Published March 2006

Bistro offers fine dining
and friendly service

Snohomish County Business Journal/JOHN WOLCOTT
Chef Martin Estrada-Perez and proprietor Steve Van Matre, who bought the former Bistro restaurant in Arlington a little more than a year ago, have built a loyal following that continues to attract diners who enjoy not only the upscale, fine-dining menu but also the friendly dining atmosphere.

By John Wolcott
SCBJ Editor

Exquisitely prepared meals, a comfortable environment and the welcoming warmth of the staff have made Old Town Arlington’s Bistro San Martin on Olympic Avenue one of north Snohomish County’s most popular fine-dining experiences.

Bistro San Martin
World Inspired Regional Cuisine

Address: 231 N. Olympic Ave., Arlington, WA 98223

Phone: 360-474-9229

Web site:

Open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, 5 to 9 p.m., closed on Sunday and Monday, with Monday reserved for private parties or special events.

Previously known simply as The Bistro, new owners Martin (pronounced Mar-tine) Estrada-Perez and Steve Van Matre are routinely filling the small restaurant’s dozen white cloth-draped tables for evening meals, so regularly that reservations are recommended even in the middle of the week.

In a town boasting a dozen well-patronized restaurants on the main street’s half-mile stretch, Bistro San Martin has created its own niche as a fine-dining venue.

The menu features what Chef Estrada-Perez describes as “world-inspired regional cuisine,” meaning American, South American, international and Pacific Northwest selections created with fresh, local, seasonal products, high-quality meats and poultry, and fresh seafood.

Meals begin with a course of appetizers, soups or salads (including the chef’s mushroom puff pastry, chosen as a featured recipe on KCTS-TV’s “Chefs 2006” program). Entrees include such delectable palate-pleasers as tiger prawn linguini, grilled flatiron steak and roasted duck. Patrons also enjoy a selection of 100 brands and varieties of fine wines and beers, signature cocktails and a dessert menu of chef creations made fresh daily.

Bistro San Martin’s business has grown primarily through patrons who spread the word to others and return frequently themselves.

Even in a first visit, reasons for its success are quickly evident, beginning with a polite but enthusiastic greeting from a smiling Van Matre; a wave or grin from Estrada-Perez, whose kitchen is part of the dining setting; and a blend of entrée aromas drifting from the range.

“In other restaurants where I’ve cooked I’m always back in the kitchen,” Estrada-Perez said. “Here, I love it because I can look over the counter and see who’s coming in. I get to see people enjoying their meals.”

In fact, it’s the friendly hospitality at Bistro San Martin as much as the menu that attracts diners. Patrons say they enjoy table visits by the proprietor and the opportunity to compliment the chef face-to-face after a meal.

“We also have great servers, including Rejoice Israel, who just produced her first CD with some of the 300 songs she’s written; her daughter, Miracle; and Rebecca Franklin, who used to work at Arne’s restaurant in Mukilteo,” Van Matre said. “They really make people feel welcome here.”

“We’re really blessed to be here in Arlington,” said Van Matre, who loves to talk about the free roasted lamb dinners the restaurant offered the community last December to celebrate its first year in business and the reservations for 100 diners on Valentine’s Day this year. “We’ve even had a wedding conducted and celebrated here.”

Although the business’s Web site,, has photos and menu items, it’s still a work in progress. NorthSoundDining,, carries patron reviews that rave about the food, atmosphere and staff, giving Bistro San Martin ratings averaging 4.7, practically a perfect score on the five-point scale.

Related: Canyons an eatery for business or pleasure

Back to the top/March 2006 Main Menu


© 2006 The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA