivorous. Go for a burger of Tabula Rasa’s pasture-raised beef or a plate of beautifully executed handmade pasta with local sungold tomatoes, sweet corn, or whatever else happens to be in season. Uniss’s dishes read as rustic but are full of pleasant little surprises and elegant technical touches that make it a joy to dine there. 

Michelin star ambitions are on display at the destination restaurant Okta in McMinnville’s new Tributary Hotel. Castagna alumnus Matthew Lightner serves a tasting menu based on Pacific seafood and vegetables from the restaurant’s own Dundee Hills farm, a parade of elegant little dishes in gorgeous ceramic vessels. The overall dining experience is what makes Okta destination-worthy — it’s so elegant that it’ll make you sit up a little straighter. The luxe rusticity of the dining room’s earthy decor, the perfume of woodsmoke scenting the space, the hushed seriousness of the staff’s machinations in the open kitchen, and the team-style service approach all signal its aspirations. 

Conservatory Bar

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It’s understandable that most of the restaurants in Oregon wine country maintain some focus on wine, but sometimes you just want to drink something else. Tucked slightly off McMinnville’s main drag, Conservatory Bar is Isaac and Kelley Mabbitt’s spot for playful, easy-drinking cocktails. A mural of chanterelles and fern-printed wallpaper serve as a backdrop for a simple menu of sandwiches, bar snacks, and drinks. The bar has seating indoors and out. 

Mac Market

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Spicy, herby mushroom larb with crisp fried onions, kombucha-battered ling cod, and pistachio cake with roasted rhubarb and whipped miso creme fraiche: Chef Kari Shaughnessy’s vibrant Mac Market menu includes some of the most creative dishes in the Willamette Valley. Her taut weekly menu is available via table service inside Mac Market, a hip marketplace in a converted warehouse. Shaughnessy previously worked at Sons & Daughters in San Francisco, and her

ambitious cooking reflects an ethos of a much larger restaurant. Hyper-seasonal and with a focus on whole animal butchery, the menu shifts weekly and most of it is vegetable-centric, walking the walk of local sourcing. Pro tip: don’t skip ordering the slab of sourdough focaccia with koji butter. 

Carlton Bakery

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Load up on sandwiches, macarons, and hazelnut-studded shortbread before traipsing through Carlton’s several winery tasting rooms. The Carlton Bakery is a cozy bakeshop with big windows and cafe tables that suit the European influences of the breads and sweets served. Those looking for a sizeable brunch of eggs Benedict or apple cider french toast will find that here, as well.

Park & Main

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Park & Main, a homey pizza restaurant in downtown Carlton, was preparing to open just as COVID regulations went into effect in March 2020. Owners Dustin and Maryfrances Wyant took regulations in stride and the business has become a local favorite for wood-fired pizzas, loaded sandwiches, and a cooler full of house-churned ice cream. Even if you’re not hungry, stop in to browse Park & Main’s wines, pantry goods, and its amazing selection of retro and boutique candy.

Red Hills Market

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For a decade, Red Hills Market has been a favorite stop in Dundee, both among those who work in wineries and those who visit them. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it’s the place to fortify oneself with biscuits and gravy, a Reuben, or an albacore tuna melt made with locally milled olive oil. Sister restaurant Red Hills Kitchen, located inside McMinnville’s trendy Atticus Hotel, offers a similarly appealing dinner menu with a more polished sheen. Go for cocktails in the elegant bar, fire-roasted shellfish from the wood oven, or mac and cheese with Dungeness crab.

Entirely rebuilt following a 2016 fire, the new version of Recipe, an adored Newberg restaurant in a Victorian house, adds modern polish to a space with historical charm. Chef and owner Paul Blanchard’s pan-European menu is consistently fresh, yet familiar, serving dishes like duck liver mousse with armagnac prunes and walnut-raisin toast, grilled swordfish shakshuka with chickpeas and crispy kale, and a little pan of monkey bread with everything bagel compound butter. Want to get really wild? Pre-order the seafood tower.

The Painted Lady

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Dinner at The Painted Lady — an eight-course chef’s tasting menu in a downtown Newberg Victorian home — is an unparalleled dining experience in the Northern Willamette Valley. From a beguiling miso chawanmushi with gulf shrimp to kumquat-kissed passionfruit pavlova, count on polished plates showcasing molecular flourishes and meticulous service worthy of its multiple James Beard Award nominations. Not ready to splash out? Visit owners Allen Routt and Jessica Bagley’s second restaurant, Storrs Smokehouse, for barbecue by the pound and wonderfully chunky ice cream sandwiches at a more approachable price point. 

Honey Pie Pizza

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Tucked in a College Street alley (behind excellent bottle shop Valley Wine Merchants), Honey Pie Pizza is the only spot in Newberg serving New York-style pizza. Owned by two local couples, one of which operates farmstead dairy farm Godspeed Hollow, the menu changes regularly to showcase seasonal ingredients on wide, cracker-y crusts made with Oregon-grown flour. Located in a former garage, the casual indoor-outdoor space is beloved among locals for its relaxed atmosphere and succinct-but-reliable menu. 

Rosmarino Osteria Italiana

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Exposed brick walls and a cooler full of tiramisu, it’s basically impossible to not like chef and owner Dario Pisoni’s Rosmarino upon arriving. A native of Milan, Pisoni’s pasta and pizza are more Italia, less Olive Garden, which is to say they’re more focused on classic preparations and flavor combinations — think: burrata and arugula, bucatini carbonara, and braised wild boar. Be sure to reserve a table ahead of time, especially on Sunday for weekly pizza and gnocchi night. 

The Newbergundian Bistro

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Owned by couple Noelle and Sean McKee, The Newbergundian is a down-to-earth little bistro just off 99 in Newberg. The menu balances French favorites — croque monsieur, Manila clams with Toulouse sausage and white wine, steak frites — with more casual dishes like an Oregon bay shrimp Louie and a great burger, served without pretense in a homey space with an open kitchen and patio dining. Even at dinner, entree prices hover in the teens to mid-20s per plate.

Dos Mundos Mexican American Cuisine

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Zipping down Highway 99 in Newberg, it would be easy to overlook Dos Mundos, the little blue food cart next to a pawn shop. That would be a mistake. Eduardo “Eddie” Rodriguez and his parents, Miriam and and Jesus Hernandez, started the business in 2018 and have since been lauded by the Oregonian and The Wall Street Journal for their excellent tacos, tostadas, and burritos. The al pastor sings with pineapple throughout, meaty but not greasy, and the shrimp ceviche tostada loaded with avocado crema, cucumber, and fresh herbs is bright and refreshing. With tacos and tostadas priced at $3 to $6 each, Dos Mundos is also shockingly affordable. The family recently opened a second cart location (open into the evenings) at the Bite, Newberg’s food truck pod.

A visit to Jory, the restaurant inside the Allison Inn & Spa, is worth the short drive from downtown Newberg into the Chehalem hills. The trip takes visitors right by the onsite chef’s garden, and the walk from the parking lot to the restaurant is lined with tufts of rosemary, oregano, and thyme. The dining experience is hotel-buttoned-up, a tightly orchestrated take on Pacific Northwest flavors, but one that’s luxurious and beautifully presented. Dinner is grand, but brunch benefits even more from the pleasant atmosphere, especially during spring and summer when the valley below is in bloom. Ask for a table on the terrace, sip a white peach bellini, and enjoy the view.

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Pura Vida Cocina

Pura Vida Cocina is a perennial Third Street favorite, McMinnville’s home for fresh, creative takes on Latin American flavors. Chef and owner Ricardo Antúnez calls the menu a combination of Central American, Peruvian, and Mexican cuisine, thanks to dishes like tacos, vegetable empanadas stuffed with peanut romesco, and guava-chipotle barbecued spare ribs. 

Pizza Capo

Beloved among locals, Pizza Capo’s wood-fired pies made it an instant hit when Oven and Shaker alums Kyle Munroe and Jeremy Whyte and Community Plate owner Scott Cunningham started it four years ago as a pop-up. Now, Capo’s home is a full-blown restaurant on McMinnville’s Third Street. The pizza is always on point — in particular the Valley Special showcasing seasonal produce — but it’s easy to frame into a meal with starters such as ragu-stuffed arancini and roasted Even Pull Farm carrots with whipped ricotta and Calabrian chile honey. If you go, keep an eye out for limited edition specials of handmade pasta, too.

Community Plate

McMinnville locals desperately missed the rusticity of breakfast and lunch at Community Plate through the restaurant’s extended COVID-related closure. The charmingly crowded dining area with its communal table, jars of jam, and persistent aroma of bacon was a tough vibe to sustain through the pandemic. Owners Scott and Courtney Cunningham say things are largely back to normal, though the big communal tables are still missing. Whether in the restaurant or to-go, the restaurant’s biscuit breakfast sandwich is worth a try. 

Humble Spirit

A new addition to McMinnville’s Third Street, Jackrabbit alum Brett Uniss has been turning out polished but unpretentious farm-to-table plates since Humble Spirit opened in July. The restaurant arm of an emerging Yamhill County-based hospitality company called the Ground, Humble Spirit’s food is elegant yet relaxed with an eye towards the omnivorous. Go for a burger of Tabula Rasa’s pasture-raised beef or a plate of beautifully executed handmade pasta with local sungold tomatoes, sweet corn, or whatever else happens to be in season. Uniss’s dishes read as rustic but are full of pleasant little surprises and elegant technical touches that make it a joy to dine there. 

Okta

Michelin star ambitions are on display at the destination restaurant Okta in McMinnville’s new Tributary Hotel. Castagna alumnus Matthew Lightner serves a tasting menu based on Pacific seafood and vegetables from the restaurant’s own Dundee Hills farm, a parade of elegant little dishes in gorgeous ceramic vessels. The overall dining experience is what makes Okta destination-worthy — it’s so elegant that it’ll make you sit up a little straighter. The luxe rusticity of the dining room’s earthy decor, the perfume of woodsmoke scenting the space, the hushed seriousness of the staff’s machinations in the open kitchen, and the team-style service approach all signal its aspirations. 

Conservatory Bar

It’s understandable that most of the restaurants in Oregon wine country maintain some focus on wine, but sometimes you just want to drink something else. Tucked slightly off McMinnville’s main drag, Conservatory Bar is Isaac and Kelley Mabbitt’s spot for playful, easy-drinking cocktails. A mural of chanterelles and fern-printed wallpaper serve as a backdrop for a simple menu of sandwiches, bar snacks, and drinks. The bar has seating indoors and out. 

Mac Market

Spicy, herby mushroom larb with crisp fried onions, kombucha-battered ling cod, and pistachio cake with roasted rhubarb and whipped miso creme fraiche: Chef Kari Shaughnessy’s vibrant Mac Market menu includes some of the most creative dishes in the Willamette Valley. Her taut weekly menu is available via table service inside Mac Market, a hip marketplace in a converted warehouse. Shaughnessy previously worked at Sons & Daughters in San Francisco, and her

ambitious cooking reflects an ethos of a much larger restaurant. Hyper-seasonal and with a focus on whole animal butchery, the menu shifts weekly and most of it is vegetable-centric, walking the walk of local sourcing. Pro tip: don’t skip ordering the slab of sourdough focaccia with koji butter. 

Carlton Bakery

Load up on sandwiches, macarons, and hazelnut-studded shortbread before traipsing through Carlton’s several winery tasting rooms. The Carlton Bakery is a cozy bakeshop with big windows and cafe tables that suit the European influences of the breads and sweets served. Those looking for a sizeable brunch of eggs Benedict or apple cider french toast will find that here, as well.

Park & Main

Park & Main, a homey pizza restaurant in downtown Carlton, was preparing to open just as COVID regulations went into effect in March 2020. Owners Dustin and Maryfrances Wyant took regulations in stride and the business has become a local favorite for wood-fired pizzas, loaded sandwiches, and a cooler full of house-churned ice cream. Even if you’re not hungry, stop in to browse Park & Main’s wines, pantry goods, and its amazing selection of retro and boutique candy.

Red Hills Market

For a decade, Red Hills Market has been a favorite stop in Dundee, both among those who work in wineries and those who visit them. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it’s the place to fortify oneself with biscuits and gravy, a Reuben, or an albacore tuna melt made with locally milled olive oil. Sister restaurant Red Hills Kitchen, located inside McMinnville’s trendy Atticus Hotel, offers a similarly appealing dinner menu with a more polished sheen. Go for cocktails in the elegant bar, fire-roasted shellfish from the wood oven, or mac and cheese with Dungeness crab.

Recipe

Entirely rebuilt following a 2016 fire, the new version of Recipe, an adored Newberg restaurant in a Victorian house, adds modern polish to a space with historical charm. Chef and owner Paul Blanchard’s pan-European menu is consistently fresh, yet familiar, serving dishes like duck liver mousse with armagnac prunes and walnut-raisin toast, grilled swordfish shakshuka with chickpeas and crispy kale, and a little pan of monkey bread with everything bagel compound butter. Want to get really wild? Pre-order the seafood tower.

The Painted Lady

Dinner at The Painted Lady — an eight-course chef’s tasting menu in a downtown Newberg Victorian home — is an unparalleled dining experience in the Northern Willamette Valley. From a beguiling miso chawanmushi with gulf shrimp to kumquat-kissed passionfruit pavlova, count on polished plates showcasing molecular flourishes and meticulous service worthy of its multiple James Beard Award nominations. Not ready to splash out? Visit owners Allen Routt and Jessica Bagley’s second restaurant, Storrs Smokehouse, for barbecue by the pound and wonderfully chunky ice cream sandwiches at a more approachable price point. 

Honey Pie Pizza

Tucked in a College Street alley (behind excellent bottle shop Valley Wine Merchants), Honey Pie Pizza is the only spot in Newberg serving New York-style pizza. Owned by two local couples, one of which operates farmstead dairy farm Godspeed Hollow, the menu changes regularly to showcase seasonal ingredients on wide, cracker-y crusts made with Oregon-grown flour. Located in a former garage, the casual indoor-outdoor space is beloved among locals for its relaxed atmosphere and succinct-but-reliable menu. 

Rosmarino Osteria Italiana

Exposed brick walls and a cooler full of tiramisu, it’s basically impossible to not like chef and owner Dario Pisoni’s Rosmarino upon arriving. A native of Milan, Pisoni’s pasta and pizza are more Italia, less Olive Garden, which is to say they’re more focused on classic preparations and flavor combinations — think: burrata and arugula, bucatini carbonara, and braised wild boar. Be sure to reserve a table ahead of time, especially on Sunday for weekly pizza and gnocchi night. 

The Newbergundian Bistro

Owned by couple Noelle and Sean McKee, The Newbergundian is a down-to-earth little bistro just off 99 in Newberg. The menu balances French favorites — croque monsieur, Manila clams with Toulouse sausage and white wine, steak frites — with more casual dishes like an Oregon bay shrimp Louie and a great burger, served without pretense in a homey space with an open kitchen and patio dining. Even at dinner, entree prices hover in the teens to mid-20s per plate.

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Dos Mundos Mexican American Cuisine

Zipping down Highway 99 in Newberg, it would be easy to overlook Dos Mundos, the little blue food cart next to a pawn shop. That would be a mistake. Eduardo “Eddie” Rodriguez and his parents, Miriam and and Jesus Hernandez, started the business in 2018 and have since been lauded by the Oregonian and The Wall Street Journal for their excellent tacos, tostadas, and burritos. The al pastor sings with pineapple throughout, meaty but not greasy, and the shrimp ceviche tostada loaded with avocado crema, cucumber, and fresh herbs is bright and refreshing. With tacos and tostadas priced at $3 to $6 each, Dos Mundos is also shockingly affordable. The family recently opened a second cart location (open into the evenings) at the Bite, Newberg’s food truck pod.

Jory

A visit to Jory, the restaurant inside the Allison Inn & Spa, is worth the short drive from downtown Newberg into the Chehalem hills. The trip takes visitors right by the onsite chef’s garden, and the walk from the parking lot to the restaurant is lined with tufts of rosemary, oregano, and thyme. The dining experience is hotel-buttoned-up, a tightly orchestrated take on Pacific Northwest flavors, but one that’s luxurious and beautifully presented. Dinner is grand, but brunch benefits even more from the pleasant atmosphere, especially during spring and summer when the valley below is in bloom. Ask for a table on the terrace, sip a white peach bellini, and enjoy the view.

Related Maps