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A Foodie Tour of the San Juan Islands

by Megan Hill

Washington State’s San Juan Islands are clustered north of Puget Sound, near the Canadian border. This archipelago has a little of everything: charming small towns that welcome ferry traffic from the mainland, farmland, and uninhabited islands accessible only by boat. An island-hopping food tour is one of the best ways to experience all that the area has to offer. By dining in restaurants that source from the islands’ Salish Sea home and its many farms, you’ll get a true taste of what makes this place so special.

Every September through early November, the islands celebrate local food with Savor the San Juans, a series of events that range from farm tours to film festivals to beer tastings and wine dinners. Schedule your visit around these events, or design your own with this guide to some of the islands’ best restaurants.

Hogstone’s Wood Oven

Situated on Orcas Island, Hogstone’s Wood Oven dishes out wood-fired pizzas topped with farm-fresh ingredients from chef/owner Jay Blackinton’s own farm. The James Beard Award-nominated chef pairs his pizzas with standout dishes, from bright salads to wood-fired vegetables to meat-centric entrees—that also celebrate the land and sea—making this much more than your average pizza joint.

Doe Bay Resort

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Orcas Island, Doe Bay Resort is a peaceful waterside retreat. Whether you’re a guest in one of the cabins or yurts, or just visiting for the day, the restaurant is not to be missed. The cliffside dining room draws from the resort’s garden and from local farmers. Many dishes feature organic food, dolled up in beautifully crafted dishes that rotate with the seasons.

Rosario Resort

Situated in a lovely forest near the center of Orcas Island, Rosario Resort overlooks Cascade Bay. Diners have several options here, including the Cascade Bay Grill, which specializes in pub fare and serves food at a waterside patio, and the cozy Moran Lounge, with its fireside cocktails. The centerpiece of the resort is the upscale Mansion Restaurant, where artfully plated food shows off the best of the island’s fish, produce, and meat.

Duck Soup

The quiet forest location of Duck Soup is a welcome change from the busier nearby town of Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island. Duck Soup’s menu leans heavily on foraged ingredients, so expect to eat things you may not be able to find on your typical restaurant menu, like fiddlehead ferns, ramps, and sea beans. The rest of the menu is built of local ingredients, with seafood caught from local waters and meat raised on the islands.

Ursa Minor

It’s impossible to drive around Lopez Island without other drivers waving to you—you’ll feel like a local here in no time. And that culture extends to the dining room at Ursa Minor, where chef Nick Coffey has built a love song to his island home. The menu currently centers around thoughtful, creative approaches to pub fare like burgers and fried chicken, with plenty of homemade ingredients.

Friday Harbor House

Diners at Friday Harbor House can enjoy a fantastic meal with a view of the harbor and ferry terminal. Here, Chef Jason Aldous gets creative with local food, crafting meals that might include mushroom pasta, wine-braised lamb shoulder, and from-scratch bread with thyme butter. There’s also an excellent wine list, and a raw bar that celebrates local seafood.

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