McMinnville named second ‘foodiest’ town in the U.S.

McMinnville, a city renowned for its seat in wine country and significant use of local ingredients, was named one of “America’s Foodiest Towns” by national food magazine Bon Appétit in September.
According to the magazine’s website, the annual report on “America’s Foodiest Town” requires that towns have fewer than 250,000 people and be home to “quality farmers markets, concerned farmers, dedicated food media, first-rate restaurants, talented food artisans and a community of food lovers.”
The Oregonian got wind of the honor and published an article highlighting five McMinnville food attractions: the International Pinot Noir Celebration, Thistle, La Rambla Restaurant & Bar, Golden Valley Brewery & Restaurant and Tacos El Paraíso. These food and culture hubs range from a high class wine-and-tapas affair to a mobile taco cart.
The International Pinot Noir Celebration, a focal point in Bon Appétit’s recognition of McMinnville, is an annual three-day event. The ticket price for 2011 is $895 for the full weekend of July 29-31, and is likely a major deterrent to the college student population.
However, Linfield students, such as sophomore Meagan Gear, who worked as a server at the 2010 event, can still catch a glimpse — and a taste — of the food festivities, from the Salmon Bake to the Champagne Brunch.
“The food was amazing. There were three days of meals catered by chefs from everywhere using local ingredients and wine,” Gear said. “There were about 50 tables, each with a designated winery representative sitting at the table to tell guests about their wines.”
McMinnville’s other, more familiar but no less delicious, food venues, including Golden Valley Brewery’s fare of local beef burgers, may be more successful in attracting Linfield patrons.
Golden Valley Brewery has had a long relationship with Linfield, hiring students and attracting professors and other college customers, owner Peter Kircher said. Kircher volunteers with Partners in Progress for the college.
“I had a super-cheesy fettuccine alfredo at Golden Valley. It was good. It was a little bit pricey but not bad,” sophomore Rachel Go said. “If you go there, I’d bring about $20. It’d be enough for an entree and a drink.”
Go enjoys food locations in McMinnville, but said she was surprised to hear about its recent honor.
“There are a lot of good places to eat on Third Street, like Thai Country, Serendipity Ice Cream and Honest Chocolates. But I didn’t know McMinnville was such a food town,” she said. “Now that I know about McMinnville’s reputation, I’ll definitely go out and try more restaurants.”

Place: Thistle serves food dubbed “Modern American” cuisine.
Time: Open 5:30 – 10 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.
Location: 228 NE Evans Street
Recommended dish: Thistle’s menu changes every day. Entrees run at about $19.

Place: Golden Valley Brewery offers suburban food. Some dishes are prepared with natural beef products from its ranch and fresh produce from its organic garden.
Time: Open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Location: 980 NE 4th Street
Recommended dish: Owner Peter Kirchner recommends the chicken pot pie made with fresh pastry and lots of vegetables ($14.95).

Place: Tacos El Paraíso is a taco cart with an emphasis on cooking with offal — parts of the animal that might normally be considered waste.
Location: In the AutoZone parking lot at, 101 NW 15th Street.
Recommended dish: Beef tripe tacos, brains, juicy chunks of tongue, pork stomach, skin and mild goat.

Place: La Rambla offers Northwest-inspired Spanish cuisine.
Time: Open for lunch daily 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; for dinner from 5 – 9 p.m. Open 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Location: 238 NE Third Street
Recommended dish: La Rambla Sous Chef James Airaudi recommends the chicharones, deep-fried pork skins served with bacon crème fraiche ($6) the traditional paella ($19) or the Bodegas platter that includes Serrano ham, chorizo, three imported cheeses and bread from Red Fox Bakery ($18).

Gabi Nygaard/Staff reporter
Gabi Nygaard can be reached at

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