Best Of

Best of the Palouse

You might know THE HARVESTER RESTAURANT & LOUNGE as the place with the inviting, glowing red "restaurant" sign as you drive on Highway 195 just south of Spokane.

I know it as the place I once ordered nachos to share when I wasn't very hungry, and was treated to a comically massive platter of food ready to feed a family. The nachos are still on the menu, but Melissa Bozarth, who's owned the restaurant with her husband, Brent, for 13 years, says they're now served in a more personal size, and happen to be one of her favorite dishes.

The couple previously owned Ionic Burritos in Spokane but wanted to start a place that served breakfast, lunch and dinner, so the Harvester was a great fit when it came up for sale.

Located at the very northern end of the Palouse, the Spangle restaurant is sometimes lovingly referred to as a "diamond in the rough," Bozarth says. Inside, antiques and old signs for soda companies decorate the walls, and in the bathrooms there may be a sign or two meant to make you laugh.

While the Harvester serves delicious burgers and salads and more, as they're open from 8 am to 8 pm Wednesday through Sunday, it was breakfast that made them an Inlander readers-poll favorite this year. Breakfast goes until noon on weekdays and 2 pm on the weekends, and Bozarth says people especially love their country fried steak, eggs Benedict, and the Spangle scramble, which comes with hashbrowns, eggs, bacon and onions topped with gravy and served with a side of toast.

"We love the small town feel of it, and everybody kind of knows everybody," Bozarth says, noting they're also a popular stop for people headed to Pullman or Spokane. "Come see us ... We've got homemade soups, homemade food — if that's something you're looking for, that's what we've got."

If you head almost directly east of Spangle as the crow flies, you'll find another Inlander reader favorite at HURD MERCANTILE & COMPANY, an 8,000-square-foot decor and gift shop with a little something for everyone.

Teresa Carbone, who co-owns the shop with Jill Townsend, says this mix of vintage and new items are located inside a historic building that for generations served as Rockford's general store.

Inside, you'll find "islands" of products based on different themes and types of decor, such as garden, cabin, children's spaces, kitchen, French country, rustic farmhouse, etc.

"It's been evolving through the years, but basically everything you need is kind of here," Carbone says, noting there are also candles, journals, tea and more. "The basic idea is vintage with new."

So you might find an old piece of furniture ready for a project next to a new picture frame that perfectly matches its style.

The shop is open from 11 am to 4 pm daily, and attracts visitors year-round.

"We're only 20 minutes from Fairfield and Spokane Valley," Carbone says. "We appreciate our customers for finding us and because they keep coming back."

click to enlarge Best of the Palouse
The Coug is a Pullman institution.

Farther south on the Palouse, you'll find some of the region's most popular recreation spots, including reader favorite PALOUSE FALLS and runner-up Steptoe Butte.

In Pullman, readers again honored THE COUG as their favorite Palouse bar.

Over in downtown Moscow, you'd think that the closure of a few popular bars could've spelled the end for a food truck like GRUB WANDERING KITCHEN, but in fact, the business has seen a lot of success over the last two years, says owner John Fletcher.

Eight years ago, he built out the late night mac-and-cheese spot, and it's since grown to be a business with seven other employees.

While the bar crowd helped them gain popularity, Fletcher says they're a common late-night spot for people who live in nearby dorms and apartments, and even for people who come over from Pullman just for some tasty bites.

"I'd say, gosh, maybe a quarter of our customers are from Pullman," Fletcher says. "We have a cult following."

They even have a Twitch channel (twitch.tv/grubtruckers) so people from anywhere can watch camera feeds inside and outside the truck. Some lucky customers get their meals paid for when generous Twitch viewers decide to chip in.

Grub's most popular dish is good ol' five-cheese mac and cheese, but they also run a different special mac every week, on a rotation of about 20 different variations. You might find, for example, the Philly mac, with meat, peppers and onions. Or there's the buffalo milonakis, with chicken, buffalo sauce, bacon, blue cheese crumbles and celery.

The Grub Truck also has a couple tacos and a dessert burrito, but Fletcher guesses 80 percent of what they sell is that cheesy pasta goodness.

"We make everything from scratch, so the quality is a little better than your average fast food," Fletcher says.

You can find Grub Wandering Kitchen starting at 10 pm, Wednesday through Saturday nights, at Third and Main in Moscow, usually in one of the parking spaces in front of the Garden Lounge.


BEST BREAKFAST
1st Place: The Harvester Restaurant & Lounge, Spangle
2nd Place: The Breakfast Club, Moscow
3rd Place (tie): Harvest Moon, Rockford; Zoe Coffee & Kitchen, Pullman

BEST BAR
1st Place: The Coug, Pullman
2nd Place: Spangle Saloon
3rd Place: My Office Bar & Grill, Pullman

BEST VINTAGE/ANTIQUE SHOP
1st Place: Hurd Mercantile & Company, Rockford
2nd Place: Bully for You Vintage, Colfax
3rd Place: Open Eye Consignment Shop, Palouse

BEST FOOD TRUCK
1st Place: Grub Wandering Kitchen, Moscow

BEST RECREATION DESTINATION
1st Place: Palouse Falls
2nd Place: Steptoe Butte
3rd Place (tie): Snake River Dunes; East Moscow Mountain

Wheatland Bank Free Horse & Carriage Rides @ Riverfront Park

Fridays, 4-8 p.m. Continues through June 21
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