13 Food Dishes That Are Absolute Symbols of Washington

Written by Patrick MacFarland
Updated: November 7, 2023
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These are the food dishes that symbolize Washington!

Washington is the most northwestern state in the contiguous United States. Known for its lush forests, rainy weather, and delicious seafood, the state was named for the first president of the United States, George Washington. There are so many fun activities you can do in the state, mostly outdoorsy things, but most importantly, there are many food dishes that can give you a total taste explosion.

Of course, certain food dishes have become symbols of Washington. Most of these foods are Pacific Northwest style and they are the epitome of Washington state. We’re going to go over the 13 food dishes that are absolute symbols of Washington, the ones that make you think of Washington and only of this state. 

Salmon

A pair of bright-red sockeye salmon

There are five species of salmon swimming in Washingtonian waters and they include sockeye, pink, Chinook, coho, and chum.

©Vasik Olga/Shutterstock.com

There are many types of salmon and Washingtonians know their salmon. Restaurants will identify the type of salmon on their menus. Natives will go even as far as ensuring what type of salmon goes best with the meal they’re about to eat.

You should also make sure to buy local wild-caught salmon instead of farmed. Wild-caught salmon is fresher and much tastier. When deliberating what salmon dish is best to eat, just go with a simple smoked salmon and lox for breakfast or grilled salmon with potatoes for dinner.

Dungeness Crab

Dungeness crab

The law states only five male Dungeness crabs can be caught per day in Puget Sound.

©Jennifer Nicole Buchanan/Shutterstock.com

Dungeness crab is extremely common in the Pacific Northwest and there are many dishes that you can make with Dungeness crab. The crabs are caught during winter until about July and can serve many purposes. Once boiled or steamed, you can eat these crabs in a variety of ways. The most famous dish in Washington with Dungeness crab is the crab cake. But you can also put it in salads or eat it on a seafood platter.

Seattle Dog

Homemade Seattle Style Hot Dog with Cream Cheese and Onions

Seattle-style hot dogs can also be topped with Sriracha hot sauce or jalapeños.

©Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

Food vendor Hadley Lang created this concoction when he put a sausage on a bagel with cream cheese. Now, the Seattle dog is a sausage on a toasted bun topped with grilled onions, cream cheese, barbecue sauce, and cabbage. This is one famous Washingtonian dish you must try while you’re in Seattle.

Washington Apples

Apples

The state of Washington has ideal growing conditions for apples.

©iStock.com/Baks

Washington is the top producer of apples in the United States. And as such, apples have to make it on this list. There are many types of apples grown in Washington and you can make many dishes with these delicious, sweet fruits. Eat a Cosmic Crisp apple as a snack or put it in an apple pie!

Washington Cherries

Rainier cherries hanging on cherry tree branch

Washington produces the most sweet cherries in the entire country.

©patjo/Shutterstock.com

Another fruit famous in Washington is the cherry. Particularly, the most popular are the Bing and Rainier cherries. Buy them at your local farmer’s market and eat them as a snack or you can also chop them up and put them in a scrumptious cherry pie.

Beecher’s Flagship Cheese

Misty Fog Surrounds a Cow Pasture in Western Washington. Cattle in western Washington state are surrounded by a misty fog layer during a lovely sunrise.

Coming from cows in Washington, Beecher’s Flagship cheese is a cheddar aged 15 months.

©Edmund Lowe Photography/Shutterstock.com

Beecher’s Flagship Cheese is quintessential Washington. The cheese comes from cows in Seattle and the cheese is aged 15 months before it develops its consistency. This cheese pairs well with some Washington wine and crisp apples or cherries. It’s a perfect date combination when you go out for a picnic at Kerry Park.

Cougar Gold Cheese

Panoramic skyline of Washington State University campus in Pullman, Washington.  WSU has a number of towering residence halls on the south side of the campus that make up a large student population.

Cougar

Gold cheese, originating from the WSU creamery in Pullman, is aged for a year before being canned and sold.

©JW_PNW/Shutterstock.com

We have another cheese on the list but this time it’s a cheese sold in a 30-ounce can since its inception in 1948. Cougar Gold cheese comes from cows at the Washington State University creamery in Pullman. Nutty, sharp, smooth, and firm, this cheese is a white cheddar. Make sure you pair that with some Seattle craft beer.

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

Clam chowder originated in New England in the 18th century.

©GLIDER LLC/Shutterstock.com

Although clam chowder is associated with New England, Washington clam chowder is also famous. Clam chowder is a Washington staple because of its fresh clams — with razor or even geoduck. Of course, like many other clam chowders, they can be served in sourdough bread bowls. Get yourself a delicious bowl when you visit the state.

Geoduck

 Geoduck clam

Geoducks are boiled for a short time before they are eaten and besides the Pacific Northwest, they are found throughout the Pacific coast all the way south to Baja California.

©sasazawa/Shutterstock.com

The pronunciation of geoduck is even more interesting than how it’s spelled. Geoduck is definitely not a duck and it’s not geological. Geoduck, which is pronounced gooey duck, is a large clam. This clam is so big that they can’t fit in their shells. They are native to the Pacific Northwest. This weird-shaped clam is an expensive delicacy so if you’re lucky to run into geoduck at a menu, make sure you order it. It will be a tasty and sweet delight!

Fish and Chips

fish and chips with french fries - unhealthy food

The fish and chips dish originated in England around the 1860s.

©gowithstock/Shutterstock.com

When people think of fish and chips, they immediately think of England or Ireland. But Washington also has great fish and chips. Many seafood restaurants will sell fish and chips. You can enjoy the meal while at Pike Place Market in Seattle. Just make sure you pair that with a refreshing Huckleberry soda.

Coffee and Fair Scones

Traditional British Scones with Cream cheese, Cranberry jam and a cup of tea on wooden table black background.

Fisher’s Fair Scones started in 1911 to promote their flour and has been popular ever since.

©HarryKiiM Stock/Shutterstock.com

Washington is the birthplace of Starbucks coffee. The first Starbucks opened up in 1971 at Pike Place Market in Seattle. So get your coffee from Starbucks and a Fisher’s Fair scone (which are usually sold at the Washington State Fair and other fairs across the country) for your perfect, light breakfast. The scones are served with butter and raspberry jam, so they’ll pair perfectly with your black coffee.

Almond Roca

Homemade Almond Roca candy in a pan and a plate on a wood background.

Almond Rocas have been around since they were created in Tacoma by the Brown and Haley Company in 1914.

©Gchapel/Shutterstock.com

Another sweet you can pair with your Starbucks coffee is a delicious Almond Roca. Originating from Tacoma, Almond Roca is a hard, buttery toffee with nuts sprinkled around it. This sweet treat pairs well with a light snack with a coffee in the afternoons. Almond Rocas have become so popular that they now come in different flavors. They are also the perfect birthday, holiday, or thank-you gift.

Walla Walla Onions

Fresh Picked Large and Sweet Whole Walla Walla Onions in a bin in a Farmers Market for Sale

The low sulfur in the Walla Walla onion is what makes them sweet.

©Candace Hartley/Shutterstock.com

The sweet and delicious Walla Walla onion hails from Walla Walla, Washington. The onion is a state vegetable that is a non-hybrid member of the Amaryllidaceae family of onions. The onions grow perfectly in the rich, fertile soil in Walla Walla and that’s the reason why the onions are so sweet. Chop some up and do a Walla Walla onion omelet or maybe sautee them and serve them with potatoes and a sockeye salmon.

Summary of the Food Dishes That Are Symbols of Washington

These 13 Food Dishes That Are Absolute Symbols of Washington:

RankDishesOrigins
1SalmonAncient Cuisine
2Dungeness CrabNative Tribes of the Pacific Northwest
3Seattle DogPioneer Square
4Washington ApplesApple seeds planted in 1820s in Vancouver
5Washington CherriesImported to the U.S. during 1600’s
6Beecher’s Flagship CheeseCreated in 2003
7Cougar Gold CheeseMade in 1940s to keep cheese fresh in a tin
8Clam ChowderFrench settlers brought this dish to the U.S. in the 17th century
9GeoduckNative dish of the West Coast
10Fish and ChipsThis dish is traced back to 15th-century Portugal
11Coffee and Fair SconesScotland in early 1500s
12Scotland in the early 1500sInvented in 1912 by Harry Brown and J. C
13Walla Walla OnionsIsland of Corsica, Italy

Conclusion

And there you have it, these are the 13 food dishes that are absolute symbols of Washington. These food dishes are delicious and will have you craving for more. When you get the chance to visit Washington, make sure you have this list handy so you can check each item off and ensure you try the food dishes that Washington is known for.

It’s worth noting that you can also pick out your favorite seafood items like oysters or razor clams and enjoy them. Seafood is quintessential Washington, so you’ll enjoy every sea-tasting mouthful. In the meantime, prepare for your trip and make some salmon with potatoes. Pair that with a delicious white wine and presto!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Alexander Lukatskiy/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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