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Jun 14, 2014 04:21 PM

MSP Hound visiting end of June - Rec's needed - San Juan Islands

Hi Pacific NW Chowhounders!

The hubster and I will be making our first trip to the San Juan Islands at the end of June/Beginning of July (Wednesday night - Saturday morning). We're starting our trip in Portland, then to Seattle, then up to the San Juan Islands. We have 3 breakfasts/brunches, 2 lunches, and 3 dinners to plan. I've been reading the boards, but the options are pretty overwhelming and I'm still trying to wade through things. In the meantime, I'm hoping maybe you all will have some additional good suggestions for us. We'll be staying at the Rosario Resort and we will have a car. Here's what we are and aren't looking for:

Looking for:
1) Some light eats - we can't eat heavy at every meal, so some light options will be good.
2) Good seafood - we live in MN and while we have fresh lake fish, we lack a lot of fresh seafood.
3) Food and preparations that are decidedly Pacific NW - it's always nice to have something you can't get at home.
4) Any interesting bakeries, coffee shops, ice cream shops and the like. Places that are good for snacks or those light eats I mentioned earlier.
5) Really good breakfasts
6) A couple good lunch options between Seattle and the San Juan Islands - we'll be getting on the ferry at Anacortes
7) Dinner recommendations that have entrees in the $25/pp range.

What we're NOT looking for
1) Dress codes. We like good food, but we like staying casual, so no restaurants that require suits, ties, etc. I'm guessing that's not an issue in the San Juans.
2) Uber fancy - we love fine dining and aren't opposed to it in any way, but we love hole-in-the-wall places too. As long as the food is good and the area is safe, we're good.
3) Asian or Mexican food - We have the largest Hmong population outside of Thailand in MSP, so we have our pick of awesome Asian food. If there's a stand out/don't miss place, we're not opposed, but would prefer to steer clear of that if at all possible.
4) Greek and Spanish restaurants are off the table too, due to a severe allergy to goat and sheep milk/cheeses

Thanks much! Once I get the list somewhat finalized, I'll run it past you for critique. :)

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  1. Just to weigh in on the between Seattle and Anacortes bit: Stop at Skagit's Own Fish for lunch--especially for crab rolls and other local crab and shrimp dishes. It's not NW at all but the other day they were out of ALL of their crab items so we got the lobster roll--$12.99 and as good as many I've had in Maine. Also read up on Edison and Bow and see if that interests you as a food stop.

    We go to Orcas once or twice a year but always get a cabin and usually cook in, so while I can tell you where to buy your oysters, I'm not up on the restaurants anymore. As you can imagine the islands don't have much of an immigrant population so you wouldn't go there expecting ethnic food. There are also no uber fancy places. I have New Leaf and Doe Bay (this used to be a very hippie café but I've heard it's very good vegetarian now, and it's a unique and pretty setting) on my list for our upcoming trip but may not get there before you do. You'll have to post a report so I can read it and piggyback off your picks!

    12 Replies
    1. re: christy319

      Christy319, I'm traveling to Orcas in August and will have access to a kitchen. Am wondering where you like to get your provisions and if there's a wine store you'd recommend. We're staying on the west side but will have a car. I'm looking forward to learning more from this thread too!

      1. re: BAnders

        You'll do better stocking up before getting on Orcas. There is basically one town, Eastsound


        1. re: paulj

          Unfortunately, we're flying to the island so will have weight limits so not really an option. But we will focus on Eastsound for resources. Thanks!

          1. re: BAnders

            You could also take the ferry to Friday Harbor, the biggest town in the Islands. I believe it is free for passengers (though you might want to take the car to see sights on that island.)

        2. re: BAnders

          I get wine at Roses--its where I also buy bread, and cheese if I need it. I get oysters, clams, crabs and salmon at Buck Bay Shellfish Farm. The main grocery is good--I'm always surprised at what I find there (mini Vermont Creamery cultured butters, signs advertising whole pigs, a locally made habenero sauce that I now love). There's a natural food store but I haven't been in in ages. I get baked goods and desserts at Roses or Brown Bear Baking.

          I don't know why another poster is telling you to stock up elsewhere. We don't even bring much up from Seattle.

          1. re: christy319

            Thanks so much, christy319--much appreciated.

              1. re: christy319

                " Agritourism is gaining a toehold." - now all the island needs is an ancient monastery on top of Mt Constitution. :)

                Saltspring Island, the largest of the Canadian Gulf Islands was developing a bit of this feel the last time I camped there (several years ago), so I shouldn't be surprised that Orcas is developing in the same direction.

                Lummi Island with its destination Willows Inn, is only 5 miles from Orcas (as the gull flies), though 4 hrs by ferry and road.

                1. re: paulj

                  I had the pleasure of eating at a restaurant in SF when Blaine Wetzel was visiting there--if I had more time I would certainly try to get to Willows Inn. Thanks!

                  1. re: paulj

                    Unless you hire Outer Island Expeditions or Leap Frog Water Taxi services. They'll make getting between Lummi and Orcas a lot easier. I believe they'll pull right up to the beach at Willows.

                    1. re: christy319

                      Or you could camp on Clark Island and kayak over.

                  2. re: christy319

                    This is most helpful; thank you Christy.