The building in which The Oyster House lives today has a long and storied history in the world of sea food. It was the original culling house for the Olympia Oyster Company, which harvested oysters from Budd Inlet and surrounding waterways starting in the 1850s. There are records of Olympia Oysters being sent to San Francisco and other national markets as early as 1859 (yet somehow the official date of incorporation of that famed institution is listed as 1878 - paperwork wasn't so very good in the early days of the Northwest!).
At some point in their history, a small corner of the building became a public restaurant for public sampling of what could be done with Oysters, and it was officially established by 1924.
By 1948, the restaurant had expanded considerably, and in ways had become an institution of its own.
Unfortunately, by the 1990s it wasn't easy for the Olympia Oyster company to also own a restaurant separate from the Oyster business itself. It was purchased by its current owners in 1995 and efforts were made to restore it to its former reputation.
Today, the Olympia Oyster Company is no longer able to obtain high quality oysters from the area that is now the Port of Olympia, but the harvesting still happens in nearby waters of Oyster Bay. The restaurant is in fact returning to its old reputation of quality food.
The location right on the water is still the ideal seafood location, and while there is parking on the site it is also within walking distance of most of downtown Olympia.
Favorite Dish: While not terribly original in terms of offerings, the Oyster Basket and Chips (under the Puget Sound Baskets and Chips for $12) is a good bet. The Oysters are fried as is typical of any of the fast food sea food restaurants, but these are very good and it is possible to taste a real difference, and you can actually taste the sea food rather than just the fried food crust like so many other places.
We had a late afternoon lunch at Plenty in Olympia while driving through the area. I'm not a fan of chain restaurants of any kind, and I had never visited the Capital of Washington, so we decided to drive through town and find a local place for some food. Plenty Restaurant was one of the few options we saw that wasn't Asian food.
The inside was uniquely decorated with a variety of pastel colors and large flowers one one side, and the other side was more traditional with a bar and dinner seating. We had a couple of sandwiches with fries and two soft drinks for around $20. Everything was good and the service commendable. It was a nice meal in a unique place.
Though Plenty bills themselves as vegetarian and vegan friendly, they have plenty of meals with beef and chicken for the rest of us.
Horrible, horrible, horrible... That is the only way to describe my experience at Ben Moore's, and it is an understatement. I have traveled all around the world and it was here at home in Olympia that I came across the rudest waitress I have ever met. She had a horrible attitude from the moment I set foot in the door and it just got worse from there, at times she refused to make the slightest acknowledgment that I was speaking and would walk off mid-sentence. The food was NOT good (undercooked pancakes and french toast), the hot chocolate was brown water, and the whole meal was almost unbearable because of the way we were treated. I have NEVER complained about a waitress, I was one myself for several years! But I felt compelled to go to the owner on this one. The owner, however, does not even resemble a sane person. He proceeded to scream at me to “get the hell out” of his restaurant and let out a slew of curse words. He got in my face trying to intimidate me as I spoke to him VERY calmly. I felt physically threatened and his psychotic demeanor led me to believe that he was going to hit me, I kid you not. It may sound like I am making this up, I wish I were because it ruined my entire morning, but this was by far the worst experience I have had eating out. I would suggest that anyone reading this that has a problem with men berating women in public for voicing a complaint, not visit this establishment. It was not only bad food and bad service; it was scary and demeaning.
Favorite Dish: There was no favorite anything, everything here was bad. From the watered down swiss miss hot chocolate, to the undercooked french toast, Ben Moore's recieves a zero out of ten.
Norma's is the best burger place in town. A little on the expensive side, but the fry sauce is awesome and they've got a wide variety of things to eat besides burgers, including shrimp or fish baskets.
Favorite Dish: Try the Hawaiian. Have a fresh banana shake!
I've only been here twice, but I enjoyed it. The food was fresh and the atmosphere warm. It's located in the old Olympian Hotel. It's long been welcoming to Olympia's small town/university gay community. Recently it was taken over by a gay owner. That has only served to cement its status as a gay hangout.
The soups are good, and the vegetarian fare is popular. It's a great place for dinner after touring Washington's capital city. Prices are moderate.
Located by the water, Budd Bay Cafe is great for both a formal and casual setting. The sunsets are beautiful and wait staff are very attenative.
Favorite Dish: Coconut Prawns - you won't find elsewhere! Everyone swears by it, their the best! The large prawns are covered in coconut shavings, fried and served w/an ooh so tangy, sweet and spicy Thai sauce! my mouth waters just THINKING about it! Available as an appetizer or entree.
A group of my girl friends drove down to Olympia to support their boyfriends who were playing a show at a local theatre. We arrived in Olympia at 5pm, and many of the shops were closing, so we found ourselves wandering the downtown streets exploring.
We asked some local teens where they'd go for a bite to eat, and they pointed us towards Old School Pizzeria. Old School was one of the best finds during our evening.
Old School Pizzeria is a local hangout for the cool kids. I felt like I was sitting in a scene from an old 80's movie. They were blasting the Ramones and the Clash on the stereo and old movie posters were on the wall. We sat in a booth and observed the constant ebb and flow of the customers, most of which were sporting the latest punk hairstyles.
Definitely one of the cooler places to eat pizza. Ideal for pre-concert food and late snacks. Not at all a traditional Italian restaurant. Very casual cafe nonetheless, but don't expect table service.
Favorite Dish: Pizza here is sold by the slice. It's all freshly made, New York style, so whatever your pizza preference is, go for it.
Very well presented and clean and tidy. The staff are very helpful and will acise with the menu if you have problems.
What you cannot eat you can take home if you want.
Favorite Dish: APPERTIZER :~ Shrimp And Chicken Roll, or Mekong Chicken,Beef, or Pork Satay.
MEAT DISH:~ Mekong Special Chicken or Mekong Shower.
The dishes which we had were bang on great, very much Thai not just some food dishes made by the bloke down the road type of thing.
Budd Bay have a restaurant area which you can eat indoors or out doors, It is very well laided out and the harbor setting is very pleasing.
Budd Bay also have a take away area at the other end of the restaurant building which when you have perchase your food you can sit and eat in the outdoor sitting area , very nice indeed.
Favorite Dish: I had some clam chowder which was very good , The best in the area.
A wide variety of dishes that emphasize noodles and rice with fresh vegetable garnishes. We had Pad Thai and a dish called "A Bite of Rice." The flavors were fresh, the food came quickly and hot, and the service was good. Prices are quite reasonable. It is conveniently located in the heart of downtown. They also serve bubble tea.
Favorite Dish: The Pad Thai had a really good flavor, I think characterize by a lot of five spice powder - it was quite aromatic.
Sure, this has ambience, but not the sophisticated kind. This is your favorite diner in your home town, but with a few more bells and whistles. There's a diabetic menu, a low carb menu, some meals even have the calorie count. The entire restaurant is booths (unless you choose to sit in the lounge, no one does).
Every class of person has breakfast here. This may be the only place in the universe that the worlds of a doctor and a trucker collide. It's packed on weekends, go anyway.
All authentic 70's orange vinyl booths, carved wood, etched glass even a cattle scale in front.
This is a truck stop. Huge portions, real food and there is no "Inn". Maybe back in the day, but since I've been alive, there has been no Inn. Just food, the good stuff at that.
Favorite Dish: 4 egg ham and cheese omelet. They use REAL cheese! Breakfast is obviously cheaper than dinner, I marked the breakfast price.
Opens at 5:30 and is usually packed by 6:00. Why? Cuz lots of people know the food is excellent and the prices very reasonable. There are loads of asian restaurants in Oly, seems like a new one opens every month or so. But this one is the best hands down. Try Old School for great pizza, Trinacria for great Italian food (make a reservation, it's very popular). For breakfast try Darby's or The New Moon (but avoid the New Moon at night, when burritos are served by the rudest punks in town).
Great grub - a little bit of everything, although they focus on a southern bar-b-que theme. The biggest problem I have with Jacks is that it's hard to try something new on the menu when you enjoy the last meal so much! Whether you're hungry for smoked meat dishes, healthy salads, wood-fired pizzas or unique pasta dishes (mmm, butter nut squash ravioli) you're sure to find something that you love. There's also a great selection coming from the bar, in case you prefer to drink your meal.
Oh yeah, they also sponsor a great soccer team.
Favorite Dish: Do I have to choose just one? Argh! You can't go wrong with the smoked salmon caesar salad.
olympia has a great selection of cheap eats. go to the farmer's market, otto's, old school pizza, one of the great aisan restaurants, babette's bakery, wagners, you can find a number or different lunch dishes for $2.
Favorite Dish: homeade bagels and cream cheese from otto's or artichoke, broccoli & feta pizza from old school. real east coast thin crust pizza for cheap!
Capitale Esspresso Bar and Grill
This place has absolutely wonderful food! It's a little spendy for those on a low budget, ($10-20 for just the main course) but well worth it. It feels like being in a small cafe in Italy, without the snooty Italian waiters. If you're here on a weekend, make sure to call ahead and make a reservation.
Favorite Dish: Black Bean Ravioli