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Jul 1, 2008 03:39 PM

Orcas Island Anniversary dinner

We will be celebrating our 25th Anniversary on Orcas Island. What's the best place for a romantic dinner for two?

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  1. Inn at Ships Bay has about the best food on the island and they have a beautiful setting right on the water with beautiful gardens. It's becoming a favorite for weddings so should work nicely for a 25th anniversary. Get there early so you have time to admire the gardens. Reviews on TripAdvisor are very good.

    We took some friends who let us stay on the island with them for a thank you dinner. They said it was their favorite restaurant. Food was very good tho not cheap. You will need reservations and it would probably be a good idea to mention it's a 25th anniversary.

    They also have nice rooms so you could stay there too and not have to drive back after dinner.

    The other fancy restaurants are Christina's, directly on the water at Eastsound and Rosario's also on the water (but a bit out of town) in a lovely old mansion built by the guy who donated Moran Park. Christina's has had mixed reviews recently and is currently changing hands and Rosario went through a mediocre period but recently got a new chef so may be getting better. A lot of the rooms at Rosario are in the new (as in not old - look like 1970 - cheap motel rooms so make sure you know what you are getting if you stay with them.

    LuLu's in Eastsound is very highly rated tho I've never been. Much less costly and not on the water so may not be what you are looking for on the 25th but perhaps on another night.

    Rose's is also nice and a lunch favorite with the locals. Believe they recently started serving dinner on some nights. Rather small place attached to a gourmet store.

    Another local favorite is the West Sound Cafe (actually I think it has a new name but everyone still uses the old one). It's way out at the end of Crow Valley road. Not quite on the water. Good food and a very friendly owner. If he doesn't recognize you he will come over and introduce himself. You will need reservations but it's not a really fancy place

    7 Replies
    1. re: buckmountain

      Wow. Thanks for all the great recs. I had considered Inn at Ships Bay and your comment confirms it. We are staying 4 nights at Spring Bay Inn at the end of August and are really looking forward to it.

      We will look into LuLu's for another night and Rose's or West Sound Cafe for lunch. Thanks again.

      1. re: jnf

        Chimayo's (Mexican) and the Kitchen (Asian - outdoor only) are also very good. Our real estate agent (Harvey Olsan - if you decide you want to buy a piece of the island - great guy) took us to both of them as well as to Rose's.

        Since you are staying at Spring Bay you're close to Doe Bay so you might like the vegie restaurant there for lunch. It's right on the water but behind the general store so a bit hard to find. (Go through the general store or use the walkway on the right to go directly to the restaurant.) Doe Bay is kind of a hippie/new age/alternative lifestyle place. One of the prettiest locations on the island.

        You'll also pass the Olga Cafe on your way into town. I've heard rumors that it was closed but last summer it was open. We've eaten there - just pie and coffee but very good. Interesting art show too.

        We've went kayaking at Spring Bay last summer. Both the location and inn are beautiful. My wife is stealing some of their ideas for the house we are building. Sandy and Carl, the owners are retired park rangers and they love what they do and it shows. Beautiful people. I'm sure you will have a great time.

        Do stop in at Rosario's and visit their upstairs museum. It's quite interesting. You will read all about the Rosario's builder Robert Moran when you visit the CCC tower at the top of Mt. Constitution. The museum is basically his living quarters with a few extra exhibits. He was major of Seattle and his doctor told him he only had a short time to live. He moved to Orcas and lived another 40 years. Proves what a great place the island is!

        A popular thing to do is to watch the sunset from Mt. Constitution. Actually the parking area about halfway up is probably better since it has a better view to the west or if you email me directly (rkinner at gmail dot com) I will tell you how to get to our property which has about the best view on the island (in our not so humble opinion). It's a great place for a picnic lunch too. It's on a private road so you normally wouldn't be able to get there but with my invite you're legal.

        1. re: buckmountain

          buckmountain, thanks again for all the great suggestions. Doe Bay sounds cool, and we are always in search of a great view (thanks for the invite!). One other question -- is a car necessary on Orcas? We are coming from Seattle (we actually live in St. Louis, but the first 3 days of our trip will be in Seattle). I heard about the long ferry line waits and thought maybe we could do without a car (and do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint as well). Or perhaps we could wait til we get to Orcas and then rent a car. Your thoughts?

          1. re: jnf

            Orcas is a big island and Spring Bay is out in the middle of nowhere so I think you will definitely need transport. You are right that the ferry can be a hassle. If you drive on you want to try not to have to leave on Sunday. If you must then catch the first one. Otherwise waits of 6 hours are not unknown. There is a shuttle bus but I'm pretty sure it doesn't go all the way to Spring Bay. It is possible to rent cars and motorbikes when you get off the ferry. I'm not sure what it costs but I would definitely make sure I had reservations. There is a website that has a lot of videos on the San Juans. They have a video on the home page called Orcas/San Juan Transportation (down toward the bottom right). The Chamber of Commerce site has telephone numbers for all of the rental companies:

            It's about 17 miles from the ferry landing to the Spring Bay Inn. If you go to and search for Eastsound WA it will show you the island. The ferry comes in at Orcas on the left and Spring Bay is on the right a bit past Olga. Spring Bay is several miles down a dirt road toward Obstruction pass park so I think you would want a car rather than a bike or moped.

            1. re: buckmountain

              Told my wife about your plans and she says she's sure you will have a great anniversary and that she is envious. I probably should have done something similar for our 10th this year but it was in June and she was still working.

              Haven't heard from you yet. rkinner AT gmail DOT com where
              ' AT ' = @ and ' DOT ' = . I break up the email address that way to keep the spammer bots from harvesting it. Probably should put ' buckmountain ' in the subject so I'll know it's not spam.

      2. re: buckmountain

        We ate at Christina's last night - we are actually staying at Spring Bay Inn (marvelous). Very disappointing meal at Christina's. Maybe a bad night? The prices just didn't match the quality. We had extremely stingy pours of wine - and I watched another waitress next to us pour generous glasses for another couple. This is a total pet peeve of mine. I had the "Kobe Beef Filet Mignon" - I got a very grizzly, chewy steak. I pointed out the large amounts of grizzle to the waitress and she let me know that this "added flavor" to the steak. Added flavor? Half the steak couldn't be eaten. I let her know that marbling is what is really sought after in a good filet not hunks of large connective tissue. My husband had the salmon filet - not bad but a little dry. Honestly, I think I'm irked partly because of the price. The cost set up high expectations in us. If the meal was half the price we paid I would have been disappointed but not so angry.

        1. re: nicholel

          The Rosario may be closing. The present owners are putting it up for auction and have formally given notice to all employees. It will depend on the new owners whether it remains open or not.