Edison, Wash., is like those small towns in Northern California used to be, before the whole world showed up.
Just 70 miles north of Seattle, hidden out among the prairie-flat farmland that sits between the dramatic Cascade Range and the inland waters of the Pacific Ocean, little Edison, Washington is hardly even a town, really—it's more a collection of people (barely over 100 of them, according to the last census), clustered in a small settlement tucked into an elbow of a lazy slough, right before it empties out at the coast. So how does a place like this become one of the best places to eat in the Pacific Northwest? And why does almost nobody outside of the region know very much about it?
Edison's story goes way back, and it's really the story of the Skagit Valley, an agriculturally-rich region that's fortunate enough to be just a little too far from downtown Seattle to become just another suburb. Whether grown (or created) on land or pulled out of the water, Skagit's probably got it, somewhere—oysters, beer, fresh produce, cheese, beef, tulips—you name it, it's probably been a thing around here for a long time. (Fun fact: The now-ubiquitous Cascadian Farm brand came from here.)
Over time, Edison, which enjoys one of the most pleasant locations in the valley, out of the shadow of the mountains and right along mellow Samish Bay, has become a magnet for the types of people who like the idea of life in a place like this—artists, artisans, bakers, urbanites-turned-farmers. In recent years, those numbers have grown to the point where it's reasonable to ask, just how many more places to eat (or buy food) can one tiny town support?
Today, with just one main drag, Edison manages two very good bakeries (Breadfarm, perhaps one of the West Coast's best, and the charming Farm to Market Bakery, on the edge of town), multiple breakfast joints (there's the eclectic Tweet's Café, or the classic Edison Café, great for French toast), a popular taqueria (Mariposa), thoughtful, farm-to-table dinners at The Rhody, sizzling steaks, chilly Samish Bay oysters and dancing on the weekends at the classic Old Edison.
Cooking for yourself? Stop in at Slough Food, where you can buy local goat cheese, or stop by Samish Bay's farm shop for organic, grass-fed beef—if you make it in season (May-September), Edison even has its own farmers market, held each Sunday. There's more, but you get the point—to fully exhaust the tasting possibilities in and right around town would take a week at least, maybe more.
Don't leave, however, with making the smallest of detours—about ten minutes up the scenic Chuckanut Drive, a winding route rising up from the valley floor and into the mountains, just as they plunge down into the sea, you'll see the sign for Taylor Shellfish Farms. By now a familiar name to North American bivalve buffs, Taylor's is a terrific destination for an oyster picnic; just stop in the farm store—they'll sell you the equipment you'll need, along with the goods—and head out to the tables along the water's edge. Here, you can see out and across to the San Juan Islands, you might catch the Amtrak Cascades service rumbling by on its way to Vancouver, BC or Seattle, or farmers bringing in the day's haul, you're shucking oysters—it's a good thing you're so far away from the rest of the United States up here, or this place would be mobbed by now.