While walking down Bellinghamâ€™s Railroad Avenue one day when I notice a sign: El Capitanâ€™s has moved. Suddenly, I’m transported back to 2009. It’s 1:30 am, the bars are closing, and our crew needs some substantial fare. Fortunately, The Captain can always be counted on for aÂ late-night fix. Bring on the cream cheese and grilled onions. El Capitanâ€™s has been serving gourmet sausages and hot dogs in Bellingham for 15 years. And now, the business has a new home.
My partner and I walk a few blocks from the original hot dog stand to its new location at the corner of Cornwall and Chestnut. We’re peering in the windows when The Captain himself, owner Marc Ravaris, lets us in for a look inside. Always personable, Marc shows us around before sending us off with coupons. We know weâ€™ll be back.
Since then Iâ€™ve popped in a couple times, lured by the promise of gourmet sausages and brews. The new space is clean, warm, and bright. Lofty, even â€” a nod to the old warehouse on Railroad. Pirate paraphernalia decks the walls. During my most recent visit a neighbor brings in a hand-crafted Pirates of the Caribbean lamp shade, adding to the shopâ€™s growing collection. Trendy tunes play over the Sirius satellite radio, from Leon Bridges to Lord Huron. â€śI like your music,â€ť a customer in line remarks. â€śItâ€™s soothing.â€ť
So how did El Capitanâ€™s come to be? The Legend Begins like this:
â€śLike any epic tale, the legend of El Capitanâ€™s is shrouded in mystery, rife with embellishment, and marginally based in truth. The course taken by El Capitan Marc Ravaris is full of misdirection, strange twists, and blind luck â€“ good or bad depending on the occasion. As life teaches many an explorer, careful charting can often become merely a flexible outline for the journey.â€ť
You can read the whole swashbuckling story on El Capitanâ€™s website. In a nutshell, the name comes from Marcâ€™s former silver-import business named â€śEl Capitanâ€™s Silverâ€ť â€” a pursuit he picked up during ESL training in Mexico. Back in Bellingham, The Legend tells it best:
â€śthe Capâ€™n wandered around the WWU campus looking for a hot dog one day. Unable to find one anywhere, the Capâ€™n decided to try his hand hawkinâ€™ sausages to a hungry group of college students, and opened the first stand on Vendorâ€™s Row in front of the Viking Union student-union building 2003.â€ť
The rest is history. El Capitanâ€™s opened a downtown location in 2007, where I (and surely many other students of that time) shared fond memories over late-night eats. The sausages were (and still are) legendary. But what truly keeps customers coming back year after year is Marcâ€™s friendly and approachable demeanor. He greets repeat customers by name, creating a welcoming environment in The Pirateâ€™s Den for all who enter. After 15 years, the legend of El Capitanâ€™s lives on!
Food and Beer
Foodwise, youâ€™ll find affordable favorites from sausages and hot dogs to jumbo pretzels. Every item on the menu costs less than $10, including gourmet sausages like The â€śCAPâ€™Nâ€ť â€” a 1/4 lb. Pepper and Smoke Sausage, topped with 2 strips of thick-cut bacon, cream cheese, BBQ sauce, secret-recipe grilled onions, and Gaucho Marcâ€™s sauce. Vegan options are available as well. Once youâ€™ve chosen your fare, itâ€™s off to the treasure trove of condiments for a good and proper dressing. Load up with sauces, relish and sauerkraut â€” all included in the price of your sausage.
Marc is focused on food first at El Capitanâ€™s. Soon, he plans to roll out new lunchtime offerings including pulled pork sandwiches. Mac and cheese may be on the upcoming menu as well. For now, one of the best deals youâ€™ll find downtown is El Capâ€™s daily â€śSausage and a Pintâ€ť special. From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., you can pick up any regular sausage and a pint of local beer for $10.
Speaking of beer, the new location boasts an attractive tap list. Here, youâ€™ll find brews from local favorites like Chuckanut Brewing, Kulshan Brewing, Menace Brewing, and more. Illuminati Brewing makes a special Pirate Den Porter in collaboration with El Capitanâ€™s. Roasty and chocolatey, itâ€™s a well-balanced brew reminiscent of Deschutes Black Butte Porter â€” robust enough to compliment any sausage on the menu. Ahoy!
1201 Cornwall Ave #101
Bellingham, WA 98225
Wed. â€“ Fri., 4:00 p.m. â€“ 2:00 a.m.
Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. â€“ 2:00 p.m.
For a full list of where to eat and craft breweries in Bellingham see our Restaurants page or ourÂ Beer pageÂ .