Competing in a leg of the Ski to Sea race can work up a hearty appetite. Even spectators may find that just watching all that strenuous activity can make a person hungry.
Here’s a list of 10 good local places to satisfy those appetites, whether you’re looking for a post-race recovery feast or a pre-race nutrient load. The price range information is based on the Whatcom County market, where many consider any plate more than $20 as edging toward special-occasion territory.
Also, even the high-end Whatcom County restaurants typically offer lower-cost sandwich or salad options right alongside more costly steak or seafood choices. The lower end of the price range for a main course tends to be around $10 at any restaurant that doesn’t serve all meals in a paper bag.
▪ D’Anna’s Cafe Italiano, 1317 N. State St., 360-714-0188, is a well-established downtown option for hearty Sicilian fare. The menu is extensive. The house-made ravioli set D’Anna’s apart when the restaurant opened for business in the late 1990s. The house-made Sicilian sausage is also a standout, and you can get it in a sausage-and-chard ravioli. The interior is charming and festive, with red brick and an open kitchen. Price range: medium to high.
▪ The Web Locker, 734 Coho Way at Squalicum Harbor, 360-676-0512, is the place to go when you want to rub elbows with fishers taking a break from gearing up their vessels for the next voyage to Alaska. Burgers, fish and chips, and French-dip sandwiches are good bets. Breakfast and lunch only. Price range: Low to medium.
▪ Skylarks Hidden Cafe, 1308 11th St., 360-715-3642, has been steadily building a loyal local clientele since it opened in the mid-1990s in the Fairhaven district. Dinner choices range from soups, salads and sandwiches to more elaborate pasta, seafood and meat dishes. Open from 8 a.m. to midnight daily, with breakfast and lunch menus. Price range: Medium to high.
▪ Soy House serves up Vietnamese classics at two locations: 414 W. Bakerview Road, 360-393-3585, and 400 W. Holly St., 360-393-4857. The “vermicelli,” known in Vietnamese as “bun,” (not to be confused with the English synonym for “roll”) provide a tasty, light meal. These dishes feature marinated meat or shrimp grilled and served on a bed of fine rice noodles with salad. A variety of banh mi sandwiches are served on a big French roll. (Please don’t call it a bun – that would be too confusing.) The banh mi, accompanied by a side of egg roll or sweet potato fries, make a hearty meal. Price range: medium.
▪ Greene’s Corner, 2208 James St., 360-306-8137, is a newer option for sandwiches and pizza in a neighborhood atmosphere. Some of the offerings are standard, but others are more imaginative. How about a pulled-pork-and-kimchee sub? Some wraps and tacos are also on the menu. Price range: Low to medium.
▪ Blue Fin Sushi, 102 S. Samish Way, 360-752-2583, has an excellent sushi bar with tasty nigiri and makizushi (roll) selections. If you’re the only one in your group who can’t stand the thought of sushi, this is a good option for you: The chicken teriyaki is among the best in town, and the tempura is also spectacular. Price range: How much sushi can you eat? Otherwise, low to medium.
▪ Rifugio’s Country Italian Cuisine, 5415 Mount Baker Highway, 360-592-2888, has become a popular dinner option after a day on the mountain, after 4 p.m.Thursday through Sunday. It’s about a half-hour drive from Bellingham. Standard dishes such as shrimp scampi, spaghetti and meatballs, and veal parmesan highlight the menu. Price range: medium to high.
▪ Busara Thai Cuisine, 404 36th St. in Sehome Village, 360-734-8088, is a dependable, attractively-decorated place for your favorite Thai dishes, with menu specials that may tempt you from your tried-and-true pad Thai or curry dish. From the soup menu, try the Bangkok bouillabaisse. It makes a lovely appetizer for two, with prawns, scallops, squid and mushrooms in a delicate coconut-milk broth. Price range: low to medium.
▪ La Fiamma, 200 E. Chestnut St., 360-647-0060, specializes in wood-fired, thin-crust pizza, with a variety of other dishes too. It is housed in an old red brick building that was once a railroad office, with an interior enlivened with burnished-steel decor. The pizzas here are more sophisticated and less typical. Try the Fiona, with lamb sausage, roasted vegetable, tomato and porcini mushroom sauce, Kalamata olives, roasted bell peppers, grilled onion, mozzarella, feta cheese and fresh rosemary. Price range: medium to high, but only if you eat a large, loaded pizza all by yourself.
▪ Brandywine Kitchen, 1317 Commercial St., 360-734-1071, in an old, brick-walled venue, focuses on soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch or dinner. The soup-salad-sandwich genre might seem a bit underwhelming to some, but attention to detail makes this place special: the emphasis on local ingredients and a deft touch with seasonings and ingredient combinations. Curried lentil soup, when available, is a standout. Sandwiches tend to be memorable. Price range: Medium.