We used Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor to rank Bellingham restaurants. There was a clear winner

Whether you place more importance on a restaurant’s rating or the number of reviews it has received, whether you use Yelp or Google, everyone has their own system for interpreting online restaurant reviews. We decided to do our best to combine all of these factors into a set of standardized rankings.

So if you’re looking for the top-ranked restaurants in Bellingham with the best reviews, but don’t want to end up with the confusion of figuring it out on your own, we’ve got you covered. We developed a method to combine data from Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, while weighing all of these factors, to come up with a (mostly) definitive ranking of Bellingham’s top-rated restaurants.

Birch Door Cafe gets first place

With a score of 15.32, Meridian St. brunch spot Birch Door Cafe took the top spot in a landslide — no other restaurant topped 14.8. The cafe holds a rating above 4.5 stars on each of the three sites, including a 4.7 rating from more than 2,300 reviews on Google.

The restaurant’s menu is highlighted by its soufflé crepes, as well as breakfast staples such as omelets and eggs Benedict. It also offers a lunch menu consisting of burgers, sandwiches and salads.

The rest of the top five

Taking second place was downtown taco bar and restaurant Black Sheep. Its handmade tortillas and wide selection of tacos have earned it consistently high ratings on all three platforms: it holds a 4.5 rating from more than 400 reviews on Yelp and a 4.6 rating from more than 900 reviews on Google.

Located just down the street from the Bellis Fair Mall, the New Mexico Tamale Company was close behind in third place. It had the highest Yelp rating of any restaurant in town with over 100 reviews at 4.7 and a perfect 5 on TripAdvisor. The only thing that hurt its ranking was its relative lack of reviews – 682 across all three platforms.

Fairhaven breakfast and lunch spot Shirlee Bird Cafe took fourth place, highlighted by a 4.8 Google rating, although its coffee selection definitely helped its cause. In fifth place, Mi Rancho Meat Market, a butcher shop-turned-taqueria in northwest Bellingham, received rave reviews on Google, with a 4.7 rating out of more than 1,200 ratings.

Black Sheep Restaurant on Thursday, September 7, 2023 in downtown Bellingham at 211 W Holly St. Bellingham, Washington.

The rest of the top ten

Lettered Streets neighborhood beer and pizza joint Elizabeth Station narrowly missed the top five, as did Russian dumpling shop and late-night staple Pel’meni.

Downtown’s Fiamma Pizza placed eighth, largely due to its large number of reviews – more than 2,500 across all three locations. Peruvian sandwich restaurant Café Rumba earned slightly higher ratings, but fell to ninth place with more than 1,000 fewer reviews than its local neighbor. D’Anna’s Cafe Italiano rounds out the top ten, with good scores on Google and TripAdvisor making up for a 4.2 on Yelp.

The rest of the top 20

AB Crepes Restaurant on Thursday, September 7, 2023 in downtown Bellingham at 1311 Railroad Ave.  Bellingham, Washington.

AB Crepes Restaurant on Thursday, September 7, 2023 in downtown Bellingham at 1311 Railroad Ave. Bellingham, Washington.

Our criteria

We only considered restaurants with more than 100 reviews on Yelp in order to rank only established restaurants and ensure our sample size was large enough.

Many Bellingham restaurants walk the line between a cafe or bar and a restaurant. For those, we’ve only included options that offer a full menu of food options.

One restaurant listed did not have a TripAdvisor page. In this case, we averaged the Yelp and Google scores and used that number in place of a TripAdvisor score.

Our methodology

We started by adding up each restaurant’s Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor scores. After that, we gave each restaurant a 0.05 boost for every online survey or ranking of the area’s best restaurants they were featured in over the past five years. Finally, we added 0.05 per 100 reviews a restaurant receives until its 1,000th review. Since we thought Bellingham customers wouldn’t value each additional review as much, we only added a 0.025 boost per 100 reviews after the thousandth.

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