Portland, OR to Elko, NV - suggestions along the way?
Taking a 3-day road trip in September from Portland, OR to Elko, NV.
Specific route is not yet determined. We're looking for excuses (such as great food) to pick one route over the other. Seems likely that we will be in Bend, OR one night, but otherwise the plan is completely open.
Any food destinations / experiences along the way that I should be sure not to miss?
You are headed into remote sparsely settled land. The scenery is more interesting than the towns.
I'm familiar with taking OR31 SE from LaPine, and OR140 east into Nevada. There scenic things like Ft Rock, Summer Lake, SL Hot Springs, Abert Rim, and Doherty Slide. Fuel up at Lakeview before heading east on 140.
Bend's your best bet for eats. There's a pleasant cafe in Paisley. I see a few more options in Lakeview, but haven't been there.
An alternative is to go east on US20 from Bend to Burns, and 205 south past Steens Mtn. French Glen is some sort of hotel/restaurant operated by the state parks. And the lone gas station at Fields is reknown for it's milkshakes.
Another option is to stock up your cooler in Bend or LaPine, and plan for picnics.
I like to use Moon Handbooks when traveling in areas like this.
For more freeway and towns, I84 to Boise and Twin Falls, and US93 south. Jackpot is the 1st casino on this route.
I was camping when I last drove 55, 21 and 75, so was more interested in groceries than restaurants.
McCall (further north on 55) caters to Boise residents with vacation homes on the lake. So grocery shopping is good. Restaurants too, though service might be so so, as in most resort towns
17 and 21 have nice camp sites and free hot springs (bring your birthday suit). Not much in the way of towns. Shopping in Stanley was sparse compared to McCall.
75 around Sun Valley should have plenty of options.
Twin Falls is a typical modest size town on the freeway. Lots of chain shopping where 93 crosses the river (stop and look at the canyon).
Jackpot is a casino town (with employees living in Twin Falls).
Lunchtime in Boise, I would recommend Rooster's or the Boise Fry Company. If you are staying overnight, the Cottonwood Grill is excellent. There is a lot of pretty country between there and the Ketchum/Sun Valley/Hailey area, but nothing that stands out as an eatery. Lots of good restaurants in the K/SV/H area. Twin Falls is mostly chains and Jackpot is just casino food. I only stop in Wells for gas, but Elko has some good restaurants. For lunch, the steak sandwich at the Star or the Garlic Burger at JR's Bar and Grill will fill you up. For dinner, it is definitely one of the Basque restaurants. The Star is the most traditional and you will be sitting at long tables with others. Biltoki has individual tables and a little more romantic atmosphere. Toki Ono is located across from the main park and is almost a cross between the other two. You need to go south of town and up Lamoille Canyon, and if you are there around dinnertime, go to the Pine Lodge in the small town of Lamoille.
Enjoy your trip!
The not-to-miss experience that I can think of would be one of the Basque restaurants in northern Nevada. The Star Hotel in Elko, or the Martin Hotel in Winnemucca. I haven't been to either in years, but if unchanged, you will find nothing like them in other parts of the U.S. I just did the Elko-to-Ashland drive last week but unfortunately it's wasn't dinner time until we were well into Oregon or we'd have stopped at the Martin. Have a great trip!