May 24th, 2021

What to expect at this summer’s McMinnville Dine Out(Side)

A server delivers beer to a table of diners.
Patrons enjoy Dine Out(side) on Third Street in 2020.

Third Street’s epicurean playground is coming back to life, and come Memorial Day Weekend, the food moves out into the street again this summer. 

McMinnville’s Dine Out(Side) program was born out of necessity in 2020, as pandemic restrictions on indoor capacity prompted many restaurants to offer outdoor seating during weekends on a street closed to vehicular traffic.

It was a hit, and now it’s a thing.

McMinnville Downtown Association Executive Director Dave Rucklos estimates that around 600-700 people took advantage of street seating last year, sampling the area’s fine wines and delicious food while enjoying an ambience not unlike London’s Carnaby Street or the Rue Mouffetard in Paris, where the streets are for people, not cars. 

Three cyclists ride down the middle of the street, between two cordoned off sections of outdoor diners.  One cyclist waves.
The absence of cars left plenty of room and ease for cyclists to enjoy Third Street.

“It’s a rather dynamic experience,” Rucklos said. “Not having cars on the street makes it look like there’s less activity, but the retail community down there has tried to embrace it.” 

Restaurant participation is up to around thirty, thanks in part to adding the block between Ford and Davis that includes 1882 Grille, Chris James Cellars, Bierly Brewing and Two Dogs Taphouse, which is located in the historic Taylor-Dale Hardware building.

A server pours wine at a table with a couple enjoying a wine flight.
There are several tasting rooms participating in this year’s Dine Out(Side),
including R. Stuart & Co., pictured here.

Dine Out(Side) begins May 28 and runs Friday-Sunday for June, and then includes Thursdays from July 4 through Labor Day. Reservations for outdoor seating are highly encouraged and often required. 

If you didn’t venture out last summer, take it from the locals who did: You need to do this.  

“We absolutely loved it,” Melissa Pope told me. “With no thru traffic, our kids could play and scooter while us parents enjoyed a cool drink. It really allowed you to enjoy the magic of downtown Mac without worrying about cars.”

A server delivers two cocktails to a couple seated at an outdoor table.

“We took advantage of it a few times,” said Patty VanDyke Howd. “We celebrated our 25th anniversary with dinner at Nick’s and they spoiled us when they found out. It was a fun way to experience summer in a small town.”

Keep in mind:

  • Dine Out(Side) isn’t just for dinner; many restaurants do breakfast and lunch, including McMenamins, Crescent Cafe and Community Plate.
  • It’s not just for full meals! You’re in the heart of wine country, and Third Street has tasting rooms and tap houses aplenty for you to sample our best.
  • It’s not just outside; if you prefer to dine indoors, that’s still an option. Note: Some local businesses still require masks indoors (and some even outdoors), so if that matters to you, ask when making your reservation.
  • There’s plenty to do: Art galleries, a fabulous bookstore, and an old fashioned ice cream parlor are among Third Street’s many delights. 
A table full of people sit at night, lit by twinkle lights in the trees and street lamps.  Two women cheers.

The word is out: McMinnville’s Dine (Out)Side was wildly popular — during a pandemic. This year, expect high demand for the pedestrian-friendly fun. “Get a reservation,” Rucklos advises. “It’s going to be that kind of summer.”

A cartoon of David Bates

David Bates is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater productions since 1998.