Bellingham’s Tesoro Escondido

For a long time, Mi Rancho Meat Market was just that: a Mexican butcher and deli offering high-quality cuts and select grocery items. Considered a community staple, Mi Rancho offered fresh, affordable meat to loyal customers in the Birchwood neighborhood and beyond.  

Then came the restaurant. A couple booths, a couple picnic tables, no official menu. Just a sign proclaiming, “$1 Tacos!” to anyone driving by on Northwest Avenue.  

Over time, word spread about the delicious one-dollar tacos, until Mi Rancho had no choice but to expand from a market with a few tables to a full restaurant. Fate intervened and the restaurant space next door became available. 

In 2019, Mi Rancho opened the restaurant side of their business with gusto. From the paintings on the wall to the authentic meat market next door, Mi Rancho is a celebration of Mexican food and culture. When you arrive, you’re seated at a brightly colored table in the high-ceilinged room. In the warmer months, customers can eat outside on the festive patio.  

Ingredients at Mi Rancho are made in-house or sourced from the community. The adjacent market still offers fresh vegetables, spices, and other Mexican treats and treasures. From piñatas affixed to the ceiling to a wide variety of vaquero boots and hats, you know when you walk in that this place is full to the brim with Mexican pride and culture. 

The menu has everything you want, from familiar staples like burritos and tacos to weekend specials like menudo and birria. The best part? Everything comes with your choice of meat, and oh, are there choices. Asada, grilled beef, is the classic — if you’re new to this type of cuisine or just enjoy a healthy char, you can’t beat Mi Rancho’s beef. If you’re more of a pork lover, the adobada, marinated pork with pieces of pineapple, is sweet and spicy. The carnitas, shredded marinated pork, are insanely juicy and flavorful.  

The chicken, though, is truly exceptional — never dry, never flavorless, always charred but juicy on the inside. It’s perfect in a burrito or quesadilla, but when it comes to tacos, I recommend a heartier meat, like beef or pork. If you’d like to try a meat that’s harder to find in Bellingham, the beef tongue is a toothsome, delicious choice for only a few cents extra. 

The asada burrito is a local favorite; the rich, charred flavor of the beef pairs perfectly with the creamy beans, fluffy rice, and crunchy lettuce all stuffed into a soft flour tortilla. For only $6, it’s impossible to beat. 

If you’re a cheese lover, the quesadilla is a great choice. I recommend going with chicken for this dish. The combination of juicy chicken and salty melted cheese with a side of rice and beans for only $6 feels like a steal. 

Of course, we can’t leave you hanging when it comes to the tacos. For less than $2 per taco, you can enjoy any type of meat filling. I recommend owner Angel Montanez’s favorite: carnitas. Unbelievably tender and salty, the shredded pork combined with the bright tang of lime, salsa, and onions is like a symphony for your palate. 

After your meal, head to the market side of the establishment to pay, and don’t forget to pick up a sweet or two from their mini bakery for dessert. At less than a dollar each, there’s always room for churros or homemade ding-dongs. 

When you walk into Mi Rancho, it feels like you’re stepping into a community marketplace where everyone knows each other. In a way, that’s exactly where you are. Make no mistake, the community that shops and eats here is close-knit, and if you go often enough, they’ll remember you, too. 

3092 Northwest Ave., Bellingham, 360.972.5866, miranchomeatmarket.com 

Galos Flame Grilled Chicken

In an unsuspecting building off Meridian Street lies an oasis of modern Portugese cuisine: Galos Flame Grilled Chicken. The interior of the restaurant is modern, with a high industrial ceiling and warm lighting. While the restaurant looks and feels like a high-class joint, the prices fit any wallet. 

With options ranging from rich to light and healthy, there’s something at Galos for everyone. You can order out or dine in, making it the perfect spot for anything from a quick lunch break to a romantic date night. A television perched in the corner also makes it a great spot for knocking back a beer or two on game day. 

The Crispy Green Beans with Piri Dip ($4.95) are an excellent starter. Breaded and fried, Galos manages to keep these beans true to their name: crispy, not soggy or greasy. Served in a stylish metal stand, they’re a healthy, tasty alternative to fries.  

For an entree, the Chicken Breast Sandwich ($7.95) is a delectable deal you can’t pass up. Served on a fluffy bun with grilled onions, fresh lettuce and tomato, and a slice of pineapple, this sandwich blends sweet, savory, and tangy in mouth-watering harmony. The pineapple is the star of the show, giving the sandwich moisture and contrast that will leave you hungry for even more of Galos classic chicken. 

True to its name, Galos also serves up piping hot plates of flame grilled chicken. With choices like a roasted half chicken ($11.95), a double chicken kebab ($10.95), and a quarter chicken with a thigh piece ($6.95), there’s an option for any appetite. I ambitiously ordered the half chicken and, upon first bite, immediately wished I had a second stomach. The skin was crispy with a hint of char, while the inside was moist, almost buttery, and cooked to perfection. Galos proves they know how to craft their signature dish. Perfect to split between a family (or a hungry couple), the half chicken delivers on texture, taste, and price point. 

For vegetarians, Galos doesn’t disappoint either. They offer a light Galos Salad ($3.95 or $7.95) with a bright house vinaigrette and a subtle crunch of sunflower seeds, perfect for a healthier side or a meal on its own.  

Each dish is served with their four house made “Piri” sauces that are fit to suit any palate. From the milder Lemon and Garlic , to Hot and Extra Hot, each provides a tangy, rich dip or spread for anything on the menu. 

Whether you’re looking for a quick bite during lunch or a night out with the family, Galos is sure to delight with their flavorful and expertly cooked chicken. So transport yourself from the Pacific Northwest to the sunny coast of Portugal with a meal that is sure to leave you smiling. 

4303 Meridian St., Ste. 102, Bellingham, 360.733.2691 

International Eats

We may not be New York City or even Seattle, but Whatcom, Skagit, and San Juan Counties have their fair share of international cuisine. Whether you’re craving sushi, teriyaki, schnitzel, or pupusas, there’s likely a restaurant nearby that’s eager to whip up an authentic dish.

In the following pages, we’ve collected a variety of global flavors you can find right here at home. Our list of restaurants is far from exhaustive — we know there are many delicious eateries we’ve yet to discover —but we hope you’ll find something new worth trying.

Mediterranean, European, & African


Greek

Arni Psito
Mykonos Greek Restaurant

Mykonos serves up a wide variety of classic Greek and Mediterranean dishes, including Arni Psito, which is traditionally eaten at Easter. This mouthwatering entree features a roasted lamb shoulder flavored with lemon sauce and mustard, with meat that’s braised slowly until tender. 1650 W. Bakerview Rd., Bellingham, 360.715.3071, mykonosbellingham.com

Greek Platter for Two
Cafe Akroteri

Located in downtown Bellingham, Cafe Akroteri has been serving up classic Greek fare since 1986. For your next date night, order the Greek Platter. It comes with a Greek salad, spanakopita, dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), and your choice of either pastiche and souvlaki or moussaka. The feast starts off with feta and kalamata olives. 1219 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham, 360.676.5554, cafeakroteri.com.

Souvlakia
Five Columns Greek Restaurant

A mainstay of Greek cuisine, the Souvlakia at Five Columns comes with a Greek salad and rice pilaf. The meat is marinated in a blend of Greek herbs and spices and then served on a skewer. Pair it with an Eleniki Salata (Greek Salad) for an unforgettable Mediterranean meal. 1301 E. Maple St., Bellingham, 360.676.9900, fivecolumns.com

Moussaka
Greek Islands

Those who truly love Greek food will be in heaven at Greek Islands in Anacortes. Their Moussaka—essentially an eggplant lasagna—is made with layers of eggplant, potatoes, zucchini, and perfectly seasoned ground sirloin. The dish is topped with bechamel sauce and cheese and then baked until crispy and golden. 2001 Commercial Ave., Anacortes, 360.293.6911, greekislandsrestaurant.shop

Italian

Pappardelle Bolognese
Lombardi’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar

Although new to Bellingham, Lombardi’s has been serving up Italian cuisine in Washington for more than 30 years. In this dish, pappardelle pasta is served with ground veal and pork mixed with pancetta, celery, carrots, and the classic Italian flavor trio of onion, garlic, and tomato. The best part? All pasta dishes come with a basket of fresh bread. 21 Bellwether Way, Bellingham, 360.714.8412, lombardisitalian.com 

Lasagna Al Forno
Il Granaio

Italian Chef Alberto Candivi brings authentic Italian food to the Old Town Granary building in Mount Vernon. His lasagna layers Bolognese sauce with mozzarella and parmigiana cheese resulting in baked, crispy goodness. If you get there before 6 p.m., take advantage of the fixed-price Sunset Special, which comes with four courses. 100 W. Montgomery St., Ste. 110, Mount Vernon, 360.419.0674, granaio.com

Fettuccine Ai Frutti Di Mare
Leader Block Wine Co. & Eatery

In addition to an award-winning wine program, Leader Block also offers an impressive selection of traditional Italian cuisine. This fettuccine dish is a seafood lover’s dream, served with prawns, calamari, and Manila clams all tossed with a creamy garlic-herb sauce. Finish it off with an Affogato for a truly Italian treat. 2026 Main St., Ferndale, 360.306.8998, leaderblock.com

Pasta from Hell
Vinny’s Ristorante

Fresh ingredients combine with homestyle Italian goodness to create every dish at Vinny’s Ristorante. Far from evil, this yummy pasta dish features penne noodles served with mushrooms, peppers, pine nuts, and raisins—just beware, the sauce is extra spicy. For an added seafood flare, get it with prawns. 165 West St., Friday Harbor, 360.378.1934, vinnysfridayharbor.com

Parma Cotto
Old World Deli

At this European-inspired deli in downtown Bellingham, you’ll find plenty of classic Italian sandwiches. The Parma Cotto features Italian cooked ham and fresh mozzarella, flavored with delicious house hot mustard. Even better? It comes grilled on ciabatta from Breadfarm. 1228 N. State St., Bellingham, 360.738.2090, oldworldbellingham.com

Austrian

Chicken Schnitzel
Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen

This classic Austrian dish is made of chicken breast that’s pounded until it’s extra-thin. The meat is then breaded and fried so it takes on a delicious, crisp exterior. At Chuckanut Brewery, it comes with garlic mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, and tasty house gravy. You can also order it as a sandwich. 601 W. Holly St., Bellingham, 360.752.3377, chuckanutbreweryandkitchen.com

English

Shepherd’s Pie
Cosmos Bistro

You can find all sorts of comfort food at Cosmos Bistro, from burgers to meatloaf to mac-n-cheese, but if you’re looking for extra-hearty fare, go for the Shepherd’s Pie. Ground lamb and beef are combined with veggies and herbs and paired with mashed potatoes. 1151 N. State St., Bellingham, 360.255.0244, bellinghamcosmosbistro.com

French

French Onion Soup
The Black Cat

The Black Cat has several French items on the menu, including a fondue appetizer, but you can’t go wrong with a bowl of oven-broiled French Onion Soup, especially on a chilly February night. Topped with gruyere cheese and served with a crostini, this soup is the epitome of winter-time comfort food. 1200 Harris Ave., Ste. 310, Bellingham, 360.733.6136, blackcatbellingham.com

Crème Brulee
Skylark’s Hidden Cafe

This quaint cafe in Fairhaven feels Parisian, with plenty of outdoor seating in the front and along the back alley. Their classic French Crème Brulee consists of scratch-made vanilla cream custard that’s lightly sweetened. To get to the cream, you first have to break through a decadent crust of caramelized sugar. 1308 11th St., Bellingham, 360.715.3642, skylarkshiddencafe.com

Baked Burgundian Escargots
The Oyster & Thistle Restaurant & Pub

This charming restaurant in La Conner serves up several French-inspired delicacies, and what’s more French than escargot? You’ll find this dish among the restaurant’s many small plates, the majority of which feature local, sustainable seafood. These baked snails are cooked with garlic, parsley, and butter. Bon appetit! 205 Washington St., La Conner, 360.766.6179, theoysterandthistle.com

German

Cheddarwurst
Schweinhaus Biergarten

Choose from numerous German-style drafts at this beer garden in downtown Bellingham. It’s never good to drink on an empty stomach, so pair your pint with a signature sausage plate. The
Cheddarwurst is made with beef and ham, then filled with smoked Wisconsin cheddar. It comes with sauerkraut, three types of mustard, and a Bavarian pretzel. 1330 N. State St., Bellingham,
360.671.0206, schweinhaus.com

Irish

Bangers & Mash
Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro

Craving meat and potatoes? Enjoy a bite of Irish pub fare at Boundary Bay in downtown Bellingham. The dish features a pair of plump Irish sausages nestled into mashed potatoes and pea puree, all flavored with Dry Irish Stout gravy. 1107 Railroad Ave., Bellingham, 360.647.5593, bbaybrewery.com

Polish

Halupki
Anelia’s Kitchen and Stage

This restaurant has so many authentic Polish dishes you might not know where to start—but you have to start somewhere, and the Halupki is a great option. This specialty features two cabbage rolls stuffed with flavorful beef, pork, and rice, all stewed in a sauerkraut tomato broth and served over smashed potatoes. Can you say warm and hearty? 513 S. 1st St., La Conner, 360.399.1805, aneliaskitchenandstage.com

Sweet Polish-Style Crepes
Magdalena’s Bistro & Creperie

The crepes at Magdalena’s are made with low-gluten flour, but if you’re feeling decadent, you can also order chocolate batter on request. Choose from a variety of fillings including jam, Nutella and
bananas, fresh fruit, and ricotta cheese. In addition to crepes, the menu also boasts everyone’s Polish favorite: pierogis. 1200 10th St., 103, Bellingham, 360.483.8569, magdalenascreperie.com

Russian

Russian Dumplings
Pel’meni

This beloved Russian dumpling shop is open until 2:30 a.m., making it a favorite late-night stop among Western students. That said, it’s also great place for a quick afternoon pick-me-up when you’re in a hurry or on a budget. Diners can choose from potato or beef dumplings, or a combination of the two. Top with sour cream and hot sauce for the full experience. 1211 N. State St., Bellingham, 360.715.8324.

Doro Wat
Ambo Ethiopian Cuisine

For those who grieved when Bellingham’s Everyday Public Market closed, taking Ambo Ethiopian Cuisine with it, we’ve got good news: The restaurant is back in a new location. You can find Ambo on State Street, where its owner, Mulu Belay, serves up traditional Ethiopian dishes like this popular chicken stew. The chicken is simmered with onion, garlic, ginger, and various spices, then served with a boiled egg. All main dishes come with injera bread and a side dish of your choice. 902 N. State St., Bellingham, 360.756.1627, amboethiopiancuisine.wordpress.com

Asian & Indian


Thai

Tom Kha
Wanida Thai Cuisine

Wanida might be a favorite for take-out, but the cozy space is also great for eating in. Head there on a cold day for this mouth-watering soup. The rich coconut milk base is flavored with kaffir lime
leaves, galangal, and lemongrass. In the broth you’ll find mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and the protein of your choice. Add noodles or rice for a tasty, filling meal. 1213 Dupont St., Bellingham, 360.746.8642, wanidathai.com

Gauy Teaw Nam
Rachawadee Thai Cafe

For more than 10 years, Rachawadee has been serving up some of the tastiest and spiciest Thai food in Skagit. Although the restaurant itself is tiny, the food packs huge flavor. If you love a meat medley, the Gauy Teaw Nam noodle soup comes with chicken, fish balls, and ground pork. The broth is flavored with green onion and bean sprouts while the rice noodles add texture and heft. 410 W. Gates St., Mount Vernon, 360.336.6699, rachawadeethai.com

Chicken Avocado Curry
Maikham

Chef Usanee Klimo grew up in Thailand, near the Lao border, and was raised on the flavors of the region. She brings these flavors, and her expertise, to everything on the Fairhaven restaurant’s menu. Avocado lovers will especially love this green curry, flavored with fresh basil and herbs. It can also be made vegetarian. 1125 Finnegan Way, Ste. 101, Bellingham, 360.746.8098, maikham.com

Stir Fried Pineapple & Prawns
Luxe Thai

This dish is a favorite among Luxe Thai customers, and for good reason. Juicy pineapple pieces are mixed with prawns, green onions, carrots, and bell peppers to create a sweet, savory, and colorful dish. The owner and her two sisters created the menu based on recipes handed down from their mother, so you know every bite is authentically Thai and made with love. 5685 3rd Ave., Ferndale, 360.312.9433, luxethai.com

Massaman Curry
Bangkok Bistro

A classic Thai go-to, the Massaman Curry at Bangkok Bistro is truly delicious, and is extra-affordable when you order it as part of the restaurant’s under-$10 lunch special. Tender chicken is served in a mild, slightly sweet curry sauce. The dish comes on rice with the option to add pad thai noodles. 104 Lila Ln., Burlington, 360.757.3778

Street Pad See-Ew
Taste of Thai by Wipa

At Taste of Thai by Wipa in Burlington, this classic Thai street food is recreated to taste just like what you’d order from vendors in Thailand. Wide rice noodles are stir-fried with Chinese broccoli and seasoned with vinegar and stir-fry sauce. The result is a sweet, smoky, and savory dish. 1038 S. Burlington Blvd., Burlington, 360.899.5823, tasteofthaibywipa.com

Fresh Spring Rolls
Chada Thai

A staple before any Thai meal, these spring rolls are made with tofu and crisp lettuce all wrapped in chewy rice paper. Dip them in a light peanut sauce flavored with a touch of chili pepper for an added kick. Follow these refreshing rolls with one of Chada Thai’s authentic noodle or wok dishes. 825 Peace Portal Dr., Blaine, 360.332.3267, chadathaiusa.com

Japanese

Sukiyaki
Kyoto Kitchen

This entree, served in a stone hot pot, features thinly sliced rib eye, veggies, and tofu all simmered to perfection in a sweet soy sauce. The dish comes served with steamed rice. 2001 E. College Way, Mount Vernon, 360.428.3699

Pork Udon
Setsunai Noodle Bar

Next time you visit Lopez Island, stop by this noodle bar in the village for a piping hot bowl of Pork Udon. The smoked pork is local and served with a marinated egg, scallions, daikon, pickled
shitake, greens, and your choice of two other fermented foods all submerged in a delicious dashi broth. These tasty noodles are extra popular during the busy summer months, so come early to
avoid a long line or reserve a spot for dinner. 45 Eads Ln., Village Lopez Island, 360.298.9052, setsunainoodles.com 

Tarantula Roll
Muto Ramen & Sushi

This popular, fierce-looking roll is filled with soft-shell crab, imitation crab salad, and refreshing cucumber that balances out the spice from jalapenos. The roll is topped with avocado, tobiko, eel sauce, and spicy mayo for a memorable sushi experience. 105 E. Chestnut St., Bellingham, 360.647.3530, mutoramen.com

Korean

Bulgogi Bibimbap
Yun Ga Ne Korean Restaurant

For an authentic Korean experience, head to Yun Ga Ne in downtown Bellingham. This relatively new restaurant (it opened in July of last year) serves up traditional dishes like Bulgogi Bibimbap. Marinated beef barbecue is served in a sizzling bowl of rice topped with various veggies and kimchi, all topped with a fried egg. 1204 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham 360.392.8658, yungane.business.site

Spicy Chicken Bul-Gogi
Pyung Chang Korean Restaurant & BBQ

This restaurant in Mount Vernon offers a unique Korean BBQ experience—couples, groups, and families can order from a number of different combos, which serve groups of 2–5 and come with a sampler of various marinated meats. If you feel like going rogue, try the Spicy Chicken Bul-Gogi. Bites of chicken are marinated in spicy sauce. 521 S. 2nd St., Mount Vernon, 360.450.3333, pyungchangbbq.com

Chinese

Chicken Dumplings
Dumpling Girls

Typically parked at Goods Local Brews on Northwest Avenue, this food truck is worth a special trip. Their dumplings are served piping hot with delicious dipping sauce. Order them with your
choice of chicken or beef filling. Make it a meal with spring rolls on the side. 2620 Northwest Ave., Bellingham 

Moo Shu Pork
Hong Kong Restaurant

Specializing in Szechuan and Chinese cuisine, this restaurant offers plenty of options for lunch, dinner, and take-out. The Moo Shu Pork comes with delicious stir-fried pork and veggies, served with four pancakes and rice on the side. You can also order it with chicken, shrimp, or beef. 1300 Riverside Dr., Mount Vernon, 360.424.7776, hongkongrestaurantmv.com

Vietnamese

Pho Tai, Chin
Pho 99

Pronounced “fuh,” this delicious and fortifying Vietnamese noodle soup is like nothing else. At Pho 99, the menu is separated into categories for beginners, regulars, and adventurers. This dish is
from the beginner’s menu, and features eye round steak and brisket that’s cooked well-done. The savory broth—which you’ll want to drink down to the last drop—is flavored with onions and cilantro. 3503 Byron St., Bellingham, 360.647.8471, pho99.us

Indian

Chicken Tikka Masala
Tandoori Bites

A tandoor is a cylindrical, drum-like clay oven used for cooking in many parts of India. Not only does the oven cook meats and vegetables, but it’s also what gives naan its delicious char flavor,
blackening the outside while leaving the inside soft. The Chicken Tikka Masala at Tandoori Bites is a great example of what this oven can do. The chicken is baked in the tandoor before being diced and cooked in a creamy sauce flavored with tomatoes and herbs. 505 32nd St., Ste. 104, Bellingham, 360.746.8582, tandooribites.us

Shahi Paneer
Taste of India—Bellingham

If you’re looking for something different, this Indian dish is sure to satisfy. Pieces of homemade cheese (paneer) are cooked with cashews, creating a rich and creamy dish. Enjoy with rice and naan for a filling meal. 3930 Meridian St., Ste. 107, Bellingham, 360.778.1262, tasteofindiabellinghamwa.com

Biryani
Taste of India—Mount Vernon

For authentic Northern Indian food, Taste of India offers a variety of scratchmade dishes right in downtown Mount Vernon. The Biryani features saffron rice cooked with cashews, raisins, peas, and a special spice blend. Order it with your choice of chicken, lamb, or prawns, or keep it vegetarian with veggies sourced from Skagit Valley. 420 W. Gates St., Mount Vernon, 360.428.2866, tasteofindiaskagit.com

Peshwari Naan
Naan & Brew

This family-owned restaurant has been crafting authentic Indian food in Bellingham since 2015. Although the menu features multiple savory naan options, including meat-stuffed and veggie-stuffed, the Peshwari Naan approaches dessert-status. It’s cooked in a clay oven and then filled with cherries, cashews, almonds, pistachios, raisins, and coconut. Are you drooling yet? 200 E. Maple, Ste. 101, Bellingham, 360.389.5493, naanandbrew.com

Butter Chicken
Punjabi Junction

The name says it all. Who doesn’t love butter? This soon-to-be-your-favorite dish features boneless pieces of marinated chicken cooked in tomatoes with a rich, creamy butter sauce. Order it with rice and naan and then wash it all down with a Mango Lassi. Delivery is free, so make it your next stay-at-home meal. 4370 Meridian St., Bellingham, 360.656.6025

Latin American


Costa Rican

Gallo Pinto
El Rey Latino Restaurant

On top of a large menu of Mexican dishes, El Rey also serves up homestyle dishes from countries all across Latin America. The Costa Rican section features this classic breakfast dish of scrambled eggs, beans, rice, and diced steak all served with tortillas and bananas—pura vida! 2527 Meridian St., Bellingham, 360.922.0342, elreylatinorestaurant.com

Guatemalan

Pepián
La Chapina

This restaurant on Meridian Street serves up dishes from across Latin America, but the Pepián is a traditionally Guatemalan dish. In addition to chicken, you’ll find tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, and seasonal veggies in this spicy, flavorful stew. 4285 Meridian St., Ste., D102, Bellingham, 360.738.6056

Mexican

Carne Asada
COA Mexican Eatery

Serving artisan, scratch-made food in La Conner and Mount Vernon, COA is your go-to for authentic Mexican cuisine in Skagit. The delicious Carne Asada features sliced skirt steak grilled
to perfection and served with mango pico, sour cream, and guacamole. Grilled veggies and tortillas come on the side. 214 Maple Ave., La Conner, 360.466.0267; 102 S. 10th St., Mount Vernon, 360.840.1938, coaeatery.com

Chile Relleno
Netos Market and Bakery

Despite its name, Netos is more than just a market and a bakery. In addition to everyday grocery items and a large display case filled with freshly baked Pan Dulce (sweet breads), Netos also
boasts a menu of authentic Mexican dishes, as well as a cozy eating area and patio where you can enjoy your food. The generously portioned Chile Relleno is not-too-spicy and served with rice
and beans. 2612 W. Maplewood Ave., Bellingham, 360.594.6504, netosmarket.com

Sour Cream Enchiladas
Lilia’s Mexican Cuisine

This cheerful, family-run cantina has an extensive menu of Mexican dishes and drinks. The Sour Cream Enchiladas are stuffed with chicken and come coated in a rich, tasty sauce made of
sour cream and mushrooms. Beans and rice come on the side, and on top you’ll find guacamole and pico de gallo. 190 E. Bakerview Rd., Bellingham, 360.527.3181, liliasmexicancuisine.com

Sizzling Fajitas
Paso Del Norte

Who doesn’t love a sizzling skillet? At this family-owned restaurant in Blaine, the fajitas come with your choice of steak or chicken, served straight from the kitchen on a bed of green peppers
and onions. Top everything with cheese, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. 758 Peace Portal Dr., Blaine, 360.332.4045, pasodelnorte.net

Chile Verde
El Gitano

The owner of El Gitano, Adrian, moved from Durango, Mexico when he was 19 years old. Once in Washington, he began working for his family’s restaurant in Burlington. Flash forward to now, when Adrian operates four El Gitano locations in Burlington, La Conner, Mount Vernon, and Bellingham. El Gitano’s Chile Verde features pieces of tasty pork cooked in a light tomatillo salsa. Make sure not to fill up on free chips! Multiple locations, elgitano.net

Authentic Pork Carnitas
Jalapeños

A local favorite, Jalepeños is familyowned by Jesse Cantu and offers locations in Fairhaven, Barkley Village, and downtown Bellingham. The Authentic Pork Carnitas are a favorite among Bellinghamsters, with chunks of pork tenderloin cooked to perfection and paired with rice, beans, salsa, and tortillas. Multiple locations, jalapenos-wa.com

Salvadorian

Wonder Burrito
Super Mario’s

This beloved eatery has a restaurant and a food truck, offering two ways to try their delicious Salvadoran food. The Wonder Burrito is a customer favorite. A flour tortilla is packed with beans, rice,
cheese, onions, cabbage, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, and your choice of chicken, pork, or asada. For a meatless option, the Veggie Wonder Burrito is just as wonderful, but with mixed veggies in lieu of meat. 3008 Northwest Ave., Bellingham, 360.393.4637

Pupusas
Restaurante Morazan

Tucked into the corner of Bakerview Square, you’ll find Morazan. This unassuming restaurant has a simple menu of mouth-watering Salvadoran dishes like pastelitos, empanadas, and tamales. The pupusas are made fresh and served hot. Inside each corn tortilla flatbread, you’ll find melty cheese and your choice of meat or beans. 410 W. Bakerview Rd., Ste. 108, Bellingham, 360.656.6533

Peruvian

Butifarra Royal
Cafe Rumba

Founded by Marco Mellet and Antonio Diaz, both food-lovers from Lima, this Peruvian deli in downtown Bellingham offers a menu bursting with flavor. The Butifarra Royal comes with houseroasted pork, bacon, shoestring potatoes, romaine lettuce, house spicy chimichurri, caramelized onion, and a fried egg. It’s all served on a Peruvian French roll with your choice of roasted potatoes or a side salad. 1140 N. State St., Bellingham, 360.746.8280, caferumbabham.com

For more intel into delectable local cuisine, check out our Dine section here.

Calypso Kitchen Brings Caribbean Flavors to Bellingham

CHEF SARAH CHAN was born on the island of Trinidad and Tobago into a family with Indian, Chinese, and Portuguese heritage. Growing up there, she regularly watched her grandmother cook incredible meals. “Whatever she was doing in the kitchen, I was always at her side, just watching what she was doing,” Chan says.

In 2006, Chan moved to the U.S.to seek asylum from domestic violence.“The country of my birth,the home which I still love, was not able to protect me, so I had to leave hastily,”she explains.

After living briefly in New York,Chan moved to Birch Bay. When she had difficulty finding a job, she decided to make her own. Not only could she be her own boss, but her three young daughters would also have something meaningful to inherit. Like this, Calypso Kitchen was born.

Cooking Classes

In October, some of our staff had the pleasure of attending a Calypso Kitchen cooking class. We arrived to a colorful spread of chips, fresh fruit chow, and hibiscus sangria. Upbeat calypso music played softly in the background. After a short history review on Trinidad and Tobago, we gathered around Chan,who had set out bowls of curry powder,cumin, and culantro, an herb similar to cilantro but more potent.

Our lesson for the evening was on curried chickpeas and eggplant fritters topped with blueberry tamarind sauce, a dish so delicious, I honestly can’t compare it to anything I’ve eaten before. Chan explained that fritters and chickpeas are a common street food snack in Trinidad, a place she talked about with such obvious love and affection, it made all of us want to travel there ASAP.

The food was out of this world,and Chan is a genuinely skilled teacher (I learned several useful tricks), but what makes a class at Calypso Kitchen so memorable is Chan herself. She is friendly and open, with stories that capture your attention as she lovingly resurrects the flavors of her childhood. Her love of cooking is infectious.

“It makes me ecstatic to see the joy on people’s faces when they put the first taste of something they created into their mouths and they love it,” Chan says.

Sarah Chan, Owner Calypso Kitchen

Markets and More

In addition to classes, Calypso Kitchen also caters and serves food at pop-ups around Bellingham—when it’s in season, you can find Calypso Kitchen at the Bellingham Farmers Market. You can also buy Chan’s traditional Caribbean dishes and sauces online, or drop by the store-front on Hannegan Road to grab some goodies in-person. (I highly recommend the blueberry tamarind sauce; it will change your life.)

Outside of cooking,Chan uses her platform to spread awareness about domestic violence, human trafficking, social and political indifferences, and food insecurity. “As I build my business, I want to build an awareness of the negativities and what we can do to change those negativities,” she says. 4073 Hannegan Rd., Bellingham,347.413.3983, calypso.kitchen

To read more like this, check out our taste section here. 

Ancore, Per Favore

Scampi Osteria

Scampi Osteria was founded by Chef Giovanni “Gianni” Saffioti and partner Devon Drake in July 2019. The Italian restaurant in Birch Bay is adjacent to The C Shop, just a short stroll from the beach. After a successful career of restauranteering in California and Hawaii, Chef Saffioti loves where he’s at now. “I think that we have some fabulous food that you don’t find anywhere else. Nothing is frozen, everything is fresh,” Drake says.

Scampi’s interior is dimly lit, with soft light entering through large windows at the front and from turned-down overhead lighting. The atmosphere has a romantic and upscale feel, with wall art adding a homier touch. Most of the decor comes from Chef Saffioti’s adventures to flea markets, antique shops, or beach trips. If you look close enough, you might even spot some of his personal driftwood and shell art pieces.

The food can be described in one word: incredible. If you arrive around the restaurant’s opening at 5 p.m., you might catch a whiff of the house-made focaccia bread coming out of the oven. Dipped in the house combination of olive oil, balsamic, and garlic, this bread is the perfect start to any meal. Don’t worry about eating too much— if you have to take home leftovers, you’re only extending the experience.

The bruschetta ($14), also served on the heavenly focaccia, is made with local cherry tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil. The tomatoes are sweet and juicy, contrasted with the crisp, fresh bread. It’s an absolute dream.

For an entree, the Calamari Steak ($26) was my unexpected favorite. The traditionally tentacled appetizer is served as a steak-shaped entree, breaded and covered in a decadent white wine sauce. Served on a bed of asparagus, the individual flavors come out perfectly, with no one taste overwhelming another.

The Papardelle Di Mare ($30) was a rich, filling, delicious dish. Fun fact: The jumbo prawns are cooked and served with the heads attached to enhance the flavor. The cream sauce was not too heavy, but perfectly complemented the pasta, prawns, scallops, and mushrooms.

For dessert, the tiramisu is served in a tall, retro-style milkshake glass. After a filling meal, it’s the perfect shareable treat to end a lovely night out in Birch Bay.

4823 Alderson Rd., Blaine
360.393.4415

For more content like this, check out our Restaurant Reviews.

From Ice Cream to Fried Chicken

Bantam 46

You might know Bantam’s owner, Ben Scholtz, for his first business: Bellingham’s beloved Mallard Ice Cream. For years, Scholtz toyed with the idea of starting another local business. When space in the same building as Mallard opened up, the opportunity resurfaced in earnest.

Rather than starting with a business idea, Scholtz worked backwards. He had the space; he had a pool of loyal, talented employees from Mallard; and he had ample connections to local suppliers. All he needed was a concept.

“My criteria for concepts were: What would work with the space? What would work with the audience? What would we enjoy doing?” Scholtz says. The answer? Chicken.

Bantam 46 opened in May and has already seen great success. The interior alone is worth a visit. While the downstairs is family-friendly, the upstairs is reserved for those 21 and older. Large second-story windows produce a tree-house feeling and, above the bar, fiber optic lights create the illusion of a night sky with twinkling stars.

WHAT TO ORDER

The restaurant’s cocktail menu is enough to keep you busy. If you’re looking for something light, fizzy, and refreshing, try the Stick Around Punch ($12). Wine lovers: Go for the delectable Woodline Vine ($13).

When it comes time for food, vegetarians should fear not. The extremely satisfying Root Salad ($16) comes with a generous helping of kale as well as shredded beets and carrots, bleu cheese, and candied walnuts. The Hushpuppies and Remoulade ($12) are another great meat-free starter.

If you’re not hungry enough for a whole rotisserie chicken ($40 with sides), go for the Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($22), which comes with a boneless thigh and breast. The meat is tender and juicy and the breading is thick, crispy, and somehow not greasy. Enjoy with fresh and mild coleslaw, a buttery biscuit with herbal honey, and an additional side of your choice. If you can resist the mac and cheese, go for the Bourbon Baked Black Eyed Peas, which are sweet, smoky, and full of southern goodness.

The restaurant now offers brunch every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Come for the Chicken and Waffles ($20), but stay for the Pomegranate Mimosas ($12). Fun fact: all prices at Bantam 46 include gratuity.

1327 Railroad Ave., Bellingham
360.788.4507 | bantambellingham.com

For more content like this, check out our Restaurant Reviews.

Miracles on the 11th Hour

11th Hour Tea & Coffee Bar

Bridget Gallaghur opened 11th Hour Tea & Coffee Bar in January 2018. The shop’s name has personal meaning to Gallaghur, who has often felt the stress of life bubble to the surface during the 11th hour—the metaphorical last minute. It was her mother who inspired her to embrace the concept instead of fear it, suggesting that the 11th hour can be a time of miracles.

Since this shift in mentality, the number 11 has appeared regularly in Gallaghur’s life: in store sales, in tip dollars, everywhere.

“I’ll see 11, and 11 will remind me—you’ll be OK,” Gallaghur says. “Hang in there.”

For those seeking calm and refuge during their own 11th hour, Gallghur’s shop may be the perfect place to go. Large windows bathe the space in natural light, and the walls are decorated with local artwork and potted plants. The staff is warm and affable, creating a cozy and relaxed place to study, read, or share a coffee with friends.

The menu boasts an assortment of drinks around $3–5, with a variety of teas, golden milks, tea lattes, superfood lattes, and a full line of espresso items. The bar subscribes to Stumptown Coffee Roasters, for their commitment to third-wave artisanal coffee.

I had the Blue Chamomile, a new matcha beverage made from butterfly pea flowers, a caffeine-free herbal tea. The drink was foamy like a latte, but bright blue in color with a sweet and earthy taste.

Despite her dedication to making great-tasting beverages, Gallaghur views 11th hour Tea & Coffee Bar as more than a place to enjoy a good drink. To her, it’s about building connections.

“I love engaging with people, and I like the energy here,” she says. “It’s very intimate—that’s what I like. So I just throw in some beverages to go with it.”

833 N. State St., Bellingham
360.788.4229 | 11thhourteaandcoffeebar.com

For more content like this, check out our Restaurant Reviews.

No Reservations

A New Drayton Harbor Oyster Company

In the 30 minutes I spent chatting with owner Mark Seymour on the patio of Drayton Harbor Oyster Company in Blaine, I watched one of his boats farm fresh oysters in the bay, haul them on land, and deliver them to the restaurant for same-day service. This level of freshness means oysters so good that people come from all over the globe to taste them. As a result, Mark’s business has boomed so fast in the last four years that he’s already outgrown his first location and cut the ribbon on the second, right on Peace Portal Drive.

A board inside Drayton Harbor Oyster Company tracks when the last oyster delivery was made and how long it takes the oysters to get from the ocean to the kitchen. The record? 13 minutes. A single farming trip can return 100 dozen oysters, delivered fresh during operating hours. “Our customers are able to verify that these just came out of the water,” Mark says. “Loving seafood, I know that freshness makes or breaks it.”

The Oyster Company’s story is a bit complicated. Mark’s dad, Steve, owned the business in the mid-‘80s, but the bay was shut down in the ‘90s due to pollution. Steve’s business partner, Geoff Menzies, worked with Puget Sound Restoration Fund and their manager, Betsy Peabody, to restore the shellfish beds. The pair succeeded, and the bay reopened in the early 2000s. Menzies kept the operation going until 2013, when Mark returned to the area and took over the business.

In 2015, Mark opened a small oyster bar, but quickly realized he would need more room. “2016 was like, holy sh*t, this is working,” Mark says. “2017 was like, ‘Oh God, we need a bigger place.” The new oyster bar, just next-door to the first one, opened May 18 of this year.

Drayton Harbor’s unique location—less than a quarter-mile from the Canadian border—attracts guests from all over the world. With tourism peaking in the summer, people come from as far as Singapore or Burgundy to enjoy Drayton Harbor’s oysters. “Talking to people that call themselves oyster connoisseurs, that have had oysters all over the globe, [hearing them] tell you that our product stands above everything else is pretty awesome.”

“I don’t want this to ever be called a restaurant,” Mark says. He takes pride in the Oyster Company’s relaxed atmosphere. “The reason that I have fun with this is because we don’t have a full menu. We’re like a really casual oyster bar. No reservations. Only a couple of tables,” he says. “I love having it feel like you’re at your friend’s house.”


For more content like this, check out our Dine section.

Ten Years of Delicious Eats

Bob’s Chowder Bar & BBQ Salmon

Treasured for its fresh and local seafood, Bob’s Chowder Bar & BBQ Salmon has been a favorite dining destination in Anacortes for a decade now. The restaurant’s 10-year anniversary coincides with some changes, including a store remodel, tasty new menu items, and a rotating tap featuring local brews.

The restaurant’s atmosphere reflects the owners’ backgrounds. Bob Atterberry grew up in Anacortes and spent much of his time at sea; his wife, Barbara, is a New Jersey gal with fond memories of summers on the beach and boardwalk. The result is a bright red chowder house with cutouts of mermaids and a trio of pirates made by Bill Mitchell. At the door, a stoic, bearded seaman directs you inside, where the bright colors continue and fish swim across the wall.

The restaurant specializes in all things seafood, from fried calamari to oyster burgers and grilled wild prawns. Everything—except the ketchup—is made from scratch. To start, order Bob’s New England Style Clam Chowder, one of my personal favorites. Pair it with Bob’s Salmon Wrap with greens, huckleberries, and Lemon Love dressing or Bob’s Tacos with house taco sauce, cabbage, and cilantro.

New savory additions include the Rock Crab Tater Tots with stoneground Bing cherry mustard, Fried Avocados tossed in a spicy panko and served with a cilantro lime sauce and the Rock Crab Roll with crab salad and Lemon Love dressing. Landlubbers can dive into a Sweet Chile Pork Belly with cabbage and Tangerine Tango dressing on ciabatta bread or the Triple Cheese Grilled Cheese. Pair your meal with a huckleberry or sarsaparilla soda, wine by the glass, hard cider, bottled beer, or a featured beer on tap.

Little tykes can order off a special menu and when it’s time for something sweet, choose from tempting dessert creations such as the Mt. Baker Macaroon, Aunt Cinde’s Coconut Cake, or Marty’s Magnificent Brownie.

If you’re looking for local seafood or want to stock up on an award-winning line of dressings, Bob’s Chowder Bar & BBQ Salmon is the place to go. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

3320 Commercial Ave., Anacortes
360.299.8000 | bobschowderbarandbbqsalmon.com

For more content like this, check out our Restaurant Reviews.

Something Delicious

Something Cheesy Slings Smiles

After seeing a grilled cheese truck while on vacation in Vancouver B.C., Thereasa Dougan knew it was something Bellingham needed. She had been tossing around the idea of starting a soup kitchen or something similar, but when she saw the grilled cheese truck, she knew what she had to do. “I love adventure, so a food truck is more adventurous than a soup kitchen for sure,” Dougan says.

You can find Something Cheesy at several events around Bellingham during the summer, including Downtown Sounds on Wednesdays and other one-time affairs like Bacon and Kegs, Dog Days of Summer, and Hoptoberfest. The menu changes by season and from event to event, so you’re likely to see something different each time. One day you might find fried mac and cheese or tatchos–tater tot nachos–while another you might find ham and cheese sandwiches or egg bagels.

Although their website is somethingcheesytruck.com, Something Cheesy isn’t actually a truck. Dougan originally wanted to operate out of a bus she purchased, but the bus ended up being too short to work. After spending a good portion of the vending season pouring time and energy into the bus, she decided to just buy a tent instead. “Things happen for a reason. I actually really like [the tent] because we’re open and our customers can see our process; what we do and how we do it.”

Dougan was born and raised in Bellingham, so being part of the community in a new way is something she’s excited about. “I love the community…and the community events that we do.”


For more content like this, check out our Restaurant Reviews.

Five Faves

Hot Dogs

1 El Capitan’s

The patio at El Capitan’s is open for the summer, making it easy to enjoy a gourmet, pirate-inspired meal in the sun. Order a specialty sausage, a draft beer, or split a jumbo pretzel with friends for the perfect afternoon snack.

1201 Cornwall Ave. Ste. 101, Bellingham
206.459.2567 | elcapitans.com

2 Neiner Neiner Weiner

With a menu featuring more than 10 dog options as well as hamburgers, milkshakes, breakfast items, and a slew of sides, this little hut is the perfect stop for the whole family. From classic to crazy, there’s a hot dog here for everyone.

1259 Barkley Blvd., Bellingham
360.746.1578 | neiner-neiner-weiner.business.site

3 Dockside Dogs

This ‘50s-themed mini-cafe overlooks the Cap Sante Boat Haven in Anacortes. A popular spot among locals, the nautical diner offers all-natural hot dogs, vegetarian options, and Ivar’s Clam Chowder.

1019 Q Ave., Anacortes
facebook.com/docksidedogsanacortes

4 Joe Martin Field

There’s nothing better than kicking back at a baseball game with a dog and a brew. At Joe Martin Field, get a classic hot dog with ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish, sauerkraut, onion, or whatever combination suits your fancy. With local ingredients from top to bottom, there’s nothing coming out of left field on these dogs.

1220 Civic Field, Bellingham
330.527.1035 | bellinghambells.com

5 Costco

When a buck-and-a-half gets you a quality hot dog and a fountain drink, you can’t go wrong. Costco hot dog buns are fluffy and delicious, and you get to top it yourself for a perfect bite, every bite.

4125 Arctic Ave., Bellingham
360.671.6947 | costco.com 


For more content like this, check out our past Five Faves here.

New Spot in Fairhaven

Cobalt Grill and Lounge

When John Enright purchased what was formerly Whiskey’s Burger Bistro in November 2018, he knew he wanted to reinvent the restaurant according to feedback from customers. Enright, chef and owner of the new Cobalt Grill and Lounge, says the menu will change regularly. He plans to create daily specials based on customer input and in-season ingredients.

Although Enright has opened several restaurants for and with others, this is his first family-owned and operated endeavor. “It’s always been a lifetime dream,” he says. “I just fell in love with the community.”

While certain aspects of the former restaurant will remain the same, such as the historic Fairhaven mural covering the left wall and the skylights that allow sunlight to stream in, Enright has been adding touches of his own. The walls are now painted in shades of gray, alternating with walls of exposed brick and wood accents. Sleek black leather booths line the room, and distressed wood floors carry through the bar and dining areas.

The food is traditional American with an emphasis on local seafood, natural products, and abundant bar selections. The drinks menu is a whopping five pages long, with an expanding list of cocktails, wine, and other spirits, including 31 types of whiskey.

The food menu is also varied. For starters, try the Coconut Prawns ($9), served with a delicious sweet chili sauce. For lunch, go for the BAMB Burger ($13.50), a blend of beef and lamb with feta cheese, arugula, roasted tomato, pesto mayo, and a fluffy-as-a-cloud bun. I recommend a side of garlic parmesan yam fries. For dinner, try the 10-inch Chicken Pot Pie ($15). It has a domed, flaky crust and a creamy filling packed with chicken, celery, carrots, onions, peas, mushrooms, and fresh herbs. For dessert, indulge in the rich Apple Raisin Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce ($6).

Whether you’re wanting a quick drink or dinner with friends, Cobalt Grill and Lounge is a must. The restaurant opens at 11:30 a.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on the weekend; it closes at 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays, and at 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Happy hour is Tuesday through Friday, 3–6 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.

1304 12th St., Bellingham
360.526.2905 | cobaltgrillwa.com


For more content like this, check out our Restaurant Reviews.