: NashCo Photo

Dine and Relax at the Roadhouses Around Mt. Hood

Enjoy comfort food, live music and more at these stops on your next road trip.
April 8, 2024

For many decades Oregon’s Highway 26 has connected travelers from Portland heading southeastward to campgrounds and hiking trails on the forested slopes of Mt. Hood. These outdoor adventures have always generated hungry visitors. Enter the roadhouse, a popular pit stop known for hearty fare and a fun atmosphere. Part bar, part restaurant, roadhouses first took root along backcountry byways across the United States in the late 1800s and distinguished themselves from more traditional diners by typically offering live music, dancing and lodging in down-home digs. By the early 1900s, the first log-cabin-inspired roadhouses opened along Highway 26 and across Oregon. 

Today a charming blend of old-school lodges and newer, vintage-inspired eateries offers plenty to love in the shadow of Oregon’s tallest peak — including live music, comfort food and comfortable chatter with residents. Here’s a guide to the historic and hip roadhouses of Highway 26.

An employee holding 3 plates of food poses for a photo inside a diner.
Huckleberry Inn, courtesy of Shawn Linehan

Fuel Up With Hearty Breakfast for a Day of Fun

Most roadhouses on Mt. Hood cater to post-adventure travelers by staying open well into the evening, but a few restaurants open early for filling breakfasts and fuel for a day outdoors.

In Welches Whistle Stop dishes diner-style breakfasts with a menu that includes all the classic favorites, including omelets, chicken-fried steak and a French toast dish crafted with brioche from Portland’s Grand Central Bakery. Enjoy breakfast in Whistle Stop’s tavern-inspired dining room or on the back patio, where a fire pit and comfortable chairs await.

Just up the highway in Rhododendron, the Zigzag Mountain Cafe pairs its all-wood interior and alpine motif with a stick-to-your-ribs food menu that includes a handful of filling scrambles. The Tostada Scramble comes stuffed with chorizo sausage, for instance, while the Pacific Northwest-inspired Zig Zag Scramble is filled with smoked salmon and topped with crème fraîche. 

Perhaps the most famous breakfast on Mt. Hood can be found at the Huckleberry Inn, whose huckleberry pancakes have been a menu favorite since the family-owned restaurant opened in 1966. The slightly tart, dark blue berry grows in the neighboring forests. If visiting later in the day, save room for a slice of pie or a milkshake made from the same delicious berries.

Overhead view of plates of Asian cuisine from Koya Kitchen.
Courtesy of Koya Kitchen

Hang Out at Newer Roadhouse-Inspired Spots

Rub elbows with friendly regulars over cold beers at some of the newer spots along Highway 26 that keep the roadhouse spirit alive with filling food menus and amiable atmospheres. Koya Kitchen isn’t a historic roadhouse but takes its inspiration from them. The Welches restaurant occupies a forested campus that includes a trailer that churns out a wide range of Asian-inspired dishes, traditional indoor seating, as well as a massive outdoor seating area festooned with strings of lights. There visitors can lounge about around fire pits, in small tents and in a wooden structure that resembles the Tilly Jane A-Frame lodging — one of the oldest buildings on Mt. Hood.

Everyone is in a jovial mood at Al Forno Ferruzza in Rhododendron, where a cozy bar invites socializing mere steps from a stone fireplace, and large windows let in plenty of sunshine on summer afternoons. A sun-kissed back patio invites lingering. The pizzeria specializes in Sicilian pizzas that are baked at 800 degrees in a stone-hearth oven for the perfect balance of char and thin, chewy crust.

People dining inside a diner.
Skyway Bar and Grill, courtesy of NashCO Photo

Listen to Live Music on the Mountain

Keep the fun going at several Mt. Hood venues that routinely host live music. In Welches Wraptitude is best known for a fresh, filling food menu that leans heavily on burgers and wraps. The eatery’s decor includes skis, snowboards and Mt. Hood-themed posters hanging from the walls; a tiki-themed bar area is ringed by a grassy overhang. Outside, local bands perform on the restaurant’s back patio, where several picnic tables — some of which are covered — sit under strings of lights and in the shadow of towering fir trees.

Celebrated for its house-smoked meats, Skyway Bar and Grill in Zigzag has an enormous al fresco dining area that’s home to dozens of picnic tables, fire pits and strands of twinkling lights. Live musicians play inside on Friday and Saturday nights in winter — where a cozy interior teeming with historic photographs, playful decorations and tin ceiling tiles recalls roadhouses of yesteryear — and move to a covered stage on the back patio for shows in summer.

Charlie’s Mountain View, sitting in the heart of Government Camp, is one of the most popular nighttime hangouts anywhere on Mt. Hood. Adorned in bric-a-brac celebrating nearly 50 years as a hub of nightlife, the bar routinely hosts local and touring acts that perform country tunes, covers of hit songs and more.

About The

Matt Wastradowski
Matt Wastradowski is a travel and outdoors writer living in Portland, Oregon. He’s written about the outdoors, craft beer, history, and more for the likes of Outside, the REI Co-op Journal, Willamette Week, 1859, and Northwest Travel & Life.

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