Edmonds Restaurant News: The many faces of outdoor dining, plus Epulo’s move to Salish Crossing

In years past I have written about our community’s efforts to provide patrons with options that include outdoor seating.  This season, the sunshine was not the catalyst that inspired local restaurant owners to unfurl umbrellas. State COVID-19 directives dictated the need to redo the interior décor of our eateries and erect table structures that allow for “social distance” beyond.

Before COVID, many of our local spots did indeed elect to offer al fresco dining. Even those locations with a bit of sidewalk space put out a few small café tables. Creativity changed the concept to no longer optional. It is now imperative, even critical, to keep patrons and staff members safe.

Beginning in late June, a “pedestrian friendly” section came to the rescue on weekends, and opened up much more opportunity for dining on Main Street from 3rd to 6th Avenues on Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.Then the city announced that as of Aug. 18, restaurants throughout downtown may now use adjacent parking spaces during the week to provide outdoor “curbside dining” options — also effective through Oct. 11.

Wait, what about the locations outside the areas that are closed to traffic? How are they faring compared to before Walkable Main Street was instituted?

A creative and innovative bunch, I’ve highlighted notable restaurateurs who rolled up their sleeves.

Visibility is key at Salish Sea

Salish Sea Brewing owner Jeff Barnett keeps community in the know with frequent Facebook posts: Pete says; “DROP what you’re doing and ANCHOR yourself with a delicious IPA right now!

The latest batch of Drop Anchor IPA tastes great with this heat wave!”  It’s news about new brews and friendly reminders to support our local enterprises.

A timely offering at Brigid’s.

Brigid’s Bottleshop found some fun new brews for patrons to enjoy in their already-well-spaced patio area and socially distanced booths.

A creative use of parking lot space at Bar Dojo.

Bar Dojo sacrificed some parking spaces at its Five Corners location to create outdoor opportunities for dining.

Barkada drink holders…
…and stylish masks.

Barkada’s innovations in new drink holders are not only charming, but the contents are refreshing… and you’ve gotta go there just to see these masks in person.

Fun food at Las Brisas.

Las Brisas — well, how cute is this dish? Loved by kids and grownups too.

Ono Poke’s Steven Ono’s personal mission is to lift others into the spotlight. Recent posts on Facebook suggest that he could sub for yours truly any time as a Restaurant News correspondent!

8/16/2020- “Supporting local businesses continues with The. Best. Spicy. Fried. Chicken. Sandwich. EVER. After looking for suggestions on where to have lunch today, Zoey’s Fried Chicken Sandwiches stood out to me so I went. Before my restaurant, I had to travel a bunch for work and one of the places I used to have to go through was Nashville. So I know Nashville Hot. This is what I compare all Fried Chicken Sandwiches to and I think this one is… gulp.. better. The bun is soft and squishy and sticks to your teeth in that great way. Inside is nothing fancy to get in the way of the perfectly cooked, crunchy and juicy chicken – just some mayo, pickles and that WONDERFUL habanero sauce. For those of you who like/kinda like spicy, this would be a perfect 2 out of 5. I didn’t get the heat until about 1/2 way through and it was floral and citrusy instead of “Nashville in your face I want my momma” hot. Those crinkle fries were the perfect side too and made me think I was 10 years old again eating them on the rocks next to the Kahalu’u Reservoir… ahhhh. Ok I’m back… anyway, Aissa was so nice and she has a warmth about her that makes you feel happy. This is a small, family owned immigrant business so you’ll feel extra great supporting them! It is sooo ONO. You need to go. Call me, I’ll go again anytime! Aloha!”

Thanks so much Steven, I’m sure  my editor will be calling…

More surprises

Epulo’s new location at 190 Sunset

Epulo announced its plan to move away from Main Street location and into the space recently vacated by 190 Sunset. Epulo pics here?

Restaurant News recently enjoyed a sampling of new menu items at Epulo’s new location. Let me say to those who dine downtown and get way too much practice parallel parking on Main, Epulo has ample asphalt available.

Bistro Salad

Lunch began with salads and while favorite items like Little Gem lettuce, and Heirloom Tomato tempted, I opted to try Bistro Salad. Grilled flat iron steak, spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots, pine nuts and Gorgonzola dressing that gave just the right amount of seasoning. My only challenge was that I personally would have grilled the cauliflower just a tad or steamed it, but my companion loves raw cauliflower. Our platter was clean when our server came to check on our progress.

A “must-sample” soup is coconut corn bisque. Corn kernels were so fresh they popped in my mouth, little shreds of coconut are balanced well with the other ingredients, and the broth a very refreshing and delightful summer soup. Two spoons quickly emptied that cup.

Pasta al Limone

As tempted as I was by the half-pound Kobe beef burger, and fried chicken sandwiches, I opted for Pasta al Limone, and Chicken Panzanella.

Pasta al Limone was perfection on a plate. Freshly made linguine — tooth tender — was dressed with lemon, cracked black pepper, Parmigiano-Reggiano and I swear my taste buds detected browned butter. Not sure if that’s a secret but hey, I do like my butter, in all forms.

Chicken Panzanella

combined some locally-sourced poultry from Skagit Valley, garlic croutons, Kalamata olives, fresh-sliced heirloom tomatoes and red onions, dressed in lemony vinaigrette.

For those craving the house pizzas crafted at the Main Street location, they do offer some house-made focaccia with their classic pizza toppings until they complete construction. Peach and blue features amazing produce, with Gorgonzola and pancetta. All my favorite things on a pizza crust made it difficult to pass on this, but I did need to justify ordering at least one dessert.

Peach strawberry tart

We settled on the peach strawberry tart. Winning great combination of tart strawberries and peaches so ripe they’d “Brix out” in the high teens on the sweetness chart. Balanced with a  dollop of unsweetened whip cream and one scoop of vanilla ice cream, it vanished in about two bites each. (Here’s more on Brix — it’s not just for wine, ya know.)

From previous visits I can highly recommend both house-made chocolate chip ice cream and Zeppole as desirable dessert options. Those little handmade donuts are so yummy with their dusting of cinnamon sugar and salted caramel for a dip. And… I’ve yet to eat any flavor of their “house-made” ice cream that didn’t make me want to scream for more.

Since I’m talking about outdoor dining, I believe Epulo improved upon the already delightful dining venue. Existing umbrellas are augmented with some sail shaped coverings. This controls the breeze just a tad, and may come in handy to keep diners warmer, as a season cools a bit.

Epulo owner Tim Morris and I “spoke” via email, (new “socially distanced” method I’ve employed). Given that Tim seemed to be in constant motion that afternoon, it was a better way to facilitate thoughtful communication.

Epulo Bistro owner Tim Morris

I’ll start with a commendation to Morris and his staff. I can only imagine what’s involved in a move from the smaller space at Epulo’s former location on Main Street, to a larger and complex space formerly occupied in Salish Crossing by restaurant 190 Sunset. Add in all the concerns and constraints with COVID-19, and wow. I had to ask…

What was your process, deciding to jump into this space, amid COVID challenges?

“Well, I had to go big or go home,” Morris said. “I think we are going to be in Phase 2 for quite some time, I knew I needed outside dining. When 190 Sunset did not open for COVID take out, I contacted the landlord to see if it was available, and it was, so I jumped on it. It is a crazy time to open a restaurant, however, I opened Epulo Bistro at 526 Main in the heart of the last recession in 2009, and it has been successful for 11 years.

“I figured well, I did it then, let’s try during another recession and pandemic!” he continued, adding it helped “knowing the people of Edmonds to be wonderful, loyal and want to support local businesses.”

Was there a plan in the works or maybe on a back burner, at least, that the Epulo space needed to become larger? 

“Prior to the pandemic we really had fully maximized the space. We were packed, especially on weekends with no more room for growth, so the answer is yes. I had been looking around in Edmonds, considered many options but nothing had broken free, or was acceptable till the 190 Sunset location became available.”

Do you feel supported by our community of Edmonds “eaters”? 

“I have to say, I am so blessed to live and work in a community that is so supportive and generous. We have felt nothing but love and support for 11 years.”

Was help offered by City of Edmonds to make this a smooth transition for your restaurant?

“Yes the City tried to make it as pain-free as possible. Some of the other municipalities and control boards are a little more difficult but we made it work.”

Epulo in its new Salish Crossing space. (Photo courtesy Epulo website)

Please share something that was a surprise – a good one if possible — an unexpected happening that went well or better than expected?

“The landlord has been so positive to what I have done with the space, it turned out beautiful. You never really know till it all comes together, but I am so pleased with the openness of the space, the light airy feel. Another pleasant surprise is the staff that came together. Many of my employees have been with me since 2009, we knew we were going to have to add to the family of Epulo staff and I am so happy with many of our new staff members, experienced, professional and so fun. It has really been more than I could have asked for.”

Morris concluded with positive praise for everyone. “Thank you Edmonds, for your many years of support and looking for another decade to serve the community of Edmonds, in a bright, new and beautiful atmosphere, providing you with amazing service, quality food made with love and our bar staff delectable creations.”

Epulo Bistro
190 Sunset Avenue W, Suite B
425- 678-8680
Monday – Friday:  11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday:  10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Best to all in your eating adventures: be safe, be kind and wear your masks

— By Kathy Passage

A specialty gourmet food broker for over 30 years, Kathy Passage has in-depth knowledge on food and the special qualities of ingredients used in the exquisite products she helped bring to market. Kathy brings this unique perspective from the “other side of the plate” to writing about the food and restaurant scene in Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.



  1. Thanks Kathy for another great report on the Edmonds restaurant scene. My niece and I had lunch at Epulo a week ago Monday, which was their first day of offering lunch. I was blown away with how beautiful the indoor dining area looked, though we had opted to sit outside in the warm sun. The service (our server, Michelle, so friendly and attentive), food and drinks were all excellent. So impressive for their first day with a new menu, especially since they weren’t open for lunch in their old location. We both had the Chicken Panzanella salad and loved it! Ditto for the Grapefruit Martinis. So happy they made the move. Their Main Street location was just too small, noisy and dark. Now there is so much ambience with the new decor and extra space that originally belonged to Brigid’s Bottles before they moved down a few doors. I believe they will do very well in the larger space and wish Tom and staff much success. They’ll definitely be seeing more of me and my guests.

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