For the love of all that's holy -- is it really Bloomsday time again? It seems like only yesterday I was sitting here at my desk bathed in the glow of the computer screen dreaming up sights, sounds, tastes and smells for you guys to check out either before, after (or perhaps even during) the big race. But existence is nothing if not cyclical. And so here we are once more.
This tip sheet is primarily for those from out of town and those not already familiar with our newspaper. The ideas contained herein reflect many of our own preferences for eats, drinks and entertainment. How much you indulge yourself in Spokane's many earthly pleasures depends on how seriously you're planning to finish the race in that top 10 percent. Just hoping to make it across the finish line without summoning a squad of paramedics? All right, then. We're on the same page.
Spokane is easy to get around despite its considerable geographic size. And though worthy diversions exist in every neighborhood (not to mention beyond the city limits), it's a fact that downtown boasts some of the city's best eating and drinking establishments. It's also our cultural center, with live music, theater, dancing and coffee or alcohol-fueled conversation keeping things buzzing on weekend nights into the wee hours of the morning.
Food -- With very few exceptions, you can't really go wrong in Spokane when it comes to eats. The overall quality of the food and service around town is excellent. And in all but the swankiest restaurants, the dress code is casual, the atmosphere informal. For a breakfast that will carry you through the weekend or even after the race, check out Frank's Diner on West Second or Dolly's Caf & eacute; on North Washington, though both will be packed on race day. Knight's Diner on North Market and the Skyway Caf & eacute; at Felts Field are equally incredible and will likely be far less crowded. For a quick, fist-sized, mid-day meal try a burrito from Slick Rock or Sonic, or a sandwich from Domini's, the Brooklyn Deli, the High Nooner, Sparky's or Spokane Subs. There is terrific pizza at David's (on Hamilton), Bennidito's (on South Lincoln), Little Italy (on North Division), and Fat Daddy's (also on North Division).
For dinner, the choices are staggering, but here are a few downtown-area spots well worth your patronage. For above-and-beyond pub grub, try O'Doherty's or the Elk in Browne's Addition. You can't go wrong when you choose to carbo-load at Europa, Luigi's or the Italian Kitchen. For something different, check into the causal elegance of Quinn's, Fugazzi, Niko's, the Steam Plant and Spokane's favorite vegetarian restaurant, Mizuna. And for can't-miss dining, try the ritzier Patsy Clark's in Browne's Addition or Clinkerdagger at the Flour Mill.
Drink -- For those on a more liquid diet, sustenance will be a flowin' from just about everywhere, though much of the action downtown is confined to the strip from Division to Monroe between Riverside and First. A westerly pub crawl starting at Division would begin at the Red Lion or the Globe and continue to Mootsy's, the Satellite, Gabby's, the Blue Spark and Far West Billiards. Looking for the best martini in town? Try the lounges at Luigi's, Cavallino's or Quinn's. Out of the downtown core, check into the Viking just North of the river on Stevens (a beer-lover's Mecca with an astounding selection of imports and microbrews) and The Ram across from the Arena.
Daylife -- In addition to taking in the natural beauty of the city's parks, rivers and surrounding wilderness areas, you might want to fit a little culture into your idle daylight hours. Spokane's Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (the MAC) is a good place to start. The brand-new facility in historic Browne's Addition (formerly known as the Cheney Cowles Museum) is home to four informative, fun and interactive Inland Northwest history exhibits, including one on the famous Davenport Hotel.
Need something to do with the kids? A guaranteed crowd-pleaser is the Pacific Science Center's Aliens exhibit downtown at 811 W. Main, where you and your brood will discover -- in a fun, hands-on way -- the wonders of our solar system and the possibility of extraterrestrial life.
After the race on Sunday, three local bands (Jupiter Effect, Mulligan and One Night Stand) will perform a free outdoor concert in the Clock Tower meadow of Riverfront Park.
Nightlife -- Speaking of culture, Spokane nights are alive with it. (The following is just a taste. For a more complete nightlife picture, be sure to check out our music section on page 39.) There's outstanding theater at the Civic (now playing the acclaimed drama, Wit), cutting-edge improv comedy on Friday at the Blue Door and music just about everywhere you look.
On Friday night at our favorite coffeehouse/music club/art gallery, the Shop (on South Perry), the extraordinary Seattle folk singer/ songwriter Jill Cohn will perform at 7 pm. For sophisticated jazz on Friday night, check out Ankeny's at the top of the Ridpath Hotel, where the Kristina Ploeger Quintet will hold court. On Saturday night, local band the Carcinogens help throw a Cinco de Mayo party at the Great Scott, and Missoula folk/rock/bluegrass quintet Cold Mountain turns up the heat at Mootsy's.
At Fat Tuesday's (in the old Bayou Brewery building on East Trent), there will be a pair of high-energy rock shows this weekend, beginning on Saturday night with Satan in Yellow, the Creeps, Upright Organ and Volumen. On Sunday, it's an all-ages show with Disciple, Junker Jorg and Distress. Also on Sunday night, yet another all-ages show will commence at the Met with local bands FIA, Rand-Univac and Molly Stillar.
And as for touring acts, it seems like the planets are lining up for this weekend, as there are major shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Friday at the Met you can catch the Sons of Champlin, a jam band with an all-star lineup. On Saturday night, Dwight Yoakam will warm up the Arena crowd for headliners Brooks and Dunn. And Sunday night brings the return of critically acclaimed jazz singer Diana Krall to the Opera House.
For more details on these and other events, check out our Calendar section, starting on page 44.