A sense of excitement abounds when you pull off Highway 84 to explore the 75-mile-long scenic byways of the Pacific Northwest on U.S. Route 30. Troutdale, Oregon is the western gateway to the Historic Columbia River Highway, the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway, and the Columbia River Gorge. It is also the gateway to many of the best places to eat in Troutdale.
Located just twelve miles east of Portland, where the Sandy and Columbia Rivers meet, Troutdale is about six square miles in size. It runs along the south side of the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington.
The Historic Columbia River Highway, opened in 1915, was the first scenic highway in the United States and was specifically designed to provide visitors access to the most striking features of the Columbia River Gorge, like the waterfalls and views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens.
The tiny, historic town of Troutdale, founded in 1907, has a current population of about 16,000 souls. It was named Troutdale by pioneer John Harlow for the trout pond in a dale near his house. If you are in town on a Sunday, be sure to visit the Harlow House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The grounds are now part of the city park system.
The main street, Historic Columbia River Highway, is filled with antique stores, art galleries, art showings, large-scale bronze sculptures, boutique-type shopping, and good places to eat. We guarantee you will be both pleased and surprised by all the restaurants in Troutdale. You can also visit a couple of museums on Wednesdays and Sundays and get a feel for the pioneers who settled this area.
Tip: Park near the overhead Gateway sign and walk down one side of the street, poke your head into the antique stores along Historic Columbia River Highway, take a foundry tour at the Caswell Gallery, tour Harlow Home Park, then walk up the opposite side, maybe have a snack, and return to your car.
Other activities in the area include scenic flights over the Columbia River Gorge and Portland, departing out of the Troutdale airport by Envi Adventures. A visit to Oxbow Regional Park provides many outdoor activities. And, if you require retail therapy, Columbia Gorge Outlets is just steps away from downtown Troutdale.
7 Must-Try Troutdale Restaurants
Best Bar and Grill Restaurant in Troutdale
108 E. Columbia River Highway // 503-328-8120
Are you looking for a casual, cowboy bar to rest your spurs? You don’t have to leave Oregon to find a place that caters to cowgirls and cowboys, or for someone looking for some Cajun or Creole-influenced food. Downtown Troutdale hosts the best bar and grill in the area.
On our walk through town, we stopped at Bandit’s for a beer and a snack and felt right at home. You don’t need to wear a cowboy hat to enjoy the casual atmosphere, though. In fact, we spotted customers in business garb having a glass of wine over a business meeting. Construction workers had beers at the bar after their workday ended, too.
Bandit’s proudly advertises that all their meats are smoked in-house.
We had their house specialty, which was the Smoked Shredded Chicken Nachos. The thick clot of cream atop the spicy chicken, salsa, jalapeno peppers, olives, and gooey cheese melted over crispy chips was noteworthy.
Dirty rice, deep-fried pickles, gizzards, and the Dirty Boat are all reminiscent of food from the deep south. Dirty rice is a traditional Louisiana Creole dish. It’s white rice cooked with small pieces of pork, beef or chicken, green bell pepper, celery, and onion (the holy trinity of base ingredients in Cajun cooking), dashed with cayenne and black pepper, and garnished with parsley and chopped green onions.
Move over, pardner, and give me some Cajun smoked meats! It may taste like Louisiana, but it’s one of the best restaurants in Troutdale, OR.
Best Restaurant For Locally Sourced, Organic Ingredients in Troutdale
2126 SW Halsey St. // 503-492-3086
Dining suggestions for Troutdale wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of McMenamin’s Edgefield. Wandering around the 74 acres with a drink in hand is a great way to take in this historic property.
Edgefield was once the Multnomah County Poor Farm. It was established in 1911 and housed the ill and needy from Portland. During the occupied years, the Edgefield building and surrounding grounds were used as a nursing home and sanitorium, as well as a reform school for troubled kids before it was abandoned in the 1980s.
The property is supposedly haunted because it housed mentally challenged, disabled, and elderly people and many of them were buried in unmarked graves on the property after their deaths.
There have been reports of hearing unexplained crying in the building, and a woman’s voice reciting nursery rhymes. A woman dressed in white is also often seen prowling about the property.
I personally have not experienced these events, but I always have my eyes and ears open when I’m there, just in case.
In 1990, the Troutdale Historical Society was successful in preserving Edgefield for its historical importance. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places.
That same year, the McMenamin family purchased Edgefield, and it is now operated as a hotel, restaurant, winery, distillery, and brewery. There is also an outdoor stage for concerts that draw crowds to see the likes of Willie Nelson and other big-name performers during the season.
The quaint Little Red Shed, once used as an incinerator during the Poor Farm days, has been converted to a small pub. It comfortably seats ten guests where you can drink the famous McMenamin’s ales or guest liquors and enjoy tiny bites. You can buy cigars in the shed, but you have to smoke them outside by the firepits.
The Black Rabbit Restaurant, a Troutdale treasure, is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, as well as for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Boasting the happiest of hours on weekdays, they offer food and drink specials late in the afternoons.
The Edgefield vegetable and herb gardens, as well as the fruit orchards on the property, provide the bounty served seasonally in the Black Rabbit Restaurant & Bar. What they don’t grow on-site, they source locally, including fresh and organic ingredients such as custom hot sauces, organic non-GMO tofu, goat cheese, and gluten-free bread, all the way to naturally fed, growth hormone-free beef.
If you go, plan to spend time exploring the grounds before or after dining at the Black Rabbit Restaurant. You might hear the ghosts…or not. If you do, the voices may be telling you this is where to eat in Troutdale!
Best Authentic Italian Restaurant in Troutdale
177 E. Historic Columbia River Highway // 503-667-2480
With a family name of Pompeyo, it is not a surprise that the interior design of Ristorante Di Pompello is deep crimson tablecloths, napkins, and wallpaper with Pompeii figures. Even without knowing the history of this restaurant or the owners, Saul and Ruby Pompeyo, it is clear that they take pride in the authenticity of their customer’s dining experience.
Di Pompello is the original family name and honors Saul’s grandparents. He learned fine Italian cooking at his grandmother’s side when he was growing up in Mexico.
Saul came to Troutdale because he likes the small-town, family atmosphere and wants to know his customers as friends and family.
The red façade and flowering vine-covered entrance attracted me to Ristorante Di Pompello from across the street. I was taken with the red theme outside and inside.
When I asked for my meal to be delivered all at once so I could see all the colors of the meal, they complied. Contrasting white plates against the crimson tablecloths and vibrant, colorful food, made for an impressive setting.
The crusty bread served with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, tomatoes, and chunks of garlic was aromatic and tangy. The dinner salad, with traditional Italian dressing, black olives, and a sprinkling of cheese was fresh and crisp.
The piping hot casserole of lasagna with Parmesan cheese baked into the dish and also sprinkled on top was browned around the edges and made my mouth water in anticipation.
Ristorante Di Pompello serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with a Wine & Bar and Happy Hour Specials. The happy hour menu includes fresh mussels, portobello mushrooms stuffed with prosciutto, and tiger prawns with mushrooms and fresh basil.
With the fragrance of garlic wafting in the air, an authentic Italian dining experience, and a friendly atmosphere, this reasonably-priced restaurant is a place to return to often – without doubt one of the best places to eat in Troutdale.
Best Fine Dining Restaurant With a Scenic Riverview in Troutdale
29311 SE Stark St. // 503-661-3663
Located along the Sandy River by the Stark Street Bridge, Riverview Restaurant is an upscale and scenic dining experience. With an exceptional view of the river, manicured grounds, original artwork, and gourmet food, this restaurant is a landmark in the community.
Specializing in seasonal Northwest cuisine, the menu features signature dishes like Mr. Yoshida’s (Yoshida’s Gourmet Sauce) Teriyaki Bowl, Sweet Chili Vegetable Bowl, Butternut Squash Ravioli (my favorite), and Shepherd’s Pie. Vegetarian, vegan, and no-gluten-added items are marked.
One of the dishes I like to order is the Root Vegetables when they are in season. It’s an unusual item to find on a menu, and is served very simply – steamed, and is quite colorful.
Riverview Restaurant only serves meals late in the day. The á la carte dinner menu includes beef, fish, pasta, and a vegan choice such as grilled cauliflower, along with starters, soups, and salads.
If you prefer, you can eat in the bar and select from an abbreviated menu with starters, soup & salad, signature dishes, or three simple entrees.
Happy hour food and drinks are served nightly in the lounge only. They offer draft beer and house wines, a few standard cocktails, and the Bartender’s Special.
You can also order a small salad, hummus, gourmet chicken with peanut sauce, fish tacos, gnocchi, Kobe bruschetta, dumplings, or Asian style pickled vegetables.
The Chef’s Four Course Menu is a set price per person and includes an appetizer, soup or salad, an entrée, and a dessert.
Bananas Foster is the highlight of the dessert menu. The flaming dessert prepared tableside, is a spectacular way to end a meal.
Live music, piano inside, or guitar outside on the patio, sets the mood for relaxation and enjoyment. The market lights on the outside patio create a romantic and intimate ambiance for meals taken al fresco after dark.
For a sophisticated dining experience, you won’t want to miss Riverview Restaurant – the best fine dining restaurant in Troutdale.
Best Restaurant With a Fun and Casual Atmosphere in Troutdale
28242 E. Columbia River Highway // 503-492-2220
Shirley, the owner of Shirley’s Tippy Canoe, is a fun-loving gal who runs the laid-back joint with a fisherman vibe and attention-grabbing décor.
From the giant sailfish that Shirley caught hanging on the wall to the seasonal, larger-than-life decorations on the patio, you will be delighted with this unique restaurant.
What started as a logger stop in the 1940s, then was a biker bar as recently as 2006, is now a destination stop along Old Highway 30. Shirley took over in 2007, made it into a quality restaurant and event location, and serves customers along the Sandy River on the historic Columbia River Highway.
Featured on Guy Fieri’s (Food Network) Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, posters, and Guy memorabilia adorn the walls.
A map of the United States, holding many pins claiming places from all the customers’ hometowns, along with a guest book and details of visitors, make this place special.
My favorite mealtime at Shirley’s is breakfast. Some favorite menu items are the French Toast or a half order of Biscuits & Gravy.
The biscuits and gravy, a hearty dish, features three halves of biscuits and savory sauce. It’s enough to feed three people.
The highlight of your dining experience is when Shirley recites what is on the menu before taking your order. Her patter shares the menu and how the food is prepared. She delivers the script with such rhythm and cleverness that you don’t want her to stop.
Shirley’s works the eggs with twenty-two different omelet recipes. The menu includes spicy chili omelets, Omelets on the Wild Side, and Omelets from the Bay and Beyond with fresh seafood and fresh local eggs.
Sandwiches boast “nothing less than four fingers high”. The Old-Fashioned is the starting point for all their Clubhouse sandwiches, with meats, cheeses, fresh slices of bread, lettuce, and tomatoes. There’s the Canadian, Italian, Polish, and Oyster Club with pan-fried oysters.
Additional sandwiches come from the grill in the way of BBQ ham, beef, turkey, chicken, or halibut. Then, there’s the oyster sandwich. They believe in seafood at Shirley’s.
Dinner time is quieter and more intimate at Shirley’s. They have a great bar, unique appetizers like oysters on the half shell, or a smoked salmon and cheese plate.
If you go, wander around inside and out, sign the guest book, and see what makes Shirley’s unique. Shirley may even pose with you in a photo; she is what makes Shirley’s where to eat in Troutdale, OR.
Best Restaurant for Old-Fashioned Comfort Food in Troutdale
1325 Historic Columbia River Highway // 503-666-5337
If you want some old-fashioned chicken and dumplings like Grandma used to make, you’ve got to go to Tad’s Chicken ‘n Dumplins. The fluffy giant pillows of freshly made dumplings crown the chicken and gravy in a deep tureen. This is comfort food at its best.
The Original Chicken ‘n Dumplins is made with tender stewed chicken and home-style chicken gravy made from scratch using a seventy-year-old recipe. A precisely laid out relish tray, green beans cooked with bits of bacon and onion, and an extra bowl of creamy gravy accompany the meal.
You might think the only thing Tad’s serves is chicken and dumplings, but don’t be fooled. The menu includes many types of fish, chicken, and beef. They even offer Liver & Onions.
Tad’s appetizers include a selection of fried mushrooms, zucchini, onion rings, and chicken livers. An impressive house-smoked salmon platter is designed to serve two people and includes cheese, fruit, and a dark roll.
From Tad’s legacy as a fish-house, salmon, halibut, scallops, prawns, oysters, lobster, and razor clams from the Alaskan Kenai Peninsula (on Fridays) appear on the Seafood Menu.
Tad’s is one of the last roadhouses on the Columbia River Highway. When it was first opened in the late 1920s, they were south of the Sandy River Bridge, Prohibition was in effect, and they mostly served fresh fish and seafood. In the 1940s, they moved to the current location and added Chicken and Dumplings to the menu, cementing their legacy.
Warm wood tones fill the restaurant dining room and patio where they have scenic views of the Sandy River and Troutdale Bridge. The ambiance at Tad’s is comfortable, relaxed, and welcoming to the entire family – young and old alike.
Tad’s doesn’t take reservations, but you can call ahead on the same day and let them know you are coming. The only thing “fowl” at this Troutdale restaurant is the legendary Chicken & Dumplings!
Note: You might want to get a To-Go box for the Chicken & Dumplings to have for a hearty breakfast the following morning – just like traditional biscuits and gravy.
Best Restaurant to Take a Date in Troutdale
101 W. Historic Columbia River Highway // 503-912-1462
Troutini, an award-winning restaurant, specializes in French fusion cuisine. That means the chef combines various local styles with a French influence requiring a finely honed set of culinary skills.
One glance at the menu reveals a happy hour not to be missed. Offerings of savory pomme frites, spicy and sweet bar nuts, a Cubano sandwich that is grilled and pressed, creamy avocado and smoked salmon toast, or a Caesar salad will be quite satisfying.
The Troutini Dinner menu recommends shareable appetizers, soups, and salads, starters of Scallops, wild mushroom pappardelle pasta, duck, or a petite filet.
Then, of course, you have the comfort food entrées including vegetable lasagna, chicken pot pie, baked Mac & Cheese, and fish, sausage, or a steak.
Brunch at Troutini, served every day but Monday, includes many egg dishes, biscuits and gravy, and corned beef hash.
Lunch finds several styles of burgers, specialty sandwiches, soups, and salads on the menu.
You can skip right to the Troutini Dessert menu if you wish. That contains house-made creations, including a gluten-free Death by Chocolate, or my favorite, Crème Brulée.
Classic Jazz is the entertainment every Tuesday evening. Pair that with Death by Chocolate Tort Cake, and you’ve got a memorable date night at one of the best places to eat in Troutdale!
Julie Diebolt Price, owner of JDP Photography, is an award-winning photographer, educator, travel writer, guide, and a passionate traveler. Along with extensive travel in the United States, she has many European, Mexican, and Chinese stamps in her passport. She enjoys planning, researching, creating and sharing experiences. Julie is a member of PPA and ITWPA.