The good news is the cherry pie at Twede’s is good. Great, even, when you consider the fact that cherry pie just needs fruit that isn’t mushy (it’s not) and crust that doesn’t surrender structural integrity (it doesn’t).
The cherry pie at Twede’s has a lot to live up to since the North Bend cafe appeared as the home of “where pies go when they die,” in a trippy TV show that came to represent the peculiar Northwest. Twin Peaks returns May 21, on Showtime, after 26 years; North Bend never went anywhere.
Twin Peaks was more than a hit ABC drama in 1990—it was a cultural phenomenon. Washington had yet to reach its flannel-clad, garage-band pinnacle, but cineast David Lynch reimagined our evergreen wonderland as a carnival of freaks and warped domesticity, equal parts murder and musical sequences. With lots of logging trucks.
Exteriors were largely filmed around Snoqualmie and North Bend, lumber towns 35 miles east of Seattle. The tiny settlements had little renown back then, the days between the fading of the timber industry and the rise of our thriving outdoor recreation industry. This brush of Hollywood brought a spark to North Bend especially, bestowing a reputation it carries 26 years later.
To be clear: The Cascade foothills aren’t as quirky as the town of Twin Peaks. The TV version had a lady who spoke to her pet log, for heaven’s sake; it’s a high bar. But it is still spectacular.
Take Snoqualmie Falls, located four and a half miles northwest of North Bend on the Snoqualmie River. The 268-foot cascade is taller than Niagara Falls, a veritable fire hose even though the bulk of the river is diverted underground for hydroelectric energy. From any viewpoint in the public park along the riverside, it’s a monster.
There, perched on the waterfall’s crown, is the 89-room Salish Lodge, or the Great Northern on the show. Renovated in 1988 and now owned by the Muckleshoot Tribe, the hotel is an oasis of luxury in an otherwise barren expanse of east King County. High-end spa, wood-burning fireplaces, destination weddings? It’s the only place for miles.
But back to the weird: Salish is at its most surreal with a tradition that dates to its 1916 founding. The $37, four-course Country Breakfast isn’t a big meal; it’s a day of big meals in one. It begins with pastries—plural—spread with housemade honey butter. Then a boat of steel-cut oats topped with poached apricot. Up next, a stack of buttermilk pancakes with honey drizzled from above by a waiter on tiptoe and fruit swimming in Devonshire cream. Eggs, bacon, sausages, ham, biscuits…courses are nonstop while the waterfall pounds outside. It’s homey to a bizarre excess, and though the wait staff swear that some people finish the whole thing, it doesn’t seem metabolically feasible.
The route between Salish Lodge and downtown North Bend is dotted with the relics that gave Twin Peaks its rustic ambience. The now-hollow Weyerhaeuser Saw Mill has become a rally car course called Dirtfish Driving School. Nearby, the angular beams of Reinig Bridge cross the Snoqualmie River, the span now a section of the 31.5-mile Snoqualmie Valley Trail for biking, walking, and horse riding. Driving these back roads is to see today’s North Bend—a center of outdoor activity—superimposed over its past.
And in North Bend central is Twede’s, known as the Double R on screen. The 1941 eatery went from TV famous to ravaged by a fire in 2000, but recent renovations have restored it to its wood-paneled glory. Twin Peaks characters raved about its simple fare—“a damn fine cup of coffee” became a catchphrase—so the menu doesn’t aim too high. Pie a la mode comes via a soft-serve machine, but in a town this small it feels classic, not lazy. It’s a tourist spot, rather retro with its plastic booths and gumball machine, but also the place where dads spring for milk shakes after soccer practice.
Downtown stretches just a few blocks more, past the North Bend Bar and Grill, a more crowded local’s joint. Hikers gather for IPAs after ascending nearby Mount Si, perhaps the most beloved trail in the state. Eight miles round trip, it ascends to a rocky bench below a half dome made famous in TV vistas.
A cloudy mist often blankets the valley floor below Si, and snow pummels the mountain even when the lowlands see spring. Famous for its overflowing parking lots, the trail is a daily river of huffing hikers and panting dogs, mountaineers in training and little kids reaching their very first summit. Down below, North Bend preps again for its close-up. Not as eccentric as its TV alter ego, perhaps, but just as enduring.