Lake Chelan has been one of my primary “happy places” since childhood and holds very nearly nothing but good memories for me. As a kid, it was all about the water. If the sun was up and I wasn’t somewhere in the more than fifty miles of Washington State’s deepest lake, I was almost certainly either in a pool or speeding downhill at Slidewaters. At forty-two, my “tastes” have changed a bit. I still love to get out on the lake but, I now spend a significantly higher volume of time on dry land.
My wife and I had the privilege of spending nine days over there this summer and, with my sister and her family headed that way tomorrow, I was inspired to make a top ten list of my old standbys – places I try and hit every time I go. However, it was too hard to narrow down so I put a bigger restriction on it and made it a list of just food and beverage spots. While this in no way a list of all that’s good for shoveling tasty items down your gullet, I think it makes a fine starter kit for first-timers and a fresh reminder list for old veterans like myself.
- Tsillan Cellars / Sorrento’s Ristorante – From the gorgeous views of Lake Chelan to the beautiful Tuscan architecture and from the wonderful wines (I recommend the Bellissima Rossa) to the fine Italian dining (excellent Cannelloni,) they’re really doing everything right.
- Lakeview Drive-In – What can I say other than best burgers, dogs and fries on the lake. This is one of the things that hasn’t changed since my childhood. Always a must.
- Benson Vineyards Estate Winery – Easily one of the best views of the lake and their Viognier is, in both my wife’s opinion and mine, the best bottle of white wine in the valley. If they had a restaurant to rival Sorrento’s at Tsillan Cellars, this place would be perfect.
- Green Dot Sub Shop – If you’re looking for great sandwiches at a reasonable price, you can’t do any better than Green Dot. They’re quick and delicious. Plus, the founder, Jeff, is often working at the Manson location, and I’m willing to bet you’ve never met a nicer guy.
- Lake Chelan Winery – Quite possibly the best tasting room gift shop in the valley, a nice wine selection, and they do a yummy BBQ. So, take the whole family because there’s plenty of fun for everyone!
- Blueberry Hills Farm – Not only are there the “u-pick” and “we-pick” options on blueberries, plus lots of great blueberry-themed products, the real treat is the restaurant. Be prepared for a bit of a wait because the line is often out the door – and for good reason. We usually go for their awesome breakfast (I highly recommend the Eggs Benedict – and for something unique but just as delicious, the Dunlap which is the same thing but with caramelized onions in place of the English Muffin) but they also do a great lunch (huge burgers.)
- Wapato Point Cellars / The Winemakers Grill – A solid tasting room and gift shop is only surpassed by what is easily one of the classiest restaurants in the valley. You can’t go wrong with either the Chicken Piccata or the Center Cut Filet Mignon.
- Karma Vineyards – If you prefer the bubblier wines, this is one of the few producers in Washington State who do it in the style of méthode champenoise (the same way the French do it in Champagne). Tour their cave, grab a bite to eat while admiring their large koi pond, then hitch a ride up the hill on the Karma trolley and take in that amazing Lake Chelan view.
- Troy’s Pizza – We always take a pizza back to where we’re staying at least once on our trips. The problem is choosing one because they’re all so good. The “Wild Hog,” Cryin’ Hawaiian, Cinco De Mayo, Carnivore…
- Chelan Estate Winery – Another fantastic view of the lake and some of the finest red wines in the valley.
Finally, I simply must give an honorable mention to a lovely woman, without a traditional brick and mortar, who has become a true staple in Manson. She sits just outside of the Wapato Point Resort gate and sells her delicious pies from the back of her SUV. Look for the sign that says, “Donna’s Pies” or just follow your nose.