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Eating your way around the Hood Canal

You might know the old standbys, but have you checked out what’s new?

Who doesn’t like a ride around the Hood Canal? For myself and many others, it’s an annual ride.

But a rider has to eat – right?

If I think back to my first ride around Hood Canal, here’s what I recall. Torrential rainfall, using an air hand dryer on the Bremerton ferry to attempt to dry out my jacket interior on the way and the search for food mid-way through the ride that resulted in, not the best fried baskets of chicken and onion rings.

Well, a lot has changed since that ride two decades ago. Today I know my way around a lot better, some places have truly amped up their offerings, but during a recent ride it was clear to me that there are some new kids on the block everyone might want to know about. Sure, there's the old stand-bys like Fat Smitty's and the Geoduck. But if you're ready for something new, here’s a clockwise look at the worthy places along a loop ride of the canal that would start outside of Seabeck, work its way through Tahuya, across to Union and up the West canal along the Olympic Peninsula, ending in Kingston. You need our exclusive GPS route? Drop an email to sreditor@soundrider.com with your request.

Seabeck

Sorry to say, the food offerings in Seabeck are restricted to the local grocery store, and a mediocre restaurant behind it that has seasonal hours only. But for many it’s a regular Ice Cream stopover and the water view is beautiful. But we must continue on for a real meal.

Camp Union

Formerly the Camp House Grill, a BBQ joint and a number of others things, the Camp Union Saloon is a favorite with locals and riders on the go. Burgers, sandwiches and the usual deck out a short menu. If that’s not gonna do it for ya, keep on riding.

Belfair

There used to be a pretty good pizza place here. Now it’s a hair salon. There used to be a good bar-b-que joint, but they moved on. Keep riding…

Union

Now we’re getting somewhere. The Alderbrook Resort has some exceptional offerings morning, noon and night every day of the week. It’s a favorite with the high-tech set since it’s used for a number of off-campus retreats. Not only is the food good, but for those with a health-conscious appetite, it solves the problem of locating food with higher standards until now.

But there are other options as well. We’ve always liked the Robin Hood Restaurant and Pub, just around the corner from Alderbrook. Hours have varied here over the years, but it looks like this summer they’ll be open for dinner 7 days a week.

Looking for Mexican Food? You’ll find it at the 2 Margaritas location situated right on the water on the west end of town. Nothing fancy here, but it’s a nice view off the patio on a sunny day.

Hoodsport

Grass fed burgers anyone? Heck ya! Since 1963, Kelsey’s, just south of HP, has been serving up burgers and other assorted seemingly fast food. But the fact today they claim to be natural (which has no clear definition in the real food world) and that they do offer 100% organic grass-fed burger is a breath of fresh air in an area that’s short of wholesome food options. Newly remodeled, the redo on the parking area makes it easier than ever to park the bike here.

Brinnon

When the Black Bear diner here burned to the ground, nobody cried. But they were stuck with the Geoduck Restaurant as about the only other choice. Some like it, some don't care for it.

Fortunately, the Pleasant Harbor Marina has just completed a major upgrade and added The Galley and Pub to its list of offerings. A roof-top patio and a locally inspired menu makes this a perfect stop to soak up some sunshine mid-way through your adventure.

Quilcene

The Olympic Timber House has seen its days of ups and downs, but right now it’s riding high being well taken care of by its owners. Hours vary throughout the year so check them out before you go. This is just the kind of steakhouse that sets the standard for such cuisine within a 25-mile radius. Prime Rib on Friday or Saturday nights means you might have to make it a two-day loop. No one leaves here hungry.

If the meetup is early morning, which is standard for many dual sport rides that initiate here on weekends, the Loggers Landing is the house of choice. Typical pancakes and eggs type menu will get you started.

Discovery Bay

For some, it's a pilgrimage to ride up to Fat Smitty's for their famous burgers. There, we said it.

Chimicum

Another great breakfast meetup joint is more than just a joint. Farm’s Reach Café is serving up breakfast and lunch primarily sourcing their ingredients locally and that means you’ll launch your day a healthier way. Naturally nested eggs, fresh greens, 3 egg omelets and sandwiches you can get to go, means you can picnic somewhere scenic at lunch.

Port Ludlow

Both casual and fine dining are waiting for you in Port Ludlow. Take your pick between the upscale Port Ludlow Resort (breakfast, lunch and dinner) or the more casual Cucina Pizza (lunch, dinner), just around the corner from the local gas stop. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Port Gamble

Anyone who’s ever walked into the store in Port Gamble has either spied or dined in the restaurant, that used to be in the back. Now it’s moved to the north and sports a nice patio and an amped up selection of offerings.

But the newest member of the PG family is Butcher and Baker provisions that took over the old Mike’s BBQ that was in the historic gas station. B&B offers light plates and you can mix and match up a small or large meal depending on where you want to go on the menu. Stop in for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner.

If it’s been a while since you rode around the canal, now, more than ever here’s a few reasons to book your passage now.

TM/May 16


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