A Gluten-Free Guide to Olympia
(*Editor’s Note: I’m sad to report that Dillinger’s, Our Table and RJ’s Gourmet Grill have retired their businesses since the publishing of this story. My goal is to return to Olympia shortly and update this guide -Mary)
Did you know that a foodie haven awaits you just 60 miles out of Seattle? Washington’s state capital of Olympia has become a hot spot for some fabulous dining. I arrived in Olympia earlier this summer ready to find all things Kurt Cobain and a good cup of coffee. Little did I realize that Olympia would become one of the best cities I’ve visited for not just terrific food, but gluten-free galore as well.
As I made my way through Olympia, each stop had me staying as long as possible to savor each bite of my meal. Not to mention enjoy every sip of my cocktails. I was so impressed that every restaurant stop on my itinerary was extremely gluten-free friendly. Read on and get ready to visit each.
Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar
As I arrived in town on a gorgeous Friday afternoon, I had drinks and oysters on my mind. I headed to Olympia’s hot spot, 222 Market. Ideal as it was just around the corner from the Doubletree Hotel, where I was staying. A converted Packard auto dealership, the 222 Market is home to 9 popular businesses that all fall under certain standards. Each business shares similar morals surrounding sourcing, community, and environmental awareness. My first stop at the marketplace was none other than Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar.
A lively and airy restaurant, Chelsea Farms dates back to 1987. Often referred to as the “Chelsea Gem”, several restaurants and oyster connoisseurs look to Chelsea Farms as having some of the best oysters in the West.
Just 5 miles from the farm, Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar launched in 2016 and has enjoyed rave reviews since. It’s easy to see why-between the quality of food, wine list and an extremely hospitable staff led by manager, Cody Goodwin, it’s easy to see why Goodwin told me they enjoy a wide range of guests spanning from Portland to Seattle. Even Ozzy Osbourne has visited the farm.
I enjoyed a vast array of samplings courtesy of the bar. I started off with a variety of oysters (of course) then enjoyed halibut with Spring broth. As soon as I made my gluten-free allergy known, Cody ensured that everything was good to go for me. The dapper manager also has extensive knowledge of mixing the fantastic cocktails the bar serves up.
Step into a throwback 50’s diner Our Table and get prepared to use modern-age terms like gluten-free and vegan. The location has been everything from a florist to a pizza parlor, then in 2015, college buddies Mike Holbein and Brad Thompson decided to bring their diner dreams to fruition by opening Our Table. With just under $20,000 to launch, Our Table has since become the greasy spoon hangout of Olympia-but, hold the grease.
While most diners don’t really care what season it is, this is vital for Our Table. With a farm-to-table approach, most produce is bought locally from Olympia’s farmers market. This ensures you’re enjoying the freshest ingredients on menu favorites like their roasted veggie sandwich or BLT, with local tomatoes and brie cheese. If you noticed this is a gluten-free article, and I mentioned sandwiches-get excited. Our Table has delicious gluten-free bread to enjoy! Our Table is also a great choice for families and when kiddos are in tow.
Another highlight of my trip was Dillinger’s, an incredible prohibition bar in the heart of downtown. When I pulled up a seat at the bar, you know I was thrilled to see several ‘GF’ symbols throughout their menu.
An ideal stop during date night or a night on the town, Dillinger’s keeps it lively with weeknight happy hours, live music and weekend hours until midnight. While they make it awfully inviting in the bar with plenty of cozy seating, you can also grab a table on the restaurant side.
In addition to great gluten-free accommodations, plenty of menu items also have dairy-free and vegetarian selections. I say don’t leave without ordering the sweet corn grits. And to wash it down, the Juschu cocktail or a tequila flight. Any spirit connoisseur will fall to their knees at the vast selections available, in addition to beer and wines.
RJ’s Gourmet Grill
Being gluten-free, there are some favorites that I just don’t eat at all anymore. Growing up, I loved fish and chips. Alas, it’s not very common I can find a gluten-free variation on it. At RJ’s Gourmet Grill, I never would have dreamed this funky hole in the wall would be a little haven of gluten-free plates.
Gluten-free hamburger buns, chicken strips and even Mediterranean favorites like curry and kabobs. Milkshakes and desserts, too. RJ’s Gourmet Grill is the perfect place to stop at for a casual, quick bite with something for everybody on the menu.
How often does the aroma of freshly baked cones at an ice cream (or gelato) shop instantly take you back to your childhood? Sadly, it’s usually a cup we must opt for when gluten-free. Not at Sofie’s Scoops Gelato. Another gem within the 222 Market, Sofie’s shop is dedicated to serving everyone who comes in search of gelato. If you need a gluten-free cone, dairy free, sugar free-Sofie has you covered.
Despite the wine and oyster coma (not to mention geoduck) I found myself in from Chelsea’s, I still couldn’t resist popping in next door to Sofie’s, where they’re scooping up creamy goodness 6 days a week.
Reminiscent to Jeni’s here in Los Angeles, one of Sofie’s secrets to their delicious dairy gelato is the fact that their milk is from 20 miles up the road. Delivered free of antibiotics and raw, Sofie and her team do the pasteurization process on site before serving it up to the loving locals and visitors. If you visit and have a flavor you love, make it a double scoop as Sofie’s changes her menu daily. Their vegan caramel scoop was a great finale to my 1st evening of food and wine in Olympia.
Hawley’s Gelato and Coffee
After a bus ride on Saturday afternoon to visit the state capital, I decided to head back to downtown and check out Hawley’s Gelato and Coffee on Washington street. Another lively and fun space, a children’s ballet recital had just let out across the street and it was clear to see the locals flocking for after show treats. From an array of gelato flavors to cookies and candy, Hawley’s also features coffee, tea and espresso drinks and a whole case of home made baked goodies. Even gluten-free cupcakes.
Enjoy Plenty of Gluten-free in Olympia
Since these are just the spots I found while in Olympia, I’m sure there’s even more gluten-free to discover in town. Learn more about Olympia HERE and plan your foodie adventure. xo
(*Disclosure: I was a media guest at these restaurants on behalf of this story. All opinions are my own and a huge thank you to everyone’s hospitality.)