Restaurant News & Reviews

Best Bite: Whatcom County spots for classic hamburger, fries

Boomers, a retro-1950s burger joint, is known for its thick shakes and crunchy waffle fries as well as car hops.
Boomers, a retro-1950s burger joint, is known for its thick shakes and crunchy waffle fries as well as car hops. The Bellingham Herald

A hamburger and fries is the quintessential American meal, and a burger rarely tastes better than on that most American of celebrations, Independence Day.

We eat some 50 billion burgers a year. On average, each American consumes more than a pound of ground beef weekly. Our national dish has obscure origins, but it was introduced to the States in the late 1800s and popularized as the Hamburger Sandwich at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. By the 1920s, the White Castle chain was among the first to sell hamburgers as fast food.

Lately, the humble hamburger has seen a gourmet revival, with chefs adding schmancy toppings — such as Cosmos Bistro, where the Kulshan Beer-ger features a sauce made from the local microbrewery’s beer. But classic burger joints such as Boomers, Win’s and Splitz Grille in Bellingham and Good Burger in Ferndale keep it simple, sticking with a basic burger and a few classic add-ons such as cheese, bacon or mushrooms.

Making your own? Try what Sue Parsons of Sudden Valley calls her Greek burger, mixing caramelized onion, feta cheese, spinach and sliced kalamata or black olives into the raw meat and grilling the patty over an open flame. She serves it with naan, tzatziki sauce and a salad of cucumber and cherry tomato. Otherwise, try these local restaurants for your burger fix.


Boomers, a retro-1950s burger joint, features car hops and is known for its thick shakes and crunchy waffle fries. Its fans say Boomers excels at the Boomer Burger with American cheese.

“Classic #BoomerBurger w/ #ExtraPickle!” Seattle freelance writer Deanna Duff tweeted after a recent visit to Bellingham. “Luv an oldschool #CarHop #Burger spot.”

310 N. Samish Way, Bellingham, 360-647-BOOM (2666),

Good Burger

Good Burger in downtown Ferndale offers classics such as Mushroom and Swiss cheese, Hawaiian, and a new Better Burger, featuring 6 ounces of local Burk Ridge Farms grass-fed beef on a bun from Breadfarm in nearby Edison.

“My favorite! Delicious!” said Vicky Gibbons of Sudden Valley.

5687 Third Ave., Ferndale, 360-380-2502, Facebook: Good Burger Ferndale

Fiamma Burger

This downtown Bellingham hangout brings the classic hamburger into the Millennial Age with such options as a gluten-free bun and a salmon burger.

Catherine Ousselin of Bellingham tweets that she favors the “lamb burger (plain) or Southwest burger w/ bison.”

Fiamma Burger, 1309 Railroad Ave., 360-733-7374,

Win’s Drive-In

This classic burger stand has been in Fairhaven since the mid-1960s. Customers such as Kelly Roberts rave about the mushroom and Swiss cheese burger.

“I love Win’s for a down and dirty, not McDonald’s, plain ol’ basic burger, fries and shake,” said Beth Pelto-Fishbeck of Sudden Valley.

1315 12th St., 360-734-5226, Facebook: Win’s Drive-In

Cosmos Bistro

This new diner on the first floor of the Herald Building features a quartet of imaginative burgers. There’s the Royal with Cheese — a nod to “Pulp Fiction” — with smoked Cheddar, lettuce, onion, tomato and Cosmic Sauce; and my favorite, the 3B Burger with blueberry onion jam, blue cheese, bacon and arugula.

1551 N. State St., 360-255-0244, Facebook: Cosmos Bistro

Reach Robert Mittendorf at 360-756-2805 or