Many consider Yakima Valley to be the Pacific Northwest’s Garden of Eden. This valley grows forty different crops, transforming the tagline Farm-to-Table from a marketing gimmick to a way of life. Yakima Valley is mostly populated by farmers. They understand food. They understand the importance of quality components. And they will reject everything that does not meet their educated taste receptors. Restaurants in Yakima must bring their A-game, whether they are fine dining or a family diner. And if they do, both residents and tourists will return again and again.
I visited the local restaurants on a recent trip to Yakima Valley. From gourmet dining to James Beard Award-winning tamale shops, family eateries, and drive-in burger spots, here are some of the top restaurants in Yakima, Union Gap, and neighboring regions. Are you ready to experience some of Yakima’s top restaurants?
- 1 The Top 11 Yakima Restaurants
- 1.1 Yakima made by hand
- 1.2 Yakima’s Essencia Artisan Bakery
- 1.3 Yakima’s WaterFire Restaurant & Bar
- 1.4 Eriks The Mercedes Children’s Food Truck
- 1.5 Yakima Union GapMiners Drive-In Restaurant
- 1.6 Union Gap Los Hernandez Tamales
- 1.7 Union Gap Jeans Cottage Inn
- 1.8 Ellensburg Canyon River Grill
- 1.9 Wapato HopTown Wood-Fired Pizza
- 1.10 Cowiche Creek Brewing Company Cowiche
- 1.11 Naches from Bron Yr Aur Brewing Co.
- 2 Yakima Restaurants Finish
The Top 11 Yakima Restaurants
Yakima made by hand
(509) 426-222022 N. 1st St.
Crafted is the place to go for a gourmet dining experience among Yakima restaurants. The contemporary farmhouse-style design is light and welcoming.
A perfect spot to meet your pals for drinks, go on a romantic date with your boyfriend, or gather around a large table with friends and family to bond over a delicious dinner.
Crafted’s menu highlights everything the season has to offer in this area. The menu varies often, sometimes daily, to ensure that the ingredients are at their peak.
Little plates are ideal for sharing and testing new foods, which is exactly what we did. We tasted delightfully flaky black fish with mushrooms, pureed leeks, and tarragon and served with bruled lemon, as well as staples like fried brussels sprouts and spaghetti with fava bean leaves in a lemony cream sauce.
The sweet scallops with nutty black sesame puree and miso-almond butter complemented the refreshingly acidic pickled daikon wonderfully.
The delicious and delicate short rib, rubbed with coffee and simmered for hours, was one of my faves, served on a bed of five-spiced ricotta with rainbow carrots and a thick slice of balsamic glazed red onion.
The flank steak, on the other hand, was the table’s favorite. The most loved entrée of the night was a basic piece of steak boosted with a mushroom cream sauce, caramelized onion foam, and crunchy tempura asparagus.
The house speciality, campfire smores, is served behind a glass dome that traps genuine smoke. Oh, and don’t forget about dessert. We decided to make a lemonade.
The smoke wasn’t simply for effect. It gave the smores a classic campfire flavor, which was great and a pleasant way to conclude the night.
Yakima’s Essencia Artisan Bakery
(509) 575-55704 N. 3rd St.
I would frequent this artisan bakery if it were in my area. The aromas of freshly cooked loaves of bread and pastries at this bakery were too strong for me to ignore.
From sticky, gooey cinnamon buns to freshly made croissants ranging from plain to chocolate to ham and cheese to fresh fruit cups offering more variety than melon and grapes, this eatery is ideal for a great breakfast.
During lunch, they provide delectable sandwiches and paninis, which I’m sure are drool-worthy with their handcrafted breads. I wished we could eat breakfast there every day!
Yakima’s WaterFire Restaurant & Bar
We stopped at WaterFire, a fantastic treasure among Yakima eateries, on our way to the airport.
This casual-chic eatery serves typical American fare with intriguing twists. For example, instead of the same old same old nachos, they provide Thai Chicken nachos with fried wonton wrappers, spicy chicken, and coleslaw drizzled with peanut satay. Delicious!
I also had a Southwest-inspired salad with a poblano green goddess dressing, cotija cheese, perfectly cooked shrimp, and, of course, avocadothe ideal balance of pleasure and wellness.
Eriks The Mercedes Children’s Food Truck
(509) 823-44987 N. Front St.
Tacos and beer; need I say more? I like it when local brewers collaborate with local food trucks. That is the ideal combo and a win-win situation for everyone. But I’m ecstatic when the food truck is a taco truck. I’m in gourmet nirvana when said taco truck serves Birria tacos.
I confess that this spicy, brothy, aromatic beef stew with a cheesy tortilla is a heart attack on a platter, but at least I’ll die happy. If you find yourself in Yakima, it is worth tracking out his restaurant for this delicious dinner.
Yakima Union GapMiners Drive-In Restaurant
(509) 457-81942415 S. 1st St.
This Yakima landmark debuted in 1948 and is now managed by the fourth generation of the Miner family. According to legend, the founding brothers of the iconic golden arches dined at Miners and were inspired there. It’s one of Yakima’s most famous eateries.
In any case, the Miners burgers are amazing, and the quantities are massive. A standard burger may easily feed two persons. So get your own fries since they are so good you won’t want to share them.
Nowadays, this location is popular with visiting sports teams and has become an institution for children from all around Washington State. It’s nice to see the youngsters have fun following their activities, and their excitement is contagious. Locals, of course, love their Miners burgers and milkshakes and appreciate this spot rich in history and memories.
Union Gap Los Hernandez Tamales
457-60033706 Main St.
Los Hernandez, a James Beard Award-winning tamale store, is a must-see for any serious eater.
Filipe Hernandez founded Los Hernandez Tamales over thirty years ago and was recently honored with one of the culinary industry’s top honors. It is without a doubt one of the top restaurants in Yakima.
We met Filipe and his daughter and were given a behind-the-scenes tour of his kitchen as well as a demonstration on how to prepare tamales. Filipe is an excellent individual who remains modest despite his accomplishments.
As the name implies, Los Hernandez Tamales offers tamales. What sets them apart is that they only offer tamales.
Just three tastes are available: chicken, pig, and a seasonal vegetarian choice of asparagus and pepper jack cheese, jalapeño and cheese, or cactus and cheese. Tamales are one of my favorite foods, and these were some of the finest I’ve ever eaten.
The masa was aromatic and not too thick, and the fillings (I tried them all!) were really delicious. The asparagus seemed unusual at first, but it quickly became everyone’s favorite at the table. I’m hoping they start delivering outside of the state soon!
Union Gap Jeans Cottage Inn
Main St. (509) 575-97093211 Main St.
I have a soft spot for old-fashioned family Style restaurants that offer comfort dishes like biscuits and gravy and chicken-fried steak. Jeans Cottage is just that.
It’s like if you’ve stepped into your grandmother’s home, where she’s dishing out all the treats in amounts large enough to serve three and as delectable as only grandmothers can make them.
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I ordered biscuits and gravy, sunny side up eggs, and bacon. The gravy was silky and savory, soaking the freshly made biscuit into bits full of tantalizing sweetness when combined with the soft egg yolks.
Of course, dipping your bacon into the gravy is usually the greatest part, and with that, I felt like I was in gastronomic nirvana. If done well, those simple meals may bring back so many memories and seem like a nice blanket of comfort that makes our life better, if only for a short time.
Ellensburg Canyon River Grill
509-933-2309 Canyon Road
Canyon River Restaurant, located in a beautiful fly-fishing lodge on the Yakima River, is a must-see among Yakima eateries while driving between here and Ellensburg. Executive Chef Kevin Davis was raised in Louisiana, and his food reflects that heritage.
He’s been a James Beard Finalist three times (so far), and after dining at Canyon River Restaurant, I’m convinced he’ll win this honor shortly.
I had the Shrimp and Grits, and it was delicious. The shrimp were delicious and had the bouncy quality that only comes from well cooked shrimp.
Because of the spicy andouille sausage and crispy fried arugula, the grits had an extremely gratifying texture and were full of flavor. A liberal sprinkle of Creole-flavored chile oil added a lovely little spice and warmth that distinguishes Southern cuisine.
Wapato HopTown Wood-Fired Pizza
Donald Wapato Road. (509) 952-44142560 Donald Wapato Rd.
Beer and pizza on a sunny day sitting on the patio of HopTown in Wapato it is hard to top that. Lori and Carrie, the founders of HopTown, are two wonderful businesswomen who know how to make their clients happy.
Their wood-fired pizzas are delicious. It only takes 2-4 minutes to bake these thin-crust pies to perfection in a classic wood-fired oven that reaches temperatures of up to 900F. This establishment is attractive because of its superb tap selection, which includes local breweries.
I like every single piece I tasted, even the one with blueberries on top. I have to say, I was skeptical that the mix of sweet blueberries, goat cheese, and spicy pepperoni would work, but it not only does, but it is an incredible joy.
Another delectable slice was the Porky Pine, which featured a base layer of pesto, pecorino, prosciutto, and pine nuts, and was topped with arugula and a drizzle of a sweet balsamic reduction.
Of course, they also offer all of the standard pizza toppings, so if you like a more classic pizza, they have you covered.
Try their Elote dip before diving into the pizzas. This dip is a terrific way to start your dinner at HopTown, with the fire-roasted corn, pungent Cotija cheese, a fiery kick from the Cholula, and the citrus freshness of the lime juice.
Cowiche Creek Brewing Company Cowiche
509-678-0324514 Thompson Road
It is rare to see a brewery on a Best Restaurants in List, but most breweries also do not have lobster rolls on their menu (it was a special, but still) and serve delicious burgers on top of that.
This brewery has a strong hop-forward beer assortment. Hardly unexpected, given that the owner and head brewer’s wife originates from one of the Yakima Valley’s numerous hop growing families.
Cowiche Creek Brewery is also on the Little Hopper brewery hop on hop off tour, which is a terrific way to sample your way around Yakima Valley breweries without having to choose a designated driver.
Let’s go back to the meal. The cuisine at this brewery pleased me. The menu is modest, but what is available is delicious.
Their charcuterie platter looks like it came from an artisanal master and is piled high with locally made and delectable goodies that go beyond the usual cheese, salami, and prosciutto. I’m still fantasizing about those juicy olives, wonderful!
Naches from Bron Yr Aur Brewing Co.
(509) 653-110912160 US-12
Another brewery is on our list, and it is also accessible through the Little Hopper brewery shuttle. Bron Yr Aur Brewery, named after the famous Led Zeppelin song, is situated on the banks of the lovely Naches River, approximately 20 minutes northwest of Yakima.
We arrived around golden hour, and the Welsh translation of Bron Yr Aur, which means “Hill of Gold,” complemented the environment well. The brewery has a beautiful outside sitting area with picnic tables, toys for the kids, and enough of grassy places for the dogs to run about in.
This brewery has also discovered that the unique combo of pizza and beer is what keeps residents coming back time and time again.
How could you possibly not? This pizza boasts a chewy dough with exciting toppings and taste combinations. The Date-Ender, with Alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, and a ton of delicious roasted whole garlic cloves, was my favorite.
An appetizer or two is usually a smart choice, and the Cheese Zombies (a Yakima Valley favorite, like Hawaiian sweetbread meets grilled cheese) and the Sweet and Salty Balls, which taste better than their name sounds, promise. It is not a typical discovery among Yakima eateries, but it is worthwhile.
Yakima Restaurants Finish
Yakima eateries have captured my heart since they each have a distinct purpose and are so distinctively different. What they all have in common is a desire to provide their consumers with high-quality food. The change is palpable.
They don’t take any shortcuts, and making superb meals is a matter of respect for them. Put Yakima, Washington on your list of locations to visit if you like basic but high-quality meals.
Visiting other places in Washington State? See our other guides:
- 10 Must-Try Bellevue Restaurants
- 9 Best Tacoma North End Restaurants
- 4 Amazing Vancouver WA Restaurants
- 7 Amazing Things To Do In Redmond WA
The Yakima Valley and Union Gap Tourist Bureau paid for the eateries featured in this roundup as part of a press trip. This has no bearing on my judgment or total rating.