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A Foodie's Guide to the Pacific Northwest
Enjoy charming wineries and farm-to-table
restaurants in culinary capitals like Seattle and Vancouver.
From Seattle's vibrant markets to Portland, Oregon's flourishing street food scene, here are can't-miss spots for food lovers across the Pacific Northwest.(Getty Images)
Home to scenic coastal cities with laid-back vibes, beer gardens and fresh seafood, it's not hard to see why thousands of foodies flock to the Pacific Northwest every year. Between the abundant rows of grapes in Washington and organic farms and ever-growing street food scene in Oregon, this area has become a mecca for food lovers across the world.
Unlike other parts of the country, the Pacific Northwest is more of an eclectic melting pot of foraged flavors. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have its own key characteristics. Known as the home of the farm-to-table movement, in the Pacific Northwest, the one thing you'll find in almost any restaurant, café, farm stand and market is fresh, organic goods. From homemade cheeses to farmed salmon and abundant organic produce, the food of the Pacific Northwest is as enticing as its scenic landscapes. So what should you eat when visiting Oregon and British Columbia? This guide will help you discover the best eats during your stay in the region.
Few places in the world offer better seafood entrees than the Pacific Northwest. Thanks to its location on the picturesque coastline of the Pacific Ocean, freshly caught salmon, King crab, halibut, herring, oysters and other seafood staples abound across the area. The best part? You can find it served any way under the sun, whether it's smoked, grilled, salt-cured, baked or raw. To see the true variety of seafood fare, stop by Seattle's iconic Pike Place Market or peruse the fish aisle in Vancouver's Granville Island Public Market. Another must-try in the Pacific Northwest: oysters. Whether you want them fried or slurped with an array of hot sauce, you're bound to find a delicious assortment.
The Pacific Northwest isn't just a seafood paradise. It's also a popular place for cheese lovers. The region is home to an abundance of superlative creameries producing some of the country's finest cheddars, goudas, curds and more. Places like Tillamook along the northern coast of Oregon produce sharp, decadent cheddar, while Cascadia Creamery in Trout Lake, Washington, produces a hearty blue cheese and Central Coast Creamery serves semi-soft artisan cheese varieties.
Thanks to Portland's expansive collection of savory and sweet snacks served on street carts, the Pacific Northwest has become a haven for street food. With almost 1,000 carts offering eclectic international eats across Portland's vibrant neighborhoods, you can find a diverse selection of street fare including Thai, Mexican and Chinese cuisine across the city. And tasty street food can be found all over the region now too, from the streets of Vancouver to market stalls of Seattle.
With more than 550 breweries spanning across British Columbia, Oregon and Washington, this region is one of the largest beer producing areas in North America. For those with a love of stout, sip The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery in Portland. If ale is your preferred poison, indulge in a Bourbon Barrel Aged Abominable, which hails from Seattle. The area is also known for their hoppy IPAs and pale ales.
As the birthplace of Starbucks, the Pacific Northwest has no shortage of coffee. No matter where you go, whether it's on the coast of Oregon, the wine valleys of Washington or the busy streets of Vancouver, you're bound to find a locally run coffee shop brewing and roasting a bold cup of joe. You'd be remiss if you left the area without visiting Stumptown in Portland, Oregon, which features an impressive list of single-origin brewed coffee. And in between the borders of Washington and Oregon you'll find the crowd-pleasing Olympia Coffee Roasting Company, which has a notable selection of organic coffees.
The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the best wines in North America, hailing from the breathtaking Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, the Walla Walla Valley wine region in Washington and the stunning Willamette Valley in Oregon. With hundreds of thousands of acres of grapes planted throughout the region, you can truly take your pick from world-class wines. Choose from the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays of Oregon, the hearty Cabernet Sauvignons and refreshing Rieslings of Washington or the bold Merlots from British Columbia.
The location of the mouthwatering mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest are held dear to the local foragers and mushroom hunters, so unless you're in the know, you might not get a chance to traipse through the woods plucking morels from the ground. However, a beautiful assortment of your favorite fungi, including shiitake, fat ring mushrooms and more can be found at nearly every farmers market up and down the coast. Plus, restaurants are finding innovative ways to serve up these vegetables, making a mushroom lover out of almost anyone.
The Pacific Northwest didn't start the doughnut trend, but they certainly helped it grow into the national sensation it is today. With famed bakeries like Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon (made famous thanks to their popular Maple Bacon Donut), Top Pot Doughnuts in Seattle and Cartems Donuterie in Vancouver, hundreds of doughnut fanatics are flocking to this region for their favorite varieties. Cream filled, glazed, deep fried or baked, the doughnuts in the Pacific Northwest are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
The Pacific Northwest might be known the world over for its seafood, but the region is also renowned for its game meats. On many restaurants in the big cities in the region, and especially in the country, you'll find moose, deer, caribou, elk and even bear on the menu. Typically grilled or roasted, these game meats have a distinctive flavor. If you're new to the game meat trend, try it cured or dried to get your palate used to the strong taste.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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