The World’s Best Culinary Weekend: San Juan Islands
Ferry from feast to feast off the coast of Washington state.
Where else in this country would a food-fueled journey be powered by boat? Only in this stunning archipelago 65 miles northwest of Seattle in the cobalt waters of the Salish Sea.
Start on Lopez Island at Southend Market, where great picnics are born. Pick out a pale ale at Lopez Brewing from a deep roster of local offerings, grab a loaf of Barn Owl Bakery bread and a hunk of Sunnyfield Farm cheese, and set up at one of the tables in the shade out back. Later, sip a smoothie at Vortex and make dinner reservations at Ursa Minor for seasonal dishes like fresh halibut atop a heap of white beans and locally foraged oyster mushrooms, best scooped with a chip made of crisp halibut skin.
Have two days? Head to Orcas Island and Doe Bay Cafe, where biscuit Benedicts are best eaten after a dip in the nearby soaking tubs. Pop by The Kitchen for chocolate-ginger cookies, and plan a happy-hour return to the apothecary-themed Barnacle, which sits right next door. For lunch, shuck your own oysters at Buck Bay Shellfish and grab some freshly smoked salmon or spot prawns for midday snacking. For dinner, indulge in gorgeous seasonal dishes at The Mansion Restaurant at Rosario Resort & Spa. Or go see Jay Blackinton, who artfully blisters Neapolitan pies at Hogstone's Wood Oven and creates hyper-local tasting menus at Aelder.
RELATED: Savor the San Juan Islands
Time for one more isle? San Juan Island's Friday Harbor House pairs fresh herb- and juice-spiked cocktails with superb views. And if the rustic, tucked-away Duck Soup Inn is open (its schedule depends on the season), you'll find perfectly bronzed duck confit, fresh pastas, and foraged ferns, mushrooms, and local herbs. No matter how much you're able to squeeze in—be it one slice of Hogstone's pizza or a long weekend's epic culinary quest—know you'll be singing a sweet song of the San Juans long after your ferry returns you to reality.
Jackie Varriano is an editor at Seattle Zagat.