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Orcas Island?

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Hi All- I'm headed w/my folks to Orcas Island next month, looking for some recs for any good places to eat? I've been to Allium, which was good, but maybe something a little less fancy would do better. Looking for good lunch and dinner places, anywhere on the Island. Anyone have a place they like and would recommend? Thanks!

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  1. I was last there about a year and a 1/2 ago (too long!)... for a weekend.

    We got off the ferry late afternoon, and drove around to Deer Harbor just to look around. Ended up having oysters and crab aptz. and a glass of wine. They must have just opened for the evening, as it was empty save for us. Nice deck with a partial view of the water and the garden just next to the deck. Nice spot for sitting outside. The inside was kind of country and dated. Nice staff.

    Also enjoyed small plates at New Leaf in Eastsound, tho we thought it was a bit pricey. Nice modern NW take on French food, interesting cocktails.

    The cafe at Doe Bay is pretty cool too. Didn't eat there on last visit, but checked out the menu. Looked great, and the room was very nice. Go a few hours early and take a soak in the 9clothing optional) tubs, then have dinner. You can find out more at their website, for sure.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gingershelley

      I just heard a rave review from a friend of New Leaf. Go and give us a review. :) And I'd LOVE a review from Doe Bay. It used to be awful--just the worst kind of hippie food--but I hear they have a real chef and a new menu now.

      I used to love Roses but I haven't been in 2 years, so that's not a very up to date recommendation.

      If you're there on a Saturday, the farmer's market has quite a few prepared foods (pupusas, pulled pork sandwiches, fresh spring rolls), and you can picnic on the grass.

    2. I recently rode my bike and camped on Lopez, San Juan Island and Orcas---I ended up eating TWICE at the Lower Tavern in Eastsound on Orcas----I had two different types of burgers, with sweet potato fries and I thought it was more than adequate. The service was exceptionally friendly, and the dining area was unusually clean for a "pub" type stop. I also recommend the ice cream truck---I don't know the name of it, but it squeezes in a spot across from the park and serves great ice cream. I intended to try Passionate for Pies (?) but i didn't make it there.

      1. MUST VISIT Rose's Bakery & Cafe in Eastsound for breakfast or baked goods! Went last summer, and everything sampled from the bakery was delicious.

        I personally enjoyed my dinner at Inn at Ship's Bay slightly more than the one I had at New Leaf; food was a little more refined and less heavy. Both were pricey (app, drinks, dinner, dessert estimate $50pp)

        1. Hi. I'm a foodie and islander (next door on San Juan) so hopefully I can give you some recent scoop. The comment about Rose's for lunch is right on the money. I regularly spend half a day doing the interisland ferry back and forth to have lunch there, and buy good cheese and olives in the deli (unobtanium in Friday Harbor where I live).

          New Leaf is a good choice, especially for Sunday brunch. Inn at Ship's Bay is probably my favorite place on the island, and Geddis the chef does fantastic stuff with ingredients grown right on the island. If you want something less formal than the dining room, Inn at Ship's Bay has a nice bar for casual fare. Allium, of course, would be my other choice, if you don't want to go for full dinner, they have happy hour. We were there last weekend and all of the small plates were very nice -- fresh and tasty.

          I'm sadly unfamiliar with the two new(ish) mexican places in Eastsound, both are recent enough I haven't been yet.

          but enjoy your trip to the islands!

          5 Replies
          1. re: mmadsen

            We're a couple from San Diego, major food enthusiasts, who will make our first visit to the San Juan Islands next month. Have already booked one night and dinner at Willows Inn on Lummi. Haven't decided between S.J. island or Orcas for the other two nights. Looking for a nice place to stay where the food is also top notch. Sounds like the Inn at Ship Bay fills the bill. Any others we should look at on either island? Thanks.

            1. re: mcgrath

              Hi mcgrath -

              Although I live on San Juan Island, quite honestly I'm going to direct you to my neighbors next door on Orcas. There is nothing on my island at the moment that you should do as a follow up to Willows and Lummi (although you will have a terrific time on Lummi, please enjoy!). On Orcas, you can do Inn at Ship Bay and Allium, and have great experiences at both. At Allium, if the weather is supposed to be clear, request outdoor seating and it's an incredibly relaxing view with great food and Lisa Nakamura is a terrific chef. The gnocchi are absolutely incredible and not-to-miss. Lunch at Rose's is the best lunch in the islands hands-down, and I actually do the ferry roundtrip to buy cheese, cured meats, and wine at Roses to sustain me between shopping trips on the mainland. I hope you have a great visit to the San Juans. The islands are one of the most beautiful places in America, but we still have a very frontier, rustic, and middle-class economy here and we're only starting to develop a higher end food scene. We do, however, have some of the best raw ingredients around, and if you encounter Jones Family Farms pork or other products at Willows, Allium, or IASB, you'll see what I mean. We have very clean, clear waters here, and the seafood is terrific. Please post your impressions when you're done; in a small community like this I know most of the chefs and restauranteurs because they're neighbors, and will give feedback, which is essential to creating experiences for true food lovers! Cheers!

              1. re: mmadsen

                Thank you so much. Orcas it will be, then. We'll be going there before Lummi and Willows, so no problems with possible letdowns. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, when we checked Ship Bay online, they say they're totally booked on the first night of our stay (Tues 9/11), so unless that changes we'll need to look elsewhere for lodging. But we'll definitely try all of your other suggestions. Your post is a great example of why Chowhound is so valuable a resource for folks visiting a new area. Thanks again, and if you ever visit San Diego, I'm here to help!

                1. re: mcgrath

                  Happy to help! And yeah, lodging can be a problem until things quiet down in the offseason, hope you find somewhere terrific to stay!

            2. re: mmadsen

              I went to Tee-Jay's Tacos on Orcas, I think I have a review (an old one maybe) over on
              Trip Advisor
              I'm cautious about NW mexican, but I thought TJ was really good food.

            3. If you need any assistance with travel, lodging, food or activities on Orcas Island, please feel free to get in touch with my office. We are happy to help folks with their travel plans. Enjoy your trip! Lance Evans, Executive Director, Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce. lance-at-orcasislandchamber.com; 360-376-2273; http://www.orcasislandchamber.com

              1. see my reply to mmadsen re: TJ tacos. Local hole n the wall. good mex. food

                1. Hi All- Thanks so much to everyone for the great tips! I just wanted to post a quick trip report from my awesome weekend on Orcas-

                  Saturday - arrived in time for the farmer's market, had originally planned to just graze for dinner there, but the pickings were pretty slim...maybe I'm spoiled by my good market here...ended up instead at Rose's, which probably leads all places on the island in Chowhound recs. Had good sandwiches, though nothing life changing. Very nice surrounds and I liked the store.

                  After a long afternoon on Mt Constitution, were too tired for complex dinner to hot Lower Tavern for burgers and beer. I am a big fan! First off, very reasonably priced and well curated beer selection, followed by some very good burgers! We cleared out as an ominous looking bad was setting up, but I'd expect a fun scene later in the evening.

                  Sunday we trecked out to Doe Bay for brunch. Didn't realize until we got there that it was vegetarian. This did not sit well with my Texan parents, but I actually thought all the food was pretty good. Setting is beautiful, service is nice but pretty relaxed.

                  Sunday we spent the day on a boat, so again wanted simple for dinner, headed to the excellent West Sound Cafe. Medium-fancy, but a beautiful room and very good food. This sounds wierd, but their Wedge Salad may be one of the best things I have ever eaten. I know, how can one Wedge Salad be any different from another, but wow.

                  Our final meal was brunch Monday morning at the Skillet before heading for the ferry. Absolutely exactly what you'd expect from a restaurant called the skillet - diner food, emphasis on breakfast.

                  Hope any of that is helpful for future travelers to the Island...can't wait to go back!