When it comes to foodie towns, Bellingham may not be on your radar — but it should be. Located between the Salish Sea and Mt. Baker in northern Washington State, Bellingham is a food lover’s paradise. Locally owned restaurants take pride in creating their tasty fare with as many fresh, locally sourced, and organic ingredients as possible. From fresh seafood to foodie favorites and craft brews, Bellingham offers a variety of tastes for whatever you’re craving.
I was invited to experience Bellingham, Washington, but all opinions are my own.
Here is a list of the best places to eat in Bellingham:
What happens when three chefs from Brooklyn with fine-dining experience discover the fresh fish and agricultural bounty of western Washington? The answer is Carnal, a flame-cooked foodie favorite in downtown Bellingham. The menu varies with the seasons. Complete your meal with one of Carnal’s craft cocktails, mocktails, beers, or wines. Reservations can be made online at the Carnal website.
What To Order At Carnal
- Drink/Cocktail: Fire-roasted piña colada made with a Jamaican rum blend, fire-roasted pineapple, and coconut
- Starter: Pig head fritters with shallot aioli and pickled shishito
- Entrée: Slow-cooked short ribs with bone marrow, black truffle, and confit garlic sauce have been the star of the culinary show since Carnal was just a pop-up restaurant.
2. Black Cat Cafe
With its old-wood floors, tall windows, and lively social atmosphere, Black Cat Cafe provides a fun and sophisticated spot for American bistro favorites and cocktails. Take the elevator to the third floor of the historic brick Sycamore Square building for lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch, and late-night bites. The menu includes a mix of comfort food such as macaroni and cheese, pot roast, burgers, tacos, and fresh salads and seafood.
What To Order At Black Cat Cafe
- Drink: The refreshing “Spill The Tea” cocktail combines Jasmine Green Tea-infused gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, and both lemon and grapefruit bitters.
- Starter: My favorite is the perfectly seasoned Dungeness crab cakes served with a creamy curry remoulade.
- Entrée: The wild sockeye salmon with a unique twist: a spiced rum glaze or serrano aioli for extra flavor
3. Aslan Brewing Company
If fresh, locally brewed organic beer isn’t reason enough to visit Aslan Brewing Company’s two locations, the cheesy mac bites and the waffle fries poutine definitely are. The no-frills décor puts the focus squarely on quality IPAs, lagers, and lively conversation. Aslan Depot, located in a historic urban railway depot, offers a cozier option with oversized couches and comfy chairs. The Depot also hosts live music indoors or outside in the beer garden. The menu is the same at both locations.
What To Order At Aslan Brewing Company
- Drink: Aslan’s award-winning Batch 15 is the brewery’s flagship hazy IPA. It’s a hoppy and citrusy brew that’s well-balanced and not too bitter.
- Starter: Poutine at Aslan combines waffle fries with cheese curds drenched with roasted mushroom gravy.
- Entrée: The Hawaiian bowl starts with a base of coconut-ginger rice, then piles on house-made slaw, shredded cabbage, and grilled pineapple slices. Hoisin and sweet chili sauce add a bit of sweet spice to the mix.
4. Old Town Cafe
A local favorite for more than 50 years, the Old Town Cafe serves various egg dishes, pancakes, French toast, or granola to start the day. After 11 a.m., the café also offers soup, sandwiches, burgers, and salads for lunch. Everything is made from scratch using local or regionally sourced organic ingredients whenever possible. It opens early, so you can get a hearty breakfast before heading out on your next adventure.
What To Order At Old Town Cafe
- Drink: Mimosas made with Columbia Gorge juice coming in flavors such as rhubarb ginger or strawberry, varying with the seasons
- Starter: Sour cream coffee cake; usually a berry variety with seasonal variations in the spring and fall
- Entrée: The #9 is an egg Benedict with a cheesy twist. House-made buttermilk biscuits and eggs are topped with a thick cheese sauce and sliced tomatoes.
Pro Tip: Be sure to try one of the Old Town Cafe’s pastries, made in house from scratch daily.
5. Mallard Ice Cream
With brightly colored walls and a fun vibe, Mallard Ice Cream offers an ever-changing selection of classic and off-the-wall flavors. All the ice cream is made in house. It’s hard to go wrong with an ice cream cone packed with cookies and cream, mint Oreo, or “Super Chocolate.” Ask for a sample of one of the more creative flavors, such as Molasses Cheesecake With Antler Baking Company Gingerbread, Tumeric, or Angostura Bitters. Mallard also offers a handful of dairy-free sorbets.
What To Order At Mallard Ice Cream
Ask for samples and pick your favorite. Being a chocolate lover, I chose the Super Chocolate, a darker, creamier, more decadent version of Mallard’s Chocolate flavor.
6. Old World Deli
The Old World Deli in downtown Bellingham offers in-house cured and smoked meats, cheeses from around the Pacific Northwest and Europe, gourmet groceries, and a wine shop. Enjoy hearty sandwiches, paninis, and soups in the casual dining area, or shop for imported and artisan goodies to take on a picnic.
What To Order At Old World Deli
- Drink: Choose a bottle from the extensive wine selection to enjoy with your lunch or picnic. There’s no corkage fee.
- Starter: The meat and cheese plate, which includes three kinds of cheese, four types of meat, fruit, olives, nuts, and an artisan baguette
- Entrée: Thick with house-made corned-beef brisket, the Reuben includes locally made sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and artisan rye bread.
7. Boundary Bay Brewing Company
Located in a historic warehouse, Boundary Bay Brewing boasts more than 20 craft beers. Local art and murals enliven the taproom and the family-friendly bistro, which offers an extensive menu of made-from-scratch favorites ranging from nachos to grilled fish tacos. In good weather, the action moves outside to the dog-friendly beer garden, where you’ll often find live music.
What To Order At Boundary Bay Brewing Company
- Drink: Boundary Bay’s legendary scotch ale
- Starter: Nachos loaded with the works: melted cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses, house-made salsa, beans, jalapeños, olives, and tomatoes
- Entrée: The yam enchiladas feature corn tortillas filled with roasted yams, cheddar jack cheese, and caramelized onions. They’re topped with mole poblano, salsa roja, and sour cream.
8. La Fiamma
After a day of adventures, my family and I often head to La Fiamma for their award-winning wood-fired pizza. The selection ranges from simple cheese and vegetarian pizzas to pies sure to please the carnivores in the crowd. Any pizza can be made with a gluten-free crust or a vegan cheese substitute. Pizza can also be ordered by the slice at the side window on the deck, helpfully labeled “Pye Hole.”
What To Order At La Fiamma
- Drink: Fiamma’s Golden Hour cocktail starts with its house-made chamomile whiskey, then adds honey, lemon, and turmeric liqueur.
- Starter: Garlic knots made with butter, herbs, and three cheeses; dip them in chunky marinara sauce or ranch dressing.
- Entrée: Greek Havoc pizza is loaded with artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, Roma tomatoes, peppers, and feta spread over a creamy herbed white sauce.
9. Holly’s Meat Pies
Holly’s Meat Pies has such a following in Bellingham that the company regularly sells more than 400 frozen hand pies at the Bellingham Farmers Market. Stop in to their new location in north Bellingham for hot and ready pies once their new kitchen fully opens in July of 2023. Each hand pie, or pasty, is made with fresh, local vegetables and sustainably raised meats. The menu also includes vegetarian and vegan options and monthly specials. Check their website for current hours and prices.
What To Order At Holly’s Meat Pies
My favorite is the chicken pot pie pasty (organic chicken, potatoes, carrots, peas, onions, and celery). Baked to a golden brown, it makes for a quick, savory lunch on the go.