Island Foodie Getaway: Outlook Inn + MATIA on Orcas Island

Outlook Inn Waters Edge Suits
Waters Edge Suites at the Outlook Inn

With its diverse topography and remote location, Orcas Island feels more like an island castaway rather than an oasis with a luxurious hotel and one of the nation’s top restaurants. But that’s what you’ll find. MATIA on Orcas Island is a dining destination worthy of a trip and the Outlook Inn is a refined hotel perched at the water’s edge.

What’s more, getting to Orcas Island doesn’t require a shipwreck. It’s just a quick 45-minute flight from Boeing Field in Seattle to Eastsound Airport on Orcas Island. Seaplane flights are also available seasonally to Deer Harbor, West Sound, and Rosario Resort.

Kenmore Air Express Flying Over Outlook Inn

Dinner at MATIA on Orcas Island

There’s farm-to-table dining. And then there’s crafting a daily menu around what local farmers and fishermen have just harvested. At MATIA on Orcas Island, Chef Adams is among the latter. It’s this nightly ritual, combined with Chef Adam’s insatiable creativity, that has earned the remote restaurant national acclaim — along with Chef Adams’ being named among the 2024 James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Northwest and Pacific.

Sure, this island bistro has had a bit of business drama that led to abruptly shuttering its doors. But one could argue that its trials and tribulations have made it all the better (as life has a way of doing). Now located in Eastsound’s old firehall (formerly the home of Roses Bakery Cafe which stood as an Orcas Island institution for 30 years), the 3,900-square-foot space features an open kitchen and a seven-seat counter reserved for tasting menus. 

Dinner at MATIA salmon
Photo provided by MATIA.
Dinner at MATIA on Orcas Island
Photo provided by MATIA.

The food has been dubbed ‘hyper seasonal.’ New York Times food columnist J. Kenji López-Alt said, “This is the best, most exciting restaurant I’ve been to in at least a decade of longer. I can’t remember being so blown away by the food and wine program… Local food and casual dining at its finest.” López-Alt’s comment lead to MATIA earning a spot among The New York Times’ 2022 ‘The Restaurant List’. 

But what’s the food really like? The menu’s ingredient list can sound slightly intimidating at times — sourdough pancake with roasted beets, hazelnut-nori vinaigrette, cabbage radish, smoked egg yolk jam, and dukkah. But the resulting flavor and texture combinations teeter between familiar and other-worldly, delivering both comfort and excitement.

Dishes are crafted the night before. Each is based on what’s available from local farmers and fishermen. So while you may experience some familiar dishes seasonally, each evening’s menu is original and designed with an utmost attention to detail.

Reservations here are strongly recommended and usually released a month in advance. And make them early. Seatings — especially at the chef’s tasting counter — can be hard to come by. 

Chef’s Tasting Counter at MATIA

Dinner at MATIA
Photo provided by MATIA.
Dinner at MATIA toast
Photo provided by MATIA.
Dinner at MATIA scallops
Photo provided by MATIA.

The tasting menu is a pre-set nine-course meal. Be sure to leave plenty of time to linger with your food, as the service time is roughly 2 hours. An optional beverage pairing is available with the experience ($80). It primarily features wine, but occasionally might include other libations such as cider, beer, spirits, or sake. The pairing is highly recommended as the restaurant’s talented Beverage Director, Spencer Verkuilen, brings a wealth of global insights and knowledge that further uplevel the MATIA experience.

Cocktails at MONTI on Orcas Island

Making cocktails at MONTI on Orcas Island
Photo provided by MONTI.
MONTI on Orcas Island
Photo provided by MONTI.
Cocktails at MONTI on Orcas Island
Photo provided by MONTI.

MATIA’s sultry little sister, MONTI is the kind of moody reprieve worthy of a date night. Its long bar sits with prestige, as though one might hold court while crafting cocktails. Dimly lit chandeliers offer a bewildering ambiance.

Weather permitting, the outdoor patio is a breezy space in keeping with the regional Italian cocktail bar theme of its interior. (Minors are permitted on the patio only.) The restaurant does not accept reservations. To secure a table, check in with the host — which MONTI and MATIA share. 

But while the restaurants share a host and a chef (Chef Avery Adams, MATIA cofounder and chef, also crafts the menu for MONTI), they have wildly different menu concepts. Ingredients may find their way between the two restaurants.

For example, “We may take the same beet and transform it into a highly intentional fine dining dish on the Matia side, then simply roast it for a simple beet salad on the MONTI side as well,” explained Drew Downing, co-owner and general manager. But each restaurant has its own kitchen, staff, concept, and seating. 

Staying at Outlook Inn

Orcas Island Resorts. Outlook Inn
Outlook Inn Waters Edge Suite

Nestled between Fishing Bay and Eastsound, Outlook Inn is an exquisite mix of island sanctuary and premium access to some of the best things to do on Orcas Island. Built in the 1980s, it exudes historic charm while offering modern luxuries — thanks to its recent renovations and newly built Waters Edge Suites. 

The rooms all have private balconies and the kind of plush amenities (like double-layer comfort mattresses) one would expect of an upscale Orcas Island hotel. The beachside access is unparalleled. During low tide, adventurous tipepoolers can even make their way to Ohio Island, located just off the shore.

Keep in mind though, this is a popular wedding destination thanks to its own chapel and sprawling private gardens. Be sure to book your reservation as early as possible, as it can often be booked out with wedding parties.

Make the most of your stay by booking an Outlook Inn Hotel Package. In addition to 10% off your round-trip airfare with Kenmore Air Express and Outlook Inn’s Best Flexible Rate, you’ll get an epic package of welcome amenities loaded with goodies sourced in the San Juans, including:

New Leaf Cafe at Outlook Inn

Outlook Inn’s New Leaf Cafe is worthy of recognition in its own right. Taking over the kitchen in 2022, Executive Chef Andrew Martin delivers a Pacific Northwest-inspired spin on Northern Italian cuisine that’s started to turn heads. 

The menu leans towards local ingredients. Seafood here is paid homage, with delightfully warm dishes like harissa simmered clams. But land-based proteins are equally as revered. Chef Martin’s New York steak earned special recognition from traveling food critic Leslie Kelly thanks to the kitchen’s house-made Worcestershire.

And dinner isn’t the only meal Chef Martin raises to a celebratory level. New Leaf Cafe has perhaps the best brunch on the island. A host of eggs Benedicts that are drool-worthy. A confit Duck leg served on top of soba noodles and served with a spicy kimchi. Plus, the collection of morning cocktails and mocktails that are toast-worthy. Just be sure to check the website, as brunch is only offered seasonally.

Things to Do On Orcas Island