While walking down Bellingham’s Railroad Avenue one day when I notice a sign: El Capitan’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 a late-night fix. Bring on the cream cheese and grilled onions. El Capitan’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 we’ll be back.
Since then I’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 — 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 shop’s growing collection. Trendy tunes play over the Sirius satellite radio, from Leon Bridges to Lord Huron. “I like your music,” a customer in line remarks. “It’s soothing.”
So how did El Capitan’s come to be? The Legend Begins like this:
“Like any epic tale, the legend of El Capitan’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 – 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.”
You can read the whole swashbuckling story on El Capitan’s website. In a nutshell, the name comes from Marc’s former silver-import business named “El Capitan’s Silver” — a pursuit he picked up during ESL training in Mexico. Back in Bellingham, The Legend tells it best:
“the Cap’n wandered around the WWU campus looking for a hot dog one day. Unable to find one anywhere, the Cap’n decided to try his hand hawkin’ sausages to a hungry group of college students, and opened the first stand on Vendor’s Row in front of the Viking Union student-union building 2003.”
The rest is history. El Capitan’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 Marc’s friendly and approachable demeanor. He greets repeat customers by name, creating a welcoming environment in The Pirate’s Den for all who enter. After 15 years, the legend of El Capitan’s lives on!
Food and Beer
Foodwise, you’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 “CAP’N” — 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 Marc’s sauce. Vegan options are available as well. Once you’ve chosen your fare, it’s off to the treasure trove of condiments for a good and proper dressing. Load up with sauces, relish and sauerkraut — all included in the price of your sausage.
Marc is focused on food first at El Capitan’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 you’ll find downtown is El Cap’s daily “Sausage and a Pint” 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, you’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 Capitan’s. Roasty and chocolatey, it’s a well-balanced brew reminiscent of Deschutes Black Butte Porter — robust enough to compliment any sausage on the menu. Ahoy!
1201 Cornwall Ave #101
Bellingham, WA 98225
Wed. – Fri., 4:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
For a full list of where to eat and craft breweries in Bellingham see our Restaurants page or our Beer page .