Bellingham has always, in my humble opinion, struggled with great places to eat. Admittedly, it is no Seattle or Portland, but you'd think something of really high quality could make a go of it here in the City of Subdued Excitement! And there have been some notable and gallant tries in the past. What seems to generally happen though is that someone opens a place, there is lots of enthusiastic support for it and then, suddenly, something happens and they are closed.
Sometimes, I think it is just poor management. Running a successful restaurant is a labor of love requiring many hours of work outside operating hours and just as hard work during operating hours. Along with that must be a chef who doesn't scrimp on quality or standards and brings innovative ideas to the dining room. Too, often I have seen restaurants go down as a result of the original chef being let go after a few months or a couple of years and a cook allowed to take over, running the place into the ground because they didn't know what the hell they're doing and or don't care.
There are some amazing venues in town that are currently empty but would make great restaurant locations if someone with a dream and some funding could get it off the ground.
Take the top of the Bellingham Tower, the tallest building in town, where at least a couple of restauants have opened in the past but closed after only a couple of years. They were very nice places and hugely popular but for what ever reason folded.
Another spot that has never been a restaurant but is a perfect spot for a diner is the old stationary store on the corner of Champion and Unity Streets behind the Mount Baker Theater. Its the right shape, has windows across the front, is long and narrow just as a traditional diner should be.
So, where does one go for an outstanding dinner experience in B'ham? Well, sorry to say I can't really recommend a place right now. Oh, there are good pizza places galore. Lots of very good breweries. Sandwich shops and we do have some outstanding breakfast places. But an outstanding white table cloth dinner place. Can't think of one.
We have an Anthony's, a surf and turf chain based here in the northwest. Nope. Sadly, with all the waterfront space we have, and with the amount of fresh seafood, salmon, halibut, prawns and crab coming into our harbor, there just isn't a top flight seafood restaurant.
So here are my top choices right now in no particular order and what they do best.
1. Home Skillet--the best breakfast place in town, period. Amazing food. Their only downside is their size and because of it the management have elected to be kind of pushy when it comes to lingering over your meal. That is off putting to us. BUT, the food! OMG! Try the Tater Tot Hash or the Big Green Mess and well, anything on the menu. You can't go wromg.
2. Fat Pie Pizza--in Fairhaven (south side of town) has amazing views up on the top floor on a nice day and their pizza is pretty darn good.
3. Our Diner--Another great breakfast joint out north of town on the Guide Meridian road. Try the Hashbrown sandwich. Amazing and you probably only need the half order.
4. Nikki's Bella Marina--Okay, so alot of folks don't care for this place. It has nice views down onto Squalicum Marina, but I truly believe they make THEE best fish and chips in town. You get two huge fish portions and all the steak fries you can eat and the fish is battered and fried perfectly.
5. Bellingham Cider Company--This hard to find place may, just may be my current favorite place for dinner. Very good food including the vegan selections and the cider is getting better all the time.
6. Camber--This coffe shop in the heart of downtown B'ham, was recently named to have the best coffee in Washington. That is saying something around this part of the country. But they also serve up some nice food as well.
7. Twin Sisters Brewing Company--They've only been open about a year but this is alreay a hot spot for beer lovers and they make some good offerings for lunch and dinner as well. It's just a fun place to go and hangout.
8. La Gloria Mexican Food--It isn't the best Mexican food I have ever had, hey, I'm from California, I know from Mexican food. BUT, it comes the closest to my California roots as anyplace in town. It even has a decent market attached to it where you can get fresh tortillas and some anazing carnitas (also available in the restaurant).
Well, that about does it for now. I'll do some more thinking and will certainly continue looking for and trying new places as they open or I discover them.