Yakima Valley, the area east of the Cascade Range, is a short, 2-hour drive from Seattle. Known for being the capital of hops and apples not only of the Washington State but also of the country, it can also offer a variety of unique culinary experiences paired with a glass (or two) of locally made wine. After spending a weekend in the area, here are my personal recommendations:
Relax for breakfast
Start your day with a relaxing breakfast at the Essencia Artisan Bakery where you can enjoy a nice cappuccino with a freshly baked croissant. You can also go for a bowl of granola, yogurt and mixed nuts if you want to play healthy. The ice coffee is a must-try.
There are more than 80 wineries in Yakima Valley. To get an idea, check the map here http://www.yakimavalleytourism.com/travel-maps/yakima-valley-wineries-map-web.pdf. If you don’t want to drive far, opt for two wineries adjacent to each other. The Naches Heights Vineyard whose wines are made from live certified salmon safe grapes. Next to it, is the first recreational in the area winery, the Wilridge Winery. Make a day with a picnic and a bottle of wine in this lovely environment.
Have lunch at the Los Hernandez Tamales. This local favorite makes tamales from broth, ground masa and chicken or pork patted into a corn husk by hands. If you visit during the spring season, you will be lucky enough to try their famous asparagus tamales.
Visit a brewery
Learn about hops and handcrafted ales at the Bale Breaker, located in a hopfield. The taproom known as the Baling Room is open from Tuesday to Sunday. Have a pint or two together with food by the food truck of the day or stay later for an evening event. The brewery organizes tours as well. Check the website to find out more about events, tours and food at http://www.balebreaker.com
Visit a cider maker
As apples are everywhere in Yakima Valley, so is cider. The Tieton Cider Works is a third generation farming family using Harmony Orchards as their fruit and they blend American, English and French cider varieties.
Don’t forget the fruit stalls! The cherry and asparagus season comes late spring and early summer so you can get them fresh from any stall. There is a list of stalls here: http://visitfarmfreshfun.com/yakima-valley-farms.asp but you will see them everywhere as you drive around.
Dinner is fancy in Yakima. The newly opened Cowiche Canyon and Icehouse will surprise you not only with its sophisticated dishes and signature cocktails but also with its sleek and modern looks. Go for a Pisco Sour to start with and continue with spring rolls, deviled eggs and a steak salad watered down with a lovely Sauvignon Blanc from Washington State of course!
If you like something more traditional, the French Carousel will satisfy your palate but also a secret but forgotten love: black and white silent movies to watch while dining!
There are wineries with tasting rooms to visit downtown as well
Lookout Point Winery is a small winery focused on Malbec grape. This lovely space has some art on the walls and mouthwatering chocolates to pair your Malbec
If you happen to be in Yakima on a Sunday, don’t miss the downtown Farmer’s Market, open from 9 am to 2 pm. Except for the fresh produce and local crafts, get freshly baked tamales for breakfast!