According to Encyclopædia Britannica, the first cafe opened in Constantinople in the year 1550. The rise of coffee drinking meant caffeine-lovers needed a place where they could gather in public and enjoy the new buzzy beverage. Over the next decades, cafes spread throughout Europe, becoming nexuses for political discourse, culture, and art.
Fast forward a few hundred years, and not much has changed. Cafes still serve as gathering points where people can exchange ideas, meet friends, and display art. They’re where we can relax with a cup of coffee — or maybe, circa 2021, a lavender matcha latte with soy milk and vegan whipped cream — but also where we can quietly read a book, work remotely from our laptop, or catch up with a friend. In the age of coronavirus, cafes allow us to enjoy a quick refresher, either on an outdoor patio or on-the-go.
To celebrate the beloved cafe culture of the Pacific Northwest, we’ve compiled a list of must-visit cafes throughout Whatcom, Skagit, and San Juan counties. Whether you like your cafes modern and brightly lit, with boho decor and eclectic drinks, or prefer something a little more homey, with no-fuss food, unlimited black coffee, and friendly faces, we’ve got something for everyone.
If you’ve ever grabbed a cup of joe in downtown Bellingham, there’s a good chance you’ve had a taste of award-winning Tony’s Coffee. Tony’s came to Bellingham 50 years ago and remains a Whatcom staple, clenching Roast Magazine’s Roaster of the Year award for 2021. Sample a variety of flavors and highly-acclaimed blends, some of which contribute right back to your community. Tony’s “Look for the Helpers” blend is a medium roast with notes of cocoa and praline and 100% of its profits go to the Bellingham Food Bank. You can order individual bags, K-cups, or packs online, and support the environment while doing so — Tony’s went completely carbon neutral in 2020. 2033 Division St., Bellingham, 360.733.6319, tonyscoffee.com
Barnyard Coffee Roasters LLC
Photo by Emily Porter
You can find this charming specialty roastery on a family farm in Blaine. Barnyard Coffee opened in 2017, offering one-of-a-kind artisan brews and premium beans sourced from certified organic farms all around the world. Try balanced blends like the “Cock-A-Doodle Brew” medium/dark roast, nearly 20 varieties of specialty tea, or one of their naturally-flavored coffees — all of which are sugar-free, gluten-free, and nut-free. You can order Barnyard blends online or on-site at their Blaine location, Edaleen Dairy stores, and the Northwood Market in Lynden. 4434 Boblett Rd., Blaine, 360.393.0475, barnyardcoffee.com
Fidalgo Coffee Roasters
Photo Courtesy of Fidalgo Coffee Roasters
While this roastery has its roots in Skagit County, you can find Fidalgo blends and brews all up and down Western Washington — from Lynden to Tacoma and Gig Harbor. Choose from more than 20 varieties of coffee, from bold sweet dark roasts like the chocolatey Sunset Blend or lighter roasts like the cherry-and-plum-noted Colombia blend. Like what you taste? Get a value pack. Want to try something new? Fidalgo’s “Frac Packs” offer six sample sized bags pre-portioned for one coffee pot. 856 N. Hill Blvd., Burlington, 360.757.8818, fidalgocoffee.com
Hammerhead Coffee Roasters
Hammerhead has a history as rich as its coffee, putting forward big flavors through a small grower cooperative. Known for full-bodied, sweet blends like best-seller Velvet Elvis (dark roast), Ethiopia Sidamo (medium-light roast) and Chuckanut Gold (medium roast), Hammerhead offers a majority of Fair Trade products and organic imports. Order Hammerhead online, with free shipping available for orders $50 and up. You can also find bags at Haggen Food and Pharmacy stores and the Community Food Co-Op. 360.510.5265, hammerheadcoffee.com
11th Hour Tea & Coffee Bar
833 N. State St., Bellingham
1329 Railroad Ave., Bellingham
1435 Railroad Ave., Bellingham
120 Prospect St., Bellingham
113 E. Holly St., Bellingham
Lettered Streets Coffeehouse
1001 Dupont St., Bellingham
120 W. Holly St., Bellingham
1201 N. State St., Bellingham
Mount Bakery Cafe
308 W. Champion St. Ste. C, Bellingham
360.715. 2195, mountbakery.com
NEKO: A Cat Cafe
1130 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham
Skylark’s Hidden Cafe
1308 11th St., Bellingham
The Daisy Cafe
114 W. Magnolia St., Bellingham
The Old Town Cafe
316 W. Holly St., Bellingham
The Wild Oat Bakery & Cafe
1305 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham
228 N. Samish Way, Bellingham
Black Drop Coffeehouse
Photo by Thomas Hughes
Black Drop is Bellingham’s oldest independent coffee shop, and you can taste the experience in every cup. If you’re looking for baristas who treat coffee as an artform, this is the cafe for you. The coffeehouse and its staff have won numerous awards over the years, including several Best Coffee Shop medals in our annual Best of the Northwest competition.
The shop opened in 2002, but in 2009, the employees transformed it into an employee-owned co-op. Black Drop still purchases all their beans from the former owners, who run Maniac Roasting, a wholesale coffee supplier based in Bellingham. The commitment to excellent coffee starts with the beans, and then continues into every drink.
Black Drop offers a variety of signature drinks, such as the Just Like Heaven, a white chocolate mocha with lavender, and the Bee’s Knees, a rose honey latte flavored with made-in-house syrup. Elvis fans will enjoy the Fat Elvis, a peanut-butter-and-banana flavored mocha. You’ll also find snackable pastry items like scones, muffins, cookies, and cinnamon rolls.
In October, the coffeehouse moved to a new location on Magnolia Street, just across from their former shop. The new space is open and colorful, with attractive tufted booths and funky light fixtures to brighten even the dreariest winter day. 206 W. Magnolia St., Bellingham, 360.738.3767, blackdropcoffeehouse.com
Photo by Georgi Shillington
Situated on the ground floor of the Bellingham Towers, across from the historic Mount Baker Theatre, ANMLY Cafe offers a sustainable, nutritious, and friendly destination for coffee, breakfast, and lunch. They’re constantly working toward becoming a zero-waste cafe. As part of this effort, they’ve forgone single-use items and curb food waste whenever possible.
The cafe prides itself on offering nutrient-dense food items. The menu is constantly evolving, but one reliable staple is the Breakfast Burrito ($9.50), featuring hashbrowns, brown rice, salsa, and chipotle-lime aioli. Add scrambled eggs or chorizo for some extra oomph. The Crunchwrap Daydream ($12) is a crispy hexagonal tortilla packed with tons of flavorful goodies: chorizo, avocado, shredded cabbage, and a blend of mozzarella and cotija cheese.
On the drink menu are various signature drinks, like the Lavender Latte ($4) and Matcha Tonic ($5). Pumpkin-spice lovers will be pleased to find the *I Can’t Even* PSL ($4.25), perfect as a warm pick-me-up during the cold winter months.
ANMLY also makes a mean smoothie. The Daily Greens Smoothie ($7) is packed with superfoods like kale, ginger, pineapple, banana, and avocado. The Strawberry Rose Smoothie ($6.50) is a unique blend of strawberries, rose blossom water, dates, pineapple, ginger, and banana.
ANMLY is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. 119 N. Commercial St., Ste. 130, Bellingham, 360.922.3660, anmlycafe.com
Photo Courtesy of Camber
What began as a local roastery became a full breakfast/lunch restaurant and cafe in 2017. While Camber still supplies beans to locations near and far — including Lummi Island’s famous Willows Inn — their brick-and-mortar cafe has risen to a fame of its own.
In 2019, Food and Wine magazine named Camber among the best coffee shops in Washington State. The cafe has also been recognized for its brunch offerings, and is continually listed as one of the best coffee shops in Bellingham. With delicious, locally roasted coffee and beautifully plated food items, it’s no surprise Camber continues to earn accolades. Although their kitchen is temporarily closed, they plan to repone it once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
At Camber, even the drip coffee is brewed to impress, but if you’re wanting something special try their seasonal classic, On a Passing Cloud ($6), featuring espresso and oat milk, and flavored with maple, orange and cinnamon Other good options include the Matcha Latte ($6) and London Fog, made with in-house chai. This season, pair your drink with one of Camber’s new house-made baked goods, including a pocket tart in rotating flavors.
While the interior is bright and cheerful, the covered outdoor patio is great for a socially distanced cup of coffee with a friend or an afternoon out alone. If you’d prefer to get Camber’s award-winning coffee delivered right to your doorstep, you can join their coffee club; subscribers can sign up for a six or 12-month subscription to receive a discount. Frequent customers can also take advantage of a new coffee punch card: buy nine bags of coffee, get the 10th for free.
Camber is also committed to spreading the secrets to great coffee. They host coffee classes, including Zoom classes during covid. In their latest roast development class, students were shipped a bag of Camber’s new mosaic blend; students then tasted the coffee at home and learned about how the coffee roasting process contributed to its flavors.
If you’re interested in improving your at-home coffee game, sign up for a virtual one-on-one coffee consultation, either by phone or over Zoom. Learn about latte art, how to make the perfect pour-over, and the best way to grind, store, and brew coffee. 221 W. Holly St., Bellingham, 360.656.5343, cambercoffee.com
1208 11th St., Bellingham
Evolve Chocolate + Cafe
1200 11th St., Bellingham
Mount Bakery Cafe
1217 Harris Ave., Bellingham
Shirlee Bird Café
1200 Harris Ave., Ste. 100, Bellingham
Photo by Kyle Hooper
If this cafe’s decor doesn’t make you smile, then its pastries and drinks certainly will. From local art on the walls to stained glass lamps hanging over the barista station, there’s lots to look at in this colorful shop off downtown Fairhaven’s Mackenzie Alley. The lighting is bright and cheerful, perfect if you need a pick-me-up on a cold winter day. Near the register you can browse a selection of locally made art, jewelry, and ceramics.
At the counter you’ll find a display of fresh, made-in-house pastries and treats, from croissants and cookies to biscotti, quiche, and galettes. The food menu boasts items perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or a snack in between. Think: toasts, sandwiches, bagels, and more. The drink menu has everything from chai lattes to golden milk and cortados.
For something unique, order the Rosemary Latte ($4-$5), flavored with house-made rosemary syrup.
Photo by Kyle Hooper
“It might sound strange or bizarre, but it’s objectively good,” says co-owner Lily Lovell. “This is an all-around staff favorite.”
Lovell also recommends the cafe’s Toasts ($6.75), made on sourdough bread baked in-house and topped with various sweet or savory goodies. All toasts come with a side of yogurt and puffed amaranth.
An easy customer favorite is the Sourdough Bagel ($3.75), topped with a house-blended everything spice.
“[The bagels] take 48 hours to make, and they are kind of crazy. We only make them on Sundays, and there is typically a line out the door of customers who have learned what time they come out of the oven,” Lovell says.
For something sweet, try the BestCookie, made with oats, brown butter, cacao nibs, and dark chocolate. Pro tip: ask for a glass of warm milk for dunking. 1319 11th St, Bellingham, 360.323.6669, cafebluecafe.com
Harris Avenue Cafe
This cheerful neighborhood cafe has all of your breakfast favorites, from omelettes and bennies to scrambles and French toast. The menu caters to both meat-lovers and vegetarians, meaning the whole family can find something to be happy about. Their bread is soured from Breadfarm in Bow and their meat and sausage comes from Hempler’s in Ferndale.
For something unique, try the Maple Bacon Cakes ($10), in which bits of bacon are tucked into a classic short stack. The lunch menu features burgers, salads, and sandwiches, like the Thebetan Tuna Melt ($13) and the Fancy Burger ($15) featuring prosciutto, brie, and basil aioli.
When it comes to coffee, you’re in good hands, because the cafe connects to Tony’s Coffee & Espresso. Order a coffee drink made with locally roasted Tony’s coffee, or enjoy a Spice Hut tea, glass of wine, beer, or cider. If you’re feeling something fruity, go for the Blackberry Lemonade Mimosa ($6).
To accommodate dining during COVID-19, the cafe recently expanded its outdoor seating. Stop by to enjoy food in the new covered, heated, and protected outdoor dining area. 1101 Harris Ave., Bellingham, 360.393.5006, theharrisave.com
Photo by Alina Simone
Much more than just a cafe, Firehouse is also an arts and event center that features local, regional, and national artists. The space, located in what was once a fire station, serves as a classroom, performance space, art gallery, music venue, and theater. The performance space has retractable stadium seating capable of accommodating 80 people; when the seats are collapsed, the large, open space is perfect for workshops and classes, such as ballet, yoga, and improv. (Events and classes will resume after COVID-19 restrictions lift).
The cafe itself connects with the event space, allowing patrons and students to fuel up on espresso and tea before settling in for a show or class. You can also find scratch-made muffins, scones, cookies, and quiche. Since the pandemic, the café has also expanded their menu to offer soups and sandwiches, so you can drop in for lunch or an early dinner. They’re also now serving wine and beer.
Photo by Alina Simone
With both indoor and outdoor seating, free wifi, and a walk-up window, it’s easier than ever to enjoy the Firehouse Cafe and its cozy neighborhood feeling. There’s also a large garden area near one of the most impressive sycamore trees you’ll find in town. 1314 Harris Ave., Bellingham, 360.305.9858, firehouseperformingarts.com
Calico Cupboard Cafe & Bakery
121-B Freeway Dr., Mount Vernon
701 Commercial Ave., Anacortes
501 Commercial Ave., Anacortes,
2119 Commercial Ave., Anacortes
Primal Coffee Company
108 Woodworth St., Sedro-Woolley
Ristretto Coffee Lounge & Wine Bar
Photo by Catherine Torres
416 S. 1st St., Mount Vernon
The Rhody Cafe
5521 Chuckanut Dr., Bow
Photo by Pat McDonnell
5800 Cains Ct., Edison
Photo by Cheryl Little
Located in the picturesque mountain town of Concrete, this 100% gluten-free bakery is a beloved destination among locals and tourists alike. Everything on the menu is made with a unique blend of more than 15 different flours, to get the consistency of the dough just right. If you’re skeptical of gluten-free pastries and bread, 5b’s will change your mind.
The pastry menu boasts numerous offerings, all made fresh daily in small batches. For a reliable, finger-licking standby, go for the Cinnamon Roll ($4.85) or the Honey Bun ($4.85). You can also bring home whole 9” pies for $27.95, or enjoy a handpie for just $6.00. The bakery also sells various frozen items you can take home, including loaves of bread, buttermilk biscuits, pizza crusts, cookie dough, waffles, and more. Remember, everything is gluten-free!
On the food menu you’ll find savory favorites like the Pot Pie (various flavors, $7.50 for 5”), Calzone ($7.25), Meatloaf Potato Cake ($7.85), and Stuffed Pork Chop ($7.85). Meats are smoked and brined in-house, while veggies are sourced locally from Washington farms. The drink menu has everything coffee-based you need to keep buzzing, plus milkshakes and more.
The cafe’s interior is bright and cheerful. The retro design is modeled off bakeries of the 1940s, with booths, tables, and bar seating that runs along the barista counter. For outdoor seating, customers can enjoy covered seating under the gazebo.
Photo by Cheryl Little
If Concrete is a far drive away, never fear. The bakery now offers a list of shippable items on their website; orders can be placed from anywhere in the lower-48. 45597 Main St., Concrete, 360.853.8700, 5bsbakery.com
Skagit Valley Food Co-op
Photo Courtesy of Skagit Valley Co-op
The Skagit Valley Food Co-op is a popular destination for natural and locally sourced grocery items, but those who frequent the location know it also houses a top-notch cafe and deli. Brightly lit, with plenty of seating both inside, outside, and upstairs, there’s always something new to try, whether for breakfast, lunch, or an afternoon pick-me-up.
The drink menu features all the usual suspects, from espresso and cappuccinos to chai teas and Italian sodas. They also offer a variety of juices and smoothies. For a protein-rich smoothie, try the Popeye’s Secret Blend ($5.95 for 16 oz.), made with spinach, banana, strawberries, and apple juice. Add protein powder or spirulina to any smoothie for just fifty cents.
The bakery features a variety of sweet treats, including the popular Bee Stings ($2.59) and Gluten-Free Donut Muffin ($2.29). Also on sale are cookies, scones, bagels, quiches, and more. For more filling fare, build your own sandwich at the deli, or take home a hot dish from the display case.
Photo courtesy of Skagit Valley Co-op
It may be winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a delicious scoop of the co-op’s organic ice cream, made in-house with locally sourced milk and cream. Choose from scoops, sundaes, malts, or milkshakes. For a treat that’ll keep you buzzing through the dark days of February, try the Mocha Milkshake ($5.50 for 16 oz.), featuring two shots of espresso, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce. 202 S. 1st St., Mt Vernon, 360.336.9777, skagitfoodcoop.com
Whidbey Coffee, Burlington Marketplace Cafe & Drive Thru
Photo by Kelsey Bratt
Since 1989, Whidbey Coffee has brought high-quality coffee to our neck of the woods. They now operate a dozen locations around the North Sound, including this location in Burlington, just a quick drive from I-5.
This conveniently located cafe is the perfect destination whether you’re hoping to grab a quick breakfast on-the-go, lounge with a latte, or take a break after shopping in the area. The cafe’s outdoor seating, including an indoor/outdoor fireplace and large patio, make it a great option for covid-safe coffee-sipping, while the drive-thru offers yet another easy and safe alternative.
During non-covid times, the cafe’s cozy interior is a perfect place for catching up with a friend or catching up on work. There’s even a free community room available by reservation. The room seats up to 14 people, making it a great place for work meetings or larger social events.
From the drink menu, try the signature Whidbey Coffee Frozen Moka ($3.50-$5). Other blended options include an Espresso Milkshake ($3.75 – $5.35) and Caramel Frappe ($4.45 – $6.05). For more usual fare, the cafe offers lattes, mochas, and espresso.
The food menu features various breakfast items, including pastries, bagels, and sandwiches. When it comes to lunch you’ll also find salads and paninis. Gluten-free and vegan options are always available.
If you’re looking to make a day of it, the cafe also recommends taking a drink and pastry to the nearby Gages Slough Trail, also known as the Tammi Wilson Memorial Trail. The short, paved path is ADA-accessible, perfect for a leisurely stroll with a hot drink in hand. 1960 Marketplace Dr., Burlington, 360.783.7053, whidbeycoffee.com
BLAINE, LYNDEN, & FERNDALE
The Railway Cafe
795 Peace Portal Dr., Blaine
Peace Arch City Café & Bar
Photo by Thomas Hughes
For all the breakfast lovers out there, Peace Arch City Cafe & Bar has all of your favorite classics, available all day long. The space offers all of the comforts of a cafe — free wifi and board games, with the amenities of a bar — lounge seating, pool tables, and live sports.
If you’re looking for a hearty morning meal, try one of the Good Morning Platters ($8.50-10.50), equipped with eggs, toast, meat, and potatoes. For sweeter fare, try the Cinnamon and Nutmeg French Toast Platter ($12).
Photo by Thomas Hughes
On the lunch menu, you’ll find a variety of unique salads like the Pear & Prosciutto Salad ($12.50), 100% grass-fed beef burgers ($12-$14), and sandwiches galore. Try the signature Peace Portal sandwich ($12) for a twist on an ordinary turkey sandwich.
Pair your meal with Lotus brand coffee, locally-roasted espresso. Go for a classic Americano or a sweet Crème Brulee Latte. Peace Arch also offers a full service bar with beer, wine, and craft cocktails. 658 Peace Portal Dr., Blaine, 360.332.5212, peacearchcitycafe.com
Photo Courtesy of Woods Coffee
“Come to the Woods, for here is rest.” At Woods Coffee, you can always find a good John Muir quote, a cozy atmosphere, tasty pastries, and of course — a hearty cup of warm coffee. Wood’s began blending it up at Bender Plaza in Lynden back in 2002, expanding to 19 locations throughout the state, including a public roastery in Bellingham.
While the amount of indoor seating and amenities varies between locations, the majority of Wood’s Coffee sites are equipped with comfy seating, free wifi, a fireplace, and lots of natural woodsy decor. It’s a great place to study, work, or get together with loved ones.
The drink menu features delicious cafe classics like mochas ($4), lattes ($3.40), and cappuccinos ($3.40), as well as sweet blended drinks like the Avalanche or Mudslide ($5.45). Get a light boost with a Spruce (12 oz.) or fuel up with a Giant Redwood (24 oz.). When you’re done, don’t toss the cup. All Wood’s Coffee cups are made from biopolymer plants and are 100% compostable.
Along with their coffees, teas, and smoothies, Wood’s offers freshly baked pastries (plus gluten-free options). Try sweet treats like the Banana Bread ($3.25) or White Chocolate Raspberry Scone ($3.25). If you’re in the mood for something savory, check out the Breakfast Burrito ($4.95) or Avocado Toast ($5.95). 8874 Bender Road, Lynden, 360.354.0900, woodscoffee.com
Our Place Cafe
4920 Rural Ave., Ferndale
The Meeting Place
Photo by Thomas Hughes
Aptly named, The Meeting Place is more than a cafe — it’s a place to meet and mingle with others. The interior is cozy and inviting, with comfortable seating (including couches and armchairs), local art, and, during non-pandemic times, live music on the weekends. The cafe proudly serves Fidalgo coffee.
The cafe also offers a meeting room capable of accommodating up to 12 people. The private space is free to use with a drink or food purchase, and comes with a TV monitor. You can also request that specific menu items be prepared for your group.
Although the pandemic may have put a damper on indoor gatherings for now, the cafe still offers food and drink items for delivery and curb-side pickup. Try a Toasted Croissant ($6.99), with cheese and your choice of meat, or go for a filling 16 oz. Peanut Butter Breakfast Smoothie for just $4.99.
On the lunch menu you’ll find usual cafe fare, like sandwiches ($6.99) and paninis ($7.99). For something warm and hearty, order the Frito Pie ($5.99), featuring chili served over Fritos and topped with cheese, sour cream, and green onions. If you’re there on a Saturday, grab the Biscuits and Gravy Special ($6.99 – $8.99) featuring house-made cheesy biscuits slathered in sausage gravy.
To show their gratitude during the pandemic, The Meeting Place is offering essential workers a free 12 oz. coffee. This includes nurses, doctors, EMTs, fire fighters, and police officers. 5711 Vista Dr., Ferndale, 360.922.6146, themeetingplaceferndale.com
SAN JUAN ISLANDS
SAN JUAN ISLAND
80 Nichols St., Friday Harbor
Crows Nest Coffee Shoppe
70 Spring St., Friday Harbor
Friday Harbor Espresso
565 Spring St., Friday Harbor
10 Front St., Ste. 103, Friday Harbor
Rocky Bay Cafe
225 Spring St., Friday Harbor
Salty Fox Coffee
85 Front St., Friday Harbor
San Juan Coffee Roasting Co.
18 Cannery Lndg., Friday Harbor
The Bean Cafe
150B 1st St., Friday Harbor
Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar
Photo by Mike Sharadin
For local wine, beer, and an impressive all-vegan menu, head to Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar in downtown Friday Harbor. The combined cafe and wine bar offers a highly curated wine list, a varied food menu, and, in non-pandemic times, live music.
When it comes to the cafe’s sandwiches, reuben fans should try the Friday Harbor Rueben ($18). In addition to the reuben staples of sauerkraut and toasted marble rye, this sandwich features UNREAL corned beef and dairy-free Chao cheese.
Dinner entrees include chef specials like Eggplant Lasagna ($25) and a Portobello Ginger Stir Fry ($22). The cafe also serves tacos including Jamaican Jerk Jackfruit Tacos ($13) made with slow-roasted BBQ jackfruit, coleslaw, and red pepper aioli.
Photo by Mike Sharadin
When it comes to the wine list, owner and winemaker Mike Sharadin knows a thing or two: he’s the winemaker for Northwest Totem Cellars. Mike and his staff are happy to put together a custom tasting based on your favorite flavors. All wines can be enjoyed by the glass, bottle, or 1-oz. tasting pour. The wine list rotates through the year, but typically features a variety of Washington reds and whites, including bottles from Northwest Totem Cellars.
If beer is more your thing, the bar also keeps a few local beers and ciders on draft, as well as bottled drinks. Whatever you order, the atmosphere at Mike’s will turn your meal into a meal to remember. 135 Second St., Friday Harbor, 360.378.0265, mikescafeandwinebar.com/about-mikes
Brown Bear Baking
29 North Beach & Main St., Ste. 2051, Eastsound
Doe Bay Cafe
107 Doe Bay Rd., Olga
Enzo’s Caffe and Gelateria
365 N. Beach Rd., Eastsound
New Leaf Café
171 Main St., Eastsound,
Over the past five years, Catkin Cafe has earned it’s fame as one of the yummiest all-day breakfast places on Orcas Island. However, when the shutdown started in March, their team transitioned from a breakfast and brunch joint to serving mainly lunch and dinner for takeout. Whatever the meal, Catkin Cafe dedicates themselves to fresh and locally sourced ingredients.
“My favorite part is engaging with the producers of the island and bringing that to customers. We have farmers, cheesemakers, fishermen, mushroom growers, brewers, wine importers, bread bakers, etc.,” says owner Cheryl Helm. “And I get to transform and deliver their amazing products to customers.”
Because ingredients are locally sourced and in-season, the menu changes often to offer new, delicious options for people to try.
“Our menu changes so often, and everyone has their own personal favorites,” says Helm. “However the Lemongrass Tofu Sandwich and the Chocolate Coconut Macaroons definitely have a following.”
As the menus are updated in 2021, Catkin Cafe brings back Brunch for New Years. The menu will include Crab Benedict, Corned Beef Hash, Dutch Baby Pancakes, and a few other popular breakfast items that have been missed throughout the year. Supporting local businesses and agriculture is at the center of why Catkin Cafe does what they do best.
“I am so grateful for our small island community that has really stepped up and supported us. Their encouragement is what has kept us going,” says Helm. 11 Point Lawrence Rd., Olga, 360. 376.3242, catkincafe.com
Roses Bakery Café
Photo by Kai Gagnon
Bread is at the heart and center of Roses Bakery Cafe on Orcas Island. Owner John Trumbull sought to bring good, hard-crusted, European-style bread to Orcas island. Trumbull opened the original Roses Bakery Cafe in 1991 with his wife Joni. In 1995, Roses expanded to have a storefront where the duo could sell baked goods as well as cheese, charcuterie items, wines, and pantry staples. In 2003, Roses Bakery Cafe moved to the remodeled East Sound fire station where the cafe and retail shop remain today.
Until indoor seating returns, Roses Bakery Cafe is offering food to-go. The fare at Roses is inspired by French and Italian culinary traditions, as well as those of the American southwest. On the menu you’ll find simple and savory items like soups, salads, and thin crust pizzas. Their Pancetta Pizza ($18), featuring provolone and rosemary, is a classic. While the pizzas are available year round, the toppings change with the season. The cafe also offers delicious sandwiches like the Serrano Ham Sandwich ($16) which has Serrano Ham topped with double cream brie, fresh arugula, and sweet cream butter, all served on a fresh baguette.
Don’t forget to check out the bakery and retail shop. From the bakery you can purchase the cafe’s famous breads, like Baguettes ($4) and Challah ($8) as well as a variety of pastries, like their Bourbon-Pecan Tart ($36 for “9) and Tunisian Orange Cake ($42 for “8). In the shop you’ll find various gourmet items like oils, tinned fish, and sauces. 382 Prune Alley, Eastsound, 360.376.5805, rosesbakerycafe.com
308 Lopez Rd, Lopez Island
Lopez Grind Coffee Shop
211 Lopez Rd, Lopez Island
Vortex Juice Bar and Café
Photo by Wolf Ledonne
Located in Lopez Village, Vortex serves up organic juices, slushes, and smoothies along with nutritious wraps, salads, and soups. Whenever possible, they use organic, local produce in their soups and salads, and nearly everything they serve can be prepared to accommodate different dietary restrictions. Vegetarian? Vegan? Gluten-free? Vortex has you covered.
The bulk of the food menu can be served either as a wrap or bowl. The Southwest ($13.25) features lime-cilantro corn, tomatoes, rice, chili-veggie sauce, and local greens. In the Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese and Feta ($14), neufchatel cheese and feta come together with red onion and parsley, smoked salmon, and greens; add even more flavor with avocado, cilantro, and lime.
Vortex’s drink menu is what makes it truly special. You can create your own custom juice ($6.75, 12 oz.) by mixing flavors like apple-lemon-ginger, carrot-orange-parsley, and cucumber-pear-ginger, for a few examples. For something green, go with the Green Juice ($7.75, 12 oz.), made with seasonal greens, cucumber, celery, and parsley, plus your choice of juice.
On the colder side of the menu you’ll find smoothies and slushes. Smoothies are made with nonfat yogurt, frozen bananas, and either frozen fruit or juice; slushes are made from frozen fruit blended with fresh fruit or berries. For extra nutrition, add local greens or protein powder to any smoothie or slush.
Other drink options include coffee, tea, and chai. The Chai ($5,14 oz.) is made in-house, and can be ordered hot or cold depending on seasonal availability. You can also buy Vortex’s chai mix to take home.
If getting food or drinks to-go, you can bring your own containers to reduce waste. You can also take home some of their ready-made items to enjoy later, including sandwiches, balsamic, salsa, harissa, hummus, and various spreads. 135 Lopez Rd., Ste. A., Lopez Island, 360.468.4740, vortexonlopez.com
Vita’s Wildly Delicious
Photo by Bruce Botts
Vita’s Wildly Delicious certainly lives up to its name. Started by Bruce Botts and his wife, Vita’s began as a physical space for a farmers market food cart chef. Built from the ground up, Botts helped out in the restaurant for 10 years until eventually taking over. Since then, Botts has made many additions to the cafe, adding two outdoor patios and a stage where, before COVID-19, live music took place.
Since the pandemic, outdoor music has stopped, but the outdoor seating has remained open. Patrons are encouraged to order on the iPad, pick up their food from the take-out window, and enjoy their food on either patios. Botts even moved the selection of wines and olive oils outdoors during the day for people to buy.
One of the most popular menu items, and one of Botts’ favorites, is the Lopez Lamb Skewers ($5.95). Created with local Lopez lamb, the meat is cooked with Malaysian spices and served with a mint garlic sauce. The cafe also makes a Smoked Mozzarella Mac n’ Cheese ($6.50) with sun dried tomatoes.
Perhaps Vita’s most unique product is their take-home items. It offers seven frozen take-and-bake products with recipes, like the Take N Bake Chicken Risotto, which comes with online instructions for preparation and a guide to what wines pair best. 77 Village Rd., Lopez Island, 360.468.4268, vitasonlopez.com
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