Walking in to Bellingham’s newest burger joint, the Filling Station, I can feel the buzz of happy energy saturating the retro, gas-station themed eatery. With the succulent scent of cooking fries and grilling beef patties in the air and abundant natural light filling the room, I turn to my friends and simply state, “I like it here already.” They nod in agreement.
As the name suggests, the 1950s service station décor is a brief trip back in time. From the vintage gas pump that adorns the lobby to the ‘50s-themed diner-style menus, the restaurant surrounds you with images from this classy era. The inspiration for the cleverly-named burgers comes from period car models. The energetic wait-staff refer to themselves as “attendants” and wear service station style shirts, complete with an embroidered name badge.
The atmosphere lends itself to an easy family outing or a fun date night. In a bit of a unique twist for a burger joint it has a separate, over 21 section that features a full bar. There are big-screen TVs dispersed throughout, making the “Station” the perfect perch for beers, burgers, and the basketball game – or for post-game celebrations.
Sitting down at a table next to a vintage yellow Pennzoil sign, the enticing smell had me hastily scoping the menu. In addition to “The Thunderbird”, a classic American cheeseburger that includes a lettuce, tomato and pickle combo, the menu offered a delicious Mushroom-Swiss burger, called the “Mustang,” with caramelized onions and their own Station Sauce.
Another tried-and-true option with a twist is the “El Camino,” a Southwest-styled burger with spicy pepper jack cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, and jalapeños with the uniquely flavored poblano* aioli* combined with crispy tortilla strips.
Their own burger creations include the “Ferrari,” a parmesan chicken burger with melted provolone, fresh arugula, tomato, avocado and basil aioli on a parmesan crusted Rosemary Ciabatta bun. Another noteworthy combination is the “LamBorghini,” with a beef-lamb blended patty, tzatziki*, a Kalamata olive and tomato relish, fresh feta cheese and arugula on a Rosemary Ciabatta bun.
I noticed that all of the buns were from Bellingham’s own, well-renowned Avenue Bread. Wendy and John DeFreest, Avenue Bread owners, are also the owners of The Filling Station, so it is only natural that their high-quality bread would be featured. Bun options range from the classic Sesame Seed bun to Rosemary Ciabatta to the Salt & Pepper Potato.
Don’t miss the fries here. The curled jo-jo type potato wedges, “Tire Treads,” are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and melt in your mouth like a French fry should. These are one-of-a-kind, and may be worth the trip here themselves.
The onion rings are also fried to perfection. They hold together when you bite through the crispy outside, and the caramelized onions on the inside are just the right amount of sweet.
The menu also encourages individualizing your meal. In addition to the beef patty, they also carry bison, grilled chicken, and a black bean, quinoa burger.
You can also order a patty and all the toppings on a bed of fresh greens for a veggie-filled alternative, or those looking to avoid wheat can order the gluten-free bun. I tried the “Chevy Pickup” on a bed of lettuce—the beef patty with sweet BBQ sauce, crispy, curled onion straws and coleslaw. The result was a satisfying meal that left me feeling energized.
As far as beverages go, the menu offers vintage sodas (with booze added for the of-age), several beers from local breweries and the mixed drinks you would hope to find on such a menu—the Shirley Temple and Roy Rogers, again with the option to make them adult-friendly.
The Boozy Frappes are the cherry on top of the menu—“The Woody” contains Bainbridge Vanilla Vodka, Trader Vics macadamia nut liqueur, maple syrup and vanilla ice cream. What more could you possibly need in a dessert?
The Filling Station is a welcomed addition to Fairhaven, and the perfect place to bring friends from out of town. A classy looking burger-joint with a menu suited for diners with varying diet preferences, great fries, and a full bar featuring local beers, there is no doubt that they will be a mainstay in Bellingham. Get in and refuel at the Filling Station.
*poblano is a mild green chili pepper
*aioli is mayonnaise seasoned with garlic
*tzatziki is a Greek yogurt-based sauce with cucumber, lemon, garlic and seasonsings