Memorable Meals in the Willamette Valley

Willamette Valley Best Restaurants

During a recent visit to the Willamette Valley, we had some memorable meals at the following restaurants.  The Chefs in the Willamette Valley select local ingredients and seasonal fresh produce from local markets and wineries.  We found the meals to be delicious, and were pleased to know that they adhere to a sustainable food model in their community.  If you find yourself in the Willamette, schedule a reservation and enjoy a dining experience at one or all of these restaurants!  See the websites and some introductions from their websites below.

1.  Dundee Bistro

“A Warm Cozy Willamette Bistro with a fireplace and amazing flavorful dishes and wine!”

First on our list of Willamette Valley Restaurants and located in the heart of Dundee at 100-A SW Seventh Street, Dundee, OR 97115 Phone for reservations: 503.554.1650

willamette valley restaurantsOur eyes feasted on every item on the menu and we devoured every bite ordered from truffles fries, oysters, to the best burger in the Willamette – a Cascade Natural Oregon Beef Burger on Brioche Bun with smoked cheddar, grilled onion, pickles, mustard, aioli, AND a hand tossed Salumi Pizza – provolone, calabrese, olives, arugula & red onion.  Our waiter Sal attended to our every need and poured wine tastings that paired nicely with each dish.

Here’s some information about their Chef Christopher Flanagan, and the Ponzi Family Bistro Owners (from their site):

Christopher Flanagan, Executive Chef of The Dundee Bistro, is a native of Oregon Wine Country; his family still lives in the small wine town of Carlton.  His culinary style is inherently wine friendly, light and intuitive.

Flanagan’s lifelong experience of living in one of America’s finest food and wine regions is the foundation of his flavorful, beautiful and unpretentious foods. His over decade long epicurean journey started with a high school senior project featuring culinary arts…a month-long internship at The Dundee Bistro and acquaintance with then Executive Chef Jason-Stoller Smith, who remains Flanagan’s friend, culinary mentor and confidant.  That teen-age opportunity changed his life – he fell in love with cooking.  He went on to culinary school and kitchen positions in some of Portland’s finer restaurants.

Flanagan’s natural talent and ability to combine flavors and textures rewards his guests with every dish, whether an epicurean creation or simple, satisfying meal.

Bistro Owners – the Ponzi Family has been producing world class wines in the northern Willamette Valley since 1970. For over 40 years they have been leading participants in the development of the Oregon wine region, which currently boasts over 400 wineries. As the region grows, wine touring has become increasingly popular and important to the development of the Willamette Valley’s wine country. Tourism overall is now one of Oregon’s leading industries.

In 1999, the Ponzi Family recognized the rapidly increasing enthusiasm for wine touring was not supported by sufficient fine dining facilities located in wine country. They took a risk, one some observers described as overly ambitious and naively premature. They conceived, constructed and continue to operate the culinary center in the tiny, but perfectly situated, town of Dundee. The center presents The Dundee Bistro and the Ponzi Wine Bar, showcasing the region’s finest wines. Reception to the facility has been overwhelming, garnering local popularity along with excellent reviews and recommendations in national media.

The Ponzis patterned The Dundee Bistro on the many examples of culinary hospitality they have observed in the world’s finest wine regions. They envisioned a restaurant capable of preparing and presenting dishes reflecting the highest culinary sophistication accompanied by wines and wine service of comparable excellence. At the same time, they wanted to create a casual, friendly atmosphere welcoming tourists, families, local residents and winemakers still in their overalls and field boots. The menu reflects the goal of extending a comfortable welcome to a divergent clientele. On a given day it’s possible to order handmade pizza, fish and chips, salad of mixed organic greens with seared foie gras, Kumamoto oysters fresh from the Pacific 60 miles away, roasted butternut squash soup with chanterelles, loin of venison or local, natural pork smoked all day over local walnut to tender perfection. A meal can end with simple house blackberry sorbet or flaming Oregon cherries jubilee, either one accompanied with piping hot Italian espresso.

The wine program for The Dundee Bistro, under the guidance of the Ponzi Family, offers emphasis on local Pinot Noirs, rare vintages and bottlings, as well as an award-winning international selection of the world’s finest producers. There are 16 wines offered by the glass, each presented and poured at the table. All wines are served in varietally correct Reidel crystal. The wine program has been recognized by Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast for excellence. While wine is the beverage focus at The Dundee Bistro, a complete bar serves classic cocktails, Northwest microbrews on draught and Italian coffees.

The exterior, interior building and landscape design of The Dundee Bistro and Ponzi Wine Bar were approached with care and family talent. Brett Fogelstrom, the architect husband of Maria Ponzi Fogelstrom, designed the facility and, along with Dick Ponzi, supervised the construction. The imaginative and beautiful buildings, described as Italianate Victorian, are widely admired by architecture professionals and the public. The kitchen interior décor was designed by the Ponzi Family with some deference accorded to Fogelstrom. Nancy Ponzi accomplished the landscaping with concentrated use of perennials. All of the artwork is by Oregon artists. Christa Grimm executed the commissioned murals that adorn the restaurant walls.

Visit the Ponzi Vineyards website

Visit the Ponzi Wine Bar website

2.  La Rambla  

A charming bistro located in historic McMinnville where Proprietor-Executive Chef Timothy Hodges delivers pastoral elegance in Spanish inspired tapas”

238 NE Third Street in Historic McMinnville, Oregon – Call for Reservations at  #503.435.2126

This one is a must on our Willamette Valley Restaurants tour! Tucked away in historic McMinnville is a culinary delight – a restaurant called La Rambla.  Executive Chef Timothy Hodges creates Willamette inspired Spanish tapas dishes that pair nicely with the local wines.  The combination of flavors and presentation of the food were a nice surprise followed by an afternoon of wine tastings while traveling the back country roads of McMinnville.  Many locals and wine visitors in the area stop here to either enjoy a house specialty cocktail at the long copper bar or sit at a bistro table under Gaudi-like hand-blown lamps for some tapas prepared from fresh local ingredients.

Wine Spectator bestowed the honor of the “Award of Excellence” and “Award of Distinction” to the deserving winner – La Rambla.

Chef Timothy Hodges greeted us with a glass of cuvée and a sampling of tapas including:

Cold Tapas – jamon serrano and jamon Iberico with arugula covered flatbread and olive oil

Vegetable Tapas – roasted delecata squash with thyme and caraway honey

Seafood Tapas – pan seared ahi tuna with fig and olive tapenade, capers and olive oil

Meat Tapas – lamb stew with rutabega gratin.
We plan to go back to try the La Rambla Paella – one of La Ramla’s best known dishes!

willamette valley restaurants

From their website, here’s an introduction what’s behind the restaurant name.

La Rambla, named for Barcelona’s famous avenue, specializes in the cuisines of the Iberian Peninsula.  Our menu is full of traditional favorites as well as lesser-known delicacies awaiting discovery by intrepid diners.  Tapas allow for perfect parings of wine and food, and allow diners to experience a variety of our treats.  We strive to use only the freshest, local ingredients in our recipes.  Our wine list is one of the most extensive in the state, with more than 350 entries from Oregon and from Spain – and of course our well-informed wait staff is always ready to make a suggestion.

3.  Subterra   

“A Wine Cellar Restaurant that serves comfort food in an intimate underground setting.”

1505 Portland Rd. (99W at Villa Rd.)
Newberg, OR 97132
(503) 538-6060

Located off the main street in Newberg, Subterra is a convenient location for a comfort food dining experience presented on a white tablecloth setting.  The entry to the restaurant takes you downstairs below ground where you can enjoy an intimate dinner in a wine cellar ambience.  After a day of wine tasting, we were hungry and ready for some comfort food.  The friendly down-to-earth staff presented us with the Roasted Hazelnut Crusted Rack of Lamb with Mint Pesto and Sautéed Fresh Alaskan Halibut Wrapped in Potato “Scales” and Served with a Pinot Noir Butter Sauce Reduction.  Be sure to save some room for the house specialty dessert – flaming banana fosters paired with an intense Spanish coffee!willamette valley restaurants

From the Subterra website, you can read more about the story of how this restaurant came about – also below:

Janet Bleck and her husband Martin along with son Kelsey moved to Oregon in  2008 from tropical Miami, Florida to fulfill their dream of living in the most beautiful state in the nation and participate in its vibrant and burgeoning food
and wine scene. Martin, a chef, and Janet, a caterer, come from the world of high-end, off-premise, full-service event planning. Janet founded Creative Tastes Catering in 1984 and grew it to be one of the largest event catering companies in the Miami area. In 1991 a young man named Martin applied for a prep cook job, and the rest is history! Garden Café Catering was founded in 2004 to provide all the food service needs at an 83-acre tropical garden venue named Fairchild Tropical Garden, including an award-winning Café, a seasonal restaurant, catering for festivals, groups and events, and more.  Although a fine dining restaurant was really not in the plans, when Janet and Martin saw the location of Subterra they saw potential in opening an affordable white tablecloth restaurant in this area. Subterra – A Wine Cellar Restaurant, was conceived, and offers lunch Monday through Friday and dinner daily. Additionally the wine bar offers small plates hors d’oeuvres, classic cocktails, craft beers, and affordable wines by the glass.



4.  Jory’s at The Allison 

“While at The Allison, check into Jory’s for a memorable Willamette dinner where Executive Chef Sunny Jin and Manager – Wine Director Tom Bean, a world class team, perfectly pair local wines with extraordinary Oregon cuisine.”

Last on out list of Willamette Valley Restaurants is Jory’s! For an extra special dining experience, we highly recommend staying at The Allison and checking yourself into Jory’s for dinner!  We had an unforgettable meal and savored every Oregon dish from the Chef’s Menu with local Wine Pairings at Jory’s, The Allison’s signature restaurant and bar.

Sharing the dishes and pairings from our Chef’s Menu below :

willamette valley restaurants