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Jul 24, 2009 09:19 PM

Washington Adventures

I'm about to embark on a road trip of the NW. I'm heading from Portland to Seattle and ultimately up to Vancouver and then further east into Canada. This is my first trip to that part of the country and am very excited!

I'll be spending a day and a half in Seattle and then two nights with my uncle in Bellingham. We may take another trip back to Seattle for the day. I eat everything, but am very interested in food that screams Washington. I really want to try geoduck, lots of oysters, all types of salmon, clams, fresh fruit, Dungeness crab, breweries, good coffee, and anything else that I'm missing. I am also a big ice cream connoisseur.

I'm also looking for recommendations between Seattle and Bellingham and between Bellingham and Vancouver, as we will have to make some sort of food stop between the two cities. We always have to stop for food.

This is what I have come up with so far: happy hour at Elliott's Oyster Bar (is this 50 cent deal too good to be true?), Beecher's Cheese, Salumi, The Crumpet Shop, Matt's in the Market or Steelhead, Lunchbox Laboratory, Shiro's, Lowell's, Mallard Ice Cream (in Bellingham). We are all for doing a small little bite here and there to try as much as possible with maybe one full meal at dinner.

We of course will spending some time at Pike's Peak Market. We may also visit the EMP and hope to drive out to Mt. Rainier as well. We're very ambitious!

All help is greatly appreciated. And I promise a full report upon my return. Thanks in advance.

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  1. If you are going to bellingham you might travel through Penn Cove in Coupville for Musscles, Laconner and do not pass up the Chuckanut drive for oysters

    1. if you're going out to Mt Rainier, stop at Wapiti Woolies outside Enumclaw for ice cream (ps Second Burroughs from Sunrise visitor center is a good day hike). Do some gelato at Bottega Italiano or Gelatiamo in Seattle (after a cornmeal catfish sandwich at Matts or a geoduck tostada, Dungeness crab cake, fried smelts and gumbo at Steelhead diner). Try to get some Totten Virginica oysters if you can, these can be super plump and creamy if you get a good batch.

      1. Sweeney, Looking at your list, you've done your homework well. All are excellent. If you visit Mount Rainier via the Ashford entrance, don't miss the Copper Creek Inn for lunch or dinner. Driving north through Tacoma, exit at Fife and experience the Pick Quick--one of America's great outdoor hamburger stands. (They have a park with picnic tables.) Fries are made from scratch--no frozen potatoes. The strawberry shakes are made with fresh strawberries. True Americana.

        1. Travelling north from Seattle, in about Burlington exit at the first Chuckanut Exit, I think it's highway 11. Head north, set your GPS to take you off that road momentarily to the town of Edison. Edison consists of two art galleries, a homey wine and cheese shop of great sophistication called Slough Food, the best bakery in two counties next door (the Bread Farm) and a biker bar. At Slough Food you can buy imported and local cheeses, local chocolates, French and Washington wine, and Armandino Batali's fanf---ingtastic salumi, the best I've ever had. With this and a baguette from next door you are now armed for a picnic which you should enjoy once you're back on highway 11 and heading north to Bellingham on what is probably the most scenic road in Washington State. Once you get up to some elevation there are some turnouts where you can stop and enjoy your feast while drinking in the incomparable beauty of the San Juan Islands. Honestly, you'll kill yourself later if you don't do this.

          On the way you can stop at Taylor Shellfish Farm which is right on 11 at about the point where the road starts to wind up to some elevation, and buy fresh oysters and just-cooked Dungeness crab to enjoy once you get to Uncle's place.

          Mallard's you've got on your list, which is a must. On the same street as Mallard's (Railroad Ave) are several other local instituations. Namely, the Bagelry, where the bagels are truly authentic and wonderful and you can order cool bagel sandwiches. Also Fiamma Burger (order onion rings instead of fries), and at the north end of the street (up a block from Mallard's, that is, on the same side of the street) on the corner of Champion, I think it is, D'Aagio's for the best coffee in town by a mile. There is no other in town as good, both for the perfection of the roasted beans they use and the artistry of the foam they'll lay on your cappucino. There are international contests for such things, and these people win. You won't get that at Starbucks.

          Boundary Bay Brewery is also on Railroad, but maybe two-three blocks the other way (south) of Mallard's. Great local brew, decent food. And they have an outdoor space. In this heat, you'll appreciate that.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Neecies

            I was going to suggest a stop in Edison, too.

            I'd choose Matt's over Steelhead Diner. And yes the oysters are 50 cents at Elliots but only at 3--at 3:30 they are 75 cents, then $1 at 4...

            The farmer's markets of course have lots of locally made food (cheese, fish, jams, etc). The smoked salmon at Wilson Fish at the Ballard Farmer's Market (Sundays) is very good.

            1. re: christy319

              And only for the specific Happy Hour oyster variety.

            2. re: Neecies

              Edison is a great idea. It's just so darn, well, precious, in its way. And the Breadfarm goodies can't be beat. However, I think Quel Fromage in Bellingham rates more of a picnic/fancy goodies stop than Slough Food. (Quel Fromage also gets the salamis, and they seem much fresher.)

              If Mallard's has the basil when you're here, try it. My sweetie looks forward to it all year. I love the raspberry ice cream. But it's allllll good.

              I think the best bang for your buck seafood wise, on this side of the border, is to hit Taylor's on the way to Bellingham as suggested and to blow the budget there. (And The kumamoto and totten virginicus are big hits at my house (RAW!) as are the steamers. Taylor's occasionally has geoduck, too.

              I think the chocolate shop on Railroad also merits a stop. It's a few doors down from Mallards, and the owners are just a hoot.

            3. Pike's Peak: Colorado. Pike Place Market or just "the Market" (never Pike Market): Seattle. Molly Moon's in Seattle for ice cream. Unless you're hungry, one scoop is plenty! Fish 'n' chips at Little Chinook's at Fisherman's Terminal or at Anthony's outside fish bar along the downtown waterfront (avoid Anthony's sit-down restaurant or Big Chinook restaurant ). Head on down to the Market or any of the neighborhood farmer's markets for fresh berries and cherries, apricots and peaches. For a delicious berry pie, go to Simply Desserts in Fremont for take out. Try Seafood Garden, among others, in the ID (Int'l District) for fresh crab, clams--Chinese seafood restaurants give you the best bang for the buck on fresh seafood. Buy smoked salmon or smoked halibut most anywhere--the Market, neighborhood farmers markets, or any well-stocked grocery or at one of the two best fish markets in town: University Seafood & Poultry near the University of Washington or Mutual Fish Company in the Rainier Valley.

              3 Replies
              1. re: PAO

                Thanks for the correction, PAO. I'm not sure why I was calling it Pike's Peak Market. Clearly "I'm not from around here." But I'm glad you set me straight before I embarrass myself anymore. Thanks for the recs.

                1. re: Sweeney856

                  I drive from Vancouver to Seattle for work frequently, and there isn't much worth stopping for north of Bellingham - all the great stuff is south or just near Bellingham. When driving ot Canada just keep going until you hit the border. See the Vancouver board for details, but once across, the chinese food is fantastic - Richmond should be your first stop.

                  Between Portalnd and Seattle don't miss Xihn's in Shelton, and you can stop at the main location for Taylor Shellfish - home of the totten v's mentioned above- voted best oyster in america or something by someone who's opinion matters more than mine.

                2. re: PAO

                  Have to disagree about Chinook's and Anthony's to a lesser degree.
                  There's better seafood out there (Ray's, WSG, Ponti), but I wouldn't call either an "Avoid".
                  I think they both good midlevel/value seafood places.

                  I was actually at Big Chinook's last night.
                  Wonderful little rockfish dish. $17.
                  With a couple of drinks and apps I we each hit about $45 a piece.
                  Can't complain.