If you’re hankering for a taste of the Oregon Coast, head to Tillamook, where you’ll find a blossoming culinary scene of craft beer, award-winning cheese and freshly caught seafood. The town lays claim to a number of spots on the North Coast Food Trail, so grab a bite, take a tour and pack some coastal treasures in the cooler to bring some treats home — if they make it that far, that is.
Fans of Pacific City-based Pelican Brewing Company can find all their favorite ales and lagers in Tillamook, too. Located downtown, Pelican Brewery & Tap Room is hard to leave once you’ve found a perch at the friendly bar. Enjoy any one of Pelican’s signature brews, including Kiwanda Cream Ale, Doryman’s Dark Ale and Tsunami Stout. Their beers pair well with their food items, like a tasty bowl of clam chowder, a basket of fish and chips, or an elk burger.
Tillamook is also home to de Garde Brewing, a farmhouse-style brewery specializing in natural fermentation to create flavors you won’t find anywhere else. Before it is aged in a barrel, each beer is fermented with wild yeasts and microflora in a large open vat called a coolship, so no two beers are ever the same. That means you’ll just have to come back to try their latest concoction. Their ever-rotating selections are available on tap, in bottles and in growlers for sale in the downtown tasting room.
You almost can’t mention Tillamook without talking about cheese (the city is a mainstay on the Oregon Cheese & Food Trail, after all). The iconic Tillamook Creamery churns out several thousands of pounds of cheese per day. Take a self-guided tour of the facility; just be sure to come during the weekday for less crowds and a glimpse into real-time production processes, from curd pressing to baby cheese-loaf packaging. Sample classic flavors of cheddar, colby and jack — and score some cheese curds, which are exclusively sold at the creamery and a few other places. And don’t forget the ice cream.
Learn how they make their extra-creamy creations at the Exclusive Ice Cream Experience, a private small-group tour that gives you an intimate view of production — plus the chance to be a taste-tester for the latest flavors. You can purchase dozens of unique flavor combinations, including some you can’t get anywhere else. Oregon Blueberry Patch, anyone?
Tillamook Creamery isn’t the only cheese factory in town. Tillamook’s Blue Heron French Cheese Co. has been in the cheese game for 40 years. The creamery is famous for its brie, which it makes in a variety of flavors. Try it baked with a baguette or in a sandwich at the Blue Heron Delicatessen, a great lunch spot with a full menu. Take home locally made treats from the shop to pair with your cheese like spices, dressings, charcuterie — even smoked seafood.
If you’re a fan of shellfish, don’t leave the area without a trip to JAndy Oyster Co. Since 2012 the company has been raising beach-grown oysters in Netarts Bay, and it has a storefront near the Tillamook Air Museum. Open Wednesday through Saturday, you can purchase oysters wholesale or for takeaway, or eat them right on the spot at the oyster bar. No matter whether you order them raw, in a po’ boy or fried, these are oysters you can feel good about eating. The company prides itself on its ecological farming practices and aims to be a zero-waste operation.
If you want to cook a meal during your visit to Tillamook or just want to bring the region’s fresh, local products home with you, you’re in luck. At Food Roots’ FarmTable, you can buy groceries directly from more than 50 of Tillamook County’s small-scale farmers, ranchers, fishers and cheesemakers. In addition to keeping your dollars local, you’re also supporting the organization’s Farm to School program.
Serving an upscale menu of French-influenced Pacific Northwest modern cuisine in a retro downtown dining room, Pacific Restaurant is an excellent choice for dinner. The restaurant has a rotating menu with highlights such as smoked duck, pan-roasted salmon and steak frites. Don’t forget about their inventive cocktails in their full bar.
Comfort-food lovers will want to check out the menu at Recess Food Truck, which specializes in locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create a menu of items named after schoolyard games. Try the Miss Mary Mac N Cheese, a play on the old song, or the King of the Playground bacon cheeseburger. Save some room for desserts like the Patty Cake Sugar Cream Cake, sweet with cream custard and blueberry sauce, which has a following of its own.