One of the first things that stands out when looking at a list of stops on the North Coast Food Trail is that it’s not just about food. Flowers, adult beverages and even lodging options are nestled between businesses that follow the trail’s credo: food, farm, fish and forage.
“We decided that it shouldn’t be just a farm trail,” said Nan Devlin, executive director of Visit Tillamook Coast. “When we started planning the route, we heard from fishermen that sell from the dock, breweries, wineries, cooking schools and even bed and breakfast-type places that fit the main theme.”
The stops on the trail stretch from Cannon Beach to Lincoln City, and can be found on a map on the trail website, northcoastfoodtrail.com.
“To be listed, restaurants have to have at least 25 percent of their ingredients locally sourced, though most are closer to 75,” Devlin said. “Breweries have to be actually brewing on the North Coast, they can’t just be a tasting room; the same goes for distilleries.”
The trail was officially launched last year with 60 stops listed.
“This year all but four of the original 60 are back,” Devlin said. “We have added 21 more, including many more farms.”
One of the new places listed is the Recess food cart in north Tillamook, which serves beef or Portobello mushroom burgers, wraps, salads and hand-cut fries.
“We locally source as many of our ingredients as possible,” said employee Stormie Champ. “We also make all of our sauces and dressings; that’s one of the things that keep our regular customers coming back.”
Another thing that draws customers is cyber-specific.
“We’ve had customers tell us that when they asked Siri where a good place to eat in this area was, we were the first place that came up.”
When the robots are on your side, you know you are doing something right.
Bear Creek Artichokes, a longtime staple near Beaver, is under new ownership but is still serving up similar sustenance.
“We make the sausage for our pizzas, our pesto sauce and our extremely popular artichoke dip,” said chef Ember Black. “We grow most of the produce from what we serve in the café and what we sell to-go, like peas, kale, artichokes and heirloom tomatoes.”
Other items that come out of the kitchen include sandwiches with house-cured turkey and succulent sweets like mini cakes and puff pastries.
Seeing the food trail come to fruition was particularly satisfying for Devlin.
“It’s a passion of mine and also part of the mission of Visit Tillamook Coast to build agricultural tourism,” she said. “We had terrific coverage from regional and national magazines for our first year, and businesses listed on the map had a great turnout. Last September, we did our first Crave the Coast Food Festival where all the participants were members of the food trial. We were hoping for 200 people to show up, we ended getting about 800.”
Starting in the early summer, farmers markets will pop up along the trail to join the diverse list of stops, including lodging options like Sheltered Nook Tiny Home Village in Tillamook or the Twins Ranch Covered Wagon Campground in Bay City, or cooking schools like the Culinary Center in Lincoln City or the Cannon Beach Cooking School & Restaurant.
The variety of options along the route, according to Devlin, truly reflects the growing energy in the area.
“There is a lot happening on the North Coast,” she said. “We have a lot of new farmers; they’re young and they’re operating their own farms. They know there is something wonderful happening here”
For details, go to northcoastfoodtrail.com