Different and Delicious
Imagine a crispy fried-chicken breast atop a fluffy biscuit, covered with melted cheddar cheese, and smothered with gravy. The Yard Bird sandwich is everything you didn’t know you were missing and it’s available at Vagabond Station in Anacortes.
Until recently, Vagabond Station was a food truck specializing in Southern-style food: chicken and waffles, fried pork ribs, and Hoppin’ John (Southern peas and rice dish). Owners Lori and Michael Hayes opened the truck on September 28, 2015 with the intention to one day convert the business into a brick-and-mortar restaurant. “One day” became September 28, 2017, when they opened the doors to a permanent location on Anacortes’s Commercial Avenue. The couple “wanted to serve food you couldn’t find in Anacortes. We’re all about being different.” They’ve been successful.
The Hayes have a combined restaurant background of almost 50 years. The friendly, down-to-earth couple are the type you could chat with over beers for hours while they happily describe what sets them apart. First off, all the ingredients are fresh. There’s only one small chest freezer that holds “ice cream, Jager, and martini glasses. That’s it.” The Hayes know their priorities.
An arcade in back keeps energetic customers occupied while their food cooks. Kids are welcome until 10 p.m., so parents can take their time enjoying a locally crafted beer. Vagabond’s beer menu serves brews from Skagit County and surrounding counties. North Sound’s IPA is always on one of the four taps and the other beers are mostly cans, with the exception of two bottled. In a town where most places shut down by 9 p.m. and watering holes close their kitchens by 10, Vagabond stands out once more by serving food until midnight.
The Southern-style menu has a few curveballs, so there’s something for everyone. Dig into a pink and cold prime rib sandwich, a meat-lovers dream that is difficult to find in this day of well-done meat. Try a bowl of hearty chili, or a wiscuit—biscuit dough cooked in a waffle maker.
Vagabond Station reluctantly added burgers after repeated customer requests, so how do the Hayes stand out? By using hand-formed, chuck-brisket, short-rib patties. It’s a juicy meat patty that’s a step above regular ground chuck, without entering the gamey realm of buffalo or elk. Try it on the M4 Sir Burger, named after Michael. The chuck-brisket short-rib patty is topped with chopped jalapeño, onion, garlic, and bacon that have sautéed together. Spicy-cool Sriracha crema finishes the burger. Served on a soft pretzel bun alongside crispy, thinly hand-cut fries, the burger is savory, spicy, with a hint of sweetness. Different and delicious, Vagabond Station nailed it.