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Couple picnicking with fine wine in McMinnville, Oregon

Oregon

From Valley to Coast: Explore Oregon’s Signature Culinary Regions

By: Idoia Gkikas

Sionnie LaFollette
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  • States:
    Oregon

Oregon’s unique topography ranges from fertile valleys to Pacific coastline.

These rich resources, and the farmers and artisans who tend them, make the state a must-visit for vacationers in search of locally grown and harvested foods. This is a place that values fresh ingredients and robust flavors over fussy presentations. Especially in the state’s top culinary regions, the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Coast, culinary travelers will find a diverse offering of made-in-Oregon food and beverages.

From the Valley: Wine and Farm-to-fork Fare

The Willamette River runs the length of the lush Willamette Valley and provides the fertile soil for an abundance of fresh ingredients. Sample some of the region’s finest flavors at JORY Restaurant in Newberg, where the carefully prepared dishes and expert wine pairings earned it Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence in 2015. Nearby, Red Hills Market combines farm-fresh ingredients into a mouth-watering menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The market has been featured in Rachael Ray Magazine, Sunset Magazine and Zagat, among others.

Oregon has established itself as a key player in the wine scene, too. Wine Enthusiast named Willamette Valley the Wine Region of the Year in 2016. Sample the Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir at King Estate Winery – known as the “King of Pinot” – in Eugene. Equally integral to the region: high-quality and creative craft beer. In Oregon City, Coin Toss Brewing’s Heritage Series uses antique beer recipes to turn your pint into an unexpected history lesson.

King Estate Winery in Eugene, a Willamette Valley institution

King Estate Winery in Eugene, a Willamette Valley institution
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From the Coast: Celebrating Freshly Caught Seafood

It’s safe to say that you should order the fish when dining on the Oregon coast. In the seaside city of Newport, Local Ocean Dockside Grill & Fish Market buys directly from fishing boats that dock right across the street, meaning freshness is guaranteed, whether you order the bacon-wrapped tuna mignon to classic crab cakes. Want to prepare your own? There’s a seafood market, too. South of Newport, the tiny town of Yachats (population: 690) has a uniquely rocky and breathtaking coastline (even for Oregon), as well as famously fresh seafood at tiny but charming eateries. Try Luna Sea Fish House for no-frills dishes made with care in a mom-and-pop atmosphere.

Throughout the year, look for famer’s markets as well as seafood-centric events up and down the coast. The annual Mill-Luck Salmon Celebration brings together members of the Coquille and other Pacific Northwest Native American tribes to celebrate the return of the salmon. The signature event is the salmon bake, held over a large fire pit blessed by tribe members. In February, the Charleston Crab Feed is a feast of sweet and tender Dungeness crabs, a species native to the west coast.

Boats docked in Yaquina Bay in Newport

Boats docked in Yaquina Bay in Newport
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Tatum Shaw

Getting There

Portland International Airport (PDX) serves as the ideal gateway to the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Coast, both less than two hours away by car.