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Fresh seafood is the top priority for Anthony’s — the restaurant company works directly with fishermen and shellfish suppliers to make sure every last salmon, swordfish and oyster meets a high standard. But diners don’t need to know the details to appreciate the fine-dining atmosphere, daily specials, happy hour offerings and — perhaps most impressive — the postcard view of the Spokane Falls. (July 2013)

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More than 200 sparkling bottles of liquor, beer, and wine line the shelves of Bistango, one of Spokane’s most complete martini bars. Here, listen to local performers throughout the week while sipping a unique martini concoction out of Australian crystal. Bistango also houses an extensive wine collection, much of which you can buy competitively at wholesale prices to take home. (July 2013)

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Inlander readers voted this hip new eatery in the South Perry District the Best New Restaurant. Opened in June 2012 by the team from Madeleine’s Patisserie, Casper Fry turns out upscale Southern comfort food like Low Country Shrimp and Grits and some of the best fried chicken you’ll find. Its Josper oven, one of only about 10 in the country, uses charcoal and wood chips for smoking and grilling to turn out house-smoked meat and sausages. (July 2013)

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Casual, yet innovative and refined — that’s the m.o. at Central Food. There’s a hamburger at all mealtimes, chicken and dumplings, slow-cooked pork roast, and flat iron steak at dinner time. The restaurant welcomes those with specific diets with open arms — celiacs, vegans and carnivores can all unite and not be jealous of each other’s options. Sandwiches at Central Food are composed between their daily-baked bread, which is also featured on their breakfast menu with a mushroom terrine or baked with chocolate. Purchase a loaf to take home. You won’t regret it. (July 2013)

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This friendly, shabby-chic eatery and bakery is off the beaten path, located off Highway 195 on the outskirts of the Palouse (10 minutes from downtown). Chaps serves up hearty chorizo omelettes, homemade cinnamon rolls and baked oatmeal for breakfast, fish tacos and meatloaf for lunch, and curry chicken and grilled tilapia for dinner. And at Chaps, there’s always room for dessert (and maybe a vintage cocktail). Their in-house bakery Cake serves up a decadent selection of tiramisu, bavarian cream cake, chocolate mousse and more. (July 2013)

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This cozy Monroe Street restaurant and lounge provides a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of the courthouse next door. The menu features Angus beef hamburgers, 8-ounce sirloin steaks, fried appetizers, a full bar and a retro cigarette vending machine. Tickets for the Spokane Arena, INB Performing Arts Center, Fox Theater, Bing Crosby Theater, or Spokane Civic Theatre will get you 20 percent off food items. (July 2013)

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Don Draper would fit in beautifully at Churchills, with its luxurious, masculine décor, top-shelf cocktails and traditional (in all the best ways) takes on sides and steaks. The star of the show here is the USDA prime Midwestern beef that’s dry-aged, then cooked at 1800 degrees. The sides are a la carte, and the Cougar Gold mac and cheese is worth every single calorie. (July 2013)

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With excellent food, service and view of the river, Clinkerdagger sets the standard for reliable fine dining in Spokane. The restaurant’s pea salad, rock salt prime rib or crème brûlée have become beloved favorites since the restaurant opened during Expo ‘74. Want to try something new? Order off the seasonal menu, featuring fresh and locally grown ingredients. (July 2013)

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Clover
Clover, which opened in May 2012, is the joint effort of owners Scott and Liz McCandless and Paul and Marta Harrington. They prepare almost everything from scratch, don’t have a deep-fat fryer, and desserts — called petite bites — are scaled down in size. From herbs grown in the on-site greenhouse to the sustainably raised Rathdrum wheat used in Clover’s bakery, ingredients are carefully sourced. And the bar... well, Paul Harrington wrote the book on modern cocktails. The restaurant got a nice first birthday gift of recognition from Food & Wine — a spot on the Top 100 New American Bars list in the magazine’s Cocktails 2013 book. (July 2013)

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The District Bar takes traditional bar food in a new direction, with influences from Executive Chef Gary Evans’ love for Southern cooking and appreciation for local favorites. Think “beef patties smothered in BBQ and bacon, paired with Walla Walla onions.” Think “apple cider and brown sugar pork chops.” Think “beer braised short ribs with horseradish and truffle oil.” The bar also features 42 different beer selections. That might be daunting at first, but you can bite into the tap list by ordering a beer flight ($6) with your choice of five three-ounce draft beers. (Feb. 2013)

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Since its inception in 2003, Downriver Grill has gained a hard-core following of foodie regulars. Whether you want to go comfort food (butternut squash mac and cheese gratin $15), Italian (puttanesca, $15), gluten-free (shrimp bisque, $5), or vegan (coriander-crusted tofu, $16), there’s a little something to keep you coming back. (July 2013)

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In June 2013, Northern Quest’s sports bar, the Q, was gutted, rebooted and injected with a big dose of — you guessed it — epicness. The massive 10-by-30-foot TV still stretches over the top of the bar, but everything else is new — from the bar back to cushy chairs to a couple of 12-person booths and a dark, woody color scheme. The menu was overhauled, too, to add what head chef Mike Thornton calls “not-your-typical-sports-bar fare” like Cougar Gold mac and cheese ($12.95) with applewood-smoked bacon mixed in, or the Surf and Turf burger ($15.95) stacked with Wagyu beef, provolone and white truffle garlic aioli between toasted ciabatta, and skewered with a stack of seared prawns. (July 2013)

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Squatting directly off the highway in Liberty Lake, Hay Jay’s Bistro’s blocky strip-mall exterior — and book-cover first impressions — are immediately overturned the second you open the door. Inside, the bistro is pure class, with candle flames flickering atop wine bottles at the tables, and metallic vine sculptures wrapping around wine bottles on the walls. With a wine list boasting 100 choices, and a wine bar next door, the selection manages to live up to the hype set by the décor. The relatively pricey menu boasts steaks, tapas, burgers, pastas and risottos — but seafood remains the most popular genre. (July 2013)

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Tucked into a historic red-brick building, Herbal Essence is in the heart of downtown Spokane, making it a perfect destination for an intimate dinner, followed by a show at the INB Performing Arts Center. The grill is busy at lunch with salads, soups and sandwiches. We’re partial to the chicken-and-brie sub and its balsamic syrup drizzled on fresh french bread. (July 2013)

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While the food at Hills’ is often simple, it’s prepared with such care and fresh ingredients that we can’t stop thinking about it. The bar is also notable — their tap selection is usually unusual, and they have surprising reserves of port and scotch. Owner Steve Hill can recommend a hard-to-find beer or whip up a specialty cocktail, if that’s more your speed. (July 2013)
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