A masked server at Recipe in Newberg pours wine for guests on the elegant patio. ##Photo by Marcus Larson
The patio at The Dundee Bistro buzzes with customers enjoying dinner outside. ##Photo provided.
Spaghetti and prawns with Calabrian chili, a signature dish at The Dundee Bistro. ##Photo provided
A masked server at Bistro Maison in McMinnville delivers entrées to a couple sitting on the elegant porch located around the corner from the patio. ##Photo by Marcus Larson
Friends gather for a feast at Bistro Maison in McMinnville. The garden patio is a favorite among tourists and locals. ##Photo by Marcus Larson

Patio Perfect

Restaurants take business outside

By Annelise Kelly

Dining outdoors remains one of Oregon’s loveliest summer treats, made all the sweeter by our fleeting sunny season. We rebel against long, gray, clammy winters by pursuing outdoor dining with vigor, even if we may need a heater, a blanket or a puffy by the time dessert is served.

This year, our motivation for outdoor dining is soaring, since there’s a lesser risk of passing the coronavirus outside than indoors.

Make a day of it: Take a hike or a scenic drive. Visit some wineries or farmstands, drink in the warm fresh air of summer, and then settle down at a table laden with excellent Oregon wine and artfully crafted food.

Restaurants are definitely promoting their outside dining this year. Here are some of Oregon’s most inviting patios, ranging from the warmth of Southern Oregon to the breezy reaches of the Columbia Gorge to the wine-soaked Willamette Valley.

Please call in advance to make a reservation and confirm details at all locations, since coronavirus protection measures may impact operations.

Bistro Maison

If you had to cancel a summer trip to Europe, console yourself with a meal at Bistro Maison in McMinnville, where you could fool yourself into thinking you’re dining in a garden in the south of France.

While Willamette Valley evenings may not be quite as warm as those in Provence, the authentic cuisine crafted by French native chef Jean-Jacques Chatelard will transport you. Likewise, the shady and secluded back garden could easily be in France, enclosed with hedges and trees, lush with vines and flowers.

Wine director Deborah Broder Chatelard suggests Luminous Hills 2016 Estate-Grown Pinot Noir, from Yamhill-Carlton AVA, with Duck Confit and Pan-Seared Foie Gras with Charred Blood Orange Cognac Reduction.

The Dundee Bistro

The Dundee Bistro offers alfresco dining in an open courtyard, partially under a shady covered pergola. Tables draped with white tablecloths and box hedges confer a pleasantly formal atmosphere.

Established in 1999, by the Ponzi winemaking family, the Bistro presents Northwest cuisine with Italian flair — classics like hand-tossed pizza and tiramisu are complemented by upscale dishes like pan-seared salmon with Romesco sauce, and down-home fare like fried chicken and a classic Reuben sandwich.

Rebecca Ponzi suggests their signature pasta dish, Spaghetti and Prawns with Calabrian Chili, with Trisaetum 2018 Ribbon Ridge Estate Dry Riesling. To ensure safety for all, the Dundee Bistro is seating parties of four or fewer diners.

The Jacksonville Inn

Just five miles off I-5, Jacksonville feels quiet and unhurried, sketching a picture of Oregon from a few generations past. The first town in America to be named a National Historic Landmark, Jacksonville boasts a 19th-century gold-rush charm imbued with living history.

The vintage brick Jacksonville Inn, dating to 1861, hosts a spacious, breezy enclosed back patio flanked with awnings and dotted with umbrellas, trees and hanging plants. As night falls, twinkling lights illuminate the central fountain graced by a statue.

Wine lovers will need a few minutes to peruse the 35-page wine list, recognized for excellence by Wine Spectator. Of the 1,000-plus wines on the list, 200 are from Oregon. Visit the on-site wine and gift shop, with a cellar of more than 2,000 wines, any of which may be ordered by diners. The generous selection available by the glass emphasizes the wines of the nearby Rogue, Umpqua and Applegate Valleys.

Owner Jerry Evans recommends pairing Rogue Valley’s Talent Cellars 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon with their signature savory Blue Cheese Crème Brûlée appetizer, made with Rogue Creamery blue cheese, followed by the Filet Mignon Portobello Pepper Steak. Prepare to be tempted by the classic and seasonal treats on the dessert tray.


Recipe Neighborhood Kitchen occupies a stately gray Victorian in central Newberg. Under the generous shade of a large flowering cherry tree, the very accessible large flagstone patio fills a side yard at sidewalk level. Stone walls border the dining area, along with raised beds from which the kitchen harvests herbs and leafy greens. The patio holds at least 20 guests, and Recipe welcomes parties as large as 10, by reservation.

The extensive wine list offers bottles from Oregon, Europe and more, sorted by variety and region. Chef Paul Bachand likes to emphasize lighter reds and rosés for the summer. A Willamette Valley pairing he recommends: Résonance 2019 Rosé with his Oregon Sea Bass with Piperade and Saffron Potatoes.

Solstice Wood Fire Café

After making a name for itself across the Columbia River in Bingen, Washington, Solstice Wood Fire Café has been slinging dough near the riverside in Hood River since 2007. A narrow patio overlooks the sidewalk, and a deeper covered seating area is surrounded on two sides by the massive woodpile, which fuels the ovens. Across the street, parking and parkland are the only barriers to the river. Diners can watch the sails of kiteboarders ply the breeze, and enjoy the evening sun casting the Washington flanks of the Gorge in golden light.

It’s a perfect stop for a casual meal after a family hike, where inventive pizzas — think blueberries, bleu cheese and pears — share the menu with salads, wings, mac and cheese, pasta and more. Are your kids ready for a PB&J Pizza off the kid’s menu? Are you ready for their Country Girl Pizza with local cherries, house-made chorizo, goat cheese, mozza­­­rella and marinara? During fresh cherry season, General Manager Natalie Price suggests pairing this award-winning pie with Idiot’s Grace Cabernet Franc from Mosier, where the cherries are sourced.

The rest of the year, the pie is topped with dried Mosier cherries, and pairs beautifully with Merlot from Mount Hood Winery up the road in the Hood River Valley. Finish up with house-made ice cream or a wood-fired s’more. In addition to a tightly curated wine list emphasizing the Columbia Gorge AVA, they also offer fruit shrubs crafted in-house. Maximum five diners per table.


Outside seating + Oregon wine

Enjoy the following restaurants that boast both beautiful outside dining and an impressive Oregon wine list.

Ashland: Alchemy, Amuse, Brickroom, Ostras Tapas, Peerless

Astoria: Bridgewater Bistro

Carlton: Earth & Sea, Park & Main

Dayton: Joel Palmer House

Dundee: The Dundee Bistro, Red Hills Market, Trellis Wine Bar + Kitchen

Eugene: Marché

Hood River: Riverside, Solstice Wood Fire Café

Jacksonville: The Jacksonville Inn

McMinnville: Bistro Maison

Newberg: Jory, The Painted Lady, Recipe

Salem: Basil & Board


Spilling into the Streets

As restaurants gradually re-open after mandatory coronavirus shutdowns, state safety protocols require them to maintain a safe environment for both workers and patrons. Physical distancing and moving diners outside are two ways to ensure the safest experience for all.

Cities are experimenting with closing off some streets to increase space for outdoor dining and for general physical distancing. In addition to Portland and its close suburb, Beaverton, other cities employing this strategy include McMinnville, Ashland, Bend and Salem.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which must approve alcohol service for outside seating, has fast-tracked their application process, and many cities are also dropping permit fees or otherwise streamlining existing permit processes for outdoor food service.


In Southern Oregon, Ashland has launched a Summer Celebration, closing down vehicle traffic on the storefront side of their Plaza on weekends through the end of September. Restaurants and retailers may expand their operations from curb to curb on the closed street, while the sidewalks are retained for pedestrian traffic.

“Folks are saying, ‘Wow, this is just like a European dining experience,’” said Katharine Cato, sales and marketing director of the Ashland Visitors and Convention Bureau. “We decided to expand and enhance the opportunity for al fresco dining this summer and into the fall to provide a safely, socially distanced experience for locals and visitors.  Each weekend, there’s a theme showcasing an aspect of Ashland’s amenities and offerings, from outdoors to wine, from art to music and biodiversity.”


In Bend, a coalition of downtown restaurants helped launch the closure of some parking spaces and alleyways to expand outdoor seating throughout the week for the summer months. Tin Pan Alley, a public open-air art gallery, now houses expanded seating.

Tawna Fenske, PR and communications manager of Visit Bend, says Boxwood Kitchen in the Old Mill District has opened a rooftop patio to take advantage of Bend’s clear, dry summer weather and warmish nights. Fenske notes the city is extending their lodging limitation due to the pandemic, so the expanded seating is an effort to serve the local community, not to draw visitors at this time.


In McMinnville, historic Third Street restaurants and bars expanded into the street for fresh air dining in early July, in a program called “McMinnville Dine Out (Side).” Restaurants may place seating up to 10 feet from the curb across the width of their establishments. They have permission to rope off space or place tented canopies in their areas. This is a weekend-only strategy, starting at 4 p.m. Fridays and running through Sunday.


Weekend closures will make parts of downtown Salem more welcoming to diners, shoppers and pedestrians. In the absence of car traffic, businesses will be able to spread seating and shopping space into the streets. The closures will remain through the summer months and possibly longer, until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. The city is waiving right-of-way-use permit fees for participating businesses.



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