Bellingham combines small-city accessibility and a college-town independent streak that imbue this northern Washington town with a personality all its own. Add to that Bellingham’s geographic good fortune — at the confluence of abundant agriculture, misty mountains, and bountiful waterways — and one can see the depth of the city’s appeal, reflected in its food and drink scene. From cool craft breweries and cideries, reliable brunch spots, and dinnertime destinations, here’s the best the area has to offer.Read More
12 Great Places to Eat and Drink in Bellingham
From brunch to beer (and beyond), these places capture the independent spirit of this northern Washington city
1. Elizabeth Station
Bellingham knows its beer, and that knowledge is on full display at this bottle shop and taproom. There are beers from around the world, for consumption here or to-go, with a helpful staff providing expert guidance. A small food menu provides bites like Taiwan-style bao, grain bowl, and banh mi burger, plus weekend brunch with a variety of waffles.
2. Saltine Bellingham
Inspired by cuisines from around the world, Saltine serves an ever-changing menu based around whatever “obsession” the kitchen is focused on at the moment. That may translate to mushroom risotto, Dungeness crab cakes, and steak frites, all well executed and free of pretense. There’s also a small but well-rounded wine list, beers, and original cocktails.
3. Thousand Acre Cider House
Excellent craft ciders — and a few beers — from around Washington take center stage at this pub in downtown Bellingham. There are 24 options on tap, plus a big bottle selection. Patrons can try several with a flight, or opt for a cider cocktail. Food options are limited, but there’s enough here to stave off severe hunger pangs, with choices like charcuterie and cheese plates. Outside food is welcome, too.
4. The Temple Bar
Velvet wallpaper, tchotchkis aplenty, and low lighting set a relaxed mood at The Temple Bar. Original cocktails, beer, and wine are the mainstays, and they pair well with snacks like artisan cheese, crostini, and stuffed dates. A few larger plates make it easy to linger through dinner; curried cauliflower salad, seasonal polenta, and hearty flatbread are a few highlights.
5. Mount Bakery Cafe Downtown
Mount Bakery takes pride in its devotion to sourcing from small farms and making everything from scratch. Its creations make their way into dishes like crepes, breakfast sandwiches, various eggs benedict options, waffles, and hot and cold sandwiches. Plus, diners can purchase pastries like scones, gallettes, cookies, and desserts — along with what many consider to be Bellingham’s best cinnamon roll.
6. Old Town Cafe
This comfort-food brunch favorite draws quite a crowd on weekends, but that shouldn’t scare away dedicated diners. Old Town Cafe specializes in big portions of dishes like breakfast burritos, omeletes, scrambles, sandwiches, and burgers. Breakfast is served all day, much of the menu is made from scratch, and ingredients are local and organic whenever possible, with loads of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
This busy, modern spot in the business district is a dining destination disguised as a coffee shop. There is counter-service espresso — and downright inspired coffee and tea concoctions — but patrons should opt for a sit-down meal, if they can. The excellent menu ranges from cashew cream toast with Washington apples and sage honey to a savory Dutch baby to chicken and waffles. Happy hour runs 11 a.m. to noon and again from 2 to 4 p.m., with discounted cocktails, spritzes, and wine.
8. Black Sheep
Fans come to trendy downtown restaurant Black Sheep for the tacos, and they stay for the tequila. The bright, tropical-influenced space is almost always humming with activity, as diners delve into hand-pressed tortillas topped with chicken tinga, from-scratch chorizo, seared rockfish, and spiced black bean tacos. The cocktail list is anchored by creative takes on classic margaritas and palomas.
9. Mallard Ice Cream
Styled after a vintage ice cream parlor — and decorated with plenty of rubber ducks — Mallard Ice Cream is a dessert-lover’s destination. The shop makes its ice cream from scratch, five gallons at a time, and uses locally sourced ingredients when possible. The flavors include mainstays like chocolate, peppermint, and cookies and cream, plus rotating options like sour cream apple pie, drunk cherry, and triple nut crunch.
10. Aslan Brewing Company
Aslan is one of the region’s most respected breweries, thanks to its commitment to local sourcing and its all-around great beer. At the brewpub, diners can pair their beer with playful bar food like fried mac-and-cheese balls, waffle fry poutine, and a bacon bison burger. And at the the leather couch-filled Depot location, the company’s barrel-aging facility, food trucks park at the beer garden to help soak up the higher alcohol content of these aged beers.
11. Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro
As a long-time anchors of Bellingham’s beer scene, Boundary Bay takes seriously its commitment to local sourcing at its brewpub. The large space is a popular hangout, thanks to its deck and beer garden. The sizeable food menu has something for everyone, from homemade gnocchi to chicken mole quesadillas to a French dip sandwich. There’s also a small wine menu for the non-beer drinkers.
12. Rock and Rye Oyster House
Set in a large, historic building, Rock and Rye has the traditional oyster house genre on lock. The restaurant’s multiple seating areas include a lounge, dining room, and heated outdoor deck, all of which help it accommodate its legions of fans. The menu naturally includes plenty of oysters, plus tacos, sliders, clams, and cocktails aplenty.