Sin City Secret: Backdoor Kitchen

Posted by Sandi

Orcas Islanders sometimes affectionately refer to Friday Harbor  as “Sin City” for its flashing lights, multi-story buildings and big-city feel. Of course it’s not a big and bustling city at all, but it seems so when compared to laid-back Eastsound.

A few years ago I got to know San Juan Island’s Sin City a bit better when my husband was assigned a story by Sunset Magazine. As part of the research, we sampled what locals consider to be the best restaurants. The Backdoor Kitchen became our instant favorite. Since then we’ve returned to celebrate special occasions; one of those was last night.

Warehouse at the Backdoor Kitchen, Friday Harbor WA

Behind this warehouse lies a hidden jewel

The Backdoor Kitchen is off the beaten path, hidden from view in an industrial area. If you aren’t looking for it or don’t know your way, you won’t find it. That – to me – is its first charm.

Secret Garden and nursery at the Backdoor Kitchen, Friday Harbor WA

The entry garden behind the warehouse

Across the warehouse parking lot, a stone path leads to a secret garden and outdoor dining patio. We had reserved an indoor table, but decided to enjoy our cocktails alfresco.

The Backdoor Kitchen dining patio - Friday Harbor, San Juan Island WA

The patio has several outdoor "rooms" for dining

From the list of 12 yummy specialty drinks, I chose the No. 6:  Ketel One “Ginger-Lemon Drop,” made with fresh-squeezed lemon and ginger syrup, served with a sugar rim. Bob – who rarely deviates from rum and coke – chose the No. 4: Ketel One vodka and mango puree muddled with fresh lime and topped with ginger brew.

Cozy Bar at the Backdoor Kitchen restaurant in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island WA

The oh-so-cozy bar at the Backdoor Kitchen

When the sun dipped I got a chill and was happy to move to our table inside. The dining room is small and intimate, with interesting art, a view of the patio garden and a window into the kitchen where magic is created.

Dining room of the Backdoor Kitchen - Friday Harbor, San Juan Island WA

The intimate dining room

The ambiance of the Backdoor Kitchen is so much to my liking that I would keep it on my favorites list even if the food was so-so. But here you don’t have to compromise: the food is fabulous.  

Bob ordered the salmon special; I ordered the Corn Masa Cake – topped with  sharp white cheddar, sliced avocado, green onions, and red cabbage salad. Neither of us offered the other a bite!

For dessert we treated ourselves to the fresh fruit crisp. Bob considers himself a “crisp connoisseur” and says positively this is the best he’s ever had.

Bellies full, we walked on the 10pm ferry. Although I have favorite restaurants on Orcas, there’s something extra special (and romantic) about riding the ferry with your sweetheart for a dinner date, especially when the destination is Sin City and the Backdoor Kitchen.


Looking to enjoy the simple life in the beautiful San Juan Islands?
Contact T Williams Realty  – we’ll help you find your way home.


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2 Responses to Sin City Secret: Backdoor Kitchen

  1. Nikki

    Great seeing you guys for dinner in the big city of San Juan. Hope you come a island hopping again soon.

  2. We’ve been wanting to try this restaurant Sandi – thanks for the reminder! Sounds ‘romantical’ as my little niece would say 😉