Nestled in the heart of Oregon wine country thrives the bucolic town of McMinnville, about 35 miles southwest of Portland. Historic downtown Third Street is dubbed “Oregon’s Favorite Main Street” for good reason. Third Street offers something for tourists and residents alike.
Spend a day ambling along sun-dappled sidewalks, admiring the maple trees leafed out in their summer glory as well as attractive store fronts. It’s easy to wile away the hours discovering Third Street’s gems.
Visit Mes Amies for ladies’ fineries, contemporary clothing, and enjoy a cup of complimentary espresso. In the same block you’ll find Accessory Appeal, where shoes, scarves, handbags, jewelry and other pizzazz await you.
One of the largest shops on Third Street, La Bella Casa makes its home in the Wright building, built in 1893. La Bella Casa presents sumptuous treasures for your home and indulgent gifts. Bella’s Bargain Basement offers great deals and steals.
The aroma of fresh baked bread may lure you away from your shopping goals. Follow your nose to The Sage, situated on the mezzanine level of the Wright building. A McMinnville icon since 1977, it’s the place to go for a wholesome, delicious lunch. Their homemade wheat bread and from-scratch broccoli cheese soup are prepared fresh daily, along with other delectable soups, sandwiches, and salads.
McMinnville occupies prime location in the heart of Oregon wine country, the Yamhill Valley. Third Street is your ticket to enjoying distinctive local wines; there are 13 wineries in downtown McMinnville, including five wine bars right on Third Street. Go at your own pace and relish a stroll between tastings.
Each of Third Street’s wine bars distinguishes itself with its own flair. Willamette Valley Wine Center serves its own wines from their winery in Turner, Oregon. If you’re with a large group, settle in at their 19 foot long poplar table. A focal point of the wine center, its previous life was as an Amish barn in Indiana. The Willamette Valley Wine Center also promotes the educational side of wine with maps and exhibits of the AVA’s in Yamhill Valley.
The NW Wine Bar sits conveniently at the corner of Davis and Third Street behind Union Block Coffee. NW Wine Bar occupies a gracious space with a loft ideal for private parties. Perch yourself on the window seat, at the bar, or table to experience local wines offered by the taste, glass, or bottle. Occasional live music on Saturday nights transforms NW Wine Bar into a festive atmosphere.
Noah’s, McMinnville’s original wine bar since 1994, keeps limited hours but is worth the effort. Owner Jack Thornton loves sharing his knowledge of wine and exchanging stories with customers. The rich colors, opulent fixtures, and romantic spaces enhance the mysterious ambience.
R Stuart Wine Bar, owned and operated by local winemaker Rob Stuart and his wife Maria Stuart, obliges as the quintessential wine bar for before dinner or a show. Their Big Fire Pinot Gris tastes like summer in a glass: crisp, fruity, and balanced. Savor it while you consider dinner options. A multitude of provincial and worldly dining choices await you on Third Street.
Try Kame for fresh hand-rolled sushi and authentic Japanese cuisine. Excellent service and the opportunity to view the art of sushi rolling make this an expedient evening. Across the street, La Rambla dishes up northwest inspired Spanish tapas and meals. Their fried green beans marry crunch and warmth that melt in your mouth.
Nick’s Italian Cafe, the restaurant, that put McMinnville on the gourmand map 33 years ago, is still a force to be reckoned with. Its famous crab lasagna combines tender handmade noodles, fresh crab, three cheeses and pine nuts to create heavenly dish.
Prefer French cooking? Bistro Maison imitates a neighborhood Parisian bistro with a relaxed atmosphere. Their creamy cheese fondue and coq au vin made with a provocative pinot noir sauce are divine. Thistle, downtown McMinnville’s newest restaurant, shines as a rising star. Chef Eric Bechard creates a menu that changes daily using only fresh and locally grown food, typically picked up at Third Street’s Farmer’s Market. Thistle’s humble space seats only 20 at tables or six at the kitchen counter.
If you’re seeking outdoor dining with spectacular view, head to the rooftop bar of McMenamins Hotel Oregon. Refresh yourself with a lemon drop or pint and drink in the vistas of the coast range beyond McMinnville’s tree tops.
Those desiring to extend the fun of your perfect day in downtown McMinnville, Hotel Oregon offers comfortable accommodations in their historically renovated building. Observe the black and white photos that depict the hotel’s storied past and the whimsical artwork displayed on the walls. Hotel Oregon guests can take advantage of massage, dining, billiards, live music, and imbibing at one of its three bars.
For an uncommon lodging experience, check out Third Street Flats, four European-inspired apartments, each decorated and furnished with its own original theme. A complimentary bottle of wine and chocolates await you in your flat.
Greet the day with your coffee as the morning sun filters through soaring windows. When you’re ready, whip up breakfast in the fully stocked kitchen, or walk three blocks to the Crescent Cafe. Their homemade molasses cornbread pairs nicely with a fluffy omelet and glass of fresh squeezed blood red orange juice.
Now you’re fueled up for another perfect day on Third Street, or at least planning your return trip.
WHAT & WHERE(all addresses are McMinnville, OR 97128)
Nick’s Italian Café 521 NE Third Street, www.nicksitaliancafe.com (503) 434-4471
Bistro Maison 729 NE Third Street www.bistromaison.com (503) 474-1888
Thistle 228 NE Evans thistlerestaurant.com (503) 472-9623
Kame 211 NE Third Street www.kamerestaurant.com (503) 434-4326
La Rambla 238 NE Third Street (503) 435-2126
McMenamins Hotel Oregon 310 NE Evans Street www.mcmenamins.com (503) 472-8427
Third Street Flats 219 NE Cowls P.O. Box 196 thirdstreetflats.com (503) 857-6248 The Sage 406 NE Third Street (503) 472-4445
Willamette Valley Wine Center 300 NE Third Street www.willamettevalleyvineyards.com 503-883-9012
Noahs…A Wine Bar 525 NE Third Street 503-434-2787
NW Wine Bar 326 NE Davis www.nwwinecompany.com 503-435-1295
R Stuart & Co. Wine Bar 528 NE Third Street www.rstuartandco.com 503-472-4477
Jen Mattecheck Nice writes a monthly travel column, Northwest Destinations, in The News Register, and contributes to a tourism website, http://www.discoveryamhillvalley.com/. She will be sailing around the world in 2011. Follow the journey on her blog, http://expass.wordpress.com/. Besides traveling and writing, Jen teaches writing camps, loves coffee and Oregon wines, runs, and practices yoga.