Summer Dining Outdoors
A light breeze picks up and the sky grows softer as the sun begins to set. You’re in no hurry to move inside because summer is here and the time is right to enjoy a meal or a drink outside.
Restaurants, wineries and even breweries offer a variety of patio pleasures across Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley. With so many from which to choose, where’s the best place to go? There’s no easy answer, so here are some options to consider.
Enjoy a big pizza pie or anything else Italian while relaxing on the patio at Gamberetti’s in downtown Salem. The Italian restaurant’s outdoor seating, located within Pringle Park Plaza, benefits from the park’s cooling green landscaping and ponds. It’s easy to forget you’re in the heart of the city as you enjoy pasta or sip a Northwest or Italian wine. The patio, a lunch destination for downtown workers, is popular for evening dining or simply meeting friends for drinks and conversation. Outdoor space heaters line the patio’s edge when temperatures turn a little chilly.
Honorable Mention: Still hungry for pizza? Basil & Board, just down the street from Pringle Plaza, is opening a rooftop patio. There’s also patio space at Gilgamesh Brewing in South Salem. Want some wine? Check Aurora Colony Vineyards or Ankeny Vineyard. Ankeny fires up the outdoor pizza oven on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Down on the Farm
Drive south of Independence, Oregon, in Polk County and make your way to the Rogue Farms Chatoe Tasting Room. You’ll quickly realize this is a tasting room like no other. Rogue Ales & Spirits, the Oregon-based brewery, grows its hops here. In fact, this has been hop-growing country for more than 100 years. Settled among the towering hops vines is the tasting room, its small patio and large lawn. Picnic tables line all four sides of the grassy square. There’s room for children to play and there are horseshoe pits and cornhole boards for some adult fun as well. Step into the tasting room and select one of Rogue’s 12 beers on tap; all were made with ingredients grown right here. There’s also a limited food menu.
Honorable Mention: Sip some wine under the trees at Left Coast Estate in Rickreall, Oregon, or enjoy a slow cappuccino at a sidewalk table outside Rick’s Place in downtown Monmouth, Oregon. Brew Coffee and Tap House is known for its patio near the Willamette River in Independence. It recently opened a second location in West Salem. Xicha Brewing, with its Latin American food and European-style ales and lagers, is also in West Salem.
Up on the Roof
There’s a place in McMinnville, Oregon, where people have sought refuge for years. They head downtown for McMenamins Hotel Oregon and make their way up to the top of the stairs and the iconic Rooftop Bar. The rooftop, five stories up from bustling Third Street, delivers some of the best views of Oregon Wine Country, the Coast Range and the city itself. If you think you know the downtown area, try identifying the buildings from this perspective. If the wind adds a chill to the air, step inside, find a table and continue your conversation. This may also be one of the most unique dining destinations in the area. The Rooftop Bar menu features many of the same selections available in the restaurant downstairs. The difference? The restaurant views can’t compare.
Honorable Mention: McMinnville’s historic downtown district is dotted with other good patio options. Consider the sidewalk picnic tables outside The Bitter Monk taproom, second-floor balcony dining at The Barberry, the patio and firepit at Allegory Brewing or the outdoor space shared by Grain Station Brew Works and Flag & Wire Coffee in the nearby Granary District.
About the Author
Dan Shryock, a travel writer based in Salem, Oregon, has biked on three continents but brags about the rural roads surrounding his hometown. His work appears in Cycle California! Magazine, NW Travel & Life and the Oregon Wine Press as well as other publications and websites.