Eastern Washington’s Yakima Valley has long been known for its hop harvest — 75% of America’s hops, crucial to the intense flavors of the craft beer craze, come out of the warm, desert-like region each fall. But over the last few years, Yakima has also begun building a reputation for culinary excellence and brewing prowess, making it easy for professionals and enthusiasts to stay satiated during each September’s hop harvest and remarkable Fresh Hop Ale Festival. One of the country’s best brew fests, it’s a rare occasion to sample dozens of beers made with hops straight from the fields rather than dried and processed for longevity.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink During Yakima’s Fresh Hop Ale Festival
Find Yakima Valley’s best tamales, dumplings, and IPAs during the fall harvest
1. Yakima Craft Brewing Company
This brewery has space, and lots of it, filled with plenty of lagers, IPAs, live music, ping-pong tables, and cornhole. The company’s Wizard IPA is be a top seller, but limited-edition collaborations bring in the crowds, too. The recent Passion Bru, for example, was a passion fruit and pineapple pale ale co-produced by Yakima Valley Hops and Valley Brewing.
2. Tieton Cider Works
One of the country’s most respected apple orchards also has a bar where visitors can sample a wide range of ciders on draft, in bottles, and in cans, from year-rounders blended with apricot or hops to seasonal specialties like cranberry or lavender honey. The tasting room’s contemporary interior is perhaps a bit close, but an outdoor stage and oversized lot provide plenty of room to enjoy the Yakima sunshine.
3. North Town Coffeehouse
Before hitting the festival — or to perk up the morning after — locals pop by this essential cafe for Stumptown coffee and local snacks. Located in an old train station, the space oozes history and charm. Between the lofty ceiling and delicate tiled floor there’s lots of comfy seating, ample elbow room for getting work done, and copious natural light.
Crafted is a sleek modern eatery in Yakima offering seasonal menu items like elk tartare and carrot-top pesto garganelli. Diners who can’t choose should try the multi-course chef’s menu for a comprehensive dining experience, washed down with quality wine or cocktails that are as pretty as they are inventive.
5. Cowiche Canyon Kitchen
This casual but polished restaurant and bar is located right downtown, making it an easy lunch or dinner stop for diners catching a live show at nearby Capitol Theatre. The interior is equal parts rustic and modern, with wooden butcher block tables and floor-to-ceiling windows, and the menu includes everything from tofu spring rolls to juicy burgers between buns made on-site. Wine, cocktails, and a dozen beers on tap — including several hard to find elsewhere — round out the strong selection.
6. E.Z Tiger
Locals love this hip downtown newcomer — a sibling to Cowiche Canyon Kitchen — for its Asian edibles, like Beijing dumplings, hanger steak soba noodles, and mango sticky rice for dessert. Of course flavorful local beers, from the likes of Bale Breaker, are available, but so are other fun options including sake and Japanese whisky, all served in a striking modern space.
7. Single Hill Brewing
As further testament to Yakima’s burgeoning brew scene, Single Hill Brewing Co. opened downtown in summer 2018. The taproom is furnished with long tables to promote socializing and descriptive menus and offers the brewery’s handful of solo concoctions (a fan favorite is the hoppy Eastside IPA, naturally) as well as collaborative beers with other local breweries. To counteract the brews, Single Hill also has local Basalt Roasters cold brew on tap. It’s a social space with an emphasis on quality, education, and community.
8. Provisions Restaurant and Market
One of Yakima’s newest restaurants, this comfortable, modern establishment offers pan-seared halibut and risotto, pizza made from fresh dough, spicy pork meatballs with pickled carrot, and a full bar brimming with thoughtful cocktails and local beers. There’s also a market attached serving paninis, a salad bar, and a wide array of edible sundries from nearby suppliers.
9. Bale Breaker Brewing Company
As a rare craft brewery on a working hop farm, this family-owned company is a unique pit stop on Yakima’s beer trail. With multiple outdoor patios, a taproom filled with communal tables, plenty of green space for picnicking on the lawn beside the hop fields, and dank, aromatic beers benefitting from the freshest ingredients, it’s no wonder Bale Breaker is one of the state’s top beermakers. Four brews named after the farm, tools of the trade, or family members, like tropical Leota Mae IPA, are available year-round, but exciting limited releases are also available, especially around festival time.
10. Los Hernandez Tamales
Undoubtedly the Yakima Valley’s most famous foodie attraction, this no-frills Union Gap tamale shop owned by Felipe Hernandez and family won a prestigious America’s Classics Award in 2018 from the James Beard Foundation. The restaurant’s springtime seasonal asparagus tamale is its most coveted, but chicken and pork versions are equally excellent.
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11. Varietal Beer Company
A short drive from Yakima in Sunnyside, this new brewery has made quite a name for itself since opening in spring 2018. The barebones space may not scream “glitz and glamour,” but a shady patio and cornhole on the lawn help soften the rough edges, as do the righteous beers. The specialty is IPAs, from hip, hazy versions to low-alcohol session ales, but well-made lagers and various collaborations are always on rotation too.