It’s no big secret: Southern Oregon is full of flavor — and plenty of award-winning restaurants. There are a lot of reasons to take a trip down south; food just might be at the top of the list. Enjoy these don’t-miss restaurants.
This pretty city known for arts and culture earns its accolades on the dinner table too. Come November, Ashland’s culinary talent takes center stage at the Ashland Culinary Festival, when 12 local chefs compete for Top Chef honor using local produce and a mysterious “secret key ingredient.” Guests cheer on their favorites, attend culinary workshops, take wine tours and sample dozens of tastemakers’ creations during the four-day festival. If you can’t make the festivities, catch the chefs at their restaurants year-round. Last year’s winner, Skye Elder, designs dishes at Brickroom of comfort food meets global cuisine, with standouts like ginseng panacea, crab-artichoke ravioli and veggie po’boys. Oregon’s bounty is also served at MÄS, where two-time Ashland Culinary Festival winner Josh Dorcak creates seasonal menus rooted in Cascadia flavors like salmon sashimi or elk with dandelion, potato and elderberry sauce.
A stone’s throw from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and next door to the Oregon Cabaret Theatre, Hearsay Restaurant is a showstopper on its own, with al fresco dining and farm-fresh ingredients. Alchemy Restaurant & Bar, located in The Winchester Inn, presents a rich menu including seared foi gras, filet mignon and stuffed quail with rabbit sausage wrapped black plum and goat cheese polenta. Amuse takes a Pacific Northwest twist on French cuisine, utilizing organic produce and meats for dishes like truffle-roasted game hen. Of course this being Southern Oregon wine country, each restaurant boasts a significant wine list too.
In the heart of Applegate Valley wine country, Jacksonville Inn Dinner House offers a list of more than 2,000 wines and the warm interior of the charming 19th century Jacksonville Inn is the perfect setting for a rich menu with offerings of wild mushrooms, rosemary grilled pork loin and hazelnut-stuffed chicken. Nestled next to the beautiful Britt Gardens, Gogi’s Restaurant is a fine dining experience with grassroots ingredients — much of the produce comes from the owners’ (who are also brothers) farm — with delicate flavors elevating hearty dishes like cider-brined pork chop and pancetta-wrapped lamb. For a more relaxed German dining experience, visit The Schoolhaus Brewhaus, located in a historic 1908 brick school building, with plenty of biergarten lawn games to keep you entertained post-meal.
Pomadori Bistro & Wine Bar serves an Italian menu with decidedly Pacific Northwest leanings; pair dishes of gnocchi, scaloppini, chicken picata and pasta with a wine menu celebrating Southern Oregon — bold reds, crisp whites and drinkable rosés. A historic train station sets the scene for Porters Restaurant, where the menu honors Pacific Northwest staples like steelhead and oysters, steak and tenderloin, with its own unique flair. Not everyone knows that Ashland’s famous Larks Restaurant has a beautiful Medford location too. The ultra-hip Inn at the Commons houses the restaurant, where American classics are made upscale and special holiday buffets take the ease off family gatherings.
The Ruddy Duck at the Running Y Ranch has a contemporary and comfortable setting for hearty New American cuisine; look for fresh wild salmon, several grilled steak options and a savory burger menu. Come for the pasta, stay for extra scoops of gelato at Italianna’s Ristorante & Gelateria (and grab some shareable bruschetta and calamari in between). If you need another reason to visit the picturesque Lake of the Woods, the onsite restaurant satisfies homecooking cravings with flaky crust pot pies and fresh baked cobbler.
A wine bar first and foremost, The Twisted Cork is known for its large wine list and creative food menu. Savory dishes include Kahlua prawns, chroizo-stuffed mushrooms, macadamia-nut-crusted fish, pomegranate cinnamon flank steak and sticky toffee pudding. Take in breathtaking views of the Rogue River from a log cabin-style building at Taprock Northwest Grill, where heaping plates of Pacific Northwest cuisine aim to please. Dinner at The Vine is always divine, with farm-to-table food that includes sunflower salad and coffee-rub pot roast.
At home in an elegant brick building in the heart of downtown, Brix’s warm and casual interior is a welcoming spot to enjoy a diverse menu; choose from steaks, seafood, burgers and pastas with a full bar, craft beer and a very respectable wine list. Whether it’s date night or you simply want to treat yourself, dinner at True Kitchen + Bar is a great choice; the “social” appetizers, like truffled mac, don’t have to be shared and the pistachio pesto primavera is photo-worthy. While it’s true The Parrot House is under renovation, we expect the charming restaurant, housed in a picturesque 1891 residence, will return soon to satisfy all your locavore cravings.