Wander With Wonder – Discovering Wow Moments Around the World or Across the Street
Take a drive through the Columbia River Gorge toward The Dalles in Oregon to experience the flavors of the East Gorge Food Trail. Here are a few stops along the way.
A drive through the Columbia River Gorge is an epic adventure, but pair it with several stops along the East Gorge Food Trail and you have the makings for a fabulous and delicious experience. The trail begins near Mosier and runs 16 miles east alongside the Columbia River toward more delicious food in The Dalles. The path features 30 farm-fresh businesses along the river and a few more reaching further inland. The Dalles is the hub for many farms, orchards, wineries, craft breweries, fruit stands, and farm-to-table eateries along the trail.
This trail, designed to travel at your own pace, offers a variety of tasty treats based on the season, so it is a good idea to call the businesses ahead to ensure they are open. Local establishments on the trail work to source ingredients within a radius of 150 miles to support the smaller regional communities and the unique landscape.
The Dalles Farmers Market
The Dalles is an incredible place to experience local ingredients from sources along the trail. When traversing the trail, stop and purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, honey, and more of the local bounty at The Dalles Farmers Market at The Dalles City Park, on Saturdays from June through mid-October.
A Foodie Experience in The Dalles
On a recent trip, my daughter Brittney and I spent a few days exploring the food and drink along the trail in The Dalles. We stopped at wineries, coffee spots, museums, and other tasty venues for two days.
Our first stop was at Freebridge Brewing, where we met with Steve and Laurie Light. Steve makes Northwest ales and German lagers, and the brewery offers a great selection of beers with a relaxed vibe. Brittney and I particularly enjoyed the Slap and Pickle Gose beer and the Onlycrans Cranberry Gose beer. We sampled two tasty pizzas. Our favorite was the Harvest Pizza with Honeycrisp apple on top of shredded Parmesan, asiago, crumbled blue cheese, bacon, and roasted garlic, with a drizzle of honey.
Although the East Gorge Food Trail is primarily about delicious eats and flavorful beverages, a few non-foodie stops are worth checking out.
Lindsey Glamei owns The Workshop, which focuses on wood laser engraving. She sells beautiful products that she personalizes by engraving and offers ready-made gifts, bulk engraving for events, and onsite classes.
Lindsey makes custom wooden coins to use in bars as tokens, gifts, and coupons. People have come up with creative ways to use her wooden tokens. The Dalles Chamber of Commerce recently purchased wooden tokens for people to get discounts at various places in town.
The Sunshine Mill
Our next stop was at the famous Sunshine Mill, where Vicki Byrd works as the tasting room manager. Sunshine Mill serves a variety of wines and is home to the Quenett and Copa Di Vino wineries. The Sunshine Biscuit Company, the maker of Cheez-It crackers, once owned the building. Today visitors like Brittney and me can taste wine, book event space in the refurbished mill area, and enjoy delicious small plates like baked brie with raspberry jam, a glass of wine, or a wine flight.
Kainos Coffee and Food in The Dalles
Mary is the creative marketing manager and concept designer of Kainos Coffee, and she and her husband Marten opened the first Kainos Coffee in Portland, Oregon. All the coffee beans are roasted in-house at Kainos Coffee in The Dalles. Kainos also serves pastries and pizza in this warm and welcoming space.
Weekends feature live entertainment. You can enter the hidden speakeasy behind the coffee shop in the evening. In the back, you will find a secret entrance leading to a fun retro-style space with mood lighting, exceptional drinks, and various food offerings. Some nights there is an open mic and other nights a jazz band. We enjoyed classic cocktails and a Neopolitan-style pizza with homemade sausage and kalamata olives during our visit.
After a good night’s rest at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott The Dalles, we were ready for another day of adventure and discovery along the East Gorge Trail.
T & T Coffee and Bagels
Our second day began outside at T & T Coffee and Bagels‘ firepit. This little drive-up kiosk with a few fire tables and chairs perfect for loitering makes a tasty cup of Joe.
After our coffee, we headed down the street for an early morning stop at Klindt’s Booksellers, Oregon’s oldest bookstore. Joaquin Perez and Kristin Klindt are the third family to own the bookstore since it opened in 1870. The bookstore moved across the street to its current location in 1894. I asked Joaquin how he decides what products to put into the store, and he said, “If you buy it, we will sell it.” He began carrying toys during the pandemic, and previous store owners offered clothing, furniture, and firearms.
The Riv Cafe and Food in The Dalles
The next stop was The Riv Cafe for some breakfast. This cafe is a unique espresso bar, restaurant, and event venue that serves breakfast and lunch in a quaint, refurbished church built in the 1900s. The Riv coffee beans are roasted at the cafe, and the food is delicious. It was a late breakfast, and the fried chicken and waffles hit the spot.
Tierra de Lobos Winery rests on the riverbank where Adolfo and Gabino began their dream of making wine in 2012. The two grow grapes, harvest, and bottle everything themselves. The winery features several Spanish wine varietals, including a magnificent sweet red wine named “Tinto Dulce.” This wine makes a fabulous sangria. I have purchased this wine before, and it pairs perfectly with shrimp bathed in hot oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes accompanied by slices of soft French bread.
Sandoz Farm and Food in The Dalles
Sandoz Farm sells delectable fresh produce, old-fashioned canned jams, pickled vegetables, and meat from local purveyors. This fabulous farm is over 100 years old, and an antique schoolhouse is on the property. Sandoz Farms hosts fun, kid-friendly pumpkin patch activities in the fall.
Last year, a new ice cream shop, Scooper McQuades, opened on the main drag. During our visit with Morgan Miller, co-owner of the shop, Brittney, Lisa from The Dalles Chamber, and I indulged in a massive bowl of ice cream nachos: waffle cone pieces covered with ice cream, two choices of toppings, and whipped cream. In mid-December of 2022, Scooper McQuades opened a full coffee bar and now offers other beverages like Italian sodas and fountain drinks. The shop also features several types of candy. In the back of the building are future plans for various arcade games and a party room for celebrations.
Bargeway Pub and Catering Makes Great Food in The Dalles
We finished our tour of the East Gorge Trail by the firepit at Bargeway Pub and Catering alongside the Columbia River. Brittney and I dined with owners Steve and Stacey Kane and my friends Lisa and Jon Farquharson. After a tasty round of cocktails, we ate tempura cauliflower and arancini.
Steve and Stacey have owned Bargeway for over three years. They opened nine months before the pandemic: and when it hit, Steve overhauled the entire restaurant and set up an incredible outdoor patio where guests could come and dine outside. When they could not serve the public, they remained open, kept their staff, and served first responders in the area.
Steve collaborates with his chefs to create new dishes and makes everything in-house. Steve grew up in the restaurant business, sources locally, and understands the value of working with and supporting other companies in the community.
Bargeway Pub features live entertainment and is the hot spot to hang out on Friday and Saturday nights.