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Best Of 2016


Best of Food & Drink 

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Best Asian Food


There was a big change at Gordy's Sichuan Cafe on Spokane's South Hill in the past year, but our voters didn't seem to mind it, voting Gordy's Best Asian Food. Gordy Craft, the ultra-popular Chinese spot's namesake, and his wife Jaymie sold the restaurant in August. Thankfully for Gordy's loyal fans, the restaurant is now in the hands of two longtime Gordy's chefs, Dan Burns and Casey Riendeau, who have maintained the Sichuan-style menu while adding a few updates to the cozy space. (MIKE BOOKEY)

2nd PLACE: The Mustard Seed; 3rd PLACE: Ming Wah; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Bonsai Bistro

Best Local Brewery


No-Li Brewhouse has been at the forefront of Spokane's craft beer boom, producing more beer than any other brewery. Their Logan neighborhood pub and its accompanying riverside patio is a must-see for beer tourists and locals alike, but you can also enjoy No-Li's beers in bottles and, as of just recently, 12-ounce cans. As No-Li's presence grows throughout the country, they've stayed dedicated to their roots, hosting regular tasting festivals on their lawn throughout the year. (MB)

2nd PLACE: Iron Goat Brewing; 3rd PLACE: River City Brewing; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Slate Creek Brewing

Best Local Cidery


Operating out of Spokane Valley, One Tree has made itself known throughout the region and beyond with eight different ciders, ranging from cranberry and dark cherry to caramel cinnamon and lemon basil. Early this year, One Tree expanded its bottling operation as well as its overall production. One Tree still plans on opening a cider house. Their unexpected popularity has put that on hold, but they promise it's in the works. (MB)

2nd PLACE: Liberty Ciderworks; 3rd PLACE: Twilight Cider Works; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Summit Cider

Best Local Distillery


Fans of craft spirits from all over the nation will immediately mention Dry Fly when you tell them you're from Spokane. Dry Fly has earned a loyal following thanks to the success of their vodka, gin and whiskeys (including the addition of an Irish-style whiskey last year). "We're very grateful for the fans that we have," says Dry Fly cofounder Kent Fleischmann. Those fans are grateful too, it seems, giving this award to Dry Fly once again. (MB)

2nd PLACE: Tinbender Craft Distillery; 3rd PLACE: Bardenay Distillery

Best Local Drive-Thru Espresso


For fans of Dutch Brothers, the Oregon-based, drive-through coffee chain with more than 200 locations throughout the West Coast (and 10 locally owned spots in the Inland Northwest alone) is about more than coffee. You'll often find the company's windmill logo stickered on the rear of cars — and inside those cars, you'll probably find a cup of Dutch Brothers. (MB)

2nd PLACE: Wake Up Call; 3rd PLACE: Jacob's Java

Best Local Winery


If you're curious as to why Barrister Winery has become so popular in Spokane, consider that the 15-year-old outfit has more than 1,100 members in its wine club. In addition to the spacious winery on Railroad Alley in downtown Spokane, Barrister recently opened a tasting room across from the Davenport Grand Hotel on Washington Street, where it continues to emphasize customer service. "It's important for us to have a connection with everyone who walks in. We want someone to walk away knowing that the wines are really wonderful, and also the experience is really wonderful," says Michael White, who started Barrister with Greg Lipsker in 2001. (MB)

2nd PLACE: Arbor Crest Winery; 3rd PLACE: Latah Creek; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Coeur d'Alene Cellars

Best Mexican Food


While the east side of downtown Spokane has changed drastically in recent years, Azteca has weathered the construction and yet again is rewarded for its consistency with another Best Mexican Food award. The Northwest chain (well, it has some spots in Florida, too) also has locations in north Spokane, Spokane Valley and Coeur d'Alene, all of which offer a reliable menu of Mexican favorites and, of course, an ample slate of margarita options. (MB)

2nd PLACE: Rancho Chico; 3rd PLACE: Atilano's

Best Food Truck


When a couple of talented chefs work together, some amazing things can happen. Allen Skelton and Joilé Forral each contribute unique cooking styles to what's more of a restaurant on wheels than a food truck. A rotating seasonal menu helps to keep the options diverse, showcasing premium meats in upscale comfort food creations. (FRANNY WRIGHT)

2nd PLACE: 3 Ninjas; 3rd PLACE: Tacos El Sol; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: RawDeadFish (p. 44)

Best Gluten-Free Options


Twinkly lights, teal accents and a whole lot of yummy snacks are what make up this fan-favorite vegan and gluten-free downtown spot. Pick from the selection of rotating dishes and baked goods before settling into a comfy booth with a cocktail or something a little more caffeinated. (FW)

2nd PLACE: Wild Sage Bistro; 3rd PLACE: White Box Cafe & Bakery; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Pilgrim's Market

Best Sandwiches


After 22 wins and counting for Best Sandwiches, the only aspect of Domini that's changed since its opening in 1963 is a relocation and keeping the prices current. Ordering is easy; choose a meat, cheese, bread and condiment and enjoy the reliably solid sandwiches this Spokane staple still makes. Indeed, many customers get two meals out of one of their ample offerings. (FW)

2nd PLACE: Stella's; 3rd PLACE: Caruso's

Best Seafood


The only place you could eat fresher seafood with a better view of the Spokane Falls than Anthony's would be actually in the river. Wanting to ensure the highest quality fish for guests, Anthony's opened its own seafood company in 1984 and has been serving "best of season" options for the ultimate Northwest experience ever since. Besides, when the warm weather returns, there are few better places to enjoy a happy hour cocktail! (FW)

2nd PLACE: Milford's; 3rd PLACE: Red Lobster

Best Single-Location Coffee Shop


If a literary reference for a name isn't enough to draw you into Atticus, the hip vibe it's known for — along with its hundreds of unique trinkets — surely will. A simple coffee menu, along with a few baked goods and sandwiches, allow you to stay focused on your book or the person sitting across from you. Aficionados swear by their perfectly pulled espresso. (FW)

2nd PLACE: Coeur Coffeehouse; 3rd PLACE: Revel 77; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: The Vault

Best Steaks


Churchill's is the perfect place to take family, a date or just enjoy an incredible steak. This Chicago-inspired dining experience combines in-house carves of USDA Prime beef with professional service, making it easy to keep Churchill's at the top of your list for any celebratory dinner. We also love sneaking away to their downstairs bar for a drink in one of the tucked-away booths. (FW)

2nd PLACE: Wolf Lodge Inn, Coeur d'Alene; 3rd PLACE: Spencer's for Steaks & Chops

Best Sushi


Though first-timers at may argue over whether or not the dot is pronounced in its name, the real debate begins when trying to narrow down which rolls to order. It's hard to go wrong, so try an Awesome Roll with spicy tuna, lobster salad and cucumber or a Spokane Roll with grilled super white tuna. (FW)

2nd PLACE: The Wave Sushi Bar; 3rd PLACE: Ginger Asian Bistro; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Syringa

Best Bakery


Coffee and fresh baked goods practically run through Spokane's veins, but at Rocket Bakery, you can find scratch, homemade goods from any of their nine shops around the area. Their menu features everything from fresh sandwiches to carefully crafted cakes, so if you're looking for a high-quality cake or just a quick muffin, Rocket is your place. (MEG MACLEAN)

2nd PLACE: Boots Bakery; 3rd PLACE: Rockwood Bakery; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Bakery by the Lake

Best Bread


If you've ever wondered whether or not anyone could come close to the bread your grandma makes (you can almost smell it just thinking about it, can't you?), Great Harvest probably could. Using traditional baking methods and family-owned grains and ingredients, Great Harvest handles their breads with care, making some of the Inland Northwest's greatest loaves. (MM)

2nd PLACE: Central Food; 3rd PLACE: Common Crumb

Best Breakfast

Frank's Diner

Starting as just an old train car stranded in Seattle during the height of the Depression, Frank Knight sparked a dining-car experience that would travel all the way to Spokane. Frank's Diner in Spokane has served some of the best breakfast food around for the past 15 years, and continues to create a perfect mix of breakfast comfort food and old-fashioned dining excellence. (MM)

2nd PLACE: Old European; 3rd PLACE: The Yards Bruncheon; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: The Garnet Cafe

Best Burgers


Whether you're into beef burgers, turkey burgers, veggie burgers, any-kind-of-burgers, you'll find what you need at Wisconsinburger. Their burger engineers take the freshly ground patty experience to the bun with all their burgers, using freshly ground beef, made on-site every morning. Of course, their butter and cheese are made in Wisconsin. So if you're looking for a good burger of any kind, Wisconsinburger brings the ol' mom-and-pop feel from the farms of Wisconsin right to Spokane. (MM)

2nd PLACE: Red Robin; 3rd PLACE: Waddell's; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Hudson's Hamburgers

Best Cupcakes


Making decisions can be so hard. Especially when you're faced with a choice between Chocolate Decadence, Red Velvet, Salted Caramel and Lemon Raspberry — just some of the sinfully tasty flavors in Sweet Frostings' cupcake repertoire. With two locations in Spokane, downtown and at Wandermere, the cupcake shop and full-service confection bakery's perennial success has proven that the trendy rise of cupcakes years back is here to stay. Featuring more than 50 flavors (and a weekly baking schedule on its website for your sweet tooth's convenience), including gluten-free options, Sweet Frostings has something sweet for all the equally sweet occasions in life. (CHEY SCOTT)

2nd PLACE: Celebrations Bakery; 3rd PLACE: Nothing Bundt Cakes; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Stacie's Cakes

Best New Restaurant (Opened in 2015-16)


Opening early last summer in the historic Broadview Dairy building on the north bank of the Spokane River, the Blackbird is best explained as the more refined version of its pub-food counterpart, Manito Tap House, both owned by local restaurateur Patrick McPherson. A menu of upscale, comfort food — with appetizers like "malted waffle hush puppies" and a brisket sandwich on a sticky bun — was influenced by head chef Molly Patrick's upbringing in Atlanta. Though the food offerings of McPherson's two eateries differ in style, an adherence to sustainable business practices and a massive selection of bottled craft beers will make fans of Manito Tap House feel right at home at its new downtown sister, The Blackbird. (CS)

2nd PLACE: Republic Pi; 3rd PLACE: Gaslamp; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Coeur d'Alene Taphouse Unchained

Best Pizza


The artisanal pizza movement arrived in the Inland Northwest some time ago, but the folks at the Flying Goat arguably were some of the first faces on the scene when it opened back in 2010. This neighborhood hotspot in northwest Spokane is always bustling, no matter the night or season. Yet we have to say, those warm summer nights on the patio as the sun sinks low in the sky, enjoying a crisp, slightly charred-crust pie topped with fresh and flavorful ingredients — like house-cured meats — are the blissful moments that keep the Goat's devotees coming back for more. Let's not forget that 50+ bottle craft beer list, either. (CS)

2nd PLACE: Veraci Pizza; 3rd PLACE: South Perry Pizza; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Fire Artisan Pizza

Best Pub Food


One of the only spots in the region with certified cicerones — the term for a carefully trained beer expert, like a sommelier but for beer — and beer servers, Manito Tap House takes its beer knowledge, and its massive, curated beer cellar, really seriously. But this South Hill neighborhood hangout excels in much more than beer. Boasting seasonal menus of made-fresh, from-scratch food that complements whatever you're sipping, Manito Tap House cares about the environment, and its footprint on it as well. As the first Four-Star Certified Green Restaurant in Spokane, the restaurant's physical design and its waste-handling practices are all consciously done with our planet in mind. We can all say 'Cheers!' to that. (CS)

2nd PLACE: Waddell's; 3rd PLACE: The Elk; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Capone's

Best Takeout

Best Thai Food


Having spent more than the past decade building its Inland Northwest Thai food empire from the ground up, it's not surprising that this Best Of Hall of Fame winner is back on the list again this year. With a huge menu offering all sorts of authentically-prepared dishes from co-owner Matavee Burgess' homeland of southern Thailand, locals have over the years developed a healthy appetite for the restaurant's Pad Thai noodles (the No. 1 dish), along with Mongolian beef, spring rolls and the otherworldly fried bananas for dessert. Matavee and husband Tom opened the first Thai Bamboo in Spokane 15 years ago. Now, loyal fans of the couple's successful local chain can find its spicy, savory (and often healthier) food at any of its four Inland Northwest locations in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene. (CS)

Best Takeout 2nd PLACE: Red Dragon; 3rd PLACE: Gordy's Sichuan Cafe

Best Thai 2nd PLACE: Bangkok Thai; 3rd PLACE: Linnie's Thai

Best Cheap Eats


Spokane without Dick's is akin to America without McDonald's. After more than 50 years, the drive-in has cemented itself as a Spokane institution, with a simple and enticingly cheap menu. Burger types vary, though condiments are limited. But simplicity is best when seeking comfort — add fries and a shake to your order, and you're set at an unbeatable price. Do keep in mind, however, that only cash is accepted, as per Dick's long-standing tradition. (CLAIRE STANDAERT)

2nd PLACE: Atilano's; 3rd PLACE: Zip's

Best Fine Dining


Using the words "steak" and "seafood" and the phrase "riverfront seating" in one sentence conjures feelings of splendor and excellence. So heads up: located in the Old Flour Mill and overlooking Spokane's famous river, Clinkerdagger offers a variety of delicious seafood and quality, fine-cut steaks. For special occasions including work, romance, and birthdays — or simply a treat-yourself sort of evening — the classy menu and breathtaking location are reasons to indulge. (CSt)

2nd PLACE: Churchill's Steakhouse; 3rd PLACE: Wild Sage Bistro; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Beverly's

Best Italian Food


Italian food lovers find a welcoming home in Tomato Street, with a comprehensive menu including pizza, pasta, calzones, and salads. Pizzas are baked "Old World Style" in a wood-fired brick oven and toppings offered include basic ingredients, though for adventurous eaters, there are "New World Tradition" toppings like smoked Gouda and balsamic-infused tomatoes. As per Italian family tradition, no one is left out: Gluten-free pastas and other dishes are available. (CSt)

2nd PLACE: Luigi's; 3rd PLACE: Italia Trattoria

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant


Red Robin is a friendly and homey restaurant chain that offers a plethora of gourmet burgers with different types of meats, buns and toppings. The kids' menu is no different in its unique variety, including honey-battered corndog bites and cod crunchers. Fries are bottomless and refilled per request free of charge. In the evenings especially, the restaurant buzzes with smiles, families, and wafting gourmet-burger smells. (CSt)

2nd PLACE: Tomato Street; 3rd PLACE: Chuck E. Cheese; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Dockside at CdA Resort

Best Patio Dining


You've got the city skyline, a view overlooking the river's natural beauty, and if you time it just right, a primo spot to watch the sun just before it ducks behind a sea of evergreens — the patio at Central Food leaves little to be desired. Tucked into the north bank of the river, this Kendall Yards spot is perfect for a Sunday brunch, a bite after a long, sweaty ride on the Centennial Trail or a relaxing dinner. (MITCH RYALS)

2nd PLACE: Clinkerdagger; 3rd PLACE: Anthony's; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Bardenay

Best Coffee Roaster


Morning at the Inlander is often Hammer time. Thomas Hammer coffee is often the coffee that fills our mugs and our veins. When the coffeepot runs dry, wailing and gnashing of teeth follows, all for want of more coffee. The good news for those needing an emergency coffee fix? Thomas Hammer literally has a coffee shop in the Sacred Heart Emergency Room. (DANIEL WALTERS)

2nd PLACE: Roast House; 3rd PLACE: DOMA Coffee

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)


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