July 5th, 2022

New restaurants Humble Spirit and ōkta set to open on 3rd Street

A man toils with a plow in a field.  Greenhouses, flowering plants and a cloudy sky are in the background.
Ōkta Farm. Photo courtesy of ōkta.

If you’re sensing change as you walk down McMinnville’s historic Main Street, you’re right in step. The town once called “The 2nd Foodiest Small Town in America” (that was Bon Appétit magazine, in 2010, by the way), will see two bold new hospitality ventures this month that aim to capture the hearts of both the local community and wine country capital’s upscale travelers.

Casual fare: Farm-to-table feast

The downtown neighborhood gets a new bistro in Humble Spirit, a farm-to-table local set to take over the former 411 location. The new venture pairs a strict farm-to-table ethos with a light-hearted approach to casual dining, all situated in a laid-back space marked by warm wood.

“We truly want to be a part of the neighborhood,” says Brett Uniss, executive chef. “We want the farmers we partner with to be able to eat here.”

Uniss has an illustrious past working alongside some of the country’s biggest voices in food – like Chef Jose Andres, Thomas Keller (from Bouchon Bakery, Per Se, and Napa’s The French Laundry) – all within traditions focused on seasonality. 

He and Director of Hospitality Andrew Mosblech developed the restaurant’s program as part of Brenda Smola-Foti and Frank Foti’s The Ground, a farm project at Tabula Rasa Farms (Carlton) that explores human’s interconnectedness with nature. Along with a farmhouse AirBnB, and a boutique hotel they are building on the Carlton farm, The Ground is poised to bring a deep love of interconnectedness to the local hospitality scene.

Make it fancy: McMinnville gets a two Michelin-starred chef

How elevated will the atmosphere be at the other restaurant opening this month, ōkta? The word is a reference to one meteorologists use for cloud cover, but you can expect Executive Chef Matthew Lightner to do something more like shoot for the moon. 

The Michelin-starred chef, best known in Oregon circles for his work in the late 2000s at Portland’s upscale Italian Castagna, brings creativity and an expansive understanding of the art of food to his new Oregon wine country venture in the space next door to the vacant space formerly occupied by Two Dogs Taphouse (which plans its own re-opening in a building at 401 NE Evans Street).

What can we expect from ōkta? The team is a little more hush hush on the menu, but Lightner has spent the past two years exploring in his home food lab just seven miles from the restaurant. The hubbub surrounding the opening has been mysterious, with a high level of buzz.

At ōkta, which will take up the space below the new boutique Tributary Hotel, guests can anticipate a high level of experimentation and inventive takes on Oregon ingredients sourced directly from Lightner’s farm and from local meat producers. Its new home abuts the 1917 Tayler-Dale building, which began as a hardware store but has had various incarnations including a furniture maker’s shop, a dance school, and a tap room. 

Illustration of writer, Emily Grosvenor

Emily Grosvenor is the Editor of Oregon Home magazine and sustainability coordinator for #mcminnvilledentist.