Is there anything more delightful than exploring the Columbia River Gorge? How about if you add tasting wine, jams, fresh orchard fruit and artisan treats from farm stands and purveyors along the famous Hood River County Fruit Loop? The famed 35-mile route — with 17 farm stands, 10 wineries, three cideries, six berry farms and two lavender farms (with lavender spice blends, pancake mixes, honeys infused sugars and more) — celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2018, and luckily, there are plenty of places to get some solid lunch grub along the way.
Here are several of our top-notch lunch spots along the Fruit Loop:
Brunchers rejoice, the ultra-popular Portland-based Broder has a not-so-secret location in downtown Hood River. Breakfast and lunch are served all day (until 3 p.m.) at Broder Øst, best known for Scandinavian treats like aebleskivers (Danish pancakes), lefse (Norwegian potato crepes) and smorrebrod (open-faced sandwiches). Restore yourself with a strong coffee or mimosa, and marvel at the historic photos in the recently restored lobby of the historic Hood River Hotel in the adjoining space.
Apple Valley BBQ
This smokin’ hot family-run barbecue joint in Parkdale is known for their cherry wood-smoked pulled pork, prime rib and jerk chicken on a soft in-house buns. The sides are worth the trip alone: Go for the pear coleslaw, spicy green beans, corn bread salad and homemade bread pudding. Quench your thirst with a pint on tap from nearby Double Mountain Brewery, Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, Full Sail Brewery or Parkdale’s own Solera Brewery.
Smack in the middle of the loop at its southernmost point in Parkdale, this small-batch brewery offers a small but inspired lunch menu to keep the hunger at bay, while their focus is on their innovative beers. Try the coconut curried soup or Cuban sandwich, or their satisfying “huge bean and cheese burrito,” with vegetarian and gluten-free options available. Settle down with a Hedonist IPA, or one of their beers aged in wine and whiskey barrels, on the dog-friendly patio with views of Mt. Hood and it’ll be a good day.
The Gorge White House Cafe
Yes, there’s a food cart out here in the farmland of Hood River, on the grounds of a cheery wine tasting room and U-pick strawberry field that get quite busy in the summertime. Make a feast of the cafe’s fresh-to-order burgers and flatbreads, with picnic table seating in the shade and sun (sorry, no outside food allowed). Wash it all down with a cold rose or crisp cider, and cap it off with those juicy, sweet Hood strawberries, which typically burst onto the scene in late May or early June. Open Friday through Monday.
Saw Tooth Roadhouse
This friendly restaurant right on the loop is your go-to spot when all the kids want is pizza and you’re craving a fresh salad or hot sandwich. Build your own pie or go for a specialty like The Bigfoot (homemade barbecue sauce, pepperoni, blackened chicken and bacon) or their prized Reuben. Dine inside or outside on the sunny deck in the summer months.
Bring your picnic to these spots:
When you finish a picnic lunch at Hood River U-Pick Organic, meet the friendly on-site llama and goats. Opens in late June.
Admire the rows of apple trees at Kiyokawa Family Orchards and take shelter from the sun at a nice covered picnic spot.
Find your picnic provisions at Hood River Farmers Market (outdoor location open May through November).