Why I can’t wait for the 2018 Conference in Bellingham…
Otherwise known as “all the food I am going to eat.”

By Stephanie Button, WaMA Board Member

I love Bellingham. I went to college at Western and I loved every minute of it.

While my nostalgic memories of Bellingham are rooted in my college experience, Bellingham is so much more than just a college-town and she earns her nickname, the City of Subdued Excitement. Bellingham is gorgeous! It is nestled between mountains and the sea and on a clear day, you can see Mt. Baker from multiple locations around town. There are lots of things to see and experience in Bellingham and I want to share with you tips, tricks, and my favorite places to eat. Come for the conference, stick around for the Pel’meni dumplings.

The first place I am heading to is Pel’meni, located on State Street. It is a Russian dumpling place with a chill, retro vibe that serves two kinds of dumplings- meat and potato. If you want to hack the menu order half and half. It is served with a slice of rye bread and topped with a curry powder and cilantro. Make sure to grab a side of sour cream and for the love of god please add some hot sauce. Pel’Meni is open late and will set you back $5 or $6 bucks. I plan on eating there at least three times.

If dumplings are not your thing, across the street is Rudy’s Pizza, which is attached to the World Famous Up & Up Tavern. The beer at the Up & Up is life changing. It taught me to love IPAs and Cascade Hops. The pizza is gourmet and you can get your crust gluten-free and your pizza vegan. The business has been “green,” practicing recycling, composting, and using plant-based products before it was cool.

Boundary Bay is a local craft brewery and a Bellingham institution. If you are lucky enough to be staying at the Heliotrope Hotel, your room comes with Boundary growlers that you can get filled with any of their beers for a small fee. I plan on wearing my “Save the Ales” sweatshirt when I go for my Scotch Ale. If they have Old Bounder on tap, get it.

My favorite ice cream in the world can be found at Mallards. (I still have my stamp card from college. Its 12 years old and I have two more stamps before I get my next free cone! ) They feature traditional favorites and wild favor creations from avocado to ghost pepper peppermint. Everything is locally sourced, store-made in small batches, and they have dairy-free sorbet and vegan options. Plus, it is open late!

I have a special place in my stomach for a quirky little spot called Case Que Pasa. It is a Tex-Mex restaurant with house-made salsas, killer nachos, and a potato burrito that I dream about. The bar at the back is called the Cantina Bar. Back when I was in college it was called the Tequila Institute of Research where you could take Tequila 101… which was a punch card that you could track the tasting of their tequila menu, which has anywhere between 115-125 tequilas to taste at any given time. The name of the bar might have changed but the quantity of tequila has not.

Another famous institution one should not miss is the Bagelry. The smell of fresh baked bread and bagels will lure you in off the street and before you know it you are walking away with a bag of different flavored bagels and a half pint of house flavored cream cheese spread. Like their motto says, it is a luxury you can afford!

Downtown Bellingham has more than enough to keep a foodie occupied for a solid month, but I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you about the adorable, picture-book neighborhood of Fairhaven. In particular, if I kept secret the Fairhaven Fish & Chips shop located out of a bright red, double-decker London Bus, I would never forgive myself. The fish and chips are delightful but it is their soft serve ice cream that leaves the longest impression. They have the ability to mix in flavors and there are over a hundred to choose from. If you don’t eat there, it is at least worth a visit for an Instagram post for Anglophiles and explorers alike.

Where I Plan on Working Off My Food Tour

See you at the conference and follow my WaMA 2018 Conference Food Tour on Instagram @buttonmuse.
Tagalongs are always welcome. Happy eating!

TLDR: Day One: Pel’Meni Dumplings, Pizza and Beer at Rudy’s Pizza and the Up & Up Tavern, another beer at Boundary Bay, dessert at Mallards Ice Cream, late night snack of a potato burrito and tequila at Casa Que Pasa and the Tequila Research Institute. Day Two: Fresh, warm bagel the Bagelry, lunch of fish and chips and soft serve ice cream at Fairhaven Fish & Chips (it’s a red double decker bus!), and a late night dinner at the Horseshoe Café and Ranch Room Bar (it’s the oldest restaurant in the state).

Stephanie Button
Administrative Director, East Benton County Historical Society & Museum, Kennewick WA
WaMA Board Member – Treasurer, Expires 2020; Eligible for re-election, Position 6

Stephanie Button, a self-proclaimed “museum nerd,” is passionate about promoting the power and potential of museums as centers of community. She is currently the Administrative Director at the East Benton County Historical Society & Museum. Additionally she serves on the board of Hands in for Hands on Tri Cities (HiHo), a group working together to develop and build a children’s discovery center and hands-on museum. Stephanie has worked in the museum field for nearly 8 years; first in development and fundraising and then evolved into education program development and exhibit management, and also moonlighted as a collections manager. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Western Washington University. In her brief moments of spare time, Stephanie enjoys travel, collecting and cooking from vintage cookbooks, binging Netflix, and exploring the great outdoors.