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Planning Portland/Willamette Valley Trip

Girlfriend and I just started planning a trip to Portland/Willamette Valley and need some help. Right now it looks like we will be going in mid June for 4 nights (thinking two in Portland and two in Wine Country). Any recommendations on where to stay? Primarily for Wine Country. Looking for a nice place, but not necessarily the most expensive place out there. We will be primarily interested in going to Vineyards/Wine Tastings in Willamette. Really just interested in exploring Portland along with some good food and breweries.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Holy cow. A million things here. Try searching this topic at wineberserkers.com as a start. The Allison is great. Superb hotel but may or may not be expensive depending on what that means to you. Hotel Oregon is funky but not pricey. Tons of B and Bs. Portland us close so don't discount staying the whole time there.

    This is a very broad topic. Whittle it down and you can get more specific info.

    2 Replies
    1. re: oregonjim

      To whittle it down I guess I would ask for the following:
      - top Vineyards/Wine Tastings in Willamette Valley (I know Willamette is pretty big, so even a general area would be helpful)
      - top Dinner spots in Portland (pretty nice)
      - great hidden lunch spots in Portland

      I appreciate the help!

      1. re: tkuppens

        We loved Little Bird for dinner in June. Meat Cheese Bread has a don't-know-why-this-is-genius-but-it-is green bean sandwich for a bit of a hidden lunch idea.

        As to where to stay, I'd pick your hotel based on proximity to where you want to eat. It's what I do when we stay at the Park Lane Suites and Inn. Walking distance for resto and café heavy 21st and 23rd in the NW eg Bar and Caffe Mingo, Coffeehouse Northwest, Sterling, 23 Hoyt (happy hour), Besaw's, Ken's Artisan Bakery, Papa Hadyn (dessert) and Uptown Billiard Club, plus easy access to most every other part of the city down Burnside, especially if you have a car. Bonus points for being so close to Washington Park and its myriad attractions, including the Rose Test Garden which should be worthy in June.

    2. Folks, please help tkuppens with recommendations about wine and chow in the Portland/Willamette area; hotel recommendations are off-topic for the site. Thanks!

      1. There are probably 100-150 wineries within one hour of Portland. Check wvwa.com for a list with info and links. That can give you a look at wineries hours, what they make and how that fits in with your schedule and palate. I would recommend searching this folder for extensive discussions and reviews on Portland restaurants. Also try portlandfoodanddrink.com for further discussion/reviews and links to restaurant sites. There is a ton of easily available info here and a couple other places. Make an itinerary and let us know what you have come up with!

        1. There is a great restaurant called Jory at the Allison Inn that you might consider while you are in the wine country (Newberg). It is a great place to go back to and settle in for an evening meal, especially if you are staying there...

          There are lots of wineries, as others have mentioned, but sticking to the Yamhill/Carlton/McMinnville/Dundee areas is your best bet for wineries PLUS evening dinner options.

          Once you settle on your accommodations, let us know so we can advise you better on specific winery/dining options.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cobpdx

            Thanks! We are still deciding on which area we are going to stay. Leaning towards Newberg, Carlton, or McMinnville.

          2. I'll speak to Wine Country as I spend a ton of time down there. Here's my list in no particular order, it all depends what kind of mood you are in.

            Thislte: In McMinnville, great food, my favorite spot there, go early for a cocktail, best bartender in the State!
            Recipie: In Newberg, solid food, always consistent and delicious, great for lunch or dinner
            Ruddick Wood: Newberg, New place, nice group of young guns started this place and just recently opened. They know their stuff and are doing great things. One of the few places opened late.
            Dundee Bistro: Again consistent great food, killer wine list
            Red Hills Market: Dundee. Great lunch spot also breakfast, great wood fired Pizza
            Jory as mentioned above is about as gourmet as you can get in that area, good but honestly not one of my favorites, especially for the $$
            Henry's in Carlton: Food cart with seriously awesome food, check their hours as they are open at different times depending on time of year. Best food and value in the valley and great guy in Joseph and great girl in Katie
            Walnut City Kitchen, Communtity Plate both very good.
            Lots of choices for two days, you will eat well and drink incredible wines, the 2012's will be out by then and they are killer!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: martyd

              Thanks!

            2. Depends on how old you are and what scene you are looking for. Portland is a very unique and diverse town. If you like old school stay at the Benson downtown. Walking distance to everything (Portland is a relatively compact city). On the east side of the river the Jupiter is a retro hotel with a great bar and live music scene.
              In the Valley the top end is the Allison in Newberg, good resto and spa, 50 wineries within 10-15 mins. The Black Walnut in Dundee is a great B&B with terrific views and right in the heart of the Dundee Hills AVA. Visit Alexana, Penner-Ash, Bergstrom and Adelshiem all with great tasting rooms and top flight wines

              1. Right now we are looking at Abbey Road Farms (Carlton) and Youngberg Hill Vineyard & Inn (McMinnville). So any restaurants or wineries in those areas would be helpful.

                http://www.abbeyroadfarm.com/
                http://www.youngberghill.com/

                5 Replies
                1. re: tkuppens

                  This is a list of pretty much all the restaurants in Yamhill County in the finer dining/good food category:

                  McMinnville:
                  Thistle: Quirky, high-quality locally sourced menu.
                  Nick's: Good Italian
                  Bistro Maison: French bistro

                  Newberg:
                  Jory: Beautifully appointed with very good spa hotel style food.
                  Recipe: Comfort food done with great ingredients (personal fave).
                  Ruddick Wood: New tavern/restaurant with good pedigree.

                  Dundee:
                  Tina's/Red Hills/Dundee Bistro: Wine Country dining.

                  Dayton:
                  Joel Palmer House: Mushrooms galore.

                  Carlton:
                  Cuvee: French food. Never been there.
                  Horseradish: Decent sandwich/lunch spot.

                  I may be missing something but I don't think so, there are of course bars on the divey side and there are certainly a number of pretty good Mexican restaurants/carts in the area as well.

                  1. re: oregonjim

                    Thanks! That is very helpful. Any good wine bars in the area as well?

                    1. re: tkuppens

                      In McMinnville there is one (2?) right off 3rd. Never been. In Portland there are many. Oregon Wines on Broadway is right downtown and has an extensive Oregon selection as well as a heap of grower Champagne.

                    2. re: oregonjim

                      No one seems to be mentioning The Painted Lady in Newberg. Is it no longer a good dinner spot?

                    3. re: tkuppens

                      In terms of your locations, I think both are reasonably close to wineries. Youngberg Hill, itself, is a winery although I am not so much a fan. They have a nice view but are out of town.

                      If you want to be closer to some of the McMinnville restaurants, there is also 3rd St Flats right downtown and you would be able to walk to all the restaurants and tasting rooms in town.

                    4. In the Dundee Hills area - check out Lange and Torii Mor Winery. I like the Hotel Lucia downtown Portland. Walking distance to many fine restaurants - cafes - bars.

                      1. I went to Portland with a list, and unfortunately, got sidetracked by some well meaning relatives who knew better. I really regret not going to Beast or to Pok Pok. Also Gruner's is neat although I would go there for lunch. My wife liked it so much she went twice. I would not advise The Woodsman or Laurelhurst Market, although the latter has some cuts of meat you don't often see.

                        Little Bird was nice, ate there twice also.

                        Hope this helps some.

                        1. Lots of great recommendations here, let me add a few:

                          Beast: Great prix fixe tasting menu, generally meat-centric. Communal tables but in a high-end way. No a la carte menu at all, so check the sample menus before booking.

                          Pok Pok: Thai as Thai should be done. Amazing wings and noodles. Be prepared to wait in line; lunch is a good option.

                          Little Bird: Usually the first place we hit for dinner just after we arrive. Bone marrow, great cocktails, bistro atmosphere.

                          Le Pigeon: Little Bird's big sister, a little higher-end French.

                          Screen Door: Canonical brunch, fried chicken (boneless, alas) and waffles enough to stuff anyone. Long lines typical.

                          Gruner: Not your father's biergarten. Modern German; traditional dishes like Maultaschen or Bratwurst, but simpler presentations. Great selection of German wines.

                          The Original: Yeah, I know. But the chicken fried steak that uses a flat iron steak instead of the usual chewy cube steak is really excellent.

                          Higgins: Good old-school French. Been around forever and with good reason.

                          Food carts: Since you'll be there when the weather is good, you should try the food carts at 10th & Alder. First recommendation is Nong's Khao Man Gai, a poached chicken dish with a slightly tangy sauce. It sounds bland but it's sublime.

                          PSU Farmer's Market: Another good fair-weather stop, if only because it has the original outlet of Pine Street Biscuits. Fried chicken on a biscuit, what's not to like?

                          Bollywood Theater: Great Indian street food. No tandoori or many curries, but a lot of great things you might eat while walking through a street market (they have tables, no worries). Especially the kati rolls and the fried sliced okra.

                          Salt and Straw: RIght next to Bollywood, great and unusual ice creams (strawberry and balsamic, coffee and bourbon, pear with blue cheese).

                          There's another Pine State Biscuit up near Bollywood and Salt & Straw, in case you're peckish for another Reggie.

                          Genoa: High-end Italian. Reminds me a lot of more East Coast restaurants. Excellent wines, well-matched to the food.

                          Castagna: MG gone mad, but if you're into that, it's a good place for it.

                          Olympic Provisions: Mad good charcuterie. Lots of restaurants use their meats, but a trip to the mothership is always good.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: w0x0f

                            I may be late on this, but abbey rd farms and Youngberg hill are absolutely amazing B&B to stay at. The quality and attention to details are first rate. You can't go wrong with either.

                          2. After 2 trips to Willamette here is my advice for Wineries it depends on your taste but my MUST visits are:
                            Soter: This is in Carlton, We liked them so much we joined their wine club. The wine and views are great plus this is one of few seated tastings which is nice.
                            If you stay in Carlton, there are many small downtown wineries that are in walking distance depending on where you stay.
                            Stoller Winery: This is in Dundee and has the best views in my opinion. Plus they let you hang out and take a picnic lunch. They also have frisbee golf although we havent checked out their course.
                            Argyle for the sparkling wine since they are one of few that do this. The tasting room is nothing special as it is right off the highway, but if you like sparkling you will want to try this.
                            White Rose- Great pinot, most fantastic views and very unique tasting room.
                            Domaine Drouhin- Fantastic views with a big deck outside
                            I could list many others that I love depending on what you are looking for in your winery visits. For the ones that were recommended to us that we did not enjoy.

                            Sokol Blosser- I thought the views were great but I didnt really care for their wines and thought they were very overrated. I havent been to the new tasting room which i heard is fantastic but again, their wines underwhelmed me.

                            Lange: I went there in 2012 and it was a rainy day but again just wasnt too impressed with their wine.

                            Tori Mor: A lot of people told me this was a must go, I heard the outdoors area is very nice but we went while it was raining so maybe we needed to be out there? I wasnt impressed with the wine.

                            We have stayed in Newberg, McMinnville, and Carlton. For food options nearby I recommend

                            McMinnvile
                            Nicks Italian Bistro
                            Thistle
                            Bistro Maison

                            Carlton
                            Cuvee- Great little French restaurant
                            The Horseradish
                            Carlton Bakery for breakfast or pastries
                            Depending on if you stay at a B&B you may have a fantastic breakfast provided as we did.

                            Newberg
                            Jory at the Allison is good
                            Recipe
                            Red Hills Market- In Dundee
                            Dundee Bistro- In Dundee

                            For Portland my favorite things are:

                            PSU Farmers Market- this is a must for me and i get my provisions for wine country while I am at it. So many great vendors

                            Blue Star Donuts- I am not even a donut fan and I have been thinking about these since October

                            Salt and Straw ice cream- there are 3 locations.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Dee74

                              PSU farmers' market is indeed worthy but it doesn't start up again till March 15 this year.

                              1. re: grayelf

                                Open today until 2 but not again for 2 weeks.

                                1. re: oregonjim

                                  3 weeks

                            2. Also planning a trip to Portland/Willamette Valley. Need 3 restaurants in Portland and 2 in Willamette Valley for dinner. Prefer regional or possibly French cuisine. Have enjoyed Higgins in PDX in past and Jory in WV in past. Are these still great. Which 3 in PDX and 2 in WV would you pick?

                              1. Congratulations! Portland is foodie, wine and micro-brew heaven, among other things. As others have started, there are so many options, all depending on what you prefer and what your style is. A good reference is the local weekly paper called the Willamette Weekly, or the 'willy week' as I referred to it many years ago when I lived there. It does a wonderful job of reviewing, rating, etc. restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, etc.

                                http://www.wweek.com/portland/

                                Four days isn't enough to see all that PDX has to offer, especially in the food/wine/brewery. But I think you're off to a great start. If you can't make it to all your top picks, you can always plan another trip. Have a wonderful trip!

                                Admittedly, I am SO envious; Portland is one of my favorite places to visit, which I have done at least once a year, but this year I won't have a chance to go back because it's now almost on the other side of the world from me.