One of the best examples of local bounty meets heritage can be found at Los Hernandez in Union Gap, a tiny outpost that serves tamales and tamales only, every one made fresh daily. Year-round, the tamale shop serves pork and chicken tamales—moist and hot and steaming with flavor inside their iconic corn husk wrappers—but come spring, when the region’s asparagus crop is in full bloom, Los Hernandez adds a special asparagus and pepper jack cheese tamale to the menu.
Of course, Mexican isn’t the only dining experience that merits mention. For an experience that makes you feel like you’re in Southern France, there’s Bookwalter Winery’s JBistro in Richland. Sit outside with a flight of wines while you nosh on beet, fennel and apple salad; roasted butternut squash naan; or mini buffalo Wellington.
Then there’s the Walla Walla area. The region is home to fine dining restaurants, such as Patit Creek in Dayton, and smaller places, such as Walla Walla’s Salumiere Cesario, which serves cured meats and fresh cheeses perfect for a wine-tasting picnic. The best way to start and end the day, however, may be at Colville Street Patisserie where glistening vanilla-lime-passion-fruit chocolate cakes line a small pastry window while, inches away, a stunning array of incredibly complex gelatos—coconut, cardamom, pineapple-ginger-softly await exploration.
—Julie H. Case