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Apr 10, 2009 12:28 PM

Carlton, Or.

We've been gifted a weekend in Oregon wine country later this spring. We'll be staying in Carlton, but plan side trips during the day (we'll be there 4 days, 3 nights), so we're looking for your ideas.

I've been perusing the dinner recommendations in Portland, as we want to have at least one dinner there (and probably a lunch at kenny and zukes, if this is still as recommended as it has been?)
I'd be looking for something that really speaks to what and where Portland is right now food-wise, ie a real sign of the times. So Higgins and Paley's aren't really what I'm looking for. I'd really like to explore some fun places too (heard something about bacon doughnuts? gross or delish?) so any unique neighborhood places are good. Also: best cup of coffee that's not something I've heard of up here in Seattle (ie, I suppose it'd be interesting to try the original Stumptown, but other ideas?)

But since we'll be staying in Carlton, and since I've never spent a moment in that area of Oregon, please help us with dinner/lunch/coffee/exploring ideas. We'd be willing to drive for a great meal, too, so if there's a place that's worth making a trip for (for an awesome fish sandwich or incredible cheese), name it! And, obviously, wineries that are stellar near Carlton. Thanks for any and all help!

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  1. I would say that the big trend in Portland lately has been sandwich places--Bunk and meatcheesebread are the ones that I'd check out. If I'm to believe the thread from the last week or so, Seattle doesn't have all the pizza options that we have here in Portland, so check out Apizza Scholls, Ken's Artisan Pizza, Nostrana (wood oven pizza in addition to an Italian menu), or Al Forno Feruzza (a great pizza place run with a real hippie attitude--what could be more Portland?).

    Bacon doughnuts are from Voodoo Doughnuts--I like them, but others might find them disgusting. It's definitely a fun place to visit, especially if you have to go and wait in line at 2 AM.

    For coffee you might try Barista, which is a new coffee place run by superstar Billy Wilson. You can choose the beans used (when I was there it was between Stumptown Hairbender, Intelligentsia, and Ecco) and have it expertly made. For roasters I would go for Ristretto or Extracto, or (if you are downtown Monday through Friday) Spella in the food carts at 9th and Alder.

    I lived in McMinnville many years ago, so my knowledge of the options in that area are somewhat dated. But the places that were good and are still around are Nick's in McMinnville, and Tina's and Red Hills in Dundee. There's some good biking and mountain biking areas around there, and you're not too far from the Flying M Ranch ( for horseback riding. Remember for your Portland planning (and especially for dining and drinking) that Carlton is about a 45 minute drive from Portland.

    1. We visit the area frequently. There is great food and wine in the area.

      Best dinner spots (not in Carlton but nearby): Painted Lady and Joel Palmer House

      The Joel Palmer House is the Mecca for those of us who hunt wild mushrooms. Joe is still the principle forager and his son has taken over the kitchen.....

      Some of the better lunch spots are in Dundee or McMinnville, so we were happy to find "The Horse Radish" in Carlton. Nice lite lunch but also is a cheese shop... We often get some cheese, charcuterie, and a baguette and head out for the day... The also offer a well chosen wine tasting of local wines.

      Carlton wineries:

      We always finish our day by buying a bottle at Cana's Feast (previously Cuneo) and playing Bocce ball.... There wines are some of our favorites.

      Carlton wine makers studio is a nice stop as is the Train Depot.

      Cuvee is probably the best dinner pick in Carlton proper.'ve made me thirsty.

      1. Yes K & Z is still good.
        Agree with all Nettie & Epic. said, with addition of Evoe on SE Hawthorne.
        Lunch in Carlton: Horse Radish. We ate there yesterday.
        We enjoyed the following wineries yesterday: Willakenzie, Beran, Sake 1, Patton Valley, and David Hill. Other wineries I've enjoyed in the past: Amity, Elk Cove, Erath.
        There have been many threads on wine country of the past few months. Search this board and Wine.

        1. Lunch in McMinnville: Le Bistro Maison - yumm!

          1. All the recs you are getting are good.

            I would add going to Scott Paul's tasting room in Carlton. Nice to taste both old world (burgundies) and new world (OR pinot) made from the same varietal. They do a very interesting and tasty tasting.

            I had a very nice prix fixe meal at the Painted Lady in Newberg a couple of years ago. I would recommend that too.

            In Portland, Toro Bravo is putting out some great food. Lots of small plates (tapas-style), lots of local ingredients, great drinks and decent wine list, fabulous service. Get there about 15 minutes before they open or you will wait for a table (they do not take reservations). The wait is worth it, but I'd rather eat early.

            8 Replies
            1. re: JillO

              wow, thank you everyone. Nettie: I'd heard of Voodoo, but isn't there another notable doughnut shop?
              Epicurean: Joe Palmer foraging dinner sounds REALLY wonderful--thanks.
              Leonardo: what is Evoe all about?
              How far is McMinnville from Carlton? Sorry, my geographical knowledge of the area is nil.
              JillO: is Toro Bravo Spanish? name sounds Mexican, but is it just a name?

              1. re: aaustin

                Carlton and McMinnville are less than 10 miles apart. There are several smallish cities strung out along Highway 99 there, all close to wineries and each other: McMinnville, Lafayette, Dundee, and Newberg from southwest to northeast. Carlton is just north of McMinnville on highway 47. For my money the hills west of McMinnville/Carlton are very pretty, as are the hills north of 99 between Carlton and Newberg, which are more full of wineries and vinyards.

                Voodoo is the one with the maple bacon bars. The other one that comes to mind is Moody's Doughnuts; I haven't been but I've heard great things about it. They sound like they have a much less wacky collection than Voodoo, though.

                In answer to other people's questions: Toro Bravo is Spanish, not Mexican. Evoe is hard to categorize--it's a little place with a great chef making lots of sandwiches and appetizer plates. When I went I sat at a big table on the other side of which the chef was making the dishes. They had a pretty interesting selection of drinks, and I believe that you can also bring in bottles from the neighboring Pastaworks grocery store, which offers all types of wines but probably has the biggest selection of Italian wines in Portland.

                1. re: aaustin

                  Toro Bravo is Spanish but a lot of the choices are not necessarily traditional tapas. Everything is, however, absolutely delicious.
                  Toro Bravo:

                  Voodoo donuts is kitschy, but the bacon maple bars are very popular. Not the greatest tasting donuts, IMO, but some very interesting flavors:

                  Moody's is a little hut behind a coffee shop on 2511 SE Belmont operating Sat. and SUn from 9am-2pm only. Great freshly made to order little cake donuts.

                  And yeah, I think Kenny and Zuke's is a good spot for br/lunch.

                  1. re: JillO

                    I saw the bacon maple bars on food network. Portland is a bit far from Salem to drive for doughnuts, but someday, maybe I'll get there!

                    1. re: JillO

                      OK, so as a follow-up re Portland, here are some others I'd love to have info on. Toro Bravo sounds good, but we have really good tapas up here too, so I'm not sure on that one.
                      Your thoughts on:
                      Le Pigeon
                      Screen Door
                      and Lovely Hula Hands (I know it's not new, but...)
                      and what's with Apizza Scholz? is it REALLY that good?

                      1. re: aaustin

                        I love WIldwood and ten-01 and like Andina. I'm not as huge a fan of LePigeon as many are, but I really do not like communal dining and I don't always love the food there. I have never been to Beast, want to try it (even though it is communal dining there, too), but do check the menu before you go because it is a set menu and there are no substitutions...

                        I have not been to Screen Door or Lovely Hula Hands. Everytime I say I want to try LHH I look at the menu and decide to go just doesn't speak to me.

                        I'm from Brooklyn, NY originally and I do think that the pizza at Apizza Scholls is that good. Their caesar salad is pretty awesome too and they have a decent beer list and large selection of beverages. It's very crowded and they only sell whole pies. Al Forno Ferruzza on NE Alberta and 38th also has some pretty good pizza (available in 3 sizes and by the slice) but their calzones are seriously awesome (he makes his own ricotta, so the cannoli are great too)...pretty dive-y though, no beer and few beverage choices..

                        Another thing you should check out, if you are into chocolate, is a few of our chocolate shops: Sahagun, cacao, Alma. Sahagun has the best hot chocolate, cacao has the best selection of high end bars and individual pieces (some local - like DePaula's Confections, some not), and Alma's has some of the best caramels, toffee and beautiful molded pieces/figurines/icons.

                        Also, if you make it up on a Saturday, the downtown/PSU Farmers' Market is a must visit.

                        1. re: JillO

                          JillO, this is fantastic. Thank you SOO much for taking so much time and giving such thoughtful comments. I know what you mean about always wanting to try certain places and then at the last minute going somewhere else. I'm not into communal dining when it's just the 2 of us either, so that's good to know re Beast and Le Pigeon.

                        2. re: aaustin

                          it is that good.

                          Chris Bianco(of Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, AZ fame) was asked if he could get a pizza anywhere else where would it be. His answer was Una Nepalitano in NY and Apizza Scholls in Portland.

                          as for you general question:
                          Evoe is stellar, go with time to spare, its not fast food. Its awesome food served leasurely.
                          Beast is probably going to give you a nice night out type dinner that exemplifies what portland is doing right now
                          Bunk or MCB are great examples of the burgening sandwich shops.
                          Tanuki is a hidden jem of a Japanese Izakaya. not for the faint of heart, teetotaler, or those looking for a quiet night out. Raucous, fun, delicious and maybe slightly offensive. Just how it should be!:-)
                          Ha&VL is a spot for a morning bowl of Vietnamese soup noodles that will set you back in your seat(assuming noodles in the AM is your speed). really great things going on there. one soup a day(two on weekends) and when it sells out(around noon) its gone.

                          you wont go wrong with just about any of the other suggestions as well. enjoy