Bites of Bellingham

The 8th annual Bite of Bellingham, an event showcasing a wide variety of eateries in Whatcom County, took place at the Depot Market Square on Sept. 22. Tickets were $1 each with most bites setting you back between one and three tickets. For those who worked up a thirst, an indoor beer garden and bartender competition rounded out the event. The event, organized by the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, was formerly held on Cornwall Ave. in August.
It went from sprinkling to moderate rain the entire time I was there, with little covered area while waiting in line for food. Thankfully there was quite a bit of covered seating.
I attended with two friends, and after purchasing our tickets I headed straight for the first booth I saw on the corner near the entrance, Leaf & Ladle. I’ve been meaning to try Leaf & Ladle since they opened on State Street, so I happily ordered my first bite of the day – their Caesar salad. For only two tickets, it felt like a full side-salad and was bursting with flavor. It was a classic Caesar with nothing fancy about it, and kept me very happy as I waited in the nearby long line to sample some of StrEAT Food’s tastiness.
As the first place I officially reviewed when joining the staff of What’s Up! three years ago, StrEAT Food has been consistently producing extremely high-quality, creative food out of their truck from different spots around the county. The Kulshan Porter braised beef on crostini was not only one of the best things I’ve tasted from StrEAT, but it also stole my vote for “Best Bite” at the event. Chef James Pitzer knows how to braise his beef, combing excellent ingredients and pro technique to produce tender and juicy meat like I haven’t had anywhere else in town.
Oyster Bar offered salmon tacos with ginger peach curried mango salsa and crème fraiche that reminded me to visit them again soon. Their sister-venue, Bayou on Bay, served both pork belly puff and roasted garlic and brie mac and cheese. I had to wonder the point of offering two things that aren’t on their everyday menu. I guess I can only hope that they were testing out these items to the Bite crowd, because they were both items I’d order on a regular visit. The mac and cheese had a lot of garlic with a slice of brie that melted as I ate it. Even though I was on the verge of being stuffed at this point, I could have easily eaten a full serving.
Pulled pork is something I am always in the mood for, so I knew I had to try out Keenan’s at the Pier’s (a restaurant inside of the Chrysalis) take on the dish with their sliders. Being, I waited in line dreaming of top-notch flavorful pork dripping with the perfect BBQ sauce. I also had two bites from The Steakhouse at Silver Reef Casino, which has a reputation of bringing great stuff every year to the Bite. The first was steak diane, served with spinach and portobello mushroom mashed potatoes. The second bite was the Indian Fry Bread. The Steakhouse ended up winning the “Best Bite” award this year with their Ahi Takosu.
Lastly, I had two items from Pure Bliss Desserts. The chocolate salted caramel cupcake was rich in all the right ways, adding a dash of salt for a bit of a twist. I am sucker for all things caramel, so I also tried their caramel apple crumble.
There were plenty of things on the menu that I wish I had tried like Gusto Wood Fired Pizza’s caprese salad skewerette and Dashi Noodle Bar’s southern kimchi fried chicken steamed bun.

Bite of Bellingham winners:
• Best Bite: The Steakhouse at Silver Reef Casino and Spa for their Ahi Takosu.
• Dreamiest Drink: India Grill for their Chai Tea.
• Sweetest Sweet: Pure Bliss Desserts for their Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcake
• Best Gluten-Free Bite: Pure Bliss Desserts for their Nanaimo Bars
• Best Bartender: Dennis Schafer from the Oyster Bar at Bayou on Bay for his cocktail mixture of North by Northwest Bellewood honey crisp vodka, lemon, blackberry liqueur and framboise foam.
For more information on the Bite of Bellingham, visit

-Aaron Apple