Must-Try

7 Reasons to Drive to Spokane

By Jackie Varriano  |  September 28, 2015
Credit: Alan Bisson

As grey Seattle days loom ahead, it's natural to turn to spots in the state where the sun still pokes its head out, like Spokane (but get there before the November to January doldrums hit). The sizeable city in eastern Washington beckons eaters, both for the historic standby restaurants dotting Downtown and for the newer restaurants that are shaking up the scene. Kate Rose Hansen, co-owner of two new-school Spokane spots, Santé and Common Crumb, says, "Things are happening here. There's so much growth."  Here are seven reasons to take a drive over the mountains and through the woods and check out Spokane for yourself on the next long weekend.

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  • Deng Chu

    Perhaps the most pressing reason to drive to Spokane right now, or at least before November, is for the pop-up restaurant Deng Chu, held in celebration of the Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival at Riverfront Park. Focusing on a different culinary region of China every week between Sep. 26 and Nov. 1 and helmed by chef Jeremy Hansen (Santé, Common Crumb), these dinners come with two options: family-style at large tables ($25) or a seat at the exclusive 20-seat chef’s table ($100).

    Insider Tip: Dinners are being held Thursday through Saturday. Purchase a ticket to the chef's table and your admission to the festival is waived.

    More information at spokanelanternfestival.com 

  • Santé

    This past March, chef and owner Jeremy Hansen was named as the first James Beard semifinalist nominee from Spokane, ever. He's a bit of a Midas in the town, turning just about everything he touches into gold (see also his bakery, Common Crumb). Breakfast and lunch is served until 3 PM every day at this Downtown spot, meaning you can waltz in the door at 7 AM on a Saturday and get a kangaroo burger or grab a tasso omelet at 2 PM. Additionally, housemade charcuterie is sold by the pound. 

    Insider Tip: If you’re there for dinner, consider the six-course Chef’s Tasting Menu ($99, or $129 with wine pairings). It’s not a printed menu — everything is created dependent on what's in the kitchen that night. You can also request a cocktail pairing.

    404 W. Main St.; 509-315-4613

  • Indaba Coffee

    Forget the copious amounts of drive-thru espresso shops dotting the Spokane landscape and head straight to one of Indaba's two locations. Coffee drinks are made with immense precision and a multitude of milks are available, from whole to hemp.

    Insider Tip: Vegans and the gluten-free rejoice: Indaba stocks sheet pans full of vegan and gluten-free baked goods from the local Boot's Bakery & Lounge. There's even a breakfast cookie.

    1425 W. Broadway Ave., 509-443-3566; 210 N. Howard St.

  • Ruins

    The menu at this 38-seat spot is themed and changes weekly, dancing around the globe from Peru to Italy to India to Russia and beyond. It's not a gimmick either — each week is a well thought out ode to a country from chef Tony Brown. Past dishes have included Herring Under a Fur Coat for Russia, black-eyed pea biryani for India or kelewele fried plantains for Africa. Cocktails are paired to match the food, and rotate as often as the regular menu does.

    Insider Tip: There are no reservations at Ruins, so if you can’t get in for dinner, check them out for lunch when the dinner menu gets swapped for all burgers, all the time.

    825 N. Monroe St.; 509-443-5606

  • Stella’s Café

    The one thing that should be on every voracious eater's checklist is a go-to sandwich spot. Stella's Café is that spot in Spokane, feeding meat lovers and vegans alike. Stroll in for lunch and debate over the pulled pork or the vegan Reuben, or throw caution to the wind and get the jerk tofu — on gluten-free bread, of course.

    Insider Tip: Grab lunch and walk two blocks to Riverfront Park and enjoy that sandwich alfresco.

    917 W. Broadway; 509-326-6475

  • Chaps Diner and Bakery

    The restaurant is open all day, but the meal to eat at Chaps is breakfast. The baked custard-style oatmeal with scalded cream is a signature for a very good reason, and anything that comes with crispy breakfast potatoes is a win — especially the chorizo omelet.

    Insider Tip: Chaps is located on the west side of Spokane, making it the perfect last stop in town before heading back to Seattle.

    4237 S. Cheney-Spokane Rd.; 509-624-4182

  • Fleur De Sel

    Just 25 miles east of Spokane in Post Falls, Idaho, is Fleur De Sel, a French spot that's so welcoming you're likely to be kissed on both cheeks upon entering by owners Laurent and Patricia Zirotti. The menu is pure French, from the snails in puff pastry starter to the macarons for dessert.

    Insider Tip: If a trip to Post Falls isn’t in the cards, there's hope. Fleur De Sel is working on opening a crêperie in Spokane by 2016.

    4365 E. Inverness Dr.; 208-777-7600