For a unique culinary experience, the foods in Washington state have plenty to offer hungry foodies. From mouthwatering seafood to comforting comfort food, there are many delicious dishes that make up the local cuisine in this Pacific Northwest region.
What’s Special About Foods In Washington?
The Washington food scene is heavily influenced by its geography, which includes a vast coastline, fertile farmland, and access to fresh seafood and produce.
The Evergreen State is known for its rich salmon fisheries and ample shellfish so it’s no surprise that these two ingredients feature heavily in traditional recipes like smoked salmon chowder, clam chowder, and geoduck sashimi.
Washington also has an emphasis on farm-to-table cuisine, with many restaurants and chefs sourcing their ingredients from local farmers and producers.
You will find some incredible produce, like juicy Walla Walla sweet onions, crisp apples, and sweet and tart Rainier cherries.
Additionally, the state’s thriving wine industry has led to a focus on wine and food pairings, with many restaurants offering extensive wine lists and pairing menus. Not to forget that Seattle is known for some of the world’s most famous coffee roasters and cafes.
Overall, Washington’s food culture is a vibrant mix of fresh, local ingredients, international influences, and a deep appreciation for good wine and coffee.
These are just some of the famous foods in Washington to try when visiting the state.
Most Famous Washington Food
Washington’s cold, clear waters are perfect for salmon to thrive in, so it comes as no surprise that Salmon is one of the most iconic foods in Washington state.
The state is home to some of the best wild salmon fishing grounds in the U.S. and produces some truly excellent fish. You can find five species of salmon in Washington waters, including Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Pink, and Chum. Each species has its own unique flavor, texture, and color.
Fresh Pacific salmon can often be enjoyed raw or cooked, but one of the most popular ways to serve up this delicacy is by grilling or smoking it. You’ll find many restaurants throughout the state cooking up delicious dishes featuring this beloved food Washington is known for.
But when it comes to salmon in Washington, it’s not just about the taste. There is also a cultural significance and history to it.
Salmon has been a staple food for the indigenous tribes in the Pacific Northwest for thousands of years, and many still rely on it as a primary food source today. It is a symbol of the region’s rich history and connection to nature.
Famous Foods In Washington
Oysters On The Half Shell
Speaking about seafood, Oysters on the half shell are another Washington state food tradition. This succulent seafood can be found all over areas like Puget Sound and Willapa Bay, where they thrive in the cold waters and nutrient-rich environment.
Oysters are usually served raw on a half shell (literally what the name means) with a squirt of lemon juice or your favorite hot sauce. The oysters are plump, briny, and have a distinctive sweetness credit to the clean, cold waters of the Pacific Northwest.
Many restaurants throughout the state serve up fresh oysters on the half shell paired with Washington wines to create an unforgettable meal. Of course, you can also cook them in various ways from grilling to baking them with seasonings.
Washington state is home to several reputable and generational oyster farms, including Taylor Shellfish and Hama Hama. Many oyster farmers will also often set up shop at local farmers’ markets so you can buy these delicious mollusks right off their boats!
So you can’t visit the Pacific Northwest without indulging in some of the freshest and most delicious oysters you’ll ever have. It is one of the most famous foods of Washington.
Beecher’s Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is a classic comfort food that never goes out of style, but Beecher’s Mac and Cheese takes this dish to the next level. This creamy, cheesy goodness comes from Beecher’s, an artisan cheese maker based in Seattle since 2003.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, located in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, makes their mac and cheese with a blend of their Flagship cheese and Just Jack cheese. It is a popular stop amongst Pike Place Market Food Tours for good reason.
What sets them apart is their award-winning handmade cheese. They use penne pasta that is cooked perfectly al dente and then tossed in the rich and creamy cheese sauce.
The result? Deliciously gooey macaroni covered with thick layers of melted aged cheddar. And if you want to add a little kick to your mac and cheese, they have a spicy version too!
The cheesy aroma is just irresistible and it’s hard not to get hooked on this comfort food classic. This creamy and decadent Seattle food has been satisfying cheesy cravings for over 15 years. One bite and you’ll be a fan for life!
Don’t let its funny name fool you – this weird-looking creature is a type of clam that lives in the Pacific Northwest. It’s large and some can live up to 168 years, making it one of the longest-living animals in the world!
Geoducks can grow up to three feet long and weigh as much as 8 pounds, these oversized clams are considered a prized delicacy, not just in the Pacific Northwest, but in many cultures.
It has a sweet taste and crunchy texture, almost like a mid ground between a clam and a scallop, but with its own unique flavor.
Many restaurants in the state serve this unusual Washington food. However, since they are only found in certain waters along the Pacific Coast, they can be quite expensive when ordered out at restaurants.
Geoducks can be prepared in various ways like raw, steamed, boiled, or even deep fried. But if you are adventurous enough and for a truly authentic taste, you’ve gotta try geoduck sashimi – raw geoduck sliced paper-thin and served with soy sauce and wasabi.
Nothing screams comfort food like a bowl of creamy Clam Chowder on a rainy day in Seattle. But as one of the most famous foods of Washington, it is available all over the state.
Washington is blessed with an abundance of fresh, local clams that are harvested from the coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest. It’s traditionally made with potatoes, clams, onions, celery, bacon bits (or other smoked meats), and a creamy broth that give the chowder its delicious and hearty flavor.
The ingredients are slow-cooked patiently, allowing all the flavors to meld together. And when you top it off with a dollop of butter and some fresh herbs, you have a dish that’s simply irresistible.
This heartwarming soup has two variations, featuring the creamy New England-style or tangy, tomato-based Manhattan-style chowder.
In Washington, you’ll find this comforting dish in restaurants and cafes all over. One of the best places to have it though is at the Pike Place Market Chowder in Seattle!
Walla Walla Sweet Onions
One of the most famous foods from Washington is Walla Walla Sweet Onions. These sweet onions are grown in the Walla Walla Valley, located in the southeastern part of Washington.
You may be able to find these sweet onions year-round but peak harvest season runs between early fall to summer. During this time, they are very common in farmers’ markets and grocery stores all around the state.
The mild taste and crunchy texture give these onions a unique flavor that stands out from other varieties. They are usually enjoyed raw or lightly cooked with salads and as toppings on sandwiches and burgers.
Walla Wallas are also great for adding sweetness to savory dishes like sauces, steak marinades, soups, stews, and more. And they can be used to make delicious onion rings too!
While onions are often overlooked as just a regular ingredient, the farmers in the area take great care in cultivating them, ensuring that they are harvested at the right time and of the highest quality. They are truly one of the most special foods in Washington.
Snack Foods In Washington
Washington is one of, if not, the biggest producer of red raspberries in the United States. Therefore, it comes as no surprise they are some of the most loved berries in the state.
These little red gems are something special, like a burst of sunshine in your mouth. With their sweet and tart taste, they make wonderful additions to a variety of dishes from desserts to salads.
But it’s not just about the taste, red raspberries are also packed with nutrients like Vitamin C and fiber, making them a healthy and delicious snack. Plus, they’re so versatile – you can put them in smoothies, top off your morning oatmeal with them, or even bake them into a scrumptious raspberry tart.
Let’s not forget the annual Washington Northwest Raspberry Festival that happens every July. It’s a celebration of all things raspberry that includes a parade, raspberry eating contest, and even a raspberry queen.
It’s a true testament to just how popular these little berries are in the Washington food scene.
You can buy local raspberries at farmers’ markets or even pick your own on some farms throughout the region. Some of the largest raspberry-producing counties in Washington are Whatcom, Skagit, and Clark, with Whatcom accounting for over 70% of local production.
The best time to find fresh raspberries is during the summer months when their juicy sweetness is at its peak!
Washington is the top producer of apples in the United States, accounting for over 60% of the country’s entire apple crop.
One of the most special things about apples in the Washington food scene is the sheer variety. Everything from Honeycrisp and Granny Smith to Pink Lady and Red Delicious, and plenty more lesser-known ones that are of just as high quality.
Apples are also a huge part of Washington food culture. Every year, there are apple festivals, apple orchard tours, and even apple-themed art shows going on.
Apple picking is a very popular activity for tourists and locals during harvest season. You’ll find numerous orchards across the state offering pick-your-own experiences where you can enjoy fresh fruits straight from the tree.
Apart from being eaten as snacks, apples make a great addition to salads, desserts, and even savory dishes. They are packed with important nutrients like Vitamin C and fiber, making them an ideal healthy food option.
So grab yourself some apples and take a bite out of the sweet side of life while touring the famous landmarks in Washington!
Desserts And Sweet Foods Of Washington
Almond Roca is a buttercrunch toffee candy that’s been made in Washington since the early 1900s. It quickly became popular in the Pacific Northwest and has since gained a significant following.
This is the signature product of Brown & Haley, a confectionery company based in Tacoma, and it continues to be one of their best-sellers.
The combination of the crunchy and chewy textures along with the sweetness of almonds gives Almond Roca its unmistakable flavor. It’s like having an indulgent fudge brownie in a bite-sized piece of candy.
In addition to the classic version, Almond Roca comes in different varieties, including dark chocolate, sea salt caramel, and even sugar-free options. Whether you’re a long-time fan or trying it for the first time, Almond Roca is sure to satisfy your sweet cravings and leave you wanting more.
This is also the perfect gift and souvenir when visiting the state, it is one of the foods Washington is known for.
Rainier Cherry Pie
The Rainier cherry is native to Washington and has become a symbol for the state. They are named after Mount Rainier and are grown in the eastern part of the state.
These cherries are known for their distinctive yellow and red coloring. They are delicious when eaten raw but can also be used to make jellies, jams, sauces, and even cocktails.
In fact, their sweet, juicy flavor lends itself perfectly to baked goods. That is why they are a very popular Washington food.
When it comes to pie, Rainier cherries are the perfect filling. The sweetness pairs perfectly with a buttery, flaky crust. There’s nothing quite like biting into a warm slice of Rainier cherry pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. It’s a little slice of heaven!
Rainier cherries are an important part of the state’s agricultural industry, with many family-owned farms dedicating their livelihoods to growing and harvesting these delicious fruits.
The peak season for Rainier cherries in Washington usually runs from June to August. During this time many orchards across the state open their doors for u-pick experiences so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
FAMOUS FOODS IN THE US
Discovering Delicious Foods In Washington
Washington’s food tradition is heavily influenced by the state’s natural environment and immigrant populations, leading to a diverse range of flavors and cooking styles.
Being surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, Washington is known for its mouth-watering salmon, oysters, clams, and geoducks. The Evergreen State offers plenty of culinary delights that are sure to please your taste buds.
Beyond the food, Washington is also one of the largest producers of wine in the country, with over 1,000 wineries in the state. There are some amazing craft breweries and distilleries, producing everything from hoppy IPAs to smooth whiskeys.
So whether you’re a seafood lover, a fruit fanatic, or just looking for some good drinks, the Washington food scene has got you covered. Come for the views, stay for the food!