I had the opportunity to go to New Orleans in 2017, but before that happened I had been craving good creole food (let’s be honest I am ALWAYS craving creole food). It’s not common in the pacific northwest. There are plenty of restaurants that claim to have it, but most fall fairly short in my opinion. If you find yourself in a similar situation in Portland proper Miss Delta on Mississippi Ave or her predecessor and slightly dive-ier cousin The Delta Cafe on Woodstock are my go-to places. I promise eventually I will get around to writing up reviews. Which means I have to visit and eat at both again. I am not in the least bit sorry about this.
But this is not about those restaurants, this is about a new restaurant. New to me and new to the valley area, Gem. I discovered it on accident, a very happy accident indeed. One day wandering around McMinville Oregon wishing I could find some decent cheesy grits. And then right there in front of me was a lovely little restaurant with cheesy grits on the menu.
The interior is very purple and gold. VERY. Which makes sense as those are two of the three official colors of Mardi Gras. It was quiet (blissfully), the service was prompt (even better) and the food was hot and delicious. We were given a nice table by the window to watch all the happy people wander around in the sun (a rarity for that time of year here).
We ordered many (most) of the appetizers, giddy to get to try some long craved goodies. They did not disappoint. The grits were the best I have had outside of the south. Just thinking about it is making me want to go back. I wonder how they would feel if I ordered ALL the grits to go? Fried Okra, Hush Puppies and Fries were of course also incredible.
Gem is situated next to La Rambla (my favorite Spanish restaurant in the states) at 236 NE Third Street in McMinville Oregon.