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The Best Restaurants Near Lake Chelan

Where to find tacos in downtown Chelan, blueberry pie in Manson, and pastries in Stehekin that are only accessible by boat or hike.
The Best Restaurants Near Lake Chelan image

Lake Chelan feels like it’s a world away from Seattle. Even though this 55-mile-long glacial body of water is only a three-hour drive, you’ll get access to world-class mountains and a booming wine scene spread out around the many surrounding small towns.

Before you start buying new swimsuits (or, if you're visiting during winter, a neon snowsuit), let’s address the most important thing first: where you should eat. Here are the best restaurants, cafes, and bakeries located near our favorite lake in central Washington. You’ll find places in downtown Chelan, Manson, Stehekin, and even a spot in East Wenatchee if you need a pit stop when driving to or from Seattle. We also have a full guide to the wineries in the region.


THE SPOTS


photo credit: Jennan Oaks

French

Lake Chelan

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightBrunchOutdoor/Patio SituationSpecial OccasionsBirthdays

Date night vibes are hard to come by near the lake. But with its crystal chandeliers, stone fireplace, and a front patio loaded with umbrellas, the Bistro is one of the only places in town you'll actually want to change out of your bathing suit for. The menu features French classics like steak frites and croque madames, as well as a hefty burger topped with caramelized onions and melted gruyere.

If you wake up on Sunday with a wine-tasting-induced hangover, you can recover at brunch with a classic monte cristo, chicken and waffles, or crab eggs benedict.


With a network of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, Chelan is a vacation spot that’s good all year round. We could say the same about County Line—it's one of our favorite places to be after swimming all day in the summer or skiing in the winter. Kick things off with some shared plates, like the bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers with goat cheese or the BBQ pork bao. Follow that up with the ramen noodle salad or a bowl of smoked mac and cheese, and wash everything down with a pint of beer or cider from their selection of almost exclusively PNW-based taps.


The Albatross by Karma is what happens when a champagne producer moves into the clubhouse of a public golf course: after the 18th hole, you can go right to a champagne tasting on the shaded deck. Most people there are golfers, but you don’t have to know how many shots under par constitute an “albatross” to appreciate a bubbly flight with a side of crispy coconut prawns. Order the grilled chicken and brie sandwich topped with caramelized onions and apple bacon aioli, and get the bowl of clams, steamed in Karma’s chardonnay, for the table.


It doesn’t get more small-town summer than a meal at the Drive-In, downtown Chelan’s favorite fast food spot. You’ll see kids in swimsuits cradling buckets of fries and teenagers on dates who will probably break up when school starts. Order the bacon burger basket with crinkle-cut fries before grabbing a spot at one of their picnic tables. And before you leave, get their immaculate six-inch-tall cone of vanilla and chocolate-swirl soft serve.


The Vogue is one of the best hangout spots in town. During the day, this lounge has some excellent smoothies, blended coffee drinks like the mocha chiller, and breakfast sandwiches on ciabatta. But at night in the summer months, they host live music, stay open late on the weekends, and serve a bunch of local wine and beer you can order a cheese plate. If nothing else, use The Vogue for their little bottle shop in the back, especially if you don’t feel like venturing out of town to the wineries.


photo credit: Meg Raines Photography

If you’re looking for a breakfast spot after a loop around the riverwalk, Apple Cup Cafe is the place. They have great cottage cheese pancakes, omelets, and breakfast burritos, all of which will put you in the mood to do nothing but lay out by the lake all day. They’re open until 8pm, so it’s also a solid choice for a late lunch or early dinner when you’ve gone to the Drive-In too many times.


The pizzas at ​​Local Myth seem like they were created by hitting the “add all” toppings button. For example, the Taco Wagon has a sour cream swirl, three cheeses, jalapeños, tomatoes, onions, scallions, garlic, chorizo, and *takes a deep breath* cilantro.

But we’ve found that their simple dishes are even better, like the margherita pie that comes with cherry tomatoes or the very cheesy and very delicious pepperoni calzone. Leftover cold slices from Local Myth are the perfect snack before doing a cannonball into the lake. Don’t worry, we debunk the wait-30-minutes-after-eating-to-swim rule basically every summer.


Let's say you had four (or was it five?) Black Cherry White Claws last night and making breakfast sounds about as appealing as powerwashing the back deck blindfolded. Lake Chelan Artisan Bakery is here for you with a strong cup of coffee (made from beans grown in nearby Twisp) and a fully-loaded bagel breakfast sandwich. Our perfect order is a sausage, egg, and cheese on an asiago bagel, and maybe one of their freshly-baked ham and cheese croissants if they aren’t sold out by the time you wake up at noon.


Between all of the sit-down Mexican places in Chelan, Marcela’s is the one to prioritize. Owned by the same family that runs Rosita’s in Green Lake, the wet burritos here are the standout—especially when topped (and filled) with their chile verde pork in a citrusy tomatillo sauce. This should also be your Chelan margarita destination, as they have around 30 to choose from, including flavors like prickly pear, blueberry, and tamarind, and frozen lime versions that are tart and not too sweet.


Marcela’s might be the best Mexican spot in town for a sit-down meal, but what if you’re just looking for a quick plate of carnitas or a massive torta to house before you sunbathe? Check out Tacos El Guero, a food truck in downtown Chelan that also has a couple of umbrella-shaded picnic tables on a stretch of turf. The highlights here are the massive, gooey quesabirria tacos that come with a rich side of consomme. Two make for a filling lunch and cost under $10. 


With bright pink walls and a general millennial-chic aesthetic, Goldie’s clearly wants to be the trendy breakfast spot in town. They do smoothies and acai bowls with spirulina, coconut water, and vegan protein powder, along with warm grain salads topped with sprouts and pickled onions. Take your cortado or Chagaccino, which is basically a mushroom mocha, on their outdoor patio that leads to the riverwalk.


Blueberry Hills Farm dishes out diner classics, all from inside a converted barn. The owners decked out this cozy space with grandpa’s collection of fishing memorabilia, vintage bikes, and old photos—it’s practically a museum of small-town charm. Locals and tourists alike gather here for country biscuits and gravy, Danish yeast waffles, and angus beef burgers. If you’re celebrating a birthday during your trip, the homemade berry or apple pies are a great alternative to cake. Grab a table on the back deck for views of the blueberry farm and neighboring orchards.


Buddy’s is an unpretentious dive with a very friendly staff that’s basically impossible not to love. On any given night, you’ll find Chelan locals gathering for beers and burgers, or tourists belting “Sweet Caroline” after a long day of wine-tasting. They have a wide selection of taps, including some local Washington brews, jello shots, and classic bar food like Philly cheesesteaks and juicy, loaded burgers with extra crispy homestyle fries. Pop in on a Friday or Saturday night for a lively karaoke set.


This is our favorite place for cocktails in Chelan Valley. The tequila sunset has a red wine float, and the Tan Lines, made with tequila, lime, pineapple hot sauce, and triple sec, is perfect when you’re craving some tropical, umbrella-in-your-drink energy. While the beverages are reason enough to visit Sunset Beach Bar, the food, made with ingredients sourced from nearby farms, is equally impressive. Focus on one of their hearty mains, like fall-off-the-bone braised pork shank, roasted chicken with dijon jus, or bolognese pasta. Get a seat on the back patio where you can twirl some pappardelle next to a fire pit.


Despite being located in Washington’s most remote town—Stehekin is only accessible by boat or hike—the Stehekin Pastry Company is a must-visit if you’re staying near the lake. Since 1989, this family-owned bakery has served pastries, cakes, and pies from a quaint alpine cabin. Their cinnamon rolls are legendary, and yes, they alone are worth the two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride from downtown Chelan. A slice of sourdough pizza and a sticky bun taste particularly outstanding after a hike in the North Cascades.  


If you’re starving on your drive into Chelan, Fonda Oaxaqueña is an excellent pit stop in East Wenatchee. And if you’re headed back to Seattle, the colorful interiors can soften the post-vacation blues. This place has excellent mole, which they incorporate into nearly everything from enchiladas to baby pork ribs. Just make sure you don’t fill up on the complimentary chips, housemade salsa, and refried bean dip. You won’t want any distractions when a plate of perfectly charred carne asada tacos or steaming tamales is set in front of you. 


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