No matter when you visit, rest assured our culinary seasons here in Bellevue and the Pacific Northwest are unmatched. Springtime means fresh greens, Rainier cherries, and just-picked veggies; summer is best for fresh salmon and for picking berries; fall is all about crisp apples and tasty mushrooms; and winter is best for shellfish, from Dungeness crabs to myriad clams and oysters. Whatever your season, we invite you to explore these top flavors, sure to please your year-round palate.
Fresh salmon is one of the most prominent culinary features of our region. Salmon is a versatile fish — it can be grilled, baked, sautéed, and even eaten raw as sushi, or on a bagel with cream cheese. The most common types of salmon of the Pacific Northwest include king, sockeye, coho, chinook, steelhead, and pink. Lucky for you, just about every restaurant in Bellevue serves fresh salmon, prepared in your favorite way.
Want to see the salmon in their natural habitat? One of the best places in the Bellevue area to see salmon returning to spawn upstream is Issaquah Creek. What makes this location stand out is a hatchery to keep the salmon returning here year after year. At the hatchery, you’ll have Creekside viewing and a chance to look through glass windows into the fish ladders. During the salmon-spawning months (September – November), it also has free tours. In September and October, you’ll see chinook and sockeye, while November brings in the coho.
#2 WASHINGTON APPLES
Washington’s climate provides a big advantage for agricultural production. Specifically, Washington is known for its incredible apples, as the state produces about 60 percent of all apples grown in the U.S. You’ll find an endless number of apple orchards growing Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, Braeburn, and Pink Lady, along with more varieties. It’s estimated that about 180,000 acres of land in Washington bears produce. Come taste the reason Washington supplies so much of the country’s apples — the sweet, flavorful Washington apple is the inspiration for so many treats here in the Northwest. For the freshest apples, stop by any of the Bellevue farmers markets or try some baked apple goodness at our many bakeries, such as Belle Pastry or The French Bakery.
#3 DUNGENESS CRAB
Named after the port of Dungeness, Washington, Dungeness crab is a hugely popular culinary delight that lies along eelgrass beds and water bottoms along the Pacific coasts of the Puget Sound and Washington state. This is undoubtably the sweetest and most delicious crabmeat there is, whether you’re eating it in crabcakes, as a salad, roasted, in a crab boil, or steamed with butter. Dungeness crab is plentiful in Bellevue at many of our restaurants, including Seastar, Duke’s Seafood, and The Crab Pot Bellevue.
Washington is the preeminent producer of oysters worldwide; The Pacific Northwest is simply the best places to get oysters in the country. Many varieties of shellfish thrive in our cool, nutrient-dense waters. The oysters found in our waters are plump, sweet, briny, and generally more flavorful. Popular varieties include Rock Point, Baywater Sweet, Hama Hama, Treasure Cove, Deer Creek, and the ever-popular Kumamoto.
Visitors are always surprised that oysters are much more versatile than they think. They’re always spectacular served raw with a squeeze of lemon (known as on the half-shell) with the famous Mignonette sauce. Try them grilled or barbecued, fried, baked or Rockefeller style, and don’t miss our famous chowders or stews. Bellevue offers plenty of places to sample these bivalves, including Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar, Ascend Prime Steak & Sushi to name a few.
#5 RAINIER CHERRIES
Rainier cherries are named for Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain in Washington, which is located just southeast of Bellevue. These multicolored beauties are creamy and sweet and are in high demand during peak season. A hybrid fruit, Rainier cherries are a cross between Bing and Van and were developed in 1952 at Washington State University. You’ll find these all over the region during their peak season in late June through early July. Any of our three Bellevue farmers markets, our local grocers such as Whole Foods, and PCC markets, along with numerous road stands, offer these treats in peak season.
The Pacific Northwest forever changed coffee in North America and is still innovating and considered to be the center of the coffee universe. If you are a coffee lover, allow our Bellevue cafes to take your coffee experience to another level. This curated list of local innovative purveyors is sure to provide the perfect sip and opportunity to savor. (Link to coffee blog post)
Known to many for our stunning landscapes and incredible coffee, Bellevue boasts more than 65 cafes and coffee shops that continue to innovate and serve industry-leading coffee concoctions. Hot or iced, mocha or macchiato, the regional delicacy of the Puget Sound is coffee.
Harvested along the Washington coast north to British Columbia and Alaska, halibut is a prized Northwest delicacy. The firm white meat and delicately sweet flavor of halibut, combined with its high nutritional value, make it a favorite among all fish lovers. Halibut is the world’s premium white fish. Fresh halibut is in season until mid-November and is perfect for grilling, pan frying, fish tacos, fried as fish and chips, or tempura battered.
#8 WASHINGTON WINE & BEER
Home to the largest concentration of wine tasting rooms in the United States, the area around Bellevue is yours to discover. From the historic and beautiful grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle to the quaint boutique wineries where you are likely to have the winemakers themselves pour you a glass of their finest blends, a wonderful variety of wine-tasting experiences await you. Several tour companies provide group or private tours originating in Bellevue and offer a range of experiences and insights about Washington's wine industry. https://www.visitbellevuewa.com/restaurants/wineries-and-wine/
The craft beer industry has exploded in the Pacific Northwest and Puget Sound. Bellevue has become a perfect basecamp for experiencing this incredible craft beer getaway, where more than 50 craft breweries are located within 8 miles of Bellevue. It’s incredible to think that Washington state now boasts more than 375 breweries in total! With a very high concentration of breweries, Bellevue’s incredible mix of diverse culinary offerings, pubs, and nightlife combine to provide a clean and convenient basecamp for an unforgettable PNW brew destination experience. https://www.visitbellevuewa.com/things-to-do/breweries-nearby-bellevue/
#9 HAZELNUTS, OR "FILBERTS" TO THE LOCALS
These nuts come from the hazel tree and are grown only in the Pacific Northwest, though they’re usually called filberts there. Hazelnuts can be served whole, sliced, ground, raw, or roasted. They are commonly eaten around Bellevue as a snack or added to baked goods and other dishes. It's best to eat them with the skin on. Hazelnuts are packed with nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidant compounds, and healthy fats.
#10 FRESH BERRIES - MARIONBERRIES, HUCKLEBERRIES AND BLACKBERRIES
If you’ve never heard of a marionberry, never fear. They’re only grown in the fertile Willamette Valley. Marionberries are blackberry hybrids that were engineered in 1945. They’re named for Marion County, where they were first introduced. Marionberries are delicious and flavorful with a rich and earthy flavor. They are incredibly sweet and avoid that slight bitterness that some blackberries have. They’re in season in July and August, and around this time, the state will explode with marionberry-flavored treats such as syrup, ice cream, and salads.
Huckleberries are a true mountain region treat. You can find them in Washington at higher elevations, so take advantage of them while you can. They aren’t grown commercially, so you won’t be able to find huckleberries in grocery stores. They’re similar to a blueberry but are usually redder in color and their flavor is much more tart. These little Bellevue flavor bombs often make up an awesome syrup for pancakes, in pastries, a cobbler, and they can even be infused into alcoholic beverages.
#11 CLAMS – GEODUCK AND RAZOR CLAMS
Clams and oysters are harvested from tidal flats in Washington, including places around the Puget Sound, such as Hood Canal, Totten Inlet, and Willapa Bay. There are ten major varieties of clams in Washington state: manila, native littleneck, butter, varnish, cockle, macoma, horse, eastern softshell, razor, and geoduck. Bellevue restaurants always feature fresh clams and shellfish. Bellevue markets and local farmers markets are also major providers for shellfish from across the state. We think steamed clams are the best, but many visitors prefer them in soups and chowders, and many love them simply breaded and fried.
Want to try your hand at clam digging? It’s a fun and yummy Pacific Northwest hobby that is much easier than you think. Read here:
#12 CHANTERELLE MUSHROOMS
Chanterelle mushrooms are some of the highest-quality mushrooms you can buy. They grow in clusters in the mossy undergrowth of pine forests and are collected by hand every fall in the old-growth forests of the region. Chanterelles have a rich, earthy flavor and are often highlighted in Bellevue restaurants for soups, stews, and sauces.