February 8th, 2021

Winter outdoor dining? We’re in!

Outdoor entrance to Tequila grill. You can see signage requiring social distancing and mask requirements. In the background, you there's a large patio space with much tent cover.
Entrance to Tequila Grill and Tacos el Gordo

Oregonians have grown accustomed to the gray skies and wet climate that February brings, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t praying for those dry days where the sunshine blasts away the clouds and dries out the ground a bit.  These days are few and far between this time of year, but when they come, they bring about a sense of relief, lightness, and well-being that is undeniable.  

On the darker days, though, we long to get out of the house and enjoy a change of scenery.  While we’ve gotten some comfort in supporting local restaurants by ordering take-out, it’s probably safe to say that a great many of us are missing the experience of dining out at restaurants.   

A large outdoor dining tent with sides.  There are heaters and several picnic tables nestled within.
Heated covered space is abundant at Tequila Grill/Tacos el Gordo.

Yet as we begin to yearn for last summer’s epic outdoor dining scene, restaurants have responded by raising dining tents throughout McMinnville, putting a halt to our languishing and keeping the monotony of a COVID winter at bay. 

Luckily, we Oregonians are of the hardy sort, and outdoor dining in the winter has become a welcome adventure.  Here are some places to enjoy a meal out this weekend.*

A man and woman sit at a picnic table beneath a dining tent. They appear to be talking, and each have a mimosa in front of them. Romantic lights hang from the top of the tent and blooming plants grow up a wall in the background.
Red Hills Kitchen brings the romance to tented dining.

Downtown Historic District:

1882 Grille (Thursday-Sunday, hours vary): They have multiple heated covered and uncovered patio areas.  They also welcome well-behaved pups!

Bistro Maison (Tuesday-Saturday, 5-10pm):  We’re happy to find that in-person fine dining options are still available this winter!  The covered tables are limited, so definitely call ahead.

Crescent Café (Thursday-Sunday, 7:30am-2pm): Crescent Café is one of McMinnville’s favorite breakfast restaurants.  Make your reservation and bundle up!  

Red Hills Kitchen (Thursday-Sunday, hours vary): This is probably the classiest tent in town, and they have heat blowing in to keep it nice and toasty.  

Golden Valley Brewery (Open daily, hours vary): You’ll find plenty of outdoor seating here, and they’ve got a firepit to warm you up as well.

Los Molcajetes (Open daily, hours vary): You’ll get delicious food with huge portions here.  You’ll be sure to warm up with their tortilla soup and a margarita!

McMenamins Hotel Oregon (Open daily, hours vary): Enjoy plenty of options for covered outdoor dining, including the rooftop, multiple heated ground level tents, and sidewalk tables. 

Morning Thunder Cafe (Open daily, 8am-2pm): This breakfast/lunch spot is a local favorite.  Their tent just popped up and we’re looking forward to warming up to some delicious biscuits & gravy!

Pura Vida (Monday-Saturday, hours vary): Pura Vida has been killing it with their to-go options throughout the pandemic, and have just opened for outdoor seating this week.  Reservations can be made online.

Two Dogs Taphouse (Wednesday-Sunday, hours vary): Two Dogs has been open less than a year, but has already become very popular.  They’ve got 7 tables outside on the sidewalk, and if rain is expected, they’ll put out some pop-up tents.  Seating is first come, first served.

Outside of the downtown core:

Alf’s Homemade Ice Cream and Burgers (Open daily, hours vary): Alf’s has an appealing retro feel in both the menu and the decor.  Prices are affordable and there’s a lot of space to spread out on their patio.

Grain Station Brew Works (Open daily, hours vary): While we miss dining inside of the cozy renovated old timber barn, we appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the great beer and food under the large pop-up tent or the covered gazebo outside.  

Mac Market (Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-8pm): There is an abundance of outdoor seating at Mac Market, and most of it is covered.  Grab hot coffee or tea, a cocktail, beer, or wine from inside, and many food choices are available as well.  The rotating menu at Collab Kitchen never disappoints, cure your sweet tooth at gluten-free bakery Flour & Fern, or visit the food carts outside, which include Crave Minidonuts, The Red Fork, and sometimes, Hawaii Five-O-Three.  Hours of the food trucks and Flour & Fern vary.

Mezcal Sabores  (Monday-Saturday, 11am-7pm): Mezcal has two heated tent areas in their back courtyard.  Everything we’ve tried at this family-owned restaurant has been delicious, but this time of year, we really recommend their flavorful pozole.

Tequila Grill and Tacos el Gordo food stand (Open daily, hours vary): Tequila Grill and Tacos el Gordo are right next to each other and share their heated (mostly covered) outdoor patio space.  Both do a high volume of business and have great food.  We love all of the hot sauce options to choose from at the food stand.  Both are definitely a local favorite.

*It’s important to check with the businesses directly to see if reservations are needed, or to ensure that their status or hours have gone unchanged.  Also check with your favorites that are not listed, for we may have missed seeing a tent pop up, and more restaurants are adding outdoor opportunities regularly.

About the Author: Jamie Corff is the Marketing Coordinator for Visit McMinnville. It’s common to find her enjoying the arts in the form of theater, music, and the written word. She is also a passionate cheerleader for her beloved Downtown McMinnville and the people and businesses that are integral to its vibrancy.