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Most come to Baker City for some of the best hiking, backpacking and snow sports in the state. But this historic town is also emerging as one of the coolest little foodie towns in Eastern Oregon, a secret haven for artisan food and drink. So why not pair your food-themed visit with a tour that deepens your understanding of the area? The new Taste of History tour does just that. The self-guided walking tour is a new offering from Go Wild, a Baker City-based tour company known for its gourmet backpacking excursions. This new tour stays on the pavement, taking you to several of the city’s decadent eateries for exclusive tastings and bites, all while providing audio narration of the town’s storied history.
Though Go Wild owner Dan Sizer first offered the tour as an in-person tour, demand for his time and COVID-19 precautions led him to create a virtual experience. Through a mobile app, the tour also uses your phone’s GPS to offer comparison photos of historic places around town and offers exclusive deals at the city’s top-notch eateries.
“We have this beautifully preserved downtown,” Sizer says. “You can see the gold-boom history in the architecture of the buildings. It’s juxtaposed [with] these young people coming back to town and helping keep that revitalization going. … It deepens the visitor experience to understand a place and its history.”
Here are some of the spots along the tour — and a few extras — that will make your road trip a memorable one.
Sweet Wife Baking
Located right on Main Street, you’ll want to start your day with a bacon-apple-maple scone from Sweet Wife Baking, where everything is 100% scratch-made. Sweet Wife prides itself on homemade versions of nostalgic treats, like Twinkies and Oreos. Sweet and savory, it’s all sublime — from the loaves of fresh-baked breads to the herbed goat-cheese quiche, hazelnut macarons, pork pie and whatever else comes out of the magical oven that day. Get there early before they sell out, and call at least three days in advance to preorder treats to take home (trust us, it’s worth it).
Barley Brown’s Restaurant
As a nice palate cleanser, head down the block to Barley Brown’s Restaurant for a refreshing pint. Malty, hoppy, fruity or even spicy, this family brewery isn’t afraid of bold flavors. For something new, try the hot black beer — cerveza negra caliente — a winter jalapeno ale with hints of chocolate and warming spices, finishing with a warming spice. Their Shredder’s Wheat, an American-style wheat beer, has won two gold medals in national and international beer competitions.
No food tour is complete without chocolate. Peterson’s Chocolates is an endorphin rush of handmade truffles, ganache and other chocolate confections. Wander and enjoy the creative space with a cup of French-pressed coffee or real drinking chocolate — the velvety smooth, semisweet, semibitter liquid indulgence.
Wander around the corner to Glacier45 Distillery to warm up with a nip of bourbon whiskey or hot-cinnamon vodka. Opened in 2016, the distillery’s corn vodka is made on-site, a process you can see behind the glass from the tasting-room floor. Their infused vodkas — cucumber, huckleberry or pepper — are also lovely straight-up or in a celebratory cocktail.
Geiser Grand Hotel
Next head across the street to a historic landmark. Built in 1889 and spectacularly restored in 1993, the Geiser Grand Hotel is a must-visit in Baker City. The elegant hotel is home to two restaurants, including the iconic Palm Court, where you can dine on farm-to-table feasts amidst ornate mahogany, crystal chandeliers and a giant stained-glass ceiling. Macabre enthusiasts will also be happy to learn that the hotel is one of the state’s many haunted spots.
Copper Belt Wines
Mosey over to Copper Belt Wines, which became the area’s first winery in 2010. Owner and winemaker Travis Cook planted his estate vineyard on the land of his family’s old homestead, part of the Snake River Valley AVA, but you can enjoy the rich wines in the comforts of downtown Baker City.
The Cheese Fairy
Your next stop is conveniently located in the Copper Belt Wines tasting room, so you can easily pair each vintage with a global cheese exploration. Opened in 2018 by Cook’s sister, Cody, The Cheese Fairy has developed a following of its own for its fresh-from-the-wheel slabs and slices. Try the aged gouda from Holland with notes of butterscotch, or a shop favorite, Campo de Montalban from Spain, a mix of cow, goat and sheep milk. They also have an excellent selection of accoutrements such as meats, olives and almond oils.
Take in a nightcap at Lefty’s Taphouse, home to 31 taps of craft beer and cider. There are plenty of non-beer and nonalcoholic drink options, too. The pizza menu is also noteworthy, with pies cooked in a stone oven and named after legendary baseball players. Try to time your visit with a live-music event or the First Friday Art Walk.
North Seven Brewing Co.
Craft-beer lovers won’t want to end their culinary outing without a stop in to North Seven Brewing Co. Named after “the most beautiful highway in Oregon,” Oregon Route 7 — which stretches between Prairie City and Baker City — the brewery started out as a home-brewing project that began winning national and international awards. Many of the beers proudly feature local malted barley from Baker City’s own award-winning Gold Rush Malt. Stop in for a rich, malty Wolfe Bait Porter or light-bodied Pythian Pale Ale.