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Weekender: Skagit Valley, Washington

Where to Eat
Calico Cupboard Café & Bakery There are three Calico Cupboards in the valley, but this one, housed in a 1942 granary that was once the Washington Cooperative Farmers Association building, gets points for atmosphere. Think Pacific-country: wide-plank floors, oak tables, mismatched chairs, exposed-brick walls with black-and-white photos of farm life on them. The vegetable scramble (made with farm-fresh eggs), the grilled-eggplant sandwich on freshly baked rustic potato bread, and the spinach salad studded with Skagit Valley apple slices are available daily. 121B Freeway Dr., Mount Vernon; 360/336-3107; lunch for two $30.

Rexville Grocery When Stuart and Joyce Welch took over the 1935 grocery four years ago, it was crammed with eight tons of garbage and had holes in the roof as big around as softballs. They fixed it up and turned it into a gathering place where you can sit at the deli counter and devour hummus sandwiches, stock up on wine and artisanal cheese and bread for a picnic, or buy live crabs for a Northwestern version of a clambake. On Saturdays and Sundays, brunch is served until noon; try the Swedish pancakes topped with lingonberries gathered down the road. 19271 Best Rd., between Conway and La Conner; 360/466-5522; brunch for two $15.

Le Jardin Chef Drew Jackson commands the kitchen of this 24-seat dining room at the Wild Iris inn, where his dishes marry Skagit ingredients to a European sensibility. The results include duck à l'orange accompanied by roast fingerling potatoes; king salmon with arugula and heirloom beans; and chanterelle-dusted scallops with braised spinach. 121 Maple Ave., La Conner; 360/466-1400; dinner for two $80. Open Fridays and Saturdays only.

Nell Thorn Restaurant & Pub Casey Schanen grew up on a Skagit farm, and he and his wife, Susan, still believe in simple cooking with produce straight from the source. Dinner might begin with young asparagus risotto, followed by salmon caught by a neighbor. For lunch, the onion tart and the seafood salad (served on organic bread) are always on the spring menu. 205 Washington St., La Conner; 360/466-4261; dinner for two $65; lunch for two $25.

La Conner Brewing Co. Order a small-batch German-style pilsner, Belgian-style white beer, or Northwest Indian pale ale to go with your wood-fired pizza. La Conner's favorite brewpub is your best bet for a casual night out after a day in the fields. 117 S. First St., La Conner; 360/466-1415; dinner for two $40.


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