Wine Tourist Lunch Options in the Willamette Valley

Wine lovers are foodies and a big part of any great wine country tour is lunch. While lunch might be long, heavy is not a good idea if there are other places to visit and wines to taste. Proximity is another major factor, so as not to backtrack. Most important is to go where the locals go—it’s that way anywhere you travel, but it bears repeating. In the upper Willamette Valley there are a handful of tasty options with longtime track records, right on the beaten path to some of the best wineries of the region, and they want to be every bit as memorable as the wine that grows around them.

In the center of town, the Dundee Bistro sits across the street from Arygle and about a mile away from well known wineries such as Archery Summit, De Ponte, Domaine Drouhin, White Rose and Domain Serene.

It’s also adjacent to the Ponzi tasting room, since they own both the restaurant and the villa-styled building. Mediterranean fare is the specialty, celebrating the Ponzi family's Italian roots.

Like any self-respecting wine country restaurant, the ingredients are sourced locally when possible. In Oregon, this means berries, hazlenuts, truffles, mushrooms and salmon, just to name a few. The lunch menu features pizzas from a wood fired oven, sandwiches on house baked bread, and salads that often reflect the season. We’ve enjoyed both berry and apple salads in summer and autumn, respectively. Prices are higher but so is the quality, so enjoy a salad and split a pizza and you’ll be ready to roll to the next tasting.

If you prefer to eat in your car to keep moving or want something to eat at a picnic table, try Martha’s Taco’s in Laffeyette. Martha’s is a little stand by the side of the road on 99W, with wonderful Mexican food that is consumed by winery workers for miles. At least one winemaker has offered Martha’s tamales as “Mexican power bars” to the crew on bottling day. (It worked. There was a flurry of activity and we got it done.) The burritos are inexpensive, not huge but substantial.

The McMinnville Public Market is smack dab in the middle of The Wine Ghetto, home of Westrey, Matello, Eyrie, Dominio IV, Love and Squalor, Grochau Cellars and a half dozen others. There are several food carts surrounding the building and more choices inside. We had Indian food the day we went but the barbecue smelled awfully good. There are also sandwiches, Mexican food and fried chicken. Be sure to treat yourself to The Bard’s Chocolate, either before or after—or both. Prices at the food carts are reasonable, with a bar inside that offers beer and wines from the surrounding producers.

Always fun, never a disappointment though never great either is McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon. The food is good, with burgers, sandwiches and pub food. So is their signature beer and wine, with prices comparable to, say, Applebees (though much better than that). Where the Hotel Oregon and every other McMenamin’s restaurant excels is atmosphere. This is a fun place to be. Have a drink on the rooftop and you’ll be hooked.

Further south near Salem, a few miles from Van Duzer and just down the road from Johan, Left Coast Cellars serves the food they grow. The restaurant is just off 99W in Rickreal, offering medium priced soups and sandwiches that seem a bargain after a bite or two. Almost all of this wine country café’s herbs and vegetables are grown—sustainably farmed--on site and if the recipes aren’t for you, there’s no argument about the ingredients—and the staff will win you over. These folks want you to feel welcome. The menu changes constantly but the hospitality is constant, and they’ve got an easier job of it in their warm, rustic kitchen style room. If you want your food fresh from the source, look no further. The grounds are gorgeous, the restaurant is lovely and the staff is charming.

As traffic increases, more restaurateurs are making a go of it. Gone are the days of waiting to get to McMinnville for Burger King. The wine industry is flourishing in the Willamette Valley, and restaurants will follow and grow up with it. These, though, are the Valley’s tried and true. Go there first.

Published: Jan. 21, 2013

Author: - other articles

Next: Zinfandel: Uniquely and Distinctly American

Previous: Wine Country Weekly: Review of Downtown Napa (part 1)

Bookmark and Share


Food Lunch Oregon Willamette Valley Wine Tourist

Comments powered by Disqus