One of Eastern Oregon’s best kept secrets is the bounty of talented chefs and excellent eateries hidden away in its small towns. Eastern Oregonians know that food tastes best where it’s grown, and that it’s worth traveling off the beaten path for the perfect steak dinner or an expertly brewed pint. Discover these local culinary gems and meet the farmers, ranchers, brewers and winemakers who are the secret behind Eastern Oregon’s bounty on this Northeast Farm-to-Fork Culinary Roadtrip.
Begin your roadtrip in the charming, artist community of Joseph. Nestled in the spectacular Wallowas, one of Oregon’s 7 Wonders, Joseph’s Main Street is lined with art galleries, boutiques, cozy wine and coffee shops, and breweries. Don’t miss the public Bronze Art Walk, which includes seven permanent bronze art pieces on display here.
Pop into Arrowhead Chocolates for their signature drink: A mocha made with Stumptown Coffee, melted chocolate and homemade whipped cream. Don’t leave town without sampling the local chocolatier’s 40 plus delectable flavors of chocolate truffles, barks and bars made with local, organic ingredients.
Tour the Stein Distillery, a family-run micro-distillery, and learn about the careful, hands-on process behind Stein’s tasty libations.
Then designate a driver and order up a brew with a view at one of the region’s award-winning breweries. Mutiny Brewing, in Joseph, offers tasty pub fare and handcrafted suds like (S)wheat, a light, slightly citrusy beer that evokes summertime. Down the road in Enterprise, Terminal Gravity serves up its namesake IPA and a million-dollar view of the snow-capped Wallowas from its porch-lined craftsman house turned tasting room.
Book a table and a teepee at RimRock Inn, 34 miles north of Enterprise on Highway 3. The menu features scratch-made meals like Sarsaparilla Wagyu Meatloaf and Saffron Lemon Chicken made with fresh, local, organic ingredients. Reserve one of the Inn’s plushly furnished teepees or book the luxurious Chief Joseph Suite. Then sip an award-winning Oregon microbrew or glass of wine and savor the panoramic views of the impressive Joseph Creek Canyon.
From Enterprise, follow Highway 82 as it winds its way through rich farmland, dense forests, and friendly small towns to La Grande, a college town in the lush Grande Ronde Valley.
Just up the road in Union, the Union County Museum pays homage to the region’s rich farming and ranching tradition with displays devoted to agriculture and timber, as well as a fascinating Cowboys Then and Now exhibit, which traces the history of cattle and cowboys in the American West.
If you’re visiting the area on a Tuesday or Saturday, make time to visit the open-air La Grande Farmer’s Market and its bounty of local produce, meat, eggs, baked goods, and other speciality foods. The Market is open Tuesdays from 3:30-6pm and Saturdays from 9-noon.
La Grande offers several eateries to tempt your tastebuds. Mamacita’s Restaurant and Cantina mixes international flavors with a Northwest flare, while the brick-walled Ten Depot Street offers tender steaks, flavorful pasta dishes and a wine list packed with award-winning wines from throughout the Pacific Northwest.
From La Grande, head south on Interstate 84 to the charming community of Baker City. Grab brunch at the Lone Pine Cafe, a brick- and stone-lined breakfast spot serving up scratch-made breakfast classics like farm fresh eggs, crispy bacon, and thick slices of house-made German rye toast.
Work off breakfast with a visit to the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, where life-size dioramas, a replica wagon encampment, engaging videos, and pioneer artifacts transport visitors along the 2,000-mile journey west. The Center also offers unique experiences like a Dutch Oven cooking class and an interactive Wagons Ho! exhibit, where guests can try their hand at packing a full-size wagon.
Allow time to hike the Center’s four miles of trails, which lead to sweeping views of the Blue Mountains and some of the best-preserved wagon ruts of the Oregon Trail.
The nearby Baker County Heritage Museum explores themes ranging from local wildlife to turn-of-the-century mining artifacts and is worth a stop.
Spend the afternoon wandering around the art galleries, wine shops, breweries and eateries that make up Baker City’s historic downtown district. The city boasts more than 100 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Be sure to pick up a Historic Walking Tour Map, which details several of the most visited buildings.
Peterson’s Gallery & Chocolatier combines handmade truffles, ganache, and rich drinking chocolate with upscale local artwork. While the nearby Zephyr Bakery whips up sweet, seasonal pastries and piping hot java for hungry guests.
Designate a driver and spend happy hour at Barley Brown’s Taphouse, the GABF 2013 Brewery of the Year. Barley Brown’s keeps 22 beers on tap; each is hand-crafted and many of them are award-winners. Get started with the Tumble Off Ale or the Pallet Jack IPA.