10 Foods Every Yakimite Should Become Familiar With By Now
I have lived in the Yakima Valley since 2002 and I still don't know what term we use to call each other. Is it Yakimites? Yakimoanians? Yakimaniacs? Yakistans? Yaki-loos?
Well, whatever you want to call us fellow locals, food and beverages bring all the Yaki-people to the yard, especially these 10 things.
Created a couple of decades ago by some feisty cafeteria ladies, this Yakima Valley school district lunch treat has soared off into eternal Yakima culinary fame. If you are new to town, you really missed out on a gem of a bakery, Shorty's Sweets, Treats, and Cakes. Linda, aka Shorty, was one of the original bakers of the treat and she made the best cheese zombies in town. You can curse out COVID-19 for causing for creating the circumstances that made our beloved eatery close permanently. Fortunately, Viera's Bakery (pronounced VERA's) makes some damned delicious cheese zombies to-go at 516 West Lincoln Avenue.
When I first moved to Yakima, all my friends raved about Miner's burgers and fries. Alton Brown may enjoy them the most, but I prefer Major's burgers (and beer-battered fries). I will say that Miners (2415 S 1st St) has a leg up on the competition because it is open 24-hours, or at least it used to be before the coronavirus made everything get chaotic for restauranteurs. Once after a fun night at Legends Casino with some friend from out of town, we went to the Miner's drive thru and I ordered their chili burger. I was highly impressed! Their drive-thru is now open until 2 a.m. except on the weekends, when they are open until 3:30 in the morning. People say it is located in Yakima, but I say it's in Union Gap! Potato, patahto!
Yes, there are some excellent spots to grab tamales--my favorite is is still Mercedes & Family (2201 W Lincoln Ave)--however, you can grab some of THE BEST homemade tamales you will find this side of the Mexican border by asking your co-workers and friends when their mama is cooking up a batch! If you stay in Yakima long enough, you will hear somebody tell you about a friend of a friend of a neighbor who makes some "bombass" pork or chicken tamales, usually in a batch of a dozen. MMM. MMM. GOOD. So good, you will slap somebody's mama, as they say.
I am still working on developing a taste for fry sauce. I think someone told me it is a blend of ketchup and mayonnaise. While the thought of that makes me want to hurl, you might fight it delectable. Most people in Yakima have either heard of it, order it mainly at the Arctic Circle drive-thru burger joint, or they make their own blend at home. Knock y'all selves out.
There is cheese, and then there is Beecher's cheese. One taste and you will be hooked on it like it is laced with something addictive. Actually, cheese has addictive qualities all on its own, so I am not surprised I crave Beecher's cheese with some fancy crackers every now and then. This product is a Washington state favorite, after all, its website tells you it came "Straight from the heart of Seattle's historic Pike Place Market and New York's Flatiron district." I am sure there are places closer to the Sea-Tac airport to buy it, but that's the only place I know that has a full-fledged restaurant where you can buy it alongside a to-go bowl of their famous mac-and-cheese. If you know of a closer and more accessible place, please slide into my DMs and tell me.
While we are on the subject of CHEESE, let me tell you that Tillamook is so dang good. You can find it all over the country. Just a friendly note: it is pronounced as Tillah-MOOK, like Tillahbook, but it's Tillamook. I heard somebody call it Tillah-moo-k the other day on a podcast. I can see why they would say it that way, seeing as how cheese is made from cows and cows go "moo", but I still cringed when I heard the mispronunciation. It's Tillah-MOOK! My favorite is the extra sharp cheddar.
I first learned of this dangerously delicious beverage at Pete's Nightclub back in the day (this would have been about 18 years ago)! My local friends were telling me to order an Adios Mother FU drink so I did (and nearly passed out after about two or three sips). I am not quite sure why, but this drink is a Yakima Valley legend. They don't call it "Adios" for nothing. It's got like fifty-eleven different liquors in it, so have one and beware!
I am sensing a theme here, that I must REALLY love myself some cheese. This ain't no ordinary cheese, though. Cougar Gold is made exclusively in the land of the Washington State Cougars. You betta ask somebody! Plus, it comes in a delightful round tin can (which somebody stole from me years ago, I haven't forgotten about that)!
A classy drink that you can order all over the globe. It is a blend of Canadian whisky, cranberry juice, and some sour apple Schnapps (and a few drops of club soda if you are feeling randy). Whether you drink the Washington Apple cocktail in a tumbler glass or a shot glass, just make sure you put a Maraschino cherry in it and call it a dang day!