Have you ever had a craving for pie? Not just any pie, but made from scratch, crispy yet flaky, buttery, still warm from the oven pie. After doing research and speaking to fellow aviators, the consensus is “the” best pie in the Pacific Northwest tri-state area (Oregon, Washington & Idaho) is at Andrea Raymor and Christine Cray’s Spruce Goose Café at Jefferson County International Airport near Port Townsend, Washington.
Yes, it’s a very bold statement. The question is, “what makes a great pie?” First, the pie crust should be buttery, moist, tender and flaky. As any baker knows, not an easy task to pull off. Second the filling needs to excel in taste, appearance and consistency with an added dash of creativity thrown in. Where to have such an experience? Head north to the Spruce Goose Café at to the non-towered Jeff. Co. (0S9), as referred to by the well informed over the CTAF, located in the middle of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.
The Jefferson County International Airport is a U.S. Customs Airport of Entry, thus the international designation. It has self service Avgas 100LL and is the home of the Port Townsend Aero Museum and Port Townsend Aircraft Services, the locally owned and family run FBO. Bartley (B.J.) Hallinan and his wife Jodi offer everything you want in a friendly, useful FBO: both courtesy cars and rental cars, a pilot lounge with WiFi and computer/printer access, a large screen TV, a free cup of coffee along with flight training, aircraft maintenance, a pilot shop, charter services and a friendly black lab to keep you company.
The Spruce Goose isn’t much to look at on the outside. The café is a white one-story box of a building framed by lush evergreens and madronas. A few picnic tables are scattered around the parking area. A well worn wooden deck wraps around the front of the building and over looks the east end of the narrow 3,000 ft. paved runway. What the Spruce Goose does have is a bustling American diner feel. Not the emptiness or loneliness of the 1942 Edward Hopper painting Nighthawks. This place is packed on weekends, especially weekend breakfast, but even during weekday lunch the Spruce Goose is alive.
It’s an airport restaurant with stereotypical aviation décor that has an elusive mix of patrons. Amongst the airplane models, signs and photos you might find a few local families plane watching, a regular old timer or two shooting the breeze, a range of aviators refueling, a ramp worker from nearby Boeing Field and several CAP cadets all intermingling. During a recent visit, just feet from the front door, a well-traveled Cessna trainer was tied down next to a beautifully restored, deep maroon-red, Piper J-3 Cub.
In deference to mothers everywhere, order lunch before digging in to dessert. Even though they’re known for their pie, the Spruce Goose accommodates with a full menu. You’ll find a fairly deep selection of sandwiches ($7.99 – $9.99) ranging from melts and dips to several grilled options featuring turkey, vegetables or a moist, juicy marinated chicken breast. On this day, there was a special of a locally made bagel, not too chewy, not overly doughy and toasted to a golden brown. The breakfast plate was served with Washington state smoked salmon accompanied by all the appropriate condiments and came with a cup of intense beef stroganoff soup. A classic combination that is tasty without being cliché.
This is an airstrip dining establishment, so burgers are a must ($5.99 – $9.99). The menu contains a good sampling of ground beef and ground chicken burgers with various fixin’s including chili, a number of cheese options, sweet onions, bacon, mushrooms and even teriyaki. If that wasn’t choice enough, indulge your true diner cravings with a plate of crisp fish and chips ($11.99) followed by a thick made-to-order milkshake ($3.99).
With lunch out of the way, it’s time for the pie. Specials rotate and include an offering of Marionberry (a blackberry hybrid developed and grown in Oregon), banana cream, cherry-rhubarb and the true test of any pie maker, the classic American apple pie ($3.99). All warm and available à la mode of course (add $1.00). So is it the best pie? It’s damn good, a seven out of ten perhaps. A very good pie for a restaurant that overlooks a runway but one should judge on quality not on location. Maybe the anticipation over hyped the expectations or maybe the crust was just a bit heavy and the fillings were lacking that explosion of fruit with every bite.
Still, there are more plus than minuses. The Spruce Goose has the perfect aviation kitschy décor. The room allows a visitor the ability to make new pilot friends and talk tail draggers, Oshkosh or home builts. The cuisine is satisfying and flavorful with a wide selection of savory and sweet culinary options and a killer breakfast. The Spruce Goose Café and Jefferson County International Airport is one those places that offers the complete $100 Hamburger experience.
Jefferson County International Airport (0S9)
Elevation: 108 ft. / 33 m
Zip code: 98368
Sectional chart: SEATTLE
Control tower: no
ARTCC: SEATTLE CENTER
FSS: SEATTLE FLIGHT SERVICE STATION
Pattern altitude: 998 ft. MSL
International operations: international airport of entry
100LL AVAILABLE 24 HRS WITH CREDIT CARD. NO CASH SALES.
Runway 9/27, 3,000 x 75 ft. (right traffic runway 9)
Spruce Goose Café
310 Airport Road
Port Townsend, WA 98368-9709
Phone: (360) 385-3185
Open 7 days a week 7:00am to 4:00pm (PST)
Port Townsend Aircraft Services
191 Airport Road
Port Townsend, WA 98368-9709
Phone: (360) 385-7770
Port Townsend Aero Museum
105 Airport Road
Port Townsend, WA 98368-9709
Phone: (360) 379-5244
Open Wednesday through Sunday 9:00am – 4:00pm (PST)
Closed Monday – Tuesday
The above airport information is not for navigational purposes. Please obtain up-to-date airport information from the FAA before flight.