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Locally Focused Culinary Experiences in the Pacific Northwest

Paella being cooked on the street at the Basque Block in Boise, Idaho

One of the best ways to experience a destination is through its food. Every city has a story to tell through its local crops, products and makers, and the Pacific Northwest is no different, with a tapestry of flavors and cultures to explore.  

Boise, Idaho; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon; are all popular meeting and convention destinations that offer a plethora of exciting food experiences and unique flavors that should not be missed during your next gathering. Whether you want to arrange private events or catering around particular foods or simply want to give your attendees recommendations for personal exploration on their own time when business is done, these are some of the must-try culinary experiences in major Pacific Northwest markers.


Everyone knows it—Idaho is the land of potatoes. More than 13 billion pounds are harvested per year and 300,000 acres of potatoes can be found in the state. Visit Boise has leaned into this spud-forward identity, recently launching the Boise Idaho Potato Trail so that visitors can sample some of the most iconic dishes starring the famous root vegetable while in town. This free mobile pass allows you to check in at stops and track your progress along the trail by gathering points to redeem for prizes. Highlights include the Boise Fry Company, “where the burgers come on the side,” potato donuts at Guru Donuts and a variety of potato riffs at The Brickyard including peanut butter mashed potatoes.

Dumplings from Sunshine & Spice Bakery, Boise
Dumplings from Sunshine & Spice Bakery, Boise, Idaho. Courtesy of Visit Boise

Potatoes may take the spotlight, but Boise has many must-tries in town for foodies. Boise is home to one of the largest concentrations of Basque populations per capita in the U.S. (The Basque region in Spain is an area that straddles parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.) The Basque Block in downtown Boise is where the rich history and heritage of the Basque people can be explored—and one of the best ways to do so is through the food.  

Take a trip to The Basque Market, which is known for making very large pans of paella on the street every Wednesday and Friday. Or, sample many dishes at neighborhood restaurants Leku Ona, Ansot’s (whose chef is a recent James Beard semi-finalist) and Bar Gernika.  

“Another unique thing to Boise that we are very proud of, and something people certainly don’t know about when visiting, is our diverse food scene, including refugee-owned restaurants,” noted Taylor Barton, convention services and digital marketing manager for Visit Boise, who recommended visiting groups try:

  • Sunshine & Spice Bakery, Boise’s first Afghan bakery/cafe
  • Food Land Market, a Mediterranean restaurant, bakery and cafe
  • Kibrom’s Ethiopian and Eritrean Cuisine, from owners Kibrom & Tirhas, who moved to Boise in 2013 from Shimelba refugee camp in Northern Ethiopia, where they previously owned a small restaurant
  • Tarbush Kitchen, serving Iraqi and Turkish dishes with recipes passed down through generations

[Related: On the Scene: The Beauty and Bounty of Boise, Idaho’s Meetings and Events Offerings]


Oysters from Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, Portland
Oysters from Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, Portland, Oregon. Courtesy of Travel Portland

Approximately 80 miles from the ocean, Portland has its fair share of delicious, fresh seafood, notably oysters.  

A must-visit for oysters in Portland is the oldest family-owned seafood restaurant in the city, Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, which has been in service since 1907 and whose ownership has passed through five generations in the Wachsmuth family. Try freshly shucked oysters on the half shell or baked Rockefeller-style with spinach, shallots, garlic, bacon and Gruyere cheese. Try other seafood favorites like smoked salmon chowder, oyster stew, po’boys and more.

More seafood abounds at Morchella, a restaurant focused on wild and foraged foods. The unique dining experience is helmed by chef Cameron Dunlap, who often forages the ingredients you’ll see on the menu himself. The menu is therefore seasonal, but current dishes include Netarts oysters from the Oregon coast and many dishes with locally foraged mushrooms.  

In that vein, mushrooms aren’t just one of the starring ingredients at Morchella. You’ll find the humble and versatile fungi on many menus in town. At the Dame Collective, a restaurant serving double duty as an incubator for small restaurant businesses and chefs, you’ll find Chelo, from chef Luna Contreras. Her “produce-laden” Mexican cuisine features veggie-forward, locally sourced ingredients. This includes local mushrooms on the menu in dishes like gorditas and hongos.  

According to The Oregon Hazelnut Industry Office, the hazelnut officially became the state nut of Oregon in 1989 and about 1,000 Oregon farm families grow hazelnuts on 93,000 acres. The hazelnut tree was brought to the state by early French settlers, and now you can find the ingredient sprinkled throughout food and beverage items in Portland and beyond. Sip on a Hazelnut Brown Nectar beer at Rogue Brewing, or grab a batch of dark chocolate hazelnuts from Ranger Chocolate right by the Oregon Convention Center.  

Lastly, don’t miss a chance to try a “marionberry,” a sweet, hybrid berry originally developed in Corvallis, Oregon. Described as sweet and smooth, these berries are ideal for baked goods and jams, in addition to snacking. They are hard to find outside of the Pacific Northwest, so don’t miss your opportunity to try some! A local favorite is Lauretta Jean’s, where owner Kate McMillen bakes fresh marionberry pies when the fruit is in season in mid-July through August.

[Related: 8 Offsite Event Venues That Make Portland Meetings Shine]


Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Starbucks Reserve Roastery, Seattle. Courtesy of Visit Seattle

Even if you’ve never been to Seattle before, you probably know that it’s the home of Starbucks. Coffee roasting is serious business in the Emerald City, and attendees can caffeinate for their meetings at the original Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Private events and tours at the roastery can also be arranged to learn about the science, art and theater behind all things coffee.  

For attendees that would rather support smaller roasters, Visit Seattle recommends Monorail Espresso, a small business that’s been serving quality espresso since starting from an espresso cart in 1980.

Similar to Portland, you’ll find many options for quality seafood in Seattle. Try salmon, oysters and a plethora of more seafood options at Palisade, a restaurant with sweeping views of Elliott Bay that is also an elegant choice for offsite events. Palisade has three private rooms, including both indoor and outdoor dining options, and can accommodate up to 300 people.

A trip to Seattle isn’t complete with a visit to historic Pike Place Market, which spans nine acres downtown and features more than 500 small businesses that include farmers, restaurants, craftspeople and more. Try classic seafood dishes, sample local sweet cherry treats, sip local craft brews and more.

For groups that really want to get out and interact with food, don’t miss a tour with Savor the Wild Tours, where participants can forage for mushrooms or gather seafood. Savor the Wild Tours can accommodate private events for up to 100 people with customizations including mobile carts, custom menus and wine pairings, extended foraging time and more.

Finally, top-quality wine isn’t only found in California in the western U.S. Washington State has a wine culture of its own, and groups meeting in Seattle can experience this at Chateau Ste. Michelle less than 20 miles outside of Seattle. Host an event at the historic property grounds in Woodinville or enjoy a variety of tasting experiences or even a wine-blending session.

[Related: Seattle's Summit and One-of-a-Kind Vibe Have the Emerald City Soaring]

Food-Centric Gifting Ideas in the Pacific Northwest

Orox leather apron
Orox leather apron, Portland. Courtesy of Travel Portland

Looking to support local businesses and provide your attendees with more thoughtful gifts following your events? Consider these ideas in Boise, Portland and Seattle.


  • City Peanut Shop: Located in downtown Boise near the convention center, this beloved shop sells nuts, brittles and other sweets, and also collaborates with local businesses like breweries, cideries, restaurants and more.
  • The Chocolat Bar: Inspired by their home, Boise couple Jason and Trish utilize local ingredients and flavor combinations to create the delectable, freshly made chocolates sold at their shop. They also can specifically work with corporate groups to curate an assortment of gift boxes to give your attendees at events, or to ship to their homes.


  • Local coffee: Gift a Deadstock coffee subscription, Kann or Nossa Familia beans  
  • Orox leather aprons: For culinary-inclined groups, consider leather and canvas aprons from Orox, a company of leathermakers with roots in Oaxaca, Mexico. The product is handcrafted by Portland artisans.


  • Bite Society: This woman- and LGBTQ+-owned company offers inventive and artfully designed snack boxes and gift baskets. Their packaging features artwork by PNW-based tattoo artists.
  • Refugee Artisan Initiative: RAI partners with refugee and immigrant women to foster an inclusive, prosperous transition to the U.S. through artisan skills-training and micro business development. The artisans source used feed bags, coffee bags, firehoses and other materials to upcycle them into a number of products including totes, ornaments, jewelry and more.


Travel Portland 

Visit Boise 

Visit Seattle 

Read this next: Key Venue Openings and Renovations in the Pacific Northwest

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About the author
Danielle LeBreck | Senior Content Director

Danielle started at Meetings Today in March 2019 after seven years of editorial experience in the travel and food industries. She oversees all of the destination content for Meetings Today and collaborates with the team on digital content strategy and content marketing initiatives.