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What a Catch! The Ultimate Crab, Seafood & Wine Weekend
As the saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea – and that definitely rings true here on the Oregon Coast. The annual Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival in April is a celebration of our region’s salty bounty and the Northwest’s best wines. If you plan on going coastal, follow this guide for the ultimate seafood and wine-filled weekend.
Best Bites: Head to the tasting room at Buoy Beer for rotating specials of Oregon Quahog clams, fresh pan-fried Willapa Bay oysters and smoked Columbia River salmon. If you’ve got bigger fish to fry, don’t miss the flaky pieces of seafood heaven at Bowpicker Fish & Chips. Made-to-order in a land-locked gillnet boat, the secret is in the fresh-caught Albacore. Get there quick! They often sell out before 5 p.m. Then step up your game at Bridgewater Bistro, Clemente’s and Baked Alaska, three of the finest plates in town. If you wake up dreaming about wild salmon tchoupitoulas, Dungeness crab cakes or halibut with apple horseradish aioli, don’t worry, we get it.
Dig Deep: If you want to work for your meal, schedule a Columbia River fishing charter and experience some of the best Coho and Chinook salmon fishing found anywhere in the world. Haul in a bounty of Oregon’s famous Dungeness crab, razor clams or salmon and for a nominal fee, Northwest Wild Products will clean, prepare, pack, freeze and ship your catch. Join a ranger-led razor clamming adventure at Fort Stevens State Park (year-round except July-Sept when clams reproduce; call the park for dates). Or pull up your galoshes, grab a shovel and head to the beach yourself. Permits and clam guns (easier for first-timers) can be purchased at various locations around town (KOA, Fred Meyer at Highway 101, Tackle Time, Big Five). Be sure to snag a free Oregon State Fishing Handbook for state regulations. Insider tip: Dress warm and waterproof, and be ready for changing weather conditions!
Behind the Scenes: Astoria was once known as the Salmon Canning Capital of the World and had more than 30 canneries along its riverfront. See how local seafood products are cooked fresh and packaged at one of the last microcanneries on the Oregon Coast, Skipanon Brand Seafood, in Warrenton. This family-owned business cooks their fish in the can, which gives it a superior texture and flavor, then labels everything by hand. Stop by Monday-Saturday to see the process and sample their famous smoked Steelhead or take home some fresh seafood.
Sip and Savor: Prep your pallet for the festival with the perfect aperitif at The Cellar on 10th wine emporium. Sample selections in a cellar atmosphere at their wine bar or pick up a few bottles to commemorate your trip. A few blocks away, the Wine Bar at the Hotel Elliott is laden with old world charm and new world wines. Sit at the massive hand crafted bar and watch shoppers stroll by through large picture windows overlooking 12th Street and the Liberty Theater.
Festival Pro Tips:
  • Once you get to the Crab, Seafood and Wine Festival, get in line for “Clown Bread”, and get there fast. The booth, hosted by a group of local fundraisers, the Astoria Clowns, is located in the back tent near the patio. Waiting is worth it for delectable crab or shrimp melts on soft, dense French bread.
  • Imbibe stress-free by taking the $3 roundtrip shuttle with service from area hotels, campgrounds and convenient park-and-ride locations in Astoria and Warrenton. Parking is extremely limited at the fairgrounds.
Take it home: If you want the crab, seafood and wine experience to last long after the weekend, be sure to pick up tasty souvenirs for future snacking. Bornstein SeafoodsWarrenton Deep Sea Market sells the freshest local seafood straight off the boats – be sure to ask about the smoked scallops. Or head north along the Long Beach Peninsula and historic Oysterville to score a cooler of live Willapa Bay oysters and learn how these bivalves are farmed. Limited time? Stop by Josephson’s Smokehouse right off Astoria’s main drag, Marine Drive, for the best salmon jerky around, a bread bowl of chowder or canned fish to go.
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