The Long Beach Peninsula’s Remarkable Culinary Range Draws Inspiration And Ingredients From Nature
When sea air stimulates the appetite, the Long Beach Peninsula satisfies with a mouthwatering mélange of restaurants. Ranging from casual bistros to distinctive dining rooms, they share a devotion to the abundance of fresh local ingredients thriving in this fertile region. From one end of the Peninsula to the other, food-savvy travelers find fascinating opportunities for viewing edibles at their very source – and savoring them on the plate.
Steps from the shore, this is a destination awash in just-caught seafood, like Dungeness crab, tuna, halibut, razor clams, and butter clams. To the north, the pristine estuary of Willapa Bay nourishes succulent oysters prized worldwide. To the south, treasured salmon and sturgeon spawn in the Columbia River, with whitefish and tuna harvested in deeper waters.
Visitors trolling for their own catch-of-the-day can buy in-season specialties at Goose Point Oysters, Oysterville Sea Farms, Jessie’s Seafood Market, OleBob’s Seafood Market, and Jimella and Nanci’s Market Cafe, where culinary standouts Jimella Lucas and Nanci Main have added a cafe and offer the occasional cooking class.
Crimson cranberry bogs brighten the Long Beach Peninsula, whose Cranberry Museum details the growing process of this tart little gem and offers tastes of cranberry specialties. During the October harvest, travelers can pick their own cranberries at Cranguyma Farms, which also features a U-Pick blueberry patch from July through September, and tour bogs during the annual Cranberrian Fair.
Area chefs and diners alike go wild for mushrooms. Third-generation forager Veronica Williams, a local celebrity, tracks down such flavorful fungi as Lobster, Oyster, Angel’s Wings and Golden Chanterelle. These and 14 more locally gathered wild mushrooms find their way into recipes created by the destination’s vibrant culinary community during autumn’s Wild Mushroom Celebration and throughout the year.
From source to server, Long Beach Peninsula restaurants boast the talents of high-profile chefs who have relocated to the rural setting for its slower pace, stunning beauty and proximity to ultra-fresh ingredients.
At Jimella and Nanci’s Market Café, pick up the makings for a home-cooked meal, listen to the fisher- and oysterman stories as they deliver the daily catch, or sit down to lunch or dinner for a delectable preparation of pan-seared Willapa Bay oysters, Scotch salmon, fresh caught fish or a Niman Ranch organic Frenched pork chop along with Nanci’s house-made rolls. Finish with the delicately flavored Swedish crème.
The 42nd Street Café & Bistro honors nature’s generosity with such mouthwatering dishes as fresh flash-fried razor clams with parsley-caper mayonnaise, pan-seared Columbia River white sturgeon and Willapa Bay steamer clams in Tabasco butter sauce, accompanied by harp-playing executive chef Cheri Walker.
Trains no longer stop at The Depot, but diners throng to the intimate eatery, where former Portland chef Michael Lalewicz marries distinctive regional ingredients with world cuisines, including scrumptious Clamshell Railroad clam chowder, Southern Comfort pork, steaks, chops and more. Ask about monthly winemaker or farm dinners.
Step into the longest continuously operating inn in Washington – The Shelburne Inn Restaurant & Pub – for the chef’s catch of the day, polenta with wild mushrooms, signature mussel chowder, along with one of innkeeper Laurie Anderson’s artisan breads and made-from-scratch desserts from family recipes including stout cake and apple tart tatin.
New to the dining scene in Long Beach, Pickled Fish, on the top floor of Adrift Hotel, offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and contemporary, locally sourced cuisine.
Inns and bed and breakfast establishments are also part of this rich culinary community. Inspired breakfasts utilizing fresh local ingredients can be found at The Shelburne Inn, Boreas Inn B&B, A Rendezvous Place B&B, Charles Nelson Guest House, 42nd Street Café, and others.
Naturally, Long Beach Peninsula visitors can still eat their fill of traditional seaside sustenance, like clam chowder, fish-and-chips and giant ice cream cones. But that’s only a taste of what’s available in this appetizing destination, brimming with bounties from land and sea.