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Eat and Drink Your Way Through the Columbia River Gorge Like a Local

“If you’re doing summer in Oregon right, you’re getting out of Portland every weekend”

Brooke Jackson-Glidden | Eater

This post originally appeared in the August 27, 2022 edition of Eater Travel, a biweekly dispatch from Eater’s staff about navigating places where food is the main attraction. Subscribe now.

Growing up in Oregon, summer weekends were rarely spent at home. We were always off to the Oregon Coast or the mountains, packing our car with camping gear and planning our lunchtime stops along the way. Every trip — even camping trips in the middle of nowhere — involved some fun meal or treat, be it a slab of prime rib in Oregon cow country or a scoop of ice cream steps from the beach. We knew where to find a slice of pie on the way to the lake, and where to celebrate our last night in Ashland with a full-on fancy meal. As an adult, little has changed: I’m still spending my weekends floating down the river to a knockout drive-in, or figuring out where to grab breakfast on my way back from Mt. Hood. If I’m not picking berries on Sauvie Island or scrounging for morels along the McKenzie River Highway, I’m crabbing off the docks in Newport, and making a reservation for lasagna at Sorella.

Part of the magic of Oregon is the way its outdoor marvels pair with world-class food and drink. The Columbia River Gorge is not only a phenomenal spot for wind-surfing or hiking; it’s a region with nationally renowned wineries and pick-your-own fruit farms. Bend is not just a ski destination and mountain biker’s paradise; it’s a well-known beer city with a number of nearby cattle ranches. Driving out to Haystack Rock or Cape Perpetua, you’ll drive through forests with hidden treasure troves of morels, chanterelles, and truffles. And in all of these places, chefs take what the land gives them and make something amazing out of it.

So, as the editor of Eater Portland, I created something like a one-stop shop for all things day trip: Where to go wine tasting in the Columbia River Gorge; where to find marionberry pie while driving around Oregon. Which breweries in Bend are worth a visit, and where to grab a meal between pints. If you’re doing summer in Oregon right, you’re getting out of Portland every weekend, and getting a full feel for everything the state has to offer.

Oysters Rockoyaki | Little Pickle official
  • Where to Eat and Drink on the Oregon Coast: My mom grew up in Newport, so we spend a lot of time driving up and down the Oregon Coast. When I’m in Newport proper, I always end up grabbing a bowl of creamy Dungeness crab soup at Local Ocean Seafoods (plus some smoked salmon, if it’s in stock).
  • Where to Find Worth-the-Drive Marionberry Pie All Over Oregon: Marionberry pie is an absolute phenomenon when the berries are in season; I’ll drive down to my hometown of Eugene for a slice of marionberry pie at Metropol Bakery, stopping by Blue Raeven Farmstand along the way. But I’ll be honest, Lauretta Jean’s in Portland probably makes the best in the state.
  • 16 Top Restaurants and Food Carts in Bend, Oregon: It’s a family tradition around the holidays to spend a few nights in Bend, but in the summers, I think of it as a respite post-camping at Waldo Lake. If I’m only there for one meal, I’m getting the blackened redfish, piled high with crab, at Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails.
  • Eat and Drink Your Way Through the Columbia River Gorge: If there’s one road trip I’m making a monthly tradition, it’s driving through the Columbia River Gorge. There’s so much to do, between waterfall hikes, hidden swimming holes, wine tasting, farmstand cruising, and checking out the latest Hood River restaurant openings. On my way out, my first stop is at Sugarpine Drive-In, for miso caramel sundaes and seasonal salads; on my way back, I’m grabbing fresh Columbia River salmon at Brigham Fish Market.
  • Stellar Portland-Area U-Pick Farms for Summer Berries and Fruit: When picking (heh) a place to pick your own fruit, I often head to Sauvie Island for marionberries and raspberries, and opt for Hood River farms when seeking cherries and stone fruit. If heading to Sauvie Island, I’ll take my berries to the beach for post-swim snacking.

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