Best Of

Best Arts

Young Kwak photo


Jess Walter

As fans of Jess Walter patiently wait for his next novel (it's been seven years since Beautiful Ruins was published) or short-story collection (six years since We Live In Water), we grasp at anything that gives us a jolt of his vibrant literary voice, whether it's a reading at Pie & Whiskey during Get Lit! or the occasional publication of a short story like "Motif," which appeared in the Inlander last May. Clearly Inlander readers are a patient bunch, and haven't forgotten what made Walter their favorite local scribe. (DAN NAILEN)

2nd PLACE: Sharma Shields; 3rd PLACE: Chris Crutcher



For anyone whose bookshelf is overflowing with paperbacks that you swear you'll get around to reading someday, Auntie's Bookstore is heaven on Earth. Since it opened just a little over 40 years ago, the store has kept all the hottest new releases in stock, and it keeps reasonable prices on gently used books. Regardless of what you buy, one thing is certain — the people there really love books. (NATHAN WEINBENDER)

2nd PLACE: The Well-Read Moose; 3rd PLACE: Giant Nerd Books; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: The Well-Read Moose


Barrister Winery

The fine folks at Barrister have always maintained a close relationship with the arts, and it's both a stellar winery and a great place to check out the latest collection from a local artists. After all, a smooth merlot or an oaky cabernet makes browsing through paintings or taking in a show that much better. But the real reason Barrister is such an ideal First Friday stop is its strategic locations — a primary location on Railroad Avenue and a tasting room near the Davenport Grand. (NW)

2nd PLACE: Marmot Art Space; 3rd PLACE: Bridge Press Cellars; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Art Spirit Gallery


Broken Mic, Neato Burrito

Since 2011, Wednesday nights at Neato Burrito has been the go-to place for poets young and old, aspiring and seasoned, to perform their work before an adoring crowd. It's always crowded, and that adds to the sense of camaraderie. Weirdos, squares, introverts — everyone is welcome. And even better: Wednesday night means you can get grilled cheese sandwiches and PBRs for a dollar apiece. (NW)

2nd PLACE: Spokane Poetry Slam, the Bartlett; 3rd PLACE: BootSlam, Boots Bakery


Armed Forces Torchlight Parade

It's safe to say that just about every Spokane native has some story related to the Torchlight Parade, which has been taking over downtown every May since the '30s. The traditions are myriad, from showing up early to get a primo spot with your folding chair to being over-prepared for inclimate weather. And then there's the floats, the bands, the Lilac royalty and, of course, the moving tributes to our military. (NW)

2nd PLACE: St. Patrick's Day Parade; 3rd PLACE: Spokane Pride Parade; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Fourth of July Parade, Coeur d'Alene


Mary Poppins, Spokane Civic Theatre

Mary Poppins opened the Civic Theatre's 2018-19 season, and by most accounts it was supercalifrag... well, you get the idea. Based on the beloved book series and 1964 Disney feature, the Tony-winning musical is a technical feat, with inanimate objects coming to life and actors flying all around the stage, and director Troy Nickerson and crew brought some fleet-footed magic to the Inland Northwest. No wonder the show was popular: It's a spoonful of sugar in difficult times. (NW)

2nd PLACE: Elf the Musical, Spokane Civic Theatre; 3rd PLACE: Ellen Travolta's Christmas Unwrapped, CdA Resort


Art on the Green

It's free, takes place over three days, is run by volunteers, is juried to ensure a wide range of professional-level artwork and handcrafted goods, and has taken place under the cooling canopy of trees on North Idaho College's lakeside campus for more than 50 years. That's Art on the Green. (CARRIE SCOZZARO)

2nd PLACE: ArtFest; 3rd PLACE: Terrain



When a couple first moved to Spokane, the founders of the @spokaneeats Instagram wanted to know what there was to do in their new home. Now, they're helping others discover hidden (or obvious) food gems in and around the Lilac City with regular posts that highlight everything from local bars and restaurants to eye-catching street murals. (JK)

2nd PLACE: @spokanedoesntsuck; 3rd PLACE: @hellosugarspokane; 3rd PLACE: @cdaresort


Epicurean Delight, Vitalant

When you pair incredible food from some of the area's best chefs with regional wine, craft beer and cider for a night that raises funds to support life-saving health care services in the Inland Northwest, everyone wins. Since 1980, this annual gala has become a highlight of the year for attendees, who enjoy an elegant evening out with unlimited bite-sized samplings, friendly competition between chef-led teams and heartwarming stories that directly show why it's so crucial to support nonprofits like this right here at home. (CHEY SCOTT)

2nd PLACE: Polo Classic, Ronald McDonald House Charities; 3rd PLACE: Furr Ball, Spokane Humane Society; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Wine, Women & Shoes, Idaho Youth Ranch

Young Kwak photo
You can see Daniel Lopez's handiwork all around town, including his American Jesus with the pixelated Christ face on Second Avenue.


Daniel Lopez

While winters in Spokane can mean a near-constant visual field of dirty, sludgy snow and gray skies, the city's public murals come to vivid, much-needed life by contrast. And the man behind many of the city's most memorable massive art pieces is Daniel Lopez, whose works dot everything from the sides of buildings to Garland Neighborhood alleyways, religious centers to coffee shops. His American Jesus (the piece with the pixelated Christ face on Second Avenue near Division) is arguably the most striking, but I'm a big fan of his Eazy-E flying with E.T. piece on the side of River City Tattoo on Northwest and Cedar. (DAN NAILEN)


Day of the Dead Mural, Cochinito

Pulling from themes based on the Day of the Dead, Jeremy Vermilion's 30-foot mural decorates a large wall in Travis Dickinson's downtown restaurant Cochinito. Sugar skulls, guitar-slinging skeletons and bold, red flowers sets the mood for a fine-dining taqueria experience. I personally recommend pairing the view with the fried maitake mushroom tacos. (DEREK HARRISON)

Ride & Dine Series @ Silver Mountain Resort

Fridays, 3-7:30 p.m. Continues through Aug. 30
  • or