Friday, April 8, 2016

The LA Times gives Spokane's food and drink some serious love

Posted By on Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 1:51 PM


Today's Los Angeles Times has as a travel piece about Spokane. And guess what? The guy loved his time here last fall.

The piece mostly highlights Spokane's continuing-to-blow-up food scene, making stops at restaurants like The Wandering Table in Kendall Yards and Chaps just south of the city. He also remarked on the region's wine, most notably Barrister Winery.

Give it a read and enjoy all the nice things a major news outlet has to say about our fair city. 
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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Happy Hour of the Week: Getting crafty at Bon Bon

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2016 at 1:44 PM

This Old Fashioned at Bon Bon didn't last long after posing for this picture. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • This Old Fashioned at Bon Bon didn't last long after posing for this picture.

There are a lot of reasons to hit the Garland Theater, from the cheap movie tickets to the special events like Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings to the inherent coolness of seeing a flick in a single-screen, 70-year-old historical landmark instead of a newfangled mini-stadium at a mall. 

The top of my list is Bon Bon, the small bar adjacent to the theater's lobby where some of the first craft cocktails in Spokane were born, and where the vibe is consistently friendly and the decor decidedly funky thanks to a rotating art show on the walls mixing with the film-themed touches throughout. 

The tight curving bar makes maximum use of Bon Bon's space, and there are a few tables and a consistently busy patio just outside the door when the weather is nice. And while crowds show up later in the evening for trivia on Mondays or bingo on Wednesdays, the happy hour at Bon Bon is worth a visit whether you're sticking around for a movie next door or not. 

As the craft cocktail boom has found its way into many bars in Spokane, the prices of those drinks have risen to some uncomfortable heights. Not so at Bon Bon, and especially at happy hour, when a seasonally changing menu offers several craft cocktails for just $5 each, in addition to a dollar off all wine and beer

The current cocktail menu includes a Basil Collins (gin or vodka, lemon, lime, simple syrup, basil and seltzer), a Bon Bon Sour (bourbon, lemon, lime, simple syrup and bitters) among its offerings, as well as the Old Fashioned (rye or bourbon, sugar cube, bitters) that sticks on the happy hour menu even as other offerings rotate. Manager Cabby Barnard says "the Old Fashioned is probably the most popular cocktail" for Bon Bon's customers.

I can vouch for the fact they go down easy. Dangerously so at Happy Hour prices. The mix of rye, bitters, sugar and a little orange peel can be impossible to resist even with other tasty options filling the menu. 

Besides trivia and bingo, Bon Bon is now participating in First Friday each month, when they'll debut a new artist's work hanging in house, and also have a different craft brewery doing a tap takeover for a night. Bon Bon is also planning a party to celebrate the Kentucky Derby on May 7, so find a big hat or seersucker suit and get ready to down some mint juleps. 

Happy Hour at Bon Bon is every Monday-Thursday from 4-7 pm, and all day Sunday. The special Happy Hour cocktails are $5, and all beer and wine is $1 off.

For information on more Happy Hours in the region, use your phone and go to to download the Inlander's Drinkspotter app, or go right here
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Friday, April 1, 2016

Local eateries open patio doors for spring season

Posted By on Fri, Apr 1, 2016 at 4:15 PM

No-Li Brewhouse recently added improvements to its patio on the bank of the Spokane River.
  • No-Li Brewhouse recently added improvements to its patio on the bank of the Spokane River.
It's T-shirt season again, which means you can actually enjoy a beer and dinner in the outdoor fresh air without you — or your beer — freezing. Here are several local spots that have opened their patios for spring and are ready to serve their libations and edible creations to you outside.

No-Li Brewhouse
Located on the Spokane River, No-Li's patio offers a cool and scenic spot to enjoy a beverage, appetizer or even just sit in the shade at a comfortable spring temperature. With new upgrades such as a water feature and lawn additions, the No-Li patio is now officially open for the season.

Veraci Pizza
Like No-Li, Veraci Pizza gives its visitors a front-row view of the Spokane River and city skyline from the comfort of the Kendall Yards area. With a patio overlooking the city, what better place to enjoy a dinner and a glass of wine on a Friday night?

Perry Street Brewing
This brewhouse has had its patio open for about a week now, but it is dependent on how the weather changes. Regardless, join the Perry Street patio goers and have a couple beers in the sun. 

Borracho Tacos & Tequileria
Another outdoor dining spot which has been bumpin' outside for about a week is Borracho. Complete with live music and trendy iron + wood furnishings, this patio is perfect for an afternoon of tequila and Mexican food.
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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Top Chef's Chad White to open a ceviche spot in conjunction with brewery collective

Posted By on Thu, Mar 31, 2016 at 12:10 PM

Chef Chad White
  • Chef Chad White

The Steel Barrel Tap Room is hoping to open its doors in time for Bloomsday, and whenever the brewery-incubator space in the Luminaria Building launches, Chef Chad White will debut his new ceviche spot right alongside. 

Zona Blanca Ceviche bar will be a small counter-service raw bar that White says will specialize in the coastal flavors of Mexico. White, who recently moved back to his Spokane hometown after establishing himself in San Diego's dining scene and appearing on the most recent season of Top Chef, has traveled extensively throughout Mexico. The flavors he found will fill the menu of his first Spokane eatery. 

Most of the menu at Zona Blanca will be filled with ceviches representing different coastal regions of Mexico — Baja, Sinaloa, Veracruz and others — while also including other street snacks such as Carne Seca marinated in lime, chiles and cilantro, chicharrones with hot sauce and "possibly a torta or two."  

Spokane, White said via email, "still lacks in its offerings of non-watered down and over-Americanized ethnic food establishments, and with Zona Blanca I intend to help feed the appetite of those looking for just that."

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Happy Hour of the Week: The Lantern Taphouse has a welcoming atmosphere

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2016 at 3:00 PM

This room at The Lantern Taphouse used to be Perry Street Cafe - JENNIFER DEBARROS
  • Jennifer DeBarros
  • This room at The Lantern Taphouse used to be Perry Street Cafe

Usually, if I find myself alone at a restaurant waiting for my tardy friends to join me for a drink after work, I would start feeling a little anxious around the time I realized I'd gone through my entire Twitter feed and exhausted my only source of entertainment. Each minute the pressure would mount, and I'd feel the need to repeatedly explain to the waitress that there is, in fact, a reason I'm taking up this four-person table. 

At The Lantern Taphouse, however, I never felt that pressure. 

At 5 pm on a Friday, the Lantern feels less like a restaurant and more like a cafe that happens to have excellent food, beer and cocktails. That's probably because where I was sitting, away from the small bar, actually used to be the Perry Street Cafe before it closed a couple years ago and the Lantern snatched up the extra space. It's the kind of place where it's normal for a guy like me to sit at a table against the wall, sip a drink and not be questioned about when I'll order something else, or when those two other people are supposed to show up (they eventually did 20 minutes later, by the way, but I'm not bitter). 

The brick walls, the fireplace and the lanterns — actual lanterns! — on top of the mantle all made for a cozy atmosphere. Couples of all ages talked over food and drinks. As the night went on, Gonzaga fans, wearing their Gonzaga sweaters and blue jeans, trickled in with their kids. The men's basketball team was about to play Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen — a game the Zags somehow lost in the final minutes. But this isn't a sports bar, and it doesn't have TVs in every corner. There's one screen above the fireplace, kind of like in a living room. 

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Happy Hour of the Week: The Blackbird’s drinks and appetizers sing sweetly

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 12:47 PM

The Blackbird Tavern & Kitchen's "happier hour" runs Mon-Fri and Sunday. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • The Blackbird Tavern & Kitchen's "happier hour" runs Mon-Fri and Sunday.

There is no happy hour here. At the Blackbird Tavern & Kitchen, t
The beers on tap available for happier hour are highlighted in red. - LAURA JOHNSON
  • Laura Johnson
  • The beers on tap available for happier hour are highlighted in red.
he time of day when drinks and bar snacks are well priced is referred to as happier hour. And truly, if one arrives right after work at 5:15 pm, happiness will ensue.

Saddled up at the sleek wooden bar, a friend and I discussed all of the current world problems — Trump, terrorist attacks and why more people should probably like hockey — and almost had them pretty well solved, had we not had to go home that evening. Through the talking, we sampled a selection of snacks and beverages.

As far as Blackbird’s HH signature cocktails go, they are a fascinating experience. With the purple-ish elderberry Bessie gin martini, the grapefruit juice and lavender simple syrup combine to leave a slight sour and potent taste. The yellow-hued humidor martini, on the other hand, tastes like licking an actual tree, thanks to the cedar gin used in its creation.

Helping us swallow these creative beverages was the bacon fat popcorn, which comes with brown sugar and sea salt sprinkled on top, and the pork five spice bao (a steamed bun). Both were divine. Popcorn is one of my favorites anyway, but with that salty and sweet combination here, Blackbird’s take could be the best in town. Other options on the bar snack list included a variety of housemade pickles, smoked cashews and cherries and a helping of pimento cheese with cayenne maple potato chips. It’s clear that chef Molly Patrick doesn’t want to do put anything ordinary on the menu.

With just a little time left before the 6 pm happier hour cutoff, we ordered some beers. Just like the restaurant’s sister, Manito Tap House on the South Hill, Blackbird outdoes itself on the beer selection with 34 on tap. With five HH selections to choose from, I went for the Selkirk Abbey St. Joseph saison (all the others were essentially IPAs, and I’m pretty much the only person in the PNW who isn’t all about the hops). Fruity and robust with an 9.3 percent ABV, it was a good thing our helpful bartender also plied us with ice waters.

Recently named the Best New Restaurant in the Inlander’s Best Of poll, Blackbird, the spot in the former Broadview Dairy building manages to feel open yet still inviting. People are often dressed in workplace attire, but jeans are more than welcome. The tap beer and wine selections seem to be the most popular with those coming in for a HH deal. And who could blame them?

Happier hour runs Mon-Fri from 3 pm-6 pm, and from 3 pm-close on Sunday. Draft beer is 50 percent off (a rotating list of at least five select beers ranging from $5-$10) and select cocktails are $5. Also featured are $5 glasses of wine (rotating). Bar snacks run at $3. Happier hour is only served at the bar.

To learn more about Happy Hours around the Inland Northwest, visit on your phone and download our Drinkspotter app, or simply visit this page.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Happy Hour of the week: Browne's Tavern — a homey place to chill with the homies

Posted By on Wed, Mar 16, 2016 at 1:19 PM

Browne's Tavern, where the sign is made of pennies and there's a wall made of books. - MITCH RYALS PHOTO
  • Mitch Ryals Photo
  • Browne's Tavern, where the sign is made of pennies and there's a wall made of books.

On a Tuesday night with five presidential primaries already underway, four reporters walk into a bar. Stop me if you've heard this one. 

None of us have to report on the shit show that has come to define this year's road to the presidential nomination, thank God. At least not right now. Tonight it's about getting out of the office at a decent hour, drinking a few tasty beers and enjoying the fact that it's someone else's responsibility to document what racist, sexist or riot-inciting thing that blithering orange idiot says and how the other ones fair in Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois and North Carolina. 

So, if you're interested in how the Inlander news team spends a happy hour after putting the paper to bed, stay tuned. Otherwise, stop reading and go to Browne's Tavern. The bar occupies the entire upstairs of a converted two-story house in Browne's Addition. 

Taps rotate constantly, but tonight we sampled the Longboard Lager from Kona Brewing Co., the Lucille IPA from Georgetown Brewing Company and the Citradelic Tangerine IPA from New Belgium. Happy hour is from 3-6 pm every day and again from 9-10 weeknights and 10-11 weekends. Dollar off drafts, wine, specialty cocktails and appetizers. We had the calamari and hummus plate. Daniel ate all the squid, but the hummus was fire

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Happy Hour of the week: An upscale dive bar experience at the Backyard

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 1:31 PM


If you just can’t quite cram enough sports into your eyeballs, you’ll find your hour of happiness at the Backyard Public House, a pub located in West Central that bills itself as a “5 Star Dive Bar.”

At the Backyard, there are five screens simultaneously displaying sporting activities including basketball, women’s boxing and dudes talking about sports. The Backyard puts more emphasis on the “5 Star” part than the “Dive Bar,” but tall cans of swill beer haven't been crowded out by the craftier and costlier beverages.

Speaking of which, the Backyard offers up a wide selection of beers and ciders on tap. The staff are smiley and friendly and they’ll chat you up while they slice up oranges and limes that they also juice right there at the bar. Some of the citrus might get in your eye, but you can be comforted with knowing that it’s used in signature cocktails. There’s also a selection of upscale bar food that includes street tacos, pretzels, poutine, nachos and more substantial fare like burgers and salads.

The Backyard is a good place to relax after work and kick back a couple drinks while staring at sports. The only downsides: the stools can be unforgiving to sit on after a while (unless you’ve imbibed enough) and the wood panel walls echo the thumping dance music, which could result in strained conversation punctuated with “what?” and “huh?”

Happy hour runs from 2-5 every day, and from 10 pm-2 am, and features a dollar off all wine (which runs from $5-8 a glass) and drafts, meaning you can get a micro brew for $4. Also featured is a dollar off $8 signature cocktails. 

For information on more Happy Hours around town, download the Inlander's Drinkspotter app from your phone, or go right here
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Friday, March 4, 2016

Visit local bars and drink local beer to support the Spokane River this March

Posted By on Fri, Mar 4, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Pick up a version of this Riverkeeper Riverwalk checklist in the current Inlander or at the listed restaurants.
  • Pick up a version of this Riverkeeper Riverwalk checklist in the current Inlander or at the listed restaurants.

Throughout the month of March, each time you visit any of eight Spokane restaurants (listed below) and drink a beer (but not just any beer), you'll be aiding efforts to keep the Spokane River a healthy, thriving waterway.

Kicking off this Friday and running through March 31, the inaugural Riverkeeper Riverwalk campaign is a fundraising and awareness event that benefits lovers of local beer, local businesses and the Spokane River. It's a win-win-win.

To partake in the campaign, visit any of the following eight bars and restaurants — all appropriately located very near to the river's edge — to trigger a donation to the Spokane Riverkeeper by ordering a meal or a pint of River City Brewing's newest version of its Riverkeeper IPA. The 2016 Riverkeeper IPA launches this Friday, having been updated with eight hop varieties from its previous version.

  • David's Pizza, 803 N. Post
  • The Knock Irish Pub, 1011 W. Broadway
  • Veraci Pizza, 1333 W. Summit Pkwy.
  • Ripples Riverside Grill, 700 N. Division
  • O'Doherty's Irish Grille, 525 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
  • Nectar Wine & Beer, 1331 W. Summit Pkwy.
  • The Blackbird Tavern + Kitchen, 905 N. Washington
  • Rock City Grill, 808 W. Main

Even better, those who pick up a special check-off sheet that was distributed in this week's Inlander can turn it in after visiting at least four of the eight restaurants to get a commemorative pint glass from River City Brewing. Visit at least seven of eight places and you'll also be entered into a drawing for a river rafting trip from ROW Adventures.

The check-off sheet is also available at participating restaurants and an event launch party at the downtown Numerica Credit Union branch (Friday, March 4, from 5:30-8 pm) that features Spokane River photography by Charles Gurche.

For each of the 300 pint glasses being given away during the campaign, Numerica has pledged to donate $5 to the Spokane Riverkeeper. If all are distributed (which we imagine won't be hard to do) that's a total of $1,500, not to forget the donations from participating restaurants.

The Spokane Riverkeeper, a program of the Center for Justice overseen by the actual Riverkeeper, Jerry White, is tasked with protecting and preserving our region's landmark waterway. The Riverkeeper is responsible for, among many other efforts, helping clean up trash along the river, protecting native fish species, regulating and preventing pollution and educating the public about the importance of protecting the Spokane River.

Spokane Riverkeeper, Jerry White. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Spokane Riverkeeper, Jerry White.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

RESTAURANT WEEK: Editorial staffers check out Timber Gastro Pub and Luna

Posted By and on Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 4:37 PM

The Inland Northwest is in the throes of Inlander Restaurant Week for another few days — you can find all the necessary info here — and our staffers are out on the scene doing a little grubbing themselves: 
Luna's salmon lox with Bavarois cream, golden raisins and watercress - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Luna's salmon lox with Bavarois cream, golden raisins and watercress


1610 E. Schneidmiller Ave., Post Falls, 208-262-9593
Open daily 4-9 pm, $19/person

At Timber, a recently opened gastropub in Post Falls, a mural of old-time loggers reclining on some felled trees watch diners in the recently renovated space.

For Inlander Restaurant Week, I started with the soft pretzels, small submarines of doughy goodness that I submerged into the accompanying IPA beer cheese sauce. Next up was Pacific cod, cooked in a rice cracker crust. The fish was OK (I mean has anyone ever uttered, "Omergod! That was amazing!" about cod. Probably not). The real star of the dish was the red curry with edamame jasmine rice. Dessert was coffee mud pie, which was as sweet, gooey and chocolatey as you would imagine.

But maybe what stood out about the meal (and not included with Restaurant Week, but worth an addition) was the “flight in a pint,” a paddle board of tasters made from nearby brewers followed with a pint of your favorite. 

5620 S. Perry, 448-2383
Open Monday-Friday 11 am-close, Saturday-Sunday 9 am-close, $29/person

I live on the north side of Spokane, so a trip to Luna is a bit of an excursion, making Inlander Restaurant Week a perfect excuse to make my way to the South Hill and treat myself. 

The options for Restaurant Week were all pretty tempting. I like to put my hard-earned dollars toward meat — usually as much as possible, and at the very least a kind of meat I don't know how to cook at home. That led me to choose the Braised Short Rib, served with a broccoli puree, white beans and carrot. The beef was tender, falling apart easily with just a fork, and the veggies were done very well. That didn't keep me from spearing some of the fettucini and lamb ragout served with cauliflower, kalamata olives and tomato on my girlfriend's plate, though, and I can definitely recommend that as well. 

For dessert, we both had the Exotic Citrus Vacherin. Don't know what Vacherin is? Us, either, but I can report that the collection of blood oranges, candied grapefruit and kumquats and cinnamon topped with pistachio ice cream has us both licking the bowls. OK, not really, we're not animals. But it was good. 

Even better, though, was our choice for an appetizer. We bypassed the Old Fashioned cocktail — that was a painful choice to make, believe me — and got the salmon lox, served with a little cream cheese, golden raisins and watercress. For something so simple, it was incredibly tasty. 

This was just my second-ever visit to Luna, and first in a couple years, and between the neighborhood cafe vibe and great service, I can see why it's a Spokane favorite. 

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