Located very close to that premium location that is the Washington State Ferry terminal in Friday Harbor, the Market Chef has soups, salads, and sandwiches that are fresh made to order. Like anyone making food in the San Juan Islands, the price will seem a bit expensive except when you compare it to everywhere else on the islands. They claim the food is made from the freshest ingredients and I saw no reason to disbelieve this claim, and the sandwich I had was wonderful. Thus the name market chef: the ingredients are supposed to be as fresh as possible as if they were just brought home from the farmer's market.
They have seating both indoors and outside in several locations (the biggest is on the front porch, but I noticed some tables in the back that no one seemed to be using as well).
This house converted into a restaurant is typical of what you might have found in Friday Harbor decades ago, before the tourist traffic had increased so much. It is not too far from downtown Friday Harbor to render it impossible to walk, but at the same time it is far enough away that tourists don't tend to find it as much as the places downtown.
I think the prices are a little more reasonable than most places in Friday Harbor, but it is still a bit expensive for what you get compared to the mainland.
The interior has a few tables but the "back yard" of the house (which, since the house is turned 90 degrees is actually more of a side yard) also has a number of tables. A few of these have umbrellas for shelter from the sun or rain, while others don't. While some of the tables are close to the road, the road traffic is somewhat muffled by the shrubs, and the road isn't that busy anyway.
The menu essentially consists of a chalk board (see photo 5).
Favorite Dish: When I first got it, I thought that the Grand Burrito for $8.50 was a bit overpriced, but as it turned out I wasn't hungry later in the day. You can add beans and rice for $3.50, making a fair amount of food for the price - and while more expensive than, say, Anacortes it is quite a bit better of a deal than most places in Friday Harbor. The burrito also came with a basket of chips, which I did not finish by the time the burrito arrived.
There is a wide variety of food available from The Doctor's, and so this place is hard to classifly. It claims to be a café, but they also have ice cream and other more substantial food items available, depending on the season.
The most important feature to note is the opening time: 4:30 in the morning. This is due to the 5:50 am departure of the first ferry of the day, and you will certainly find a few Washington State Ferry employees as well as regular commuters, high school students and various others getting their fixings here in the early morning, as well as various passengers (walk-on and from the auto staging area).
To that end, there is both a walk-up window which faces the auto-staging area, as well as a sit-down and eat inside area.
You will find quite a variety of things here, from pre-packaged junk food for the high school students to vegan soups, and of course coffee (I'm not coffee fan, but even I almost bought something for that 5:50am ferry departure). There are some pretty good looking but bad for you cinnamon rolls as well, which I found thoroughly delightful.
Sandwiches and various other items are sold as well, and indeed anything that seems to have a market for the ferry traffic can be found here. Even a small selection of Friday Harbor post cards and greeting cards.
The balcony is in use pretty frequently, and the table at the end is actually part of the little store at the end of the building, but they have a sign out that says feel free to use it so long as you clean up after yourself.
One unfortunate thing is that there isn't any sort of public restroom or even a sink here. When I asked if there might be somewhere to wash my hands I was invited to use the sink behind the counter as they weren't that busy. This probably would not go over too well in any sort of restaurant that is close to the thickets of an urban area but out here on the islands things run a bit different.
Another unique feature of this restaurant is the large community bulletin board near the main entrance, which seems to feature well over a hundred local businesses and professional individuals advertised on various cards on the wall. (see photo 5)
The history of this house is that it was built for the manager of the cannery complex that once dominated the downtown area. It was sold to a developer in 1978. There is a photo on the wall inside showing the building as it appeared around 1905. (see photo 4)
The rooms upstairs are available for rent, and that requires that you call the phone number listed on the sign.
Favorite Dish: In the early morning the fresh baked cinnamon rolls for $3.50 fit the bill nicely, and on a warm day the ice cream (there are only a few select flavors but still it is ice cream) is a very good choice.
There aren't a huge selection of places in Friday Harbor that are open even mildly late at night. Haley's is one of them - sometimes still going as late at 11 at night or later during the tourist season - though generally it is the upper level of the restaurant in the more sports bar type section that is open late. The lower level restaurant section isn't active too late at night.
This is Friday Harbor, and things move at a different pace here. The restaurant doesn't yet have a web site, but they are on Facebook (see below), but not much has happened there since 2010 as of this writing (2013).
This is certainly not some quiet little pub to come socialize. It is always very busy (at least when open) and it is usually at least a bit loud.
A wrap with chips (see photo 1) and a hard cider totals around $16.50 with no tax or tip added. While it doesn't look huge it is enough to satisfy.
While it is quite close to downtown Friday Harbor and therefore in the tourist area, the Hungry Clam is quite popular with locals as well - at least all of those conversations I overheard pieces of while there implied that those having them were locals and not tourists.
The name of the place rather implies seafood, but the breakfast menu (and the Hungry Clam is open fairly early in the morning and serving breakfast) also includes a variety of typical breakfast items.
Unfortunately, their daily specials are sometimes items not listed on their menu, and that is what I found to be tasty here. For $11 I got enough of an omelet to keep me going all morning.
The only real problem with this restaurant is that there really isn't too much of a view. You get to see the auto staging area of the ferry terminal, which can be good for people watching.
While no restaurant in Friday Harbor has a really good deal on food, Downridders is one of the more expensive establishments. Friday Harbor has a few places with view of the water, but most of them do it by placing their restaurant high up and across the street from other buildings. Downriggers is the only place that really has a true waterfront view, and is arranged so that a fair number of the tables look out over the water. If you want to watch the boats come and go on the water, this is a very good place - so long as you get here early enough to get a good seat.
Downriggers is also not known as a breakfast establishment, but this year they decided to try serving breakfast on the weekends, and there is a special menu posted by the door for this.
The food is OK, and for breakfast at least it isn't that much more than most places in Friday Harbor (expect to spend about $10 or so for breakfast).
However, the service can be a bit slow. I've been told that during the peak season, the table serving help here are mostly students from other countries that have come here on a short term work and tourist type program. Many of them are used to serving in countries where meals are at least an hour affair. The American concept of being in a hurry to get somewhere after eating isn't something they seem to be exceptionally in tune with. Therefore, be prepared for the service to be slow by normal USA standards, and if possible arrive earlier than you would normally consider doing.
I think pretty much everyone that visits Friday Harbor for any length of time eventually comes here. They have a respected breakfast meal list, and serve lunch as well. They also have a number of over the counter items, mostly some very deadly looking pastries.
During the peak season you will find it very crowded in here during the mid-breakfast hours (around 8 to 9 especially). Sometimes there will be a line to get in during the busiest periods.
The huge underwater mural on the wall on the southwest side is a reasonably well known landmark of sorts (it is after all indoors).
For the most part, the selections here are fairly expected breakfast type items in terms of things like omelets, eggs, hash browns, etc. After sales taxes, expect to pay somewhere around $13 for meals here - not including a tip.
Favorite Dish: Unfortunately, what I had isn't something on the regular breakfast menu, but was featured on the specials board out front.
When it comes to locally produced food, Green House is making an effort to do everything it can to locally source its food and drink. The place is extremely new as of my visit on June 20th, 2013 as it had only been open a few weeks and only locals knew of its existence at that point. The signs had been purchased but not installed yet. Only a small paper sign on the front door indicated its presence and its hours of operation.
There are some decent deals here in terms of breakfast items. For example, the "Steel Cut Oatmeal with Fresh Fruit" is pretty good and at $6.50 it is a better deal than most breakfast items found in Friday Harbor. However, the juice bar part of the establishment makes up for this, as the fresh juice mixtures, as wonderful as they are, tend to be in the $9 to $11 range. Understand that these juices are pretty nice concoctions using as much locally available food as possible, but still the price seems pretty high.
Sitting directly across the street and above the entry to the ferry terminal, Friday's Crabhouse is a mostly open air bar that features views of the water from several different levels. There is a somewhat more enclosed area towards the back of the primary level.
The food is a bit on the expensive side, but you are paying for this view.
Also, I found the oyster platter for $11.95 to be extremely good, and cooked so that you could really taste the quality of the oysters.
(This is NOT the Oyster platter, which is nearly twice this price!)
So, the food price is probably no more expensive than average.
Due to the view, however, this is mostly a tourist hangout.
Be sure to check the specials written on the dry erase board!
Unfortunately, the restaurant has a huge number of stairs in order to get into any part of it, so it isn't especially easy to get to for those with any sort of mobility problem. I think there may be a lower level but without as good a view.
Be sure to check to specials list by the entryway.
Food by nature in the San Juan Islands is more expensive than on the main land, and it can be somewhat of a challenge to find a reasonably priced restaurant. While still somewhat more expensive than I would expect at home, I found the Golden Triangle to be a reasonably priced option and to have some very good food options as well.
The location is close to the core of the downtown area (only about 1 block away), but it is somewhat hidden from the higher traffic streets. It is best found by walking.
There is an assortment of food available here, though the general theme seems to be Thai and Chinese. There are also a few standard American items on the menu for those who may not want an Asian dish.
Prices range in the $14 to $20 range.
Favorite Dish: The Side Walk Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables is a reasonably good option in the $15 range.
One of the old storefronts off the main thoroughfare in Friday Harbor has been reconstructed into a restaurant that aims to be a community gathering spot, complete with a reasonably full bar, various cocktails, and good food. They have some performances here and a very small dance floor aims to cater to those that dance to the music so provided.
On days with good weather, they have retained several of the old garage doors that are opened to the outside, providing fresh air and an open interior.
Favorite Dish: What I had was the Eggplant Parmisan for $17.95, but I was somewhat disappointed in the size for the price. Though, food does tend to be expensive in the San Juan Islands. I was a little annoyed that the salad was basically a big pile of lettuce and little else - a good quality salad contains a wide variety of ingredients. I also had a Citrus Mint Lemonade for $3.50, which was good but really didn't have a huge amount of flavor. I would probably try one of the other drinks if I were to eat here again.
Make no mistake: I thought the food was good, but just a bit on the expensive side for what it is. I don't know food prices well enough in Friday Harbor to be a good judge.
The menu states that it is changed fairly regularly due to availability of local ingredients, which may explain part of the price.
Right on the harbor front, watch the ferries come and go. Enjoy the sights and sounds of downtown Friday Harbor. What more could you ask? How about locally brewed ales and pilsners. Well The Ale House has it all.
Favorite Dish: Fish and Chips make a tasty treat and so the the burgers and sandwiches.
The Market Chef is a cafe restaurant that has an original concept. It is an open kitchen with 4 partner cooks that do the cashier and managing by rotation. The food is simple, made of fresh ingredients and looks very homish. We had delcious macaroni and cheese and greek salad. A nice restaurant a little different from all the fast food places around. The funny and original thing is that they request the clients to clean the table and their dishes into the sink....I guess they took the idea from the kibutz :-)
Favorite Dish: The macaroni and cheese were nice
Our own little secret. Not the most authentic Mexican food that you can get your hands on, but the atmosphere is wonderful. The food is good and extremely moderate in cost. Plan ahead on weekends, as it is a favorite of the locals and gets very busy at about 6 pm.
Favorite Dish: The sizzling fajitas and the burritos are excellant. If you don't care for mexican, or your kids don't, they have the best, biggest burger that you will ever see.
Big, hearty breakfasts. All your favorite breakfast food, made to order the way you like it. They have everything from cinnamon rolls to big combos.
It can be crowded, and the service can be excruciatingly slow. But the food is worth it! You can also call in your order to go.
Favorite Dish: Bacon Cheddar Browns with 2 eggs, over medium on top
These are shredded hash browns, with bacon, topped with cheese and the eggs. Delicious!