An essential part of my hike planning is where will I eat before and after my hike (thus the name of my blog). Although I follow a whole foods (mostly paleo/primal diet), I don’t hold to dogma and I do what is right for me. I also try to avoid nightshades as I find they can affect my arthritis, which makes ordering out in restaurants super tricky. At home it is no problem but when on the road it can mean compromise.
For those of us who are more selective about our food, we know that finding a place that is accommodating and wants to make the customer happy is half the battle. Even if they don’t have something on the menu for you, a establishment that wants to serve you something you can eat makes all the difference.
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These are some of my favorite places, what I usually get there and why I like them, north to south on and off the I-5 corridor.
Mt. Baker Highway and Chuckanut Drive
North Fork Brewery
North Fork Brewery (Beer Shrine) This is a popular stop on HWY 542 (Mt. Baker) when I hike with my meetup group. Needless to say, they have beer (and a few ciders). They serve locally sourced meals and we order a mix of pizza and salads. I usually get their spinach or antipasto salad and a pint of their own homemade root beer on draft.
Boundary Bay Brewery
I don’t always drive into B’ham after hikes on Chuckanut Drive and Blanchard Mountain but when I do, I stop at Boundary Bay Brewery. A popular spot in downtown, you will find yourself surrounded by a great mix of Western students and locals. They have a delicious menu, locally sourced and designed to compliment their brews. I love their Harvest salad or lamb burger which they will put on a gluten free bun but I usually just have them put it on the salad side that can come with the meal.
Cascade Loop Highway
5 B’s Bakery
5 Bs Bakery: This is a wonderful treat one block off HWY 20 in Concrete, WA as you head up the Cascade Highway (turn at the old concrete stacks).
I personally love their cinnamon rolls but they have a wide selection in this dedicated gluten free café; they serve breakfast and lunch along with a variety of cookies, breads, pot pies, calzones, PRETZEL DOGS, etc. They have indoor seating and coffee brewing the morning. And, they are super friendly.
The Birdsview Brewing Company
My meetup group loves stopping at The Birdsview Brewing Company after hikes on HWY 20, especially because they are dog friendly. Their blue cheese and apple salad is divine and they offer ciders on tap in addition to a plethora of brews. And they offer gluten free buns and cookies from 5 B’s Bakery!
Mountain Loop Highway
Green Gables General Store
Green Gables General Store on the Mountain Loop Highway. It’s a convenience store slash visitor center but the big draw is the owners who are in love with the area and are excited to expand tourism on the loop. I tried out their bacon weave (AKA bacon candy) and homemade fudge but they serve a delicious pulled pork I have been told.
Mirkwood Public House
Okay, so I haven’t eat here yet but I have been meaning to. Problem is, I often just drive home after hiking on the Mountain Loop. The restaurant at the Mirkwood Public House sounds like my kind of place. They serve a variety of foods, including vegetarian and vegan options and their menu says they use organic beef and homemade veggie burgers. Update: I have had a chance to visit this unique restaurant and both my friend and I were impressed not only with food but the level of service and willingness to be accommodating to requests without charging extra for things like gluten free. Thus these amazing pictures! They even serve breakfast ALL day. See my complete review HERE.
Wallace Falls Cafe
Wallace Falls Cafe You wouldn’t know this place in Gold Bar, WA has great Vietnamese food from the outside but this family run restaurant does it well. I love their spring rolls. They make them fresh, so expect to wait a short bit for their deliciousness. Update: I had chance to sit down and enjoy a full meal recently, the food was fresh and the staff are super friendly! See my complete review HERE. Update #2: I visited recently and they have either new owners or chefs. The menu is more standard American fare with a few of the Vietnamese meal items. The food was okay (still homemade and such), but I couldn’t give it the rave review I have in the past.
I only stop by the Espresso Chalet in Index, WA when hiking on HWY 2 with my mom but it deserves an honorable mention as her favorite place to stop. She loves their chai latte. They are in tune with what is happening in the area and are great to chat with.
Mount Index Cafe
Mount Index Café in Index, WA. They do not have a large menu but the beverage selection (beer, etc. included) was ample. What I like about this place is it is run by the same folks doing the outdoor tours in the area and they love to talk about what they are doing to get folks outdoors. They were also willing to make me a lettuce wrap for my salmon burger.
Who doesn’t love Gustav’s in Leavenworth? I order their salmon salad and have a root beer on tap or ice tea which they brew themselves.
Mexican food is often hard as I normally don’t eat much of the ingredients that make it up but that doesn’t mean I don’t love it. I enjoy the burrito in a bowl at the South restaurant with a shot of tequila, of course.
Have you been to the Aardvark Express at Snoqualmie Pass? I met Danny, the owner of the Aardvark on my 2013 PCT hike through Washington. Back then he was serving food out of a run down camper but had big plans. He offers whole food selections; you have choices that are dairy free, vegetarian and/or gluten free. I love the Bleu Aardvark and smoothies with hemp milk. He (and his staff) are SUPER accommodating.
I remember sitting in the covered area on my zero day there and he offered me free beer from the cooler he kept. When I told him I was gluten free, he walked over to the Chevron and bought ciders for the cooler. It’s not a drive-thru; they make everything fresh so take a seat and relax a spell. I try and stop by every time I cross over I-90!
North Bend Bar and Grill
The North Bend Bar and Grill is a restaurant I have eaten at several times now with meetup groups. They serve locally sourced food and have a great beer and cider selection. I usually get the salmon quinoa or cobb salad and their menu is labeled for gluten free options.
Chang Thai North Bend
Chang Thai North Bend This is another place I have only eaten at once but I was impressed with the large menu and the waitress’ repeated assurance that they could do vegetarian if someone needed (AKA accommodating kitchen). Thai food is naturally gluten free; just avoid anything with soy sauce.
Cultured Caveman in Portland, Oregon. I can not say enough about this restaurant and chain of food carts in Portland, OR. I may have unselfishly helped fund the Kickstarter for their brick and mortar. They are definitely paleo, gluten free and mostly AIP protocol as well. They even have offerings for those of us avoiding nightshades. You can even find a selection of yummy desserts!
Cascade Locks Ale House
Cascade Locks Ale House This is a great pub in Cascade Locks, OR for when you are driving I-84 or starting/leaving the Pacific Crest Trail. I had a perfectly cooked burger on top of a salad and one of the best blackberry ciders ever. They were very friendly (but busy) and you can even “pay it forward to a PCT hiker” when you are there! They offer GF/vegetarian on their menu.
Kyra’s Bake Shop
Kyra’s Bake Shop in Lake Oswego, Oregon. This is a must stop for me when I am down in Oregon for a hike. Kyra’s Bakery has a wide selection of baked goods, a cafe menu with salads, soups and sandwiches and last time I was there they had started serving wine! Items are labeled for dairy, soy and egg free. There isn’t anything I haven’t loved from this dedicated gluten free establishment (Did I mention PRETZEL DOGS?). If the name is familiar, it is because Kyra is a winner of the Cupcake Wars which she did with a gluten free cupcake versus the regular stuff. UPDATE: They now have cocktails!
Summit Saloon in Bend, Oregon. I had THE BEST COBB SALAD ever when I was hiking on the PCT in 2015 (and I have eaten a lot of cobb salads). They use local ingredients and the staff were very welcoming.
I hope I didn’t forget anyone! What are your favorite dishes to order at these fine establishments? Do you have other favorite places you like to go to that I should check out?
P.S. And for those of you who hold true to the gluten free thing for health reasons and wonder about my liberal acceptance of bleu cheese (you either love it or you hate it), the science is mixed on the actual amount on gluten in it and since I am not diagnosed gluten intolerant (I just feel better without it and try not to consume the nutrient poor food associated with it), bleu cheese is a great way for me to add flavor to salads when avoiding the normal PUFA oils served in most restaurants as dressing (soy, corn, canola).