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”.


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.


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?


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!


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.


May your family always eat well!


The Palace Cafe in Ellensburg, WA: Where the Prime Rib Lives Up to its Name

The Palace Café

323 N Main St, Ellensburg, WA 98926

Adults: 3.5/5 Kids: 4/5   $$$/$$$$$

Since 1892, The Palace Café in Ellensburg, WA has proudly served the surrounding community.  There are many restaurants that don’t last 124 days, let alone that many years. After trying it out, we understand clearly how it has stood the test of time.

Our family was passing through the Ellensburg area over Easter weekend, on our way to visit family, when we decided to pull into this quiet little city and eat some dinner.  In honesty, three of the four of us had eaten lunch at The Palace before, which was okay, but thought we’d try our luck and see how their evening service was.

We don’t know that any of us held out much hope of finding an actually ‘great’ meal when we decided to stop. After all, the surface of Ellensburg, with it’s western themed art,  flat, dry open fields and feel, can leave you wanting to pass it by.

We intentionally chose The Palace as we knew the food there was serviceable from our previous lunch and figured we could get in and out without much trouble.  It turns out it was one of our happiest ‘side trips’ while passing through some place that we’ve taken.

The Palace has adorable, unique, hand-made décor featuring fishing boats, planes, and automobiles which some how works well with the pressed-tin ceiling and antique feel of the building.  We were greeted by it’s friendly staff and waited on by our adorable, ultra-friendly waitress.

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The girls both ordered the regular cod and chips basket.  They reported that the fish was crispy of the outside and moist in the center and that the fries were the same. Both the fish and the fries are house-made by the chefs at The Palace.  The slaw that came with the basket was surprisingly flavorful, and actually did not need the sprinkling of salt that most places leave out of theirs.  The girls were very excited about how tasty their whole meal was.

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We both ordered the 12 oz Prime Ribs (which actually looked more like 16 oz ones–there was no way I was going to be able to finish it), and I ordered mine with the coconut prawns.  The prime ribs were DELISCIOUS!  They were huge, thick cut portions, seasoned very well with a great crust and cooked perfectly to the medium rare we requested.  The horseradish (which we had the option of fresh grated or deli style–we chose the fresh) was exceptional.

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The baked potatoes came with ‘everything’ butter, that was super yummy!

Our only disappointment was the frozen mixed veggies that arrived with the steaks.  They were, as you can imagine, wilted, limp and soggy.  And the Au Jus was passable.

The coconut prawns were good, but nothing beyond what you would expect from anywhere else, and the sauce they came with was sweet, tangy and most likely from a bottle.

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For dessert we ordered a piece of their Tower of Power Cheesecake (that boasts that it is so large it needs its own zip code).  It was a great tasting piece of average size cheesecake.  We are cheesecake lovers and we would definitely order this one again.  It was a good size to split between two adults and two children, but if you have more in your party you may want to order more than one dessert.

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The creamsicle  martini I had was delicious too!  Made of orange vodka, orange juice and cream it delivered that reminiscent taste of a hot summer day and those orange sherbet over vanilla ice cream bars the ice cream man would deliver.  YUMMMMMMMYYYYY!

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The Palace serves Pioneer Coffee out of Cle Elem, which was pretty good actually.  It had a nice rich coffee flavor without being weak and noncommittal.

If you are ever in the area, and need a little something to tie you over, try The Palace, it’s a great little gem in the rodeo queen’s crown known as Ellensburg.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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!”


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.


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.

Sunny Beach Cafe: What they lack in looks, they make up for in taste!

Sunny Beach Cafe

687 Point Brown Ave NW, Ocean Shores, WA 98569

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

This is one of those places you might notice, but has very little in way of curb appeal to draw you in.  We tried it only as it was day four of our five-day vacation in Ocean Shores and we had run out of places to try that looked like they might not be on the health department’s watch list.

When we walked in we were less than ‘Wowed’.  The very cavernous, tall ceilings and bland, baby yellow walls are ultra-generic and do nothing to hide, or distract one’s attention, from the odd, weird, mismatched artwork, standard four-top nondescript tables and chairs and plain floors.  The coolest part of the entire restaurant is the large roll-up garage doors, but the day we were there they were not open and, as a result, were unimpressive.

We were taken aback by how busy the place was though, which, in the restaurant world, is the true telling of how well a business is doing.  This place was hoppin’!  It was packed and loud! We were lucky to get a table, one of the very few that were open.

The place was clean too!  We couldn’t see anything on the floor and the open-for-all-to-see wait station was spotless–Another fabulous sign.

Our waitress was very friendly and happy to answer questions.

Adult review:

We both ordered the Sharkey’s Burger which was comprised of hand-breaded, flakey, cooked-to-perfection fish, onion, lettuce and pickles on the ABSOLUTE best hamburger bun we have EVER tasted!  It was delicious! We had to know what made it so great and that was when our waitress sweetly smiled and let us know that they made all of their own bread products in-house—including these fabulous hamburger buns!  OH GOSH!!! They were scrumptious (this is one of the very few times you will ever see us use that word in one of our blog posts, but it’s true!).


The fries that came with these delectable fish sandwiches were also quite wonderful and, again, hand-cut in-house. Yum, yum, yum!!!

Kids review:

The girls ordered a BBQ Bacon Burger and asked that it be split.  Our waitress graciously agreed to do so and had it arrive from the kitchen already split for them.


After their first bite of this juicy, BBQ slathered, bacon clad burger, also on one of the house-made buns, the girls were declaring them delicious.  They both DEVOURED their half and all their fries before we had even eaten a fourth of ours.

They decided that the BBQ sauce was what really made the burger and that it was “sweet and smoky, without being too spicy to eat.”

They said that the place was a must come back to when we are in Ocean Shores again (we agree).

Overall the Sunny Beach Café might not look like much from the outside or even from your first peek of the inside, but their friendly staff and wonderful food makes one turn a blind-eye to all that they don’t have and, instead, causes one to zero in on what they are doing really, really, really well.

They are open for breakfast too and, by what we could tell, might serve it all day long.  Some of the other patrons were having delicious looking breakfasts while we were ordering a late lunch.

Check them out next time you’re in Ocean Shores and then remember this blog and post your thoughts in the comments.

Ocean Beach Roasters–Fabulous Coffee! Amazing Baked Goods!

Ocean Beach Roasters

841 Point Brown Ave NW, Ocean Shores, WA 98569

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

Sleep, coffee, work, kids, coffee, sleep—that pretty much sums up our adult days.  So finding a good coffee spot while on vacation is essential.  In Ocean Shores they are also very elusive and, unlike the rest of Washington State, not found on every corner.  So it was with great delight that we found the Ocean Beach Roasters to begin with and over-the-moon JOY when we actually tried it and it was AMAZING!

The establishment is found in a very unassuming, what appears to be, a renovated a-frame house, right on the main street as you pull into Ocean Shores.  It has adorable red Adirondack chairs welcoming you along its front porch and, as you get closer to the door, there’s a heavenly aroma of house-roasted South American beans and fresh-from-the-oven baked goods.  OH MY GOSH!

As soon as you walk in the place you are greeted with huge welcomes and smiles from all the staff and sort-of soft jazzy coffee house music.  The décor has a homey-without-being-homely feel and some kind of a sense of ‘awwww’ floods over you, like ‘I can stay here for as long as it takes ’til I feel ready to face the world again.’

We took advantage of the quaint atmosphere and sat out on the adorable double tiered deck that sported comfy furniture and a canopy of café strand lights.

Adult review:

Well, as we mentioned, coffee makes our world go round (well, if not go round, then at least it gets it kick started each day).  The coffee in this place was delicious!  We both ordered the ‘large mug’ (as Mike Meyers character from So I Married an Axe Murderer would say it) of nonfat, sugar free vanilla latte (known in the coffee shop world as a ‘skinny’ vanilla latte), really not expecting much—we were, after all, in some little no-name coffee shop in Ocean Shores, but we were blown away!!!  The latte was PERFECT; the coffee itself was rich and deep, with nutty undertones, and topped with a beautiful not-overly-thick, layer of foam.  WE COULD HAVE SAT AND SIPPED ALL DAY!


We, of course, had to have a little something-something to go along with our delectable beverages, so one of us ordered the cinnamon roll and the other a cranberry-walnut muffin.

The cinnamon roll was fabulous.  It was served warmed up and was soft and gooey.  It might have used a little more cinnamon, but for the most part was very good, and we certainly had no problem consuming it.


The cranberry-walnut muffin was tasty as well.  The muffin was delightfully satisfying texturally as the crunch of the nuts and the soft of the muffin came together.  The cranberry flavor was prominent without being overpowering.


Kids review:

One of the girls ordered a lemon-poppy seed muffin and the other a lemon bar.

The lemon-poppy seed muffin was the pick of our resident lemon-poppy seed muffin connoisseur.  Nine times out of 10 she dislikes the ones we purchase out and about, and often doesn’t even finish them.  This was not one of those times.  She dove into it before I could even get a photo of it (hence the half eaten muffin below) and the sounds of pure delight that emanated from her for the next 15 minutes were comical.  She said that she was amazed by the muffins crisp outside—“almost like it was fried”—and the finish of the soft lemony inside.  She’s a texture girl and loved the combination.


She declared:

“This is where I want to get breakfast EVERYDAY!”

“This is what I want for breakfast every single day and I’ll be good!” (Not sure where the last part of that came from, she’s a perfectly ‘good’ kid always.  Maybe it was meant more as a threat than a promise.  Maybe it was like, ‘If I don’t get this for breakfast every day I won’t be good.’  Not sure, we’ll let you know in later posts how that turns out.)

“Dad, for my next birthday, I know you’ll drive two and a half hours [its actually closer to three and a half hours for us], this is what I want!” pointing at her muffin.

I think she liked it.

The lemon bar was met with a review of, “It’s really delicious.”–Less enthusiastic, but a good review never the less.  She did add that the filling was very lemony and that it had a nice creamy texture.


The girls decided against their usual milk and instead for the complimentary lemon water, which they commented was ‘refreshing’.

Overall, we would definitely visit the Ocean Beach Roasters again.  With their house roasted coffee beans and all in-house made baked goods, you really can’t go wrong and may even feel like everything is a little more right.

May your family always eat well.

Breakwater Seafood and Chowder House–Aberdeen, WA

Breakwater Seafood and Chowder House
306 South F Street, Aberdeen 98520

Over All Experience:  Kids–3.5/5  Adults–4/5         Cost Out of Five: 3.5

The Breakwater Seafood and Chowder House located on the shores of the Wishkah River and near the Kurt Cobain Riverfront Park offers both fresh to-be-prepared-at-home and cooked ready-to-eat seafood.  It is a spendy place for a little off-the-beaten-path-establishment, but not horrible.

The overall feel of this restaurant is a little like Mel’s Diner meets The Old Man and the Sea.  With its nondescript decor and super sticky floors it’s a restaurant that uninspires on appearances alone.

The staff was some combination of tolerant-pleasant and annoyed-frustrated.  Depending on which one you talked with it was a crapshoot as to which personality you encountered.

Adult Review:

We ordered the Clam Strips and Chips and the Cod and Chips both served with Cole Slaw.

The Cod is, according to one of the friendlier staff members, panko breaded in-house–it was cooked perfectly.  It was crispy on the outside while remaining moist, flaky and not rubbery like some fish gets when cooked poorly.  The fries were great too, sporting crunchy exteriors while maintaining soft insides.

The Cole Slaw was a surprise! It was creamy and tangy with just the right amount of salt–usually restaurant prepared slaw requires additional salt at the table.  This was slaw we could all agree was delicious.


The Clam Strips and Chips were tasty as well, but the clams were a pre-made product (again according to the pleasant staff member) they ordered in from elsewhere (as are the chicken strips)–that was disappointing.  Clam strips are some of our favorite seafood and when they are fresh and in-house battered they can be absolutely amazing!


As we said earlier the floor was exceedingly sticky, so much so we found it difficult to slide our chairs across it.  The bathroom was out of hand soap and in its place was an industrial size bottle of Dawn dish soap–odd!  But the place was packed, both inside and on the outdoor deck area, so the floor cleanliness and hand-care products alone are not keeping this fisherman’s dream from doing a good clip of business.

We felt the food was good, but if service is a deal breaker for you, then you may want to seek other places for your seafood options.

Kids Review:

The kiddos ordered the Clam Chowder and the Cod and Chips served with the Cole Slaw.

The house-made Clam Chowder was creamy, smooth and hot and came instantly. It was delicious! The clams were cooked well without being rubbery. It got two huge thumbs up from the chowder connoisseur among us!


The other one liked the Cod and Chips, but gave it no rave reviews nor a diminishing one.  She decided it was just ‘okay’ although she did add that she had to admit it was flaky and moist and fairly tasty.

Overall the Breakwater has the feel of eating at some hole-in-the-wall establishment on the wharfs complete with salty sea-weathered staff and tasty seafood.

If you ever find yourself in Aberdeen, hungry and looking for someplace to eat you should check it out and when you do remember this blog and post your thoughts in the comments.

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.


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.


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.


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!