Barry’s puts emphasis on comfort

EVERETT — There are no surprises at Barry’s Catering &Cafe in downtown Everett, save one, and it belongs to Kris Barry.

She just can’t believe how popular her down-home lunch specials are among her regulars.

Meatloaf, stroganoff, mashed potatoes — they all sell like the hotcakes she serves up on weekend mornings.

“There’s nothing special about it,” she said, shaking her head in wonder.

Barry’s not even the chef in the family. Her husband, Mark, takes over in the kitchen when they cater an event. That’s the family’s main business, and when they decided to purchase a kitchen of their own instead of renting local facilities, the cafe was born.

For lunches and breakfasts, Kris Barry is the cook at the stove. In her opinion, the food worth making is comfort food — the kind she’s always served in her own home, for her own family.

The menu isn’t extensive, and aside from the specials offered on a rotating basis, relies heavily on bread, mayonnaise and sandwich meat. There are no giant dill spears or half-crushed potato chips on the side. Instead, Barry offers homemade pasta salad, soup or a handful of mixed greens.

Chicken soup ($2.29) is laced with thick egg noodles. Carrot chunks appear to be hand-peeled and hand-chopped. Chicken salad ($4.89 for a large half sandwich) is layered thick on bread. The chicken isn’t overwhelmed by the mayonnaise. A grilled Reuben ($5.95) is heavy on the corned beef, with plenty of Swiss cheese melted in countless layers.

There’s a bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich ($5.49), and even a hot dog ($2, add chili for 50 cents). For vegetarians, Garden Burgers serve as a meat substitute.

Meatloaf is served every other Wednesday, with real mashed potatoes (no mixes here) served on the side. Barry said she struggles to keep enough loaf in stock. A hot lunch special is served daily. Breakfast, served each morning and until 1 p.m. on Saturdays, is a predictable hodgepodge of French toast ($4), pancakes ($2), hash browns ($2.50 for a large order), oatmeal ($2.75) and cold cereal ($1.95).

It’s the kind of lunch one might imagine Beaver Cleaver was fed each afternoon when he trotted home from school. The kind he might thumb his nose at after moving off to the city for his first big job, then crave on a cold winter’s day.

Barry’s right. The food isn’t special. But it’s the one of the very few Snohomish County establishments that offers food at a basic level: fresh, satisfying, cheap. In a region clamoring with organic, exotic and new, the everyday retro food in Barry’s Cafe is something of a surprise.

She has even shoved her country-home decor into a modern world. The cafe was once a sushi restaurant, with sleek stainless steel and a glass face. Barry chose dark wood farmhouse tables, and painted signs. Soft Christian pop-rock seeps from a hidden speaker. During the holiday season, Barry surprised her favorite customers with small loaves of banana bread.

This isn’t the place to look for inventive versions of old classics. A Reuben sandwich tastes just as it should, and chicken soup isn’t studded with anything unexpected. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s good.

Herald restaurant reviewers accept no invitations to review, but readers’ suggestions are always welcome. Reviewers arrive unannounced, and The Herald pays their tabs.

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Reporter Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422 or

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