This time of year, many Northwesterners get fed up with the damp, dreary days and the enduring chill in the air. Soon enough, the sun will be back; until then, we have comfort food. Lucky for us, there is no shortage of that in our lovable city—both nutritious and indulgent.
The definition of comfort food is certainly open to interpretation. When I think comfort food, I think flavor-packed, hearty dishes.
Here are five of my favorite winter go-to meals. Give them a try–they’ll warm your spirits and help you get through until summer days return.
Five: The Hot Bar at the Community Food Coop
When I need a hearty blast of nutrients, I head up to the Community Food Coop to get one of their soups or salads. The selection at their recently remodeled and expanded Hot Bar changes daily and I have sampled dishes ranging from a fragrantly spiced Roasted Tofu Coconut Curry to their more traditional Fried Chicken and Mashed Potatoes. You can load up on the varied dishes and customize your selections as everything is sold by weight.
If you’re looking for a drink to complete the meal, the Coop features a long list of hot Choice Organic Teas to cut through the chill outside, like Earl Gray (my personal favorite) or Lemon-Lavender-Mint.
If espresso is more your thing, they offer unique and energizing coffee concoctions available — in addition to all the classics. A fragrant and warming Lavender Latte may be just what you need to thaw out.
You can also find endless tempting sweet treats, including my all-time favorite, the chocolate peanut butter bar—a layer of sweet peanut butter topped with solid chocolate.
(All restaurant location and hours are listed at the end of the article.)
Four: Potato Burrito at Casa Que Pasa
This list would certainly not be complete without Bellingham’s famous Potato Burrito. A meal that never leaves you hurting for more, the Potato Burrito is packed with crispy fried cubes of potato, beans, melted cheese and their renowned creamy red chili sauce. Grab the jumbo burrito and you can easily stretch it into two or even three meals.
If the Potato Burrito is a tried and true favorite for you already — and you feel like branching out, I recommend the Black Bean Supercrunch Burrito with a side of the potato sauce. With fresh salsa, crushed tortilla chips, bean sprouts and even peanuts, this one might make you hesitant to choose over the classic, but it is definitely worth it.
For a festive drink, warm yourself up from the inside out with their famous margaritas.
Casa has a menu dedicated solely to tequila, and with flavor options such as mango, strawberry or raspberry, you can have the bar customize your drink precisely to your liking.
If you still have room for a bit of sweetness, indulge in an order of flan, the traditional Latin American sweet, vanilla pudding dish. Casa Que Pasa makes it from scratch, and drizzles a caramel sauce on top for a real treat.
Three: Seafood Chowder from Skylark’s Hidden Café
What better way to shake off the winter chills than a hearty bowl of seafood chowder? Skylark’s Hidden Café features its seven-years-and-counting Chuckanut Chowder Cook-off winner (an annual event at the Dirty Dan Harris Festival), which is offered with a choice of French or Focaccia bread.
To rev up the palate, grab an order of local oyster shooters with cocktail sauce and lemon, or a plate of the lively Brazilian Cheese Puffs, stuffed with cheddar cheese and wrapped up in a crispy crust and served with a creamy green chili sauce.
To wrap up the meal, share an order of an old world favorite, their Bread Pudding, topped with a rich bourbon butter sauce.
Two: Mac and Cheese at the Copper Hog
Sometimes the only thing that improves a melancholy mood on a gray day is a bowl of Mac and Cheese. When the rainy day blues strike, head over to the Copper Hog to get your cheesy noodle fix.
Copper Hog does theirs with melted cheddar, gruyère and fontina, topped with panko bread crumbs and crispy bacon.
To prepare for this tasty combination of pasta and cheese, start with with some of their fried brussel sprouts. Brussel sprout non-believers will be blown away by the sweet and savory combo of these bite-sized veggies marinated in a balsamic reduction.
To accompany the meal, choose from one of the many local beers and those from outside the area. With a tap list a mile long, and always featuring favorites from local breweries, The Copper Hog always has an option for all beer preferences.
To end the night, try a house-made slice of Truffle Cake. With a fresh berry sauce atop sweet Nutella whip, your sweet tooth will be satisfied until the rain stops.
Keep an eye out for new hearty selections from this Bellingham favorite as they are working on a new menu.
One: Gumbo at Bayou on Bay
No one does comfort food quite like the South, and no one brings the South to Bellingham like Bayou on Bay.
Get your entrée on with the classic Gumbo. A saucy, spiced up stew with Andouille sausage, smoked chicken, okra, corn, and aromatic Cajun flavors on top of some steamy rice may be just what your body is calling for.
If you’re a no-meat-or-dairy kind of guy or gal, the Vegan Jambalaya, featuring savory beans, corn, zucchini, collards, peppers, rice and all the necessary spices is another robust dish that is sure to warm you up from the inside.
You can begin to channel summertime with one of their zesty Bayou Refreshers. They have several house-infused liquors to spice up a chilly day—the jalapeño tequila is my personal favorite. Mixed with citrus, Sierra Mist and club soda, this is the perfect drink to accompany a zesty meal.
If you need a sweet bite, finish off your dinner with a chocolaty Bayou brownie. There’s nothing like warm, gooey chocolate to brighten up any day, winter or summer.
As I mentioned, the definition of “Comfort Food” means different things to different people. I’ve let you in on a few of my wintertime favorites. According to Marc, our Chief Editor here at DDB, comfort food is the classic meat and potato combos, and he will list beef stew and meatloaf as two if his favorites.
Which restaurant serves you favorite comfort food and what is it? We’d love to hear from you. We’ll check out your suggestions and if they become part of a future article, we’ll give you credit. Feel free to comment below or email me, Streettooth, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Locations and Hours:
- Downtown Community Food Co-op–1220 N Forest St. Bellingham, WA 98225
Open daily: 7am-10pm, Deli 7am-8pm
- Community Food Co-op Cordata–315 Westerly Rd. Bellingham, WA 98226
Open daily: 7am-9pm (store and deli)
- Casa Que Pasa–1415 Railroad Ave. Bellingham, WA 98225
Open daily: 11am-11pm (or later)
- Skylark’s Hidden Café–1308 11th St. Bellingham, WA 98225
Open daily: 8am-midnight
- The Copper Hog–1327 N. State St. Bellingham, WA 98225
Open weekdays 11am-midnight and weekends 9am-1am
- Bayou on Bay–1300 Bay St. Bellingham, WA 98225
Open Tue.-Thurs. 11am-11pm, Fri. 11am-midnight, Sat. 10am-midnight, Sun. 10am-10-pm, closed Mon.