We do not prioritize price as a search factor in our directory, but we do provide general price guidelines in some of our listings. We do always try to provide links to the various establishments’ websites, and they provide more current pricing information. As such, these categories are not well populated yet. We’ll be working to provide more accurate info in this section, but are prioritizing completing the listings in our directory first.
The reason for this is while Bellingham and the surrounding area has some fine, upscale restaurants, we are also fortunate to have a huge variety of restaurants and drinking establishments that fall into mid-range price categories.
Our price categories are adapted from an article from My Cooking magazine, cited below, and they include:
- Quick Service: $05.00 – $6.00
- Fast Casual: $6.00 – $15.00
- Casual: $12.00 – $25.00
- Fine Dining: $25.00 +
We have tried to identify the truly upscale restaurants, so if you are looking to enjoy one of our Fine Dining experiences and price is of less concern, then our “Fine Dining” category will be the most useful with listings for most of these establishments.
On the other end of the scale, all “Quick Service” restaurants will be defined as such, so if you are simply looking for that style of food – you will have a set of listings.
As mentioned, the remainder of Bellingham’s establishments fall into one of the middle price ranges. Not all of them will be included in the price categories yet. Moving forward, not all may be represented and if the price category is missing, then by default they will fall into one of the two mid-range price categories.
Our price categories give a general price range for the various establishments and are based on the average price of an entree. They are designed for a quick relative reference, rather than to provide exact prices. Please consult the individual food or beverage menus of the specific establishments for more information.
Below is the text from the article in the Flavors & More online magazine. Please note that we have adapted their categories a bit. For more information visit their website at mycookingmagazine.com/ or read the article below:
In the restaurant industry, the words “fast food” don’t exist anymore. Today, places such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s or Popeye’s call themselves is Quick Service. The product and the delivery system haven’t changed, just the name – because in today’s cuisine world, the words “fast food” sounds cheap and unwholesome.
The categories that eateries place themselves can tell consumers a lot about what to expect in terms of service, food preparation and price.
For example with Quick Service you’re dealing with counter service, production-line food preparation, a place to eat in (usually), and a bill that comes in under $6 for one person.
Quick Service is at the (inexpensive end of the price spectrum) and often includes a drive-through option. (Editor’s Note, this category includes some exceptional local favorites like Boomer’s Drive-in, as well as national, fast food chains. We are assuming that our readers will know which are the national chains, and which are the local).
Fast Casual is a step above and includes places such as Chipolte Grill, Panera, Five Guys Burger, Bob Evans, The Melt, Cracker Barrel or Denny’s. Generally there’s a place inside to sit and eat. Usually you get a paper place mat or the tables are bare. Most Fast Casual places deal in counter service, others employ a limited waitstaff. Price range around $10-$12 for a meal with a beverage. At some Fast Casual places, you leave a tip since someone serves you. There’s no bar, soft drinks are it. The Fast Casual category is the one that is currently growing most rapidly and is probably the next big restaurant trend in America. These places are cost efficient to operate (most of them are franchise opportunities) and they are a “cheap eat” for the consumer.
Then there’s Casual Dining, which is the sweet spot for most American restaurants. In this category you find places such as Bonefish Grill, P.F. Chang China Bistro, Bar Louie, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday, Applebee’s, Carrabbas or The Cheesecake Factory. You sit down, you have a server, there is a definite decor theme going on. Usually the tables are bare and you may or may not get a cloth napkin. Often there’s a bar, which is good for the proprietors because alcohol usually averages 25-30% of total sales at restaurants that have bars. The average check as a Casual Dining place is about $15, certainly higher if you drink.
Upscale (1) is the place where you’re likely to see a tablecloth, a trained waitstaff and a full bar. This category is also called Polished Casual and the average check is $25-$50 per person. Some of the better known Upscale Casual restaurants are Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Max’s Wine Dive, Marlow’s Tavern, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, Rosa Mexicano and Burtons Grill. The Polished Casual restaurant is where you feel like you’re having a bit of a luxury treatment without the formality of a full fine dining experience. Upscale or Polished Casual restaurants generally have a good bar featuring signature cocktails and a decent wine list.
(1) Originally “Upscale Casual” We at DDB didn’t feel a separate category was needed for restaurants averaging over $50.00 per person, so “Upscale Casual” restaurants are included in the “Fine Dining” category on our website.
Fine Dining is the restaurant where you are pampered. The wine list is vast. The signature cocktails are many. Often you are tended to by more than one server and a wine expert will drop by your table too. You pay for what you get in terms of food quality and how the experience makes you feel. Expect high prices. Many of America’s finest hotels are reliable destinations for fine dining. There’s Borgne at the New Orleans Hyatt Regency, Wolfgang Puck at the Hotel Bel Air in California, Wit & Wisdom at the Four Seasons in Baltimore or the Chef’s Club at the St. Regis in Aspen. Since most fine dining restaurants are not chains (as are most of the restaurants that fill out the other categories we’re talking about), you’ll find fine dining restaurants in your local area that are independently owned and have a loyal following of gourmands who appreciate the combination of food quality, creative and expert presentation, ambience, and service. Probably the best known (and most widely respected) fine dining chain restaurant is Ruth’s Chris Steak House followed by Morton’s The Steakhouse and McCormick & Schmick’s. Most people view fine dining establishments as a special occasion choice (birthday, anniversary) or the place to pick if you’re blessed with a generous expense account.