Portland is big on farm to table—but what if that distance between the farm and the table is only about 30 feet? That's the idea behind the growing popularity of the area’s farm dinners, where you eat at the location where the night's food was grown, often in the middle of a field or vineyard.
The scenery is epic, and you sit at long tables decorated with flowers and candles, getting to know your neighbors. There are several courses, lots of Oregon wine, and no rush—so you can stay until the stars come out. The prices are also reasonable, especially considering the location and that they include all courses, beverages, and gratuity. With Portland’s weather now pleasantly balmy, here are our picks for the best farm dinners happening this summer.
($85; July: 25; Aug: 1, 15, 22, 30; Sept: 5, 12, 19)
Sit down for six courses prepared by chef-owner Pascal Chureau—he's known for his duck fat string beans, juicy steaks, orzo with pesto, and simple but to-die-for chocolate desserts. The dinners hop around every week, hosted at various farms (Fir Point Farms, Fiala Farms, Morning Shade Farm) and vineyards (Alexeli Vineyards, Dobbes Family Estate, Terra Vina Wines). But the most unique dinners may be where you can also glimpse animals, like at the Rosse Posse Elk Farm or Alpacas at Marquam Hill, a spot with more than 80 alpaca residents. Here's to hoping they don't crash the dinner.
($90; July 25; Aug 22; Sept 26)
After being named one of the country's best new restaurants by Bon Appetit in 2013, Ava Gene's is still Portland's hottest reservation, and there’s fierce competition for getting a table. Instead of dining at the brick-and-mortar location, try chef Joshua McFadden's food at this farm dinner. He'll be cooking with ingredients from the 58-acre host farm in Sherwood, OR, served alongside wines from West Linn winery Pete's Mountain Vineyard, and you can tour the property during the appetizer hour.
($135-185; July: 18, 19; Aug: 8, 9, 23)
Start the night with a tour of the farm, glass of wine in hand. Both the host farm and the Oregon wine on offer change every few weeks, though this summer the program now has chef-supply-favorite Viridian Farm in the rotation. Chefs also rotate, but include Top Chef runner-up Gregory Gourdet of Departure Restaurant and Lounge, and the chefs behind award-winning Portland restaurants Aviary, St. Jack, and Laurelhurst Market. Unlike many set-menu farm dinners, a couple of the events have a vegetarian option if you make the request with your reservation. While you enjoy your meal, you’ll hearfrom the people who grew, caught, or crafted the ingredients.
Sarah Z. Wexler is on the Oregon beat for Travel + Leisure. Based in Portland, you can follow her on Twitter at @SarahZWexler.