Salem restaurants serving up warmth and good grub outdoors all winter long

If Scandinavia, Alaska, and Bend can do it, so can the Willamette Valley.

We’re talking about eating and drinking outdoors in all types of weather including the cold and wet stuff, which is a seasonal way of life here in Oregon.

Dining al fresco in the winter months in the Pacific Northwest has also become increasingly necessary since the pandemic spread across the world in early 2020. Many customers only want to dine outdoors because of the virus’ contagiousness, and they are refusing to eat in the more comfortable (read heated) confines of indoor dining places.

Here in the Willamette Valley, there hasn’t yet been a push to deliver puffy, down-filled throw blankets to diners or supply them with fingerless gloves, but there are a number of local establishments that have tableside heaters, fire pits, and outdoor heating elements as well as tents and awnings to encourage folks to enjoy outdoor dining at their establishments all year-round.

The following is by no means a comprehensive list. But it touches on several local eateries and watering holes where guests are welcome and encouraged to eat outdoors from November through March while others seek refuge indoors.

 

Willamette Valley Vineyards

One of the best spots around for enjoying a stunning vista as well as an adult beverage outdoors is at Willamette Valley Vineyards. The Turner-based winery has amazing views from the estate atop a hillside south of Salem and has heated and lighted structures called Wine Pods dotting the winery’s hillside and patio. The pods were so popular last year that the winery has been taking calls for reservations since they were taken down for the summer in 2021. WVV is pleased to announce that it will begin taking reservations for the Wine Pods in early December 2021 and likely last until April 2022. A $150 wine credit/deposit is due at the time of reservation, and it is used as a credit for the 2.5 hours in the pod, which accommodates two to six people. The credit can be used for bottles of wine, wine by the glass or food prepared in the winery’s full kitchen. The pods will unfortunately not accommodate dogs this season. Find Willamette Valley Vineyards at 8800 Enchanted Way SE, Turner, OR 97392. Call 503-588-9463 for reservations or visit the website at wvv.com.

 

Silver Falls Brewery

The Silver Falls Brewery, long a staple in the Mid-Valley for its tasty craft beer, features table-top heaters and fire pits to help patrons keep toasty and warm while they sip beer made from locally sourced hops on The Brew Deck Bar. Guests can also treat themselves to items from a Pacific Northwest fusion menu that features locally grown ingredients. There are made-from-scratch burgers, sandwiches, salads and more. The Silver Falls Brewery, which opened in 2015, is at 207 Jersey St., Silverton, 97381. silverfallsbrewery.com
(Image shown: Andrew Fox, Founder and head brewer)

 

Venti’s Café + Taphouse

Venti’s Café + Taphouse (the second location located on Commercial Street SE) has a covered outdoor patio area with comfortable year-round seating for up to 60 people. The space has ample patio heaters, music, and elegant lighting. Venti’s original downtown Salem location, which will modify its name to Venti’s Café + Beer Vault in December 2021, also has outdoor seating as well. The city of Salem has received the restaurant’s permit application to have the café permanently operate its outdoor dining Parklet (a raised platform that takes up street-parking spaces in front of a restaurant), which will feature space heaters and lighting all year long. The city said it is near to approving applications from Venti’s and other downtown restaurants for taking up street space. Menu favorites at Venti’s include their Tomato Basil Soup, the Spicy Tater Tots, the Moroccan Salad, and the Thai Peanut Bowl. Venti’s Café + Taphouse is at 2840 Commercial St. SE; the downtown café is located at 325 Court St. SE. ventiscafe.com

 

Cória Estates

There aren’t any Wine Pods at Cória Estates in South Salem, but the winery does have amazing vistas of the surrounding hills and valleys and a covered and heated patio so guests can enjoy wine tasting and a light charcuterie up on the hill all year long. Self-guided flights of wine tastes are available for folks to sip while they take in the breathtaking 360-degree views of the Cória Estates vineyard as well as the Willamette Valley, said Aurora Coria, the vineyard’s winemaker. Aurora, is one daughter of Janice and Luis Coria, the couple who started it all back in 1999 with their first plantings of pinot noir and pinot gris vines, and part of the family affair. The bi-cultural family invites the public to sample the grape goodness at the Mexican-American-owned vineyard, winery and tasting room where they’ve been growing grapes for more than 20 years in the heart of the Willamette Valley. Find Cória Estates at 8252 Redstone Ave. SE, Salem, 97306. Call 503-363-0525. coriaestates.com

 

Rudy's Steakhouse

The management at Rudy’s Steakhouse located under the Chemeketa Parkade says it has “by far the best outdoor seating area in all of downtown Salem.” The restaurant has a covered outdoor area that is heated, and its tables are covered with linen tablecloths just like its indoor tables. No plastic tablecloths at Rudy’s. The outdoor tables also come with fireplaces near them to keep patrons comfortable throughout the winter months. Rudy’s, known for its fabulous on-site butcher shop, warms its guests with delicious lunches and dinners, and includes such favorites as its well-marbled rib eye, its 3-pound Tomahawk steak meant to be shared with another carnivore, and its New York strip steak with lobster medallion chaser. It also has a prime-rib chili to keep guests warm for two weeks. Rudy’s is at 350 Chemeketa St. NE, Salem. rudyssteakhouse.com

 

Taproot Lounge & Café

Taproot Lounge & Café has tables on the sidewalk outside of the restaurant all year long but it has portable heaters that the café says it will bring out during the winter months so visitors can stay warm and socially distanced under their tents during the rainy season. Patrons can sample a well single-mixer cocktail and they shouldn’t miss the tapas during Happy Hour, which includes discounted fried Brussels sprouts no mother would recognize as a vegetable and a cheese-curd poutine that would make the Canadians proud. Taproot Lounge & Café is at 356 State St., Salem, 97301. taprootloungeandcafe.com

 

Gilgamesh Brewing

Gilgamesh Brewing currently has three locations around the Willamette Valley and two of them are set up for outdoor dining in the wet, winter months. The CAMPUS South Salem is Gilgamesh’s flagship restaurant located just feet from its brewery. It has a large outdoor patio divided into two sections. The portion that is completely enclosed and heated is used by patrons year-round. Another half with propane space heaters and a fireplace gets some use, but since it’s somewhat open to the elements, it’s not used as completely as the fully enclosed section. A second location in West Salem, The Woods, has firepits on its patio and welcomes families and pets to grab a spot throughout the winter. Friendly and attentive staff keep patrons well served to help guard against the elements. Gilgamesh Brewing’s The CAMPUS is at 2065 Madrona Ave. SE, Salem. The Woods is at 555 9th St. NW, Salem, 97304. gilgameshbrewing.com

 

Oregon Garden Resort

The Oregon Garden Resort has year-round outdoor dining at the Garden View Restaurant and Fireside Lounge with heaters and semi-enclosed spaces. The Oregon Garden Resort, the hotel at the Oregon Garden, is a pet and family friendly resort that features wonderful vistas of the 80-acre Oregon Garden. The resort still recommends that guests dress warmly when requesting outdoor seating, but it is a special place to enjoy the hotel’s complimentary breakfast as well as put up one’s feet and have a spot of lunch after a brisk hike or settle in for a romantic dinner in the evening. The restaurant showcases locally sourced ingredients and prides itself on being one of the nicer places around the valley where pets are welcomed on its patio and spoiled unashamedly by the servers. The Oregon Garden Resort is at 895 W. Main St., Silverton, 97381 or call 800-966-6490. oregongardenresort.com

 

Masonry Grill

Masonry Grill is a new addition to the downtown core, and its outdoor fire pit can keep guests comfortable all winter long. The long rectangular shape of the primary fire pit ensures multiple guests can warm by the fire long enough to enjoy one of the grill’s many spirits, wines, craft beers, or signature cocktails (which will warm one up for sure) such as the Spanish Coffee (hint: it involves pyrotechnics). There also are smaller, portable fire pits the restaurant uses on its patio to ensure guests are comfortable, so make it a point to visit the restaurant soon to warm up outside. Find the Masonry Grill at 120 Commercial St. NE, Salem, 97301 or call 971-915-2494. masonrygrill.com

 

 

Kitchen on Court Street

Bernard Malherbe, a perennial foodie fixture in Salem for years (long-timers still talk about the Crooked House Bistro in West Salem), reports that his restaurant, the Kitchen on Court Street, has a permanent outdoor patio with its Parklet. The rustic restaurant (the interior has exposed brick walls) was closed to the public in September 2020 so its staff could help feed fire evacuees (from the Labor Day fires that enveloped portions of the Santiam Canyon) and front-line utility workers and individuals who were displaced by the ice storm that ravaged parts of the Willamette Valley in February 2021. The restaurant reopened in April 2021 and has welcomed customers five days per week (it’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays) since then. Malherbe reports that the restaurant is currently closed for some repairs and renovation work. He expects it to reopen sometime after the first of the year in 2022, and it will be open daily with a focus on breakfast. Hours are still to be determined, but he anticipates the restaurant will be open from around 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days per week. He expects to feed patrons all year long on the covered Parklet with the flavorful, freshly made menu of breakfasts, lunches and weekend brunches that the public has come to expect. The full menu is always available. The Kitchen on Court Street is at 466 Court St. NE, Salem, 97301 or call 971-701-6902. thekitchenoncourtstreet.com

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