Even as the weather turns colder, Main Street in downtown Edmonds was bustling on a recent weekday over the lunch hour. Leftcraft (519 Main St.) is a new kid on the block, opened in late August by Jamie Butler, Travis Eaton and Andy Walls.
The space pairs concrete and steel beams with an impressive wood screen designed and built by local woodworker Paul Thorpe. There are wide, solid wood booths, a bar boasting nearly two dozen taps and a small patio. If it looks a little familiar, it’s because Butler, Eaton and Walls also own Ballard’s Trailbend Taproom (along with The Yard and The Dray).
Opening amid a global pandemic wasn’t ever the plan, but Butler, who describes himself as a “fourth-generation Edmonds kid,” has spent the past decade on the lookout for the perfect space in the “cute downtown area” of Main Street, just five blocks from where he grew up.
The original concept included large, family-style items and a big grab-and-go section aimed at people looking for ferry meals or items to take to the beach.
“We wanted to do this tagline, ‘West Coast Provisions,’ we just couldn’t do it right out of the gate. We pumped the brakes on the provisions things, but we’ll get there,” Butler says.
If you’ve been to any of their other restaurants, you’ll see a few familiar menu items; big salads, grain bowls stuffed with brown rice and vegetables or beef, and hearty sandwiches. There’s also a rotisserie turning with whole chickens and St. Louis-style ribs. The bread for sandwiches — like the marble rye on the patty melt — is made in-house, as are the pickles, like the kimchi and pickled vegetables in the beef bowl. If you like a mustardy potato salad with pickles, don’t miss the creamy potato salad here, offered as a side for sandwiches.
Butler said at first they had some pushback for Leftcraft’s COVID-19 protocols — a 90-minute time limit on dining, required face coverings when communicating with staff and while not dining at the table, and indoor seating for parties of the same household — but he says they’re just trying to “keep everyone safe.”
As of yet, no one — staff or diners — has reported getting sick and Leftcraft is outperforming all their other spaces.
“We’re holding on,” Butler says.
For now, Leftcraft is open noon-9 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, but Butler says those hours might increase as the restaurant settles further into a rhythm.
Elsewhere in Edmonds, there’s more good food to be had: incredibly flaky empanadas, cream-filled pastries and wonderfully chewy memelas.
11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. daily; 22618 Highway 99, Edmonds; 425-921-6981, katsuburger.com
Known for crispy, breaded Japanese-influenced burgers and nori fries, Katsu Burger opened in a small strip mall in Edmonds just off Highway 99 in early October. The space is large enough for bakery production, meaning the Edmonds location of the local franchise will be the only one (for now) making its burger buns in-house. In addition, this Katsu Burger offers cannoli, puff pastry sticks filled with matcha or chocolate cream, and other sweet pastry treats. The chocolate moose stick ($2.70) and matcha whip cream stick ($2.70) feature flaky layers of puff pastry sandwiched with a sturdy, sweet cream and showered with powdered sugar. They’re the perfect sweet finish for one of the signature burgers. I also love the croquettes ($4.13), creamy mashed potatoes formed into a flat cake and deep-fried crunchy.
11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 8402 Bowdoin Way, Edmonds; 425-678-8307, casaoaxacaedmonds.com
The cuisine of Oaxaca is well-known for mole, a labor- and flavor-intensive sauce that can often take a day to prepare. There are two versions at this petite shop, open for takeout and limited dine-in. The mole negro is rich and slightly sweet. The Coloradito is red and smoky. Get either one ladled over chicken enchiladas or simply poured atop chicken. The enmoladas ($15.95) is a substantial portion of three chicken-stuffed tortillas, smothered in mole negro and a dusting of queso fresco, served with rice. Another Oaxacan treat that Casa Oaxaca nails is asiento, an unrefined lard that is smeared like a pork-flavored butter atop a duo of thick, chewy tortillas in a dish called memelas ($9.95). Layered on top of the asiento are smooth black beans and queso fresco. Salsa and a creamy avocado sauce are served on the side. The asiento is also spread atop the tlayuda, a large, thin, crisp tortilla also topped with black bean sauce, cabbage, tomatoes, avocado slices and your choice of meat. I got the personal size ($13.95), which was still large enough to share.
Maize & Barley
Noon-8 p.m. Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, noon-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 525 Main St., Edmonds; 425-835-0868, maizebarley.com
Just a few steps east of Leftcraft is Maize & Barley, a 30-seat taproom specializing in Caribbean-inspired eats. The menu is tight: a handful of sandwiches and dessert options with a rotating list of specials. The day I was there, one special was a pumpkin and ham empanada ($8); there’s often an empanada on the menu and fillings rotate seasonally. It was incredible. Sumptuous filling enveloped in a tender, flaky pastry. Something you hate to share but want someone to take a bite of to confirm just how good it is. Also wonderful was the Midnight Cuban ($11) with succulent hunks of roast pork shoulder and slivers of smoked loin, a mild, melty Caciotta cheese from Ferndale and a layer of housemade pickles. The real kicker was a layer of wafer-thin pickled Asian pears alongside the cucumber pickles, taking this sandwich over the edge and making up for the somewhat soggy bottom bun. Hey, I had to drive it home from Edmonds, so I get it. Even the sog factor couldn’t deter me from finishing this sandwich. Sandwiches can also come on a sturdy arepa (corn cake) for no extra charge.