Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pepper Sisters in Bellingham

This blog entry is fuelled by guilt. I recommended this restaurant to my dad and his friend from Bellingham after looking on Yelp for an alternative to our favourite Mexican places in the city, Casa Que Pasa and Tadeo's. I am an Elite Yelper and usually find the reviews on Yelp to be accurate...but they were off when describing the food and ambience of Pepper Sisters. We should have gone to Casa Que Pasa.

My dad's buddy knew about Pepper Sisters and agreed that we should break away from our regular places to try this highly touted "Southwestern" restaurant on the outskirts of town. We were immediately sceptical upon entering: it was bright, sterile, and cavernous. Our excessively cheery server guided us to a table at the window and handed us our vegetarian-biased menus. Do not eat here if you possess a passion for carne asada and carnitas. The dishes here are dominated by veggies and poultry. This isn't a bad thing in and of itself, but the menu is definitely not balanced. Desperate for flavor and protein, my dad ordered the Pork Burrito and our friend ordered the Pork and Posole Stew. I tried to be open-minded and ordered the veggie Blue Corn Rellenos. I figured they couldn't mess this up since a standard chile relleno is vegetarian, but the Pepper Sisters version was packed with goat cheese. A little goat cheese mixed with the jack cheese would have added a pleasant zing to the filling, but there was so much chèvre that it just ruined the dish. My dad said that the density of his pork combined with the mandatory whole wheat tortilla it was served in resulted in a dry and disturbingly bland burrito. Our friend said the stew was so-so, but that he could have easily made it at home.

Adding insult to injury, our bill was almost double what it would have been at most other Mexican restaurants in the city. And I'm sorry, but a few pieces of deep-fried dough ("sopaipillas") don't warrant these inflated prices.

If you are vegetarian or are dining with vegetarians, I would actually recommend Pepper Sisters, despite my negative review. They have a huge number of options for those who are unable or are unwilling to consume pork and red meat (aka the backbone of both Mexican and Southwest cuisine). I won't be back here though.

PS - The owner, Susan Albert, has never lived nor cooked in the Southwest.

Keywords: "Bellingham Mexican Restaurants", "Alex Dawkins", "Vancouver Mexican"

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