Tillamook Creamery – Portland, Oregon
We spent all day exploring Oregon’s north coastline and while there were so many dining choices among the miles of driving, Tillamook Creamery was ubiquitously acclaimed by the locals we encountered as a must do. It was a bit out of the way but we were reassured it was well worth it.
We weren’t sure what to expect out of Tillamook Creamery, only that everyone we encountered told us to go, and they served food (cheese based of course) and ice cream. There were also 13,000 reviews on Google so I *guess* we had to see what all the fuss is about. I figured it would be a farmhouse setting with cows in the pasture and a stand serving up grilled cheeses and ice cream.
Boy, was I wrong. It was a monstrosity of a building and the parking lot that went on for miles was completely full. When we finally got a spot, it was clear how insane this place was- hundreds of cars which means even more people! Time to see if for ourselves.
Ok. The outside has a counter for ice cream orders only. When entering the building, to the left is a massive store, upstairs is the self guided tour of the facility, and straight ahead are the food options. It was a bit of a mob scene but we ultimately decided to first get in line for food.
The menu was way more extensive than grilled cheese – pizza, burgers, soups, salads, mac n cheese- it was difficult to pick. In our traditional travel style, we picked a multiple items that we could share to allow the sampling of more things. After ordering, you are given a buzzer with location finding capabilities and the meal is brought out to your table.
I was in the mood for some chocolate milk so I jumped out of line and browse the store for a small carton. The smallest size in the store was a pint so while not ideal, I would have to somehow find a way to keep it cold to enjoy later in the trip.
Anxiously awaiting our tray of food, I began sipping on my chocolate milk which was so delightful and before I knew it, a significant portion vanished.
And then our tray arrived!
- Tempura battered cheese curds – fresh Tillamook cheddar curds with a sriracha ranch dipping sauce
- Classic Tillamook grilled cheese – Tillamook medium and sharp cheddar on Portland french bakery bread
- Classic mac n cheese – a creamy blend of Tillamook medium and sharp cheddar
Oh goodness were our eyes bigger than our stomachs. The tempura cheese curds were incredible, definitely our favorite and we would recommend getting these on your visit. The grilled cheese was as described, classic, and a solid grilled cheese. To our surprise, the mac n cheese was our least favorite (spoiler: we ordered the kids version cause we knew it would be far to much food) as we felt the cheese taste was actually muted.
And before I knew it (again), the pint of milk was empty. I looked up at Kevin with the saddest puppy eyes… all those calories, all that fat, all that sugar in the entire pint… four servings… gone. I have such horrible self control around chocolate.
Incredibly full, we moved on to the self guided walking tour on the second floor while I loathed my dairy choices. The walkthrough takes visits above the cheese factory and walked you through each stage of the process and explaining the equipment as well (think “stations of the cross” style).
We both agree this part was very well done and engaging with the factory below- it was really cool to see all tools in action and see the journey of milk into cheese all in one place.
While I didn’t want to, we couldn’t leave without ice cream. I convinced Kevin to split a scope with me to lower my dairy guilt, he obliged, bless his heart. We walked to the outside counter to investigate which of the over 30 flavors we would share. Fortunately Kevin was in a chocolate mood and we ordered the Tillamook Mudslide (chocolate ice cream with chocolaty chips and a thick fudge ripple). Yep, it was delightful.
This is definitely a fun, family friendly stop if you are in the area exploring the Oregon coast! Learn from my mistakes and manage your dairy expectations ahead of time – there are so many delicious options and it is easy to go over board.