The Filling Station Will Fuel Your Day!

 

Filling Station

1138 Finnegan Way

Bellingham, WA 98225

Adults: 4/5 Kids: 5/5

$$$/$$$$$

Feeling low on fuel?  Head to the Filling Station!  This funky little gem perched on the brow of the Fairhaven Neighborhood in Bellingham, Washington has a magical combination of great food, friendly staff, whimsical décor and enough fun to go around.

This old-time filling-station themed restaurant is crammed full of character.  From its ceiling lined with license plates to its staff decked out in gas station uniforms you can’t miss the folly in the atmosphere.

We stopped in for a bite during a recent day trip to this relaxed hamlet with its bookstore, art-shop, micro-brewery lined streets and vista views of the sound.

We ordered: an El Camino Burger, a Click & Clack Clucks #2, a Thunderbird with Bacon, and a Volt (w/ Chicken Salad).

The El Camino, with it’s pepper jack cheese, avocado, Sriracha mayo, tortilla strips, lettuce, tomato and jalapenos held the promise of bringing the heat.  However, though it was reported to be flavorful, fell short of being the spicy bit of heaven hoped for, but was said to have “a good kick”.

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The Click and Clack Clucks #2 received moans of yummy delight from its consumer.  The sandwich served on a sesame seed bun included a southern fried chicken breast with BBQ aioli, cheddar cheese, bacon, pickles, coleslaw and crispy onion straws, and was said to be the “best!”  The BBQ sauce and coleslaw added crunch and sweetness while the juicy chicken and melted cheese added a richness. This meal received a HUGE thumbs up.

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The  Thunderbird was a classic cheeseburger served with all of the accoutrements, including the ability to take advantage of the ‘Sauce Station’; a bar of sauces for your saucing pleasure.  This burger was reported to be delicious, but then again, how wrong can a classic cheeseburger go?

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All the burgers were served with ‘tire treads’ which are basically battered thick-cut, semi-curled, pieces of potatoes.  They were scrumptious and we noticed several tables with just large orders of these little delectable treats to share.

The Volt (w/Chicken) Salad with its mixed greens, warm goat cheese medallions, dried cranberries, numerous whole toasted hazelnuts, julienned fresh beets, onions and basil balsamic vinaigrette was tasty, tasty, tasty!  When the warm breaded goat cheese was broken up and mixed throughout the salad it combined with the vinaigrette to create a sweet, creamy bite.  When you add that sensation with the crunch of the hazelnuts and snap from the candy-stripped beets this is one of those meals you would eat time and time again.  Absolutely YUMMY!

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This place is a must try when your in the Bellingham area.  Whether you come for the fun atmosphere, the great food or the Bloody Mary Bar (that’s right they have a bar where you get to create your perfect Bloody Mary just the way you want it), you won’t leave disappointed.

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May your family always eat well!

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Rodeo City Bar-B-Q Hits the Spot

Rodeo City Bar-B-Q

204 North Main, Ellensburg, WA 98926

Adults: 3.5/5 Kids: 5/5   $$$/$$$$$

Barbecue is one of our families favorite categories of food.  We love the feeling of hominess well prepared barbecue can conjure, especially when you are on the road and far away from home.  This said, not all barbecue is equal, and it has to be pretty exceptional to earn high marks.  This reason alone is why, when we walked into Rodeo City Bar-B-Q in Ellensburg, WA,  we did so with apprehension, not sure if our taste buds would be rewarded or if we would be leaving with our heads hanging low and our barbecue dreams dashed.

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The place is your typical ‘trading-post’ looking roadside diner.  With its cowboy artwork, longhorns, cowboy-camp wallpaper border, antique and knick-knack lined hostess area and rodeo motif fabric covered booths it wasn’t difficult to get the western feel the moment we stepped foot though the front door.

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We were greeted by a friendly waitress and shown to a large booth in the corner.  We were one of only two tables filled at the time, but they had only been open for less than a half hour and it was a Sunday.  Service however was not ‘speedy’.

We ordered a couple of sodas for the girls, who were thrilled when they arrived in handled glass boots.

Our order consisted of a Chicken Spud with Cornbread, a Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger with fries, a Pulled Pork Sandwich with fries and a Rodeo Reuben on a French Roll with Potato Salad.

The Chicken Spud was a delicious fully-loaded baked potato with lots of perfectly cooked bits of chicken, bacon, the house-made Rodeo City Bar-B-Q sauce, sour cream, shredded cheese and green onions.  It did have the slightest bit too much sauce on it, but over all it was quite tasty.

The cornbread was actually quite incredible.  It was warm and moist and sweet!  YUM!!!!

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The Bacon Cheddar Cheese Burger was, according to the one consuming it, “Amazing”.  Between the juicy patty, crunchy bacon, and perfectly toasted ciabatta roll it was a well assembled burger.  It came with all the fixings including: red onion, lettuce, and pickles.  The addition of some of the house-made ketchup and barbecue sauce added just the right amount of flavor to complete the dish.

The fries were almost battered in a well seasoned crust that afforded them a very crispy exterior while maintaining a soft inside.

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The Pulled Pork Sandwich was said to be “Spectacular” with its perfect smoky flavor and just the right amount of the house-made sauce.  It too came with red onion, lettuce and pickles and served on a ciabatta roll.

And again the fries were delicious.

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The Rodeo Reuben on French Roll with Potato Salad was a little puzzling.  It might be a stretch to call it a ‘Reuben’, but it was definitely a good German Sausage sandwich.  This dish was comprised of German sausage, kraut and Swiss cheese  on a French roll.  The sausage was very flavorful and juicy and overall pretty delicious.

The potato salad was good, nothing fabulous, but decent.  It could have used a little salt, but for the most part it sufficed as a ‘potato salad’.

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So if you are ever in Ellensburg, WA and looking for a low-key spot to find some comfort food check out Rodeo City Bar-B-Q.  You’ll find a friendly staff and great food.  There might even be something in their makeshift gift shop that you’ll need have to remember the place by.

 

 

 

 

Aloha Alabama BBQ, Westport, WA–BBQ in a Fishermans Village?

Aloha Alabama BBQ

2309-Westhaven Dr., Westport, WA 98595

Overall:  Adults—3/5   Kids—4/5     $$$/$$$$$

If you’ve never been to Westport, Washington, you are missing out on this quaint, fisherman village.  With its adorable cottages lining the dock port to its multiple ice cream shops and its overall small-town, not-a-clock-in-sight, nothing-much-to-get-in-a-hurry-about feel, a trip to Westport is a “must do”.

On our recent side-trip to this quiet hamlet nestled on Washington’s coast, we stopped into Aloha Alabama BBQ for a quick bite of lunch and, in doing so, found a gem within a gem.  The restaurant is located right across the street from the docks and just down the street from the Maritime Museum.

The awesome, beach surf décor and bright hues scream, “We are excited you are here! Welcome!” the moment you walk through the door.

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The friendly staff was quick with a greeting and we got seated immediately.

The place was clean and well laid out.

The menu boasts that all their meats are cooked low and slow, in a blend of Yakima Applewood and Hawaiian Klawe smoke–Sounded great and our interest was officially peaked.

Adult review:

We started with the Fried Oyster Appetizer.  We are very picky about our fried oysters, and how well an establishment executes this dish says a lot about their overall cooking ability.

The oysters were perfect!!!  They were breaded in panko and fried to perfection.  Their creamy, warm interior combined with a crisp outer shell of breading made for the perfect bite.

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We ordered the Half-Chicken Platter with broccoli slaw and fries and the Pulled-Pork Sandwich with Coleslaw.

The waitress brought us a trio of BBQ sauces for our sampling pleasure: White BBQ Sauce, Honey BBQ Sauce, and Chipotle Sauce.  We never really figured out if these were all made in-house or not, but they were all very good.  The Honey BBQ was our favorite.

The chicken was really rather tasty.  It had a wonderful light smoke flavor, but wasn’t exactly falling off the bone nor was it sauced—both things that we would have liked to have seen.  But overall the flavor was really good and we would eat it again.  We added the honey sauce to it which brought it from just okay to a couple notches above ‘OK’.  The broccoli slaw was passable, but needed some seasoning and the fries were…fries.

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The Pulled Pork Sandwich was yummy, with a nice smoke flavor and good texture but, as far as BBQ goes it was the middle of the road.  The Baked Beans were tasty—perfectly seasoned, sweet and smoky.  The coleslaw was bland, but had a nice creamy texture and, once it was salted, rather flavorful.

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We washed it all down with the house-made ice teas (one peach and one Arnold Palmer) which were delicious and refreshing.

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Kids review:

First the girls’ thoughts on the oysters:

“They were horrible”

“I like them!  I like them with cocktail sauce!”

Obviously, a split review—but hey, a 50/50 percent ‘like’ rate for kids when it comes to oysters, that’s not bad!

The girls ordered from the Keiki Menu (kids menu).

One of the young ladies ordered the Fried Mac n’ Cheese with baked beans.  The other ordered the Pulled Pork Sandwich with House-Made BBQ Chips.

It was declared that the Pulled Pork Sandwich was “the best pulled pork sandwich I have ever had!” and that the potato chips were “AMAZING!”

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Parental side note: The BBQ chips were AMAZING! (We had to request one as ‘parent tax’ of course!) They were thick and seasoned with this delicious blend of spices that put Lays potato chips to shame.

The fried mac n’ cheese received rave reviews as well, but again it was the baked beans (after adding liberal amounts of the honey BBQ sauce to them) and the chips that made the biggest impact on her taste buds.  She couldn’t stop talking about how good both of them were.

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For the most part both of the girls liked their meals, but even more so than that I think they enjoyed the overall youthful, young, energy-filled feel of the place, not to mention, just watching people go by along the docks.

Looking for a fun spot while in Westport, WA?  Stop here!  Have a peach ice tea and some good BBQ.  Then take a walking tour of the town and enjoy this community’s charm and colorful local personalities.

Trails End Taphouse & Restaurant, Snohomish, WA

Trails End Taphouse & Restaurant, 511 Maple Ave, Snohomish WA 98290

Over All Experience: 4/5      Cost:  $$$

This unassuming restaurant positioned at the Snohomish end of the Centennial Trail has a little something for everyone.   It offers craft beers and a modern spin on pub food.

Our family tried this establishment on a recent very warm summer day.  The atmosphere was both physically cool and visually interesting.  From its unique artwork to its green faux marble top tables and heavy industrial flair chairs it lends itself to a feel of an old-world pub meets a modern fern bar.

The cost to value was moderate and the food quality was above average.

Adult Review:

We both ordered the Brie Burger with Poppy Seed Broccoli Cole Slaw, one of the daily specials. We fell in deep smit with the sweet salty bacon jalapeno jelly and melted gooey brie cheese combination.  We both felt the beef patty was delicious and juicy as well, but that the bun was a little too firm of an option (it might have been a ciabatta) and, as a result, when we bit into it the cheese and jelly squished out all sides. However, that wasn’t a deal breaker as all the flavor was there and, after all, some of the best burgers are the messy ones.

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We also liked the broccoli slaw salad, but it did need a little additional salt and the poppy seed dressing was lacking a ‘poppy seed’ flavor.

Our waitress was especially friendly and well-informed.  She knew the answers to all of our questions and was knowledgeable about the daily specials even making sure to let us know that she (and the rest of the staff) is encouraged to taste all of the specials at the beginning of each shift.

We finished off the meal with the in-house made Red, White and Blue Cheesecake and a cup of coffee.  The coffee was passible as coffee goes—not the best we’ve had, but far from the worse (you’ll notice coffee mentioned in all of our reviews if we ordered some as coffee is a favorite of ours).  The cheesecake however was really delicious.  It was creamy and not overly sweet and the berry compote was a nice combination of sweet and tart.

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We liked the atmosphere and have no complaints about anything, unless it was that the place was packed and, as a result, a little loud.

Kid Review:

The kids ordered from the kids menu.  They did make the comment that they felt the children’s menu was small and from their point of view limited.  After some deliberation they decided on the Chicken Strips with in-house made Potato Chips.

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They both really enjoyed them.  According to our waitress the chicken is hand breaded in-house with a gluten-free corn meal crust and served with homemade potato chips.  The girls’ one complaint was that the ranch served with their meal (which our waitress let us know was house-made too) was lacking flavor and ‘blah’.

The cheesecake was split 50/50 as far as them liking it.  One of them felt it was “AWESOME!”, but the other one took one bite and declined the rest of her dessert all together.

The girls appreciated the coloring sheet provided for them and decided that the fact that they were entertained while they waited for their meal was a positive.

The girls felt that the fact that there is a large bar that monopolizes the space was a negative as they ‘don’t want to see a bunch of people drinking’.

The kids did feel that the place was ‘fine’ and that they would eat there again.

Over all we all really liked the Trails End and would recommend it to anyone looking for a pub food meal with a modern flair.  If you do try it soon, please check back here and add your thoughts to the comments section.

May your family always eat well!