Trails for everyone, forever
Where to go for the best after-trail eats | by Charlie Lieu
As any outdoors-lover will attest, hiking (or for that matter, any outdoor adventure) and eating go hand-in-hand. Here in the Northwest, "hiker" is practically synonymous with "foodie". So when we asked Washington hikers for their favorite after-hike eateries, we got literally hundreds of recommendations.
One thing quickly became clear: hikers love the post-hike beer almost as much as the hike. Breweries took the bulk of top mentions, followed by diners and drive-ins. We like our food casual, satisfying, and accompanied by a frothy beverage, whether it be a beer or a milkshake.
While we could devote an entire issue of Washington Trails magazine just to tried-and-true establishments, we thought it would be more interesting to profile a few standouts farther from the beaten path. If you are looking for weekend hiking and good destinations, look no further. These three post-hike destinations are situated amongst gorgeous hikes and offer fabulous food, great drinks and their own individual charm. It's easy to see why they are WTA hiker favorites!
155 Riverside Ave, Winthrop, WA 98862
Nestled in the Methow Valley, surrounded by the wonders of the North Cascades, is the quaint town of Winthrop. It is the epicenter of a wondrous natural playground that beckons relentlessly, luring outdoors-lovers with its abundant trails, rivers, mountains and adventures.
It is this calling that drew trail runner Casey and hiker Laura Ruud to Winthrop, and in 2008, they took over the Old Schoolhouse Brewery. With the looming recession and the Ruud’s lack of experience in beer brewing or restauranteering, the venture had the makings of a disaster. Despite the hurdles, the Ruud family was determined to create a place where hikers and locals could relax and be comfortable, enjoy great food, have great beer and listen to great stories. Today, the Old Schoolhouse Brewery is the center of a community deeply connected with nature, created for people who love trails, by people who love trails.
Despite its humble beginnings and trial by fire, the Old Schoolhouse Brewery has become known far and wide for its award-winning, nationally recognized beers. Of course, no post-hike stop would be complete without yummy food. The robust menu boasts food designed to pair with, or infused with, what else—beer. “From our house- made, beer-infused mustard to our beer brats, everything is either made or sourced locally as much as possible,” says manager Joseph Weaver. “And if you’re looking for something beyond our best-sellers (burgers and brats), no problem. There is a good selection of healthy standards and veggie-lover favorites.”
On the sun-drenched deck behind the signature red schoolhouse building, the sounds of laughter and music mix with the roar of the river below. The amazing ambiance is complimented by personal touches, which include Laura’s handmade stained glass windows. When you are here, it feels like you are among family, which is exactly what Casey and Laura had envisioned.
Leaning back in his chair in the brewery room below the restaurant, Casey proudly exclaims that “on any given day, you will find an abundance of storytelling. Tales of adventures bond people together in their shared experiences.” Laura nods, “When we’re busy, we often seat unrelated parties together at larger tables. It adds to the sense of community and creates lifelong friendships.” With a broad smile flashing across his face, Casey adds, “I feel extremely blessed that we have created this little piece of heaven, a community of people who share our love of the Methow Valley.”
Music is an integral part of the brewery. Every Friday and Saturday night, patrons can hear great bands while enjoying dinner and a pint. With handcrafted beer, delectable foods and music bookings by Danbert Nobacon (yes, of Chumbawamba fame), you might ask yourself, “Can this get any cooler?” Frankly, we don’t know.
113 W First St, Port Angeles, WA 98362
The northern coast, with its rugged shoreline, gem-like lakes and mountain peaks, is home to some of the most diverse hiking you can find in the state. But long-time hikers of the peninsula knew there was something missing in Port Angeles.
There were nice restaurants in town but no relaxed casual place that served good post-hike grub. It was a gap that Jake Oppelt wished to remedy. In 2010, he and his partners Angela “Ange” Oppelt and Justin Tognoni started transforming an old coffee shop into a pub and eatery similar to what you might find in Seattle or Portland. Sitting alongside each other, the trio recalls how the idea for Next Door Gastropub began, “Before I knew what a gastropub was,” Jake starts, “I had this harebrained idea of a place where you could serve good food and craft beers in a casual environment. I quickly brought my sister [Ange] into the project, then [our friend] Justin.”
Ange continues, “We wanted to build a place that we wanted to eat at and hang out in, basically a gastropub.” Justin jumps in: “It took the better part of two years, and we did nearly all the remodel ourselves.” Jake adds, “Most of the stuff you see in here is built by hand, either by one of us or one of our friends.”
There were doubts as to whether Port Angeles could support a hip gastropub, but looking at it today, the popularity of the Next Door Gastropub is undoubtedly a welcome surprise. The resulting labor of love is an intimate space that is not only a peninsula hiker favorite but a popular local hangout with a rustic atmosphere, heated patio, Sunday live music, quality food and rotating microbrews on tap.
“We spent a lot of time thinking about the food and, as much as possible, we try to make everything in-house so we can control the taste and quality,” says Ange. “You can say we have craft beer and craft food to go with it.” Jake adds with a chuckle, “According to regulars of the Next Door Gastropub, the burgers here are not to be missed.” Justin explains, “The beef comes from Painted Hills, which is not local, but we had to find a farm that could deliver us the consistency in quality and taste while at the same time raising their cows with ethics we are comfortable with.”
Jake and Ange, being Northwest-bred and avid outdoors people, wanted this to be a place where everyone feels welcome. “The Northwest is in our blood. It’s a beacon of who we are, and it permeates through the way things operate,” says Jake. Ange finishes the sentiment. “We are very hiker-friendly. If you are tired from a long day on the trail, if you have dirty pants and dirtier boots, no problem. Come on in. We will take care of you.”
8 Fourth Street, Hood River, OR 97031
In the heart of the outdoor mecca that is the Columbia River Gorge, Matthew Swihart spent 13 years at Full Sail Brewery nursing a vision of brewing an “unrushed” craft beer he wanted to drink. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2007, he made that vision a reality when he opened Double Mountain Brewery in a building that had once been a car dealership. It turned out that a lot of other people wanted to drink the same kind of beer Matt did. The brewery hasn’t won any national accolades, but people as far away as Montana tout the brew from Double Mountain as “the best beer I’ve ever had.” Suffice it to say, it has a cult following.
“While we have extraordinary passion for beer, our vision was to create a community- oriented space that provides a laid-back experience centered on great local people, great local beer, great local food and great local music,” says Jon Warszynski, taproom manager for Double Mountain. “We make it a goal to hire people who are aligned with the vision, and just by the virtue of where we are located, we have a ton of hikers on staff.”
Double Mountain prides itself on a food menu that is carefully thought out, from the housemade sausage and meatballs to the greens. An attempt is made to keep all of the food in-house and in the Gorge by working with Zion Organic Farm, which is located just a few miles from the brewery. While the menu is small, it is known far and wide for its authentic New York-style pizza, which are lovingly referred to as “pie.” A local hiker and transplant from New York went as far as to say that she has not found a pie as close to the taste of home as the pies offered at Double Mountain. Specialty pies are particularly well-known, and often the brewery will get calls asking, “Are you doing your [fill in the blank] pie today? I want to plan my hike around when I can get my favorite pie.”
Brewery tours are offered every Saturday at 1 pm, and there’s free music every Thursday and Saturday night. In the summer, music starts at 9 pm on Saturdays, which gives hikers just enough time to get off the trail, grab a bite, sit down with a pint and enjoy. Double Mountain is a place where you can delight your taste buds and rest your tired feet. In two words, says shift manager Matt Bynum, “It’s magic.”
Rounding out the top of the favorites list are these classic pit stops for everything from big, juicy burgers and crispy fries to cold brews and good ol' soft-serve ice cream.
Bellevue Brewing Company - Great beers? Check. Tasty food options? Check. This brewhouse has everything you need to relax after a long hike.
Zeke's Drive-In - Burgers, milkshakes, fries, and more! This classic drive-in is a staple on the west side of Steven's Pass.
Scott's Dairy Freeze - Specializing in malts and milkshakes, you're sure to find a flavor you'll love. Also offers burgers and chicken.
Sultan Bakery - Sandwiches, pastries and breads are baked daily at their location off Highway 2.
North Bend Bar & Grill - Serving a variety of classic American foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Snoqualmie Brewery - Come for the beer, stay for the sandwiches, pizzas and salads.
Wally's Drive-In - A classic Americana drive-in offering burgers, sandwiches and seafood.
The Fountain - Burgers cooked after you order, tasty shakes and friendly folks. Perfect for a bite after a North Cascades hike.
Sheri's Sweet Shoppe - If it's sweet, Sheri's has it. Handmade chocolate, fudge, candy and more.
Rhodies Smokin BBQ - Barbecue is the name of the game at Rhodies. Ribs, sandwiches and tasty sides served up daily.
Need even more? Check out the map below to find hiker-friendly food all over Washington.