Based out of the La Conner Country Inn, Nell Thorn Restaurant and Pub (702 S. 1st St., 360/466-9932, www.nellthorn.com, 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 10:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat., $18) sits perched on a hill overlooking the Swinomish in a whimsically weathered cedar-shingled building. The menu mixes comfortable pub food such as burgers with more sophisticated salad, pasta, seafood, and steak dishes.
La Conner Brewing Co. (117 S. 1st. St., 360/466-1415, www.laconnerbrew.com, 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, $11) is a lively and noisy place with five kinds of brewed-on-the-premises beer, plus tasty wood-fired pizzas, quesadillas (one with mangos), soups, and salads. The pub is entirely nonsmoking, and the outside patio is perfect for warm summer evenings.
Palmer’s at the Lighthouse (512 South 1st St., 360/466-3147, 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. Fri.–Sat., $11–20) is a popular waterside restaurant with a menu that stars fresh seafood and prime rib (from organically fed cattle). Fish and chips are always a favorite, and there’s a separate bar menu.
Just down the street is La Conner Seafood and Prime Rib House (614 1st St., 360/466-4014, www.laconnerseafood.com, 11:30 a.m.–8 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Fri.–Sat., $25), with waterfront dining and a diverse menu.
Kerstin’s (505 S. 1st, 360/466-9111, noon–2 p.m. Wed.–Sun. and 5 –9 p.m. daily) is a delightful place for Northwest meals of pasta, lamb, chicken, steaks, or seafood, but it also has vegetarian entrées. Lunches are your best bet if you’re on a budget; dinner entrées cost $18–29.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition