Award-winning Seattle Times food writer/cooking instructor/radio personality Nancy Leson didn’t really relish the idea of moving to Edmonds 25 years ago, far from the action — at first.
“Where will I get Chinese soup noodles? A bowl of pho? A decent cocktail!” she worried. “I’ve since become the envy of friends who made fun of me for moving to Deadmonds. The joke’s on them: Now they wish they lived here.”
It’s no longer a best-kept secret: Edmonds’ culinary arts scene is second to none, and getting hotter every day, as more celebrated, talented chefs, cooks, and entrepreneurs gravitate toward Washington state’s first Certified Creative District to open their own dream restaurants.
Where else can you get more than coffee at a coffee shop? Smoke — or an entire farmer’s market — with your fiery cocktail? A trip around the world in four, specially curated courses? New England lobster roll with spicy Singaporean Crab in a Bag? Korean street food? Taiwanese bubble tea snacks? Little Italy? A work of art you can admire and eat?
Edmonds is such a culinary haven, the town boasts its own annual summer festival celebrating the best and most diverse dishes from the food trucks and specialty vendors of this region — Taste Edmonds, a major Chamber of Edmonds fundraiser since 1982. Taste Edmonds returns to Frances Anderson Playfield, Aug. 19-21, this year, for all ages.
Whatever you’re craving, chances are, it’s here.
No talk of Edmonds’ culinary arts is complete without first acknowledging the tremendous impact of Feed Me Hospitality & Restaurant Group business partners/residents Shubert Ho and Andrew Leckie on the sizzling, burgeoning restaurant scene.
Every restaurant in their growing empire is the talk of the town, serving everyone’s favorite food…food that’s a sight to behold and delicious to boot…from fine dining Salt & Iron, sushi master Ryuichi Nakano-presided SanKai, and modern Italian Fire & The Feast, to the casual, but hip Bar Dojo — their first success story, The MAR•KET-Fishmonger & Eatery, and the two newest eateries, The Potlatch Bistro and Shore Pine Coffee & Gelato, at the newly renovated Edmonds Waterfront Center.
Edmonds resident and chef Jake Wilson opened Charcoal in the new Graphite Arts Center downtown Nov. 5, blowing customers away with fine dining service, affordable accessibility, and jaw-dropping modern American cuisine — centered around a custom-built, Argentinian-style, charcoal-and-wood-fired grill — built for seasonal, robust, NW palates: Romanesco Bacon Manila Clams, Pacific Oysters Rockefeller, Roasted Brussels Sprouts Caesar, Duck Leg Confit with roasted garlic balsamic over an onion and squash hash, Potato Fritters with your root veg, and of course, the star of the show, a 12-oz. charcoal-grilled Ribeye for two, served with everything steak desires.
Calypso Edmonds, right across from the Edmonds Waterfront, has been quietly wowing discriminating diners and tourists looking for that perfect view since December 2018. A friendly, fun-loving staff, relaxing vibe, awesome cocktails and starters, and a Sunday Brunch to die for. Only good times. They’re known for their Jerk Chicken Wings, Conch Fritters, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Peppered Beef Stew, and Curried Goat. And, those Caribbean-sister views.
Barkada, Spanish for “boatmates,” exudes island style, from the indoor/outdoor set-up to the Filipino-fusion menu that’s out of this world. Tom Douglas grad, chef Brian Madayag oversees his Asian/Pacific Rim kingdom opened December 2017 with confidence and the kind of creativity that has you shaking your head as you ravenously dive in. Dishes suitable for sharing with all your boatmates, family and Hawaiian style. Try the Pancit, unofficial Filipino dish of fried garlic bihon and canton noodles with seasonal veggies, sour-hearty Chicken Adobo, Kalua Pig & Cabbage, and Garlic Shrimp — comes with rice and mac salad. Make room for the Li Hing Margarita and the Ube Milk cocktail. Late Nite Happy Hour affords you 50 percent off.
Bistro 76 in Perrinville gets its mojo from a diversity-minded, uber-talented female chef. Some of the dishes on the menu are ethnic delights you’ve probably never heard of before, such as the Rice Fritters Chef Briana Davis grew up with. Breakfast and lunch are the order of the day, featuring mouth-watering classics (Eggs Benedict, Biscuits & Gravy, Reuben, Wild Mushroom Risotto) alongside fusion twists (House-Made Pierogies, Cuban Pork Hash, Smoked Salmon Toast). Hungry yet?
Just up the street is a little dive of a place that makes amazing barbecue. Grill master Bao Truong tends to his succulent Fat Pig BBQ 70-80 hours a week, producing “fall-off-the-bone meat, the perfect sauce, and the delicious from-scratch cornbread [“Fat Pig BBQ is ‘Amazeballs,’” Ellen Hiatt, May 12, 2021]. Nothing screams Edmonds summer better than picking up a large Ribs & Chicken Combo — throw in a Pulled Pork Sandwich-Double Meat, why don’t you — with corn on the cob, cole slaw, baked bean, and potato salad sides, and heading to the beach for the day. The price is right, too; most of the meals fall between $10.50 and $13.25.
A favorite of celebrity chefs and award-winning food critics, Noodle Hut sits next to Bar Dojo on 8418 Bowdoin Way in Five Corners, churning out unassuming, humble, deeply flavorful Thai home-cooking. Nancy Leson raves about the “hot basil noodles, properly charred at the edges…. House Noodle Soup, an aroma-therapeutic assault on the senses known elsewhere as Boat Noodles and defined by the 20-plus spices that add to its fragrant funk. Maybe a curry from the specials board and, if I’m lucky, coconut milk-sweetened rice, purple with butterfly pea flower, for dessert.” Noodle Hut is different, in the best way. Foodies flock to see what chef-owners Sarah and Sone come up with. Maybe Turmeric Seasoned Rice, Egg Coconut Custard with Pandan Sweet Sticky Rice, Tofu & Mushroom Pad Pong Kari over Rice, and Spicy Egg Noodles with Chicken. Takeout only now.
Looking For Chai, located in Edmonds’ International District (22511 Hwy. 99 #100), fulfills all of your Taiwanese cravings. A sampling of the traditional and the trendy: Taiwanese Pork Burger, Fried Chicken Leg Bento, Mini Hot Pots, Steamed Pork Belly with Garlic Sauce, Steamed Chicken Leg with Scallion Oil, Crispy Prawns with Pineapple in Cream Sauce, Popcorn Chicken Bento.
The menu’s huge for such a little Korean street food stand inside International District’s Boo Han Market, off Hwy. 99. Babsarang Restaurant has all of your favorites (spicy tofu soup and ramen, steamed, handmade dumplings, bulgogi, grilled yellow croaker, bibimbap) with exotic dishes you’ll want to get better acquainted with (glass noodles, Korean sausage, fish cake soup, cold buckwheat noodles, seafood pancake).
Salish Sea Brewing recently opened up Boat House Taproom at Harbor Square, taking over the old ABC space. All brewery production happens there, as well as some good eatin’, and drinkin’. The short, compact menu’s all about appetizers and flatbreads, done magnificently, perfect for heisting a cold one, brewed fresh on the premises: Sardines and Smoked Oysters, Fiddle Faddle and a Hummus spread, and oh those flatbreads, topped traditionally (Margherita, Pepperoni), or NW style (Smoked Salmon, Arugula, Dates, and Honey).
Some of the most authentic poke can be found at Steven Ono’s Eat Ono Poke in Westgate. The seafood is caught fresh from Hawaii (ahi), Japan (tako, hamachi), and BC Canada (salmon). The accompaniments are typical of what you’d find at a plate lunch truck on the North Shore or the road to Hana: mac salad, cucumber kim chi, seaweed salad. Check Ono’s FB page for the latest specials, and have your poke your way, with sushi rice or salad, or both. Fresh sheet changes daily. Best choices: Traditional Ahi, Tamari Garlic Salmon, Yuzu Black Pepper Scallops. They get haupia, too.
Edmonds boasts a surplus of outstanding coffee shops serving more than Americano with your pastry, including crowd-pleaser Red Twig Café & Bakery downtown and Westgate's global Jaiiya Café. You’ll walk in with just a cup of java in mind, and two hours later, walk out with a full belly of satisfying sweets, breakfast items, and unexpected exotic fare, knowing you’ve done your part for the environment. The community hyper-focuses on living as sustainably as possible, and Edmonds coffee shops (and bakeries) are no exception. Locals live for Red Twig’s Brunch (Bubble + Squeak, Northwest Revuelto, picture-perfect Eggs Benedict and Bagel Smoked Salmon) and Jaiiya’s Turkish Eggs and healthy açaí bowls.
Opened on Cinco de Mayo last year, Kahlo’s Cantina by the ferry terminal makes gorgeous, tasty, modern Mexican specialties from ancestral recipes. Tender, loving care goes into house-made sauces and dressings, and exciting, one-of-a-kind dishes you’ll go back for, over and over. Try the Ceviche, Wagyu Burger, Chicken Mole, Pozole Verde, and Tres Leches Cake (heck yeah!), finished with a Kahlo’s Margarita or two. Whatever your fancy, you won’t, can’t go wrong. Live, Friday night Mariachi music completes the festive picture.
Niles Peacock Kitchen & Bar, 178 Sunset Ave. S., Salish Crossing, is where you and your crew go to treat yourselves at the end of a long work week. At the helm of this bustling new cocktail hot spot is the master of ceremonies himself, award-winning cocktail mixologist and owner. Peacock first won hearts as head bartender/director of bar operations during the halcyon days of Tom Budinick’s 190 Sunset reign, circa 2016-2020, where Epulo Bistro now sits a few doors down. He’d put on a show of science and fantasy, which he’s currently doing now in his own place, much to the delight of regulars and new fans. His smoke-and-mirrors cocktails are the stuff of legend. But don’t sleep on his naturally fermented (Sourdough Willy’s is a mentor) NY style pizza.
With a boom town like Edmonds, there isn’t enough time to single out all the hits. So come down and discover for yourself why restaurants here are giving Seattle a run for the money.
Newcomers & Trendsetters
Explore the Unexpected
Dining for Justice
Take a Bite Out of Japan
THAI by Day
Ono's Top 5 Hidden Gems
Fried Chicken Gauntlet
Benedict Brunch Crawl
Dim Sum Love
Noodles & Hot Pots
Spirits, Wine & Beer
Splurge on a Little 'Me' Time
Vinbero: Wine & Cheese, Please
Walnut Street Coffee
Feature photo: Eat Ono Poke by Matt Hulbert
Additional photos: The Potlatch Bistro by Madi Ingham, Turkish Eggs c/o Jaiiya Cafe, Bar Dojo pot stickers and ramen and Niles Peacock pizza and cocktails by Carol Banks Weber, Fat Pig BBQ and Salt & Iron by Matt Hulbert