Now that the weather is behaving, it’s time to set our sights on all the great spots for outdoor imbibing, which is one of my favorite pastimes. This week, we headed a few miles north of Bellingham to Birch Bay, where we stopped by a beachfront bar, Via Birch Bay Café & Bistro.
Via Birch Bay Café & Bistro (CLOSED)
Up Birch Bay Drive a few blocks is Via Birch Bay Café & Bistro, located in a 1940s-era building that was once a bathhouse. Both the café and its Skinny Dog lounge offer plenty of libations to choose from in a right-on-the-beach setting.
The café’s long-and-narrow setup gives every table an expansive view of the water. If you’re more focused on beverages, you can take a seat at the bar, also with bay views. And when weather permits, head upstairs to the rooftop deck, take in the cool sea breeze and feel the sun on your face.
The deck was closed when we visited, but we were perfectly happy to sit at a beachfront window while we sipped and nibbled. Among the four of us, we sampled the seasonal on tap (Iron Horse IPA), the Tequila Sunrise and a rosé from local winery GLM. Via’s specialty cocktails include:
- The Grape Nehi: Grey Goose, Chambord, fresh lime, sweet ‘n sour, soda.
- Slippery Rocks: Vanilla vodka, butterscotch schnapps, milk.
- Pink Lemonade: Vodka, gin, sweet ‘n sour, grenadine, lemon.
- Birch Bay Tea: Rum, vodka, gin, tequila, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice, coconut milk. (Yowza!)
As for food, we ordered the fish ‘n chips, a veggie burger and a Portobello mushroom sandwich. Our food didn’t last long enough for a photo opp. (Can you say, “crinkle fries?”) Each dish got at least one thumb’s up—which is good, because no matter how great a view may be, the drinks and eats need to match it.
Like the Will’O, Via Birch Bay has a great backstory (doesn’t every bar?). This one began when Yoon Oh decided to retire in Birch Bay to relax and do some sailing. He saw that the building was for sale and decided to buy it. Yoon and his brother, Jefferson, opened the restaurant in December of 2012 (so much for retirement). Sadly the restaurant was nearly destroyed three months later by a huge tide and strong winds that crashed through the windows and flooded the building. The waves reached the second floor, which seemed hard to believe on this tranquil evening, with nary a whitecap in sight.
With a lot of hard work by employees and the support of the community, Via Birch Bay reopened two months later. When you visit, you’ll notice wooden structures put in place to protect the windows. You’ll also see the co-owner’s artwork sprinkled throughout the building, including a portrait of his daughter that was saved from the ravages of the storm.
Via Birch Bay Café & Bistro is a lovely place to catch up with friends, have a drink, eat some good food and stare through the window at the sea, the rocky shore and the sinking sun.
Via Birch Bay Café & Bistro 7829 Birch Bay Dr. Birch Bay, WA 98230 360-778-2570
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Via Birch Bay Café and Bistro on Facebook