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Columbia Gorge: road food or picnic?

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One more question, guys:
When us Portland tourists take a day trip driving and hiking to see the Columbia Gorge area, should we buy picnic food in Portland, or stop at diners, brewers, hamburger stands, etc on the road?

When I search here I mainly get mention of the big breakfasts in the hotel, but we don't want to spend too much time inside eating; we want to get going and see things.

I'm not sure how far we'll get: we have to choose between longer hikes and going farther.

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  1. Picnic!! There are great picnic spots and hikes all the way to Pendleton (and beyond). Too many chain restaurants along the highway. There used to be good small dives and road food places in Pendleton.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      The Columbia Gorge is only 25-80 miles east of Portland which qualifies as a "day trip" as per OP, no where near as far east as Pendleton.

      Go one way via I-84, return on Old Hwy 30.

      Either get takeout from Portland or you could eat at many decent places in Hood River. HR is the only place around there that would be edible.

      1. re: Leonardo

        Right!! My sincerest apologies.

        I just stretched the response because I've always loved the whole route from Portland to my (retirement) place on Wallowa Lake. And because the road food up through the Dalles is not so good; while the traditional offerings get better as you get more out into the sagebrush.

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Nice picnic table beside Horsetail Falls. Pack a lunch and enjoy!

          The only thing I would get on the road is a soft-serve cone at Multnomah Falls, don't get real food there!

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            I remember a little place in Mosier that was really good, but doing some research I think that it was the Wildflower Cafe. There was a thread about it on http://www.portlandfood.org in 2006--apparently it was taken over by new management and turned in to Good River Restaurant (http://goodriverrestaurant.com/Home_P...). From the menus online it appears to be much more of a high end, sit down place.

      2. Try Solstice Wood Fired Cafe in Bingen, on the WA side. Excellent pizza and other stuff. And Hwy 14 is a MUCH nicer drive, btw.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Steve K

          Thanks, if we hadn't brought our deli sandwiches with us, we would have had to eat at that rather grim-looking place at Multnomah Falls, as logistics worked out.

          Steve K, we took your advice and drove back on Hwy 14. It's nice seeing the falls coming down from across the river.