by Mike Corrigan
Hey, you. In town for the big run, huh? That's great. But have you considered what you're going to do with all those hours that fill the weekend before the race even begins? Maybe so, maybe no? I see. I guess it's a good thing you picked up this paper and turned to this section.
With your race training presumably complete, it's time to indulge yourself (a little or a lot, depending on how seriously you take this thing called Bloomsday) in Spokane's many charms. That's right -- many. There is fun to be found here around just about every corner. Your task: find it. With a few tips from your pals at The Inlander, of course.
Tip number one: Downtown is Spokane's cultural center, packed with outstanding restaurants, music and performance arts venues, art galleries, pubs, etc. But it'll be just plain packed this weekend as well. So don't discount the pleasures to be found in the suburban neighborhoods. We'll clue you in to some along the way.
You're in luck here because excellent restaurants in this town are the norm. Like your pre-race carbos smothered in marinara sauce? We recommend Luigi's on West Main, The Italian Kitchen next to the Onion and Europa on South Wall. In the burbs, try Mamma Mia's on West Francis or Little Italy on North Division. Want to get way out with your Italian fare? Commellini's, just north of town near Wandermere Golf Course, is about 20 minutes from the city's core and nestled in the pines along Spring Creek (be sure to make reservations).
Hate pasta? Weird. But if that's the case let me recommend Mizuna's vegetarian cuisine, Azar's on North Monroe for gyros, David's Pizza and Sonic Burrito (next to each other on North Hamilton), Linnie's Thai on South Grand, Chicken N More on West Sprague for authentic BBQ and Quinn's across from the Davenport Hotel for, well, everything.
A pub crawl before the big run? Sounds okay to me. If you're in the mood for that kind of action, check out this list of lively drinking establishments. For an honest to goodness pub experience (all with great taps) in and around downtown, try the Blue Spark on the corner of Howard and First, Mootsy's on West Sprague, Far West Billiards on the corner of First and Monroe and The Elk in Browne's Addition. Just across the river to the north lies the beer-lover's Valhalla, The Viking. A little farther out, the Great Scott on South Regal, the Ram across from the Arena and Solicitor's Corner on Francis and Division also have your grub and suds lust covered.
More of a lounge lizard? Let me recommend Quinn's on Sprague and Lincoln for its hip, swanky charm and expert bartending. Around the block (and next to Fugazzi) is the dark, cozy atmosphere of Cavallino Lounge. Moving east on Sprague, you'll find boozy hotspots Gabby's, The Satellite, Rumors and Outback Jack's (the latter two bars have a DJ on deck and dancing almost every night). The Steam Plant Grill on South Lincoln has a cool sunken bar, good food and great taps.
You like zee live music? You, my friend, are in luck. The live music scene in Spokane has once again risen from its deep winter malaise and is currently in top gear.
Jazz aficionados will want to head out to the Neville Auditorium at 1445 N. Argonne on Friday night for an evening with 30-year Vegas performance veteran Kenny Harkins along with vocalist Kristina Ploeger and trombonist Rob Tapper. Harkins has tickled the ivories for such notables as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. For a Cinco de Mayo celebration the whole family will enjoy (complete with traditional Mexican music and dancing), try "Song to the Community" at The Met on Friday night. The Shop on South Perry serves outstanding coffee along with some outstanding acoustic music this weekend (starting at 7 pm each evening) featuring guitar man Todd Hallawell on Thursday and the Urban Hillbilly Quartet on Friday. Don't fret, rock fans, Boomerang's has heavy rockers Operator Generator, Eightfold Path, Cerberus and Downpour on Friday night. Also on Friday, Chinese punk sensation, Reflector will light up E Cafe & amp; Gallery on West Sprague with Seawolf and Moral Crux. If that isn't enough for ya, on Saturday night, British punk rock icons the Vibrators will hold court at Ichabod's North.
If you've got a hankering for live comedy, head to the Park Place Lounge at the WestCoast Grand Hotel for absolutely live standup on Friday and Saturday night beginning at 9 pm.
Hip, happening coffeehouses are literally everywhere. And many toss live music into the mix of java and atmosphere. Here's a few of our favorites: The Rocket on Main, Cabin Coffee in Browne's Addition, Common Grounds on the corner of Ash and Northwest Blvd. and The Mercury Cafe on North Monroe.
For a quick, easy break alone or with the whole family, grab some sandwiches and head out to one of the area's many beautiful parks. Manito gets all the attention (deservedly so), but the Finch Arboretum just west of town off Sunset Boulevard is quieter and less crowded. Speaking of Manito, Saturday beginning at 11 am, Japanese storytelling and origami sculpturing will be part of the free Children's Day at the Japanese Garden.
Not to be overlooked is the Bloomsday post-race celebration in Riverfront Park's clock tower meadow, with live music, a food fair and the official opening of the park's summer attractions.
These are just a few tips to get you started. Spokane's full of fun, interesting and just plain odd attractions and stuff to do. You just have to dig a little. There, now you have your mission. Good luck.
For details on these and other events, check our Sound Advice and Calendar of Events sections later in this newspaper.