July 3rd, 2019

Must-Eat McMinnville

From arancini to zucchini bread, McMinnville offers plenty of eating opportunities. It would be impossible to get through all of the good things in a month, let alone a weekend. Below are my personal McMinnville “must eats,” the places I take out-of-towners and things I insist, er, suggest they order there.

Cinnamon Roll at Bad Dog Bakery
Arrive at this food truck early if you want a cinnamon roll before they sell out. Squishy spirals, they’re not too sweet yet very craveable, especially with a cup of Flag & Wire Coffee. Sold out? Bad Dog’s bagels with caramelized onion cream cheese are great, too. 

Valley Special at Pizza Capo
You can’t go wrong at Pizza Capo, but the Neapolitan-style pie I *always* order is the weekly Valley Special. It features seasonal ingredients in interesting combinations. Think purple broccoli, romanesco cauliflower, sausage, provolone, and a swizzle of herby gremolata in March, or smoked mozzarella with roasted potato, pork belly, and onion in October. 

Cajun Tots at McMenamins Hotel Oregon Rooftop Bar 
The tots aren’t the point, the view is, but there’s no finer tot than a cajun-spiced one. 

Sopes at Pura Vida Cocina
Everything at Pura Vida feels virtuously nourishing yet robustly satisfying, and the sopes strike the perfect balance. Pudgy little masa cakes topped with vegetables and grilled chicken, zippy pickled red onions and salsa verde alongside. I only stray if there’s mole on special. 

Dinner at The Diner
Locals know that McMinnville’s diner has epic breakfasts, but go for weekend dinners to experience locally-grown and foraged ingredients in dishes such as shrimp linguini with asparagus, morel mushrooms, and green garlic. 

Fried Pickles and a Milkshake at Alf’s
The kitchy retro charm of this 1950’s burger stand would be enough to draw me in in the summer months, and Alf’s delivers on Americana treats. 

Glazed Doughnut at Roth’s Fresh Market
Not everyone shares this opinion, but I maintain that the doughnuts (specifically the plain glazed) at locally-owned grocery store Roth’s are the best around.

Mesquite-Grilled Chicken
The first meal I ate after moving to McMinnville was a homemade taco stuffed with smoky chicken from El Rancho Market, a weekend special that they grill outdoors. It’s still a grab-and-go favorite and the version from Tacos el Gordo (outside Tequila Grill) is great, too. 

Cocktails at Thistle
I love the food at Thistle, but a more budget-friendly option is to simply stop in for a drink. Expect expertly-mixed, classic cocktails in a candlelit room that will make you feel fancy. 

Emily Teel is McMinnville resident and Food & Drink Editor at the Statesman Journal.