Oregon’s most famous wine region — known for its exceptional pinot noir — hasn’t always had a robust dining scene, but in recent years, big changes are paving the way for a fresh crop of restaurants for both formal, long weekend in wine country dinners and casual lunches to hit up before a visit to one of the areas many tasting rooms. McMinnville is emerging as the dining heart of Oregon’s most northern Willamette Valley, but a few outliers in places like Newberg, Dundee, Dayton, and 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.Read More
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
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 chiles rellenos smothered in aji amarillo cream sauce. The touches of Spain on the menu — like a paella mixta with bay scallops and clams — are a fun diversion, as well.
Beloved among locals, Pizza Capo’s wood-fired pies made it an instant hit when Oven and Shaker alums Kyle Munroe, Jeremy Whyte, and Scott Cunningham launched 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 start a meal with appetizers like ragu-stuffed arancini and roasted Even Pull Farm carrots with whipped ricotta and Calabrian chile honey. The majority of the seating is indoors, but weather permitting the restaurant offers limited outdoor seating on weekends. If you go, keep an eye out for limited edition specials of handmade pasta, too.
A new(ish) 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 2022. 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 pasture-raised beef from sibling farm Tabula Rasa 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.
Pistachio lattes, lamb tomahawk with green garlic chermoula, fried cauliflower with z’hug and pine nut dukkah, and grilled halloumi with mint, honey, and chile — Cypress is the place to find flavors from Southwestern Asia and Northern Africa in the Mid-Valley. Found inside the Atticus Hotel, the restaurant is dripping with plants and freshly made-over with light, bright decor. Jory and Sokol Blosser alums Henry Kibit and Travis Bird’s mix-and-match menu is hugely approachable with easy-to-like options for lunch, dinner, and snacking. Cypress is also open for breakfast, and the menu includes Egyptian dishes like green garbanzo ful and standard hotel brunch fare with Middle Eastern touches like pancakes with pomegranate syrup.
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 to service all signal its intentions — to become the Willamette Valley’s crown jewel.
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.
Chef Kari Kihara has been wowing diners in McMinnville since she first started serving her eclectic menu at Mac Market in 2020, but now the restaurant has her name on it — and a vastly expanded menu. Thanks to a recent buildout, Hayward (Kihara’s middle name) is now a restaurant within the converted warehouse space. It’s industrial yet polished and a fitting home to showcase the global flavors and hyper-local sourcing of her ambitious cooking. Fans can expect to see some greatest hits from previous Mac Market menus: fermented carrot cavatelli with harissa butter and labneh, a pork chop with green peppercorn soubise and spring onions, and braised laying hen dumplings with fermented mustard greens and peanut chile crisp.
After garnering a loyal local following in their Newberg-based food truck, Renegade, chefs Nick Bell and Cody Drew opened their Carlton restaurant in June 2022. Blind Pig is Carlton’s gastropub, a casual spot with solid cocktails and a menu full of big, rich, meaty dishes: loaded banh mi fries, a brisket French dip dripping with Oaxaca cheese and smoky consome; and a fancy boy burger with truffle aioli and balsamic onions. Though meat is prominent on the menu, there are a handful of vegetarian dishes, too.
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.
Soter Vineyards Tasting Room
Wildflowers carpet the hills of this Carlton vineyard and farm, home to grazing highland cattle, heritage breed pigs, plenty of cane berry bushes, and — of course — wine grapes. The farm, known as Mineral Springs Ranch, supplies the winery’s kitchen, run by Clyde Common alumnus Clayton Allen; Allen incorporates what he finds as a part of the MSR Provisions Tasting, which falls somewhere between a wine tasting and a prix fixe lunch. Adjusting seasonally, meals may involve house-baked bread and handmade pastas, succotash with sweet corn and wax beans, olive oil made with Mineral Springs olives, brothy ranch-raised chicken with earthy morels. The wines themselves are, clearly, no afterthought, paired well with each dish. The tasting is available Fridays through Mondays at 11:30 a.m. or 2:30 pm.; reservations are required.
In late July, Nick’s Italian Cafe — the James Beard Award-winning restaurant that had hosted wine dinners and served dungeness crab lasagna for 46 years — closed. But there is an heir apparent to the legacy of great Italian food in Willamette Valley wine country and that’s Brick Hall. Located in an 1886 church on Dayton’s sleepy central square, the restaurant is home base to Tournant, the Portland collective known for live-fire cooking and on-farm events. Under the oversight of chef de cuisine Nic Maraziti, who previously rolled pasta at Ave Gene’s and Piccone’s Corner, they’ve begun regular weekend lunch service and plan to add evening hours in short order. The opening menu showcases extruded in-house pastas in tautly faithful Italian presentations including carbonara and amatriciana, and seasonal small plates like grilled little gem Caesar salad and a colorful, chunky rainbow of a salad of tomatoes, peaches, fried capers, and fresh herbs.
Kim Lattic and Corey Taylor grew their fanbase selling foraged mushroom hand pies at Flag & Wire Coffee; the duo has recently launched Loam, an all-day cafe in Dayton. With exposed brick, a bathroom decoupaged in foraging and cookbooks, and a hundred-year-old wooden bar, the space is homey and casual. Daytime means a seasonal brunch menu with fruit-topped pancakes, a pastured lamb sausage biscuit breakfast sandwich, and their trademark pastries. Come back at dinner for lobster mushroom hush puppies, cedar plank salmon, approachable cocktails, and scratch-made desserts.
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. It’s also an excellent stop if you’re looking to pick up picnic provisions to take with you to an area tasting room.
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.
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Honey Pie Pizza
Tucked in a College Street alley (behind excellent bottle shop Valley Wine Merchants), Honey Pie is the only spot in Newberg serving New York-style pizza. 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. The business has recently opened a second location — offering slices — at McMinnville’s Mac Market.
Rosmarino Osteria Italiana
With exposed brick walls and a cooler full of tiramisu, chef and owner Dario Pisoni’s Rosmarino is basically impossible to not like. 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. For a sandwich or an easy dinner on your way out of town, check out Pisoni’s newly opened deli, Gusto Gastronimia Italiana.
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.
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. The family also operates 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. Chef Jack Strong, a James Beard Award nominee and member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, often emphasizes traditional foodways and foods indigenous to Oregon in the restaurants’ menus, whether it’s Oregon Coast mussels with venison sausage, Dungeness crab with sea beans, or seared Fort Klamath sturgeon. Ask for a table on the terrace, sip a white peach bellini, and enjoy the view.