Business at Black Sheep, Downtown Bellingham’s premier taco and cocktail bar, is booming. The adult restaurant and bar on Holly street became so popular that owners Charlie Pasquire and Chas Kubis had no choice but to move a couple doors down and double their seating capacity six months ago. “We wanted to create the kind of place where we ourselves would want to come,” said Kubis of the rationale for opening in November 2017.
The two have seen some radical changes to their corner of downtown since they first opened Goat Mountain Pizza in August 2012 (now closed). Back then neighboring businesses included a video rental store and a comic shop.
Today, the upscale Camber Coffee is a neighbor and the northwest quadrant of downtown Bellingham is home to an increasing selection of new, adult-oriented restaurants and bars, including Saltine and Bantam46.
Part of Black Sheep’s success is the atmosphere created by General Manager Brendan O’Neil, said Kubis.
“Brendan creates an atmosphere people love at Black Sheep, with good drinks and great tacos. Our customer service is a point of pride for us and we have a culture that emphasizes being proactive, being analytical and getting service right.”
Equally important is the food emerging from the kitchen under the watchful eyes of Chef Natalie McCammon. The tacos are inexpensive at $3-$4 each and three tacos constitutes a substantial meal. We tried the seared rockfish ($4), the carne asada ($4) and the roasted sweet potato & cauliflower taco ($3). Each one had its own distinct flavors. The rockfish was served with jalapeno-lime cream, cilantro and guacamole, while the carne asada, the restaurant’s top seller, comes with pico de gallo, a great complement to the seared flank steak. The veggie taco with cotija, onion and sweet corn salsa was also a hit. Washed down with one of Black Sheep’s classic cocktails or margaritas and the tacos make a great, light lunch or dinner. They come with three house-made salsas and diners can add a bowl of house-made chips for $2.
I watched with envy as the ahi tuna tostada emerged from the kitchen, vowing to order that one on my next visit. The $10 taco is on special right now and constitutes a large serving of coriander slaw with avocado, radish, cilantro and lime. It looked amazing.
“Our customers know which tacos they love and they tend to order the same thing consistently,” says Kubis. “That makes it harder for us when we introduce something new – we really have to market it hard to get people to try it!”
Walk inside Black Sheep and you’re immediately taken by its funky, fun atmosphere and décor. There are outdoor lights suspended over the rectangular restaurant and large pieces of art by daytime bartender Jared Wartman adorning the brick wall. Kubis and Pasquire hired their friend Chris Lett to build a 30-foot gleaming wooden bar and decorated it with silver backing. Hanging plants drop long, decorative fronds down the walls and the vibe is friendly, casual and firmly adult-oriented.
This is a great place to relax, eat and watch the world go by, and you only have to spend a few minutes inside to understand why.
- Address: 211 W. Holly St., Bellingham
- Phone: (360) 526-2109
- Website: blacksheepbellingham.com
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