Summer Guide 2024: Food & Drink

It's eatin' season

click to enlarge Summer Guide 2024: Food & Drink
Young Kwak photo
Get your fill — and then some — at Pig Out in the Park.

Gardens are growing, grills are glowing, and the ice cold beer is flowing! Whatever your plans are this summer, you've got to eat. Thankfully, the Inland Northwest is stuffed full of opportunities to taste, sip, crunch, slurp and sample. No matter what you're hungry for, you'll probably find it somewhere nearby — if it's not at a table, it might be out of a truck, under a tent or in the middle of a field!

FOODIES' PARADISE

Every summer, the Inland Northwest transforms into an oasis for people who love food, and the season sees some of the most iconic, crave-worthy events of the whole year. Every Tuesday from May through August (except July 2 and Aug. 27), downtown Spokane hosts a haul of food trucks on the orange Howard Street bridge in Riverfront Park for Riverfront Eats, a celebration of the creativity, flavors and entrepreneurs of the Northwest's food scene. Break away from the office and tuck into some shawarma or giant egg rolls or crazy good quesadillas.

Then, as always, Crave! Northwest turns Spokane Valley into Flavortown, USA, for three days (July 11-13). This year's themes are "Comfort Food," "Foods from Around the World" and "Fire & Smoke," plus the always lit afterparty.

If huge parties aren't your thing, you can still sample plenty of big flavors at smaller, community oriented events like Bourbon, Bacon, and Brews (June 22), the third annual, wildly delicious fundraiser benefiting Teen and Kid Closet in Spokane, a service to kids facing poverty or foster care. Sample spirits, beers and bacon-themed foods from local chefs and vote for your favorite in each category, all while providing kids in need with clothing and dignity. Also check out vendors at smaller festivals like the Post Falls Festival (July 12-14) or Hayden Days (July 26-27), which also features a huge pancake breakfast hosted by the Northern Lakes Fire Department.

Before the summer's out, the Taste of Coeur d'Alene (Aug. 2-4) always features fabulous art, excellent food, elite microbrews and plenty of live music to dance the calories away. Spokane's Tacos y Tequila celebrates the diversity of the Hispanic Latino culture in the Inland Northwest with authentic tacos, plus mezcal and tequila classes (Aug. 24-25). Then, Pig Out in the Park takes over Riverfront Park in Spokane during Labor Day weekend (Aug. 28-Sept. 2) for six days of a ridiculous amount of food and live music — we're talking 130 free concerts and 35 vendors. Finally, the Liberty Lake Fall Festival (Sept. 15) takes advantage of the last few days of sunshine to usher in the next season of harvest and hoodies.

click to enlarge Summer Guide 2024: Food & Drink
There's nothing better than fresh fruit, straight from the field.

GO RURAL

What if, instead of heading downtown, your quest for good food and drink led you away from the city? That's just the kind of adventure the Inland Northwest specializes in. On the second and third weekends in June, head to Siemers Farms on Greenbluff for their berry-licious Strawberry Festival (June 15-16 and 22-23), where you can pick your own berries, ride rides, peruse food and craft vendors, and enjoy live music.

Then, join the Artisans at Dahman Barn in Uniontown to learn how to use locally grown chickpeas in South Indian Cuisine as part of their Culinary Tour of the Palouse series (July 12).

The end of summer always means the National Lentil Festival in Pullman (Aug. 17), which celebrates the mighty legume with music, parades, cooking demonstrations and, as always, the world's biggest bowl of lentil chili. (They'll give you the recipe, too — it has chocolate in it!) And if a midweek hankering for guacamole and a nice drive catches your fancy, don't miss out on Taco Tuesdays at Bull Head Saloon (every Tuesday) in Four Lakes. All day $2 tacos, plus drink specials, are the perfect excuse to ditch the craziness of the city for an afternoon.

click to enlarge Summer Guide 2024: Food & Drink
Eliza Billingham photo
Harvesting barley to make tasty beer.

EAT, DRINK AND LEARN

The best thing about food is that it can engage your heart, soul, stomach and mind. Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities in the Northwest to satiate your hunger for knowledge. Two different Food as Farmacy events in rural Idaho invite you to deepen your connection to your farmers and start considering food a kind of medicine. Take your kids to a burger night at Castle Rock Ranch (June 29) and learn about regenerative ranching. Or, explore the future of aquaponic greenhouses and the ancient art of salumi making at Genesis Mountain Farm in Sandpoint (July 13). Chances are, you'll leave either dinner full of new facts and good food.

If traveling isn't in your summer plans, you can still experience plenty of new international flavors right here in the landlocked Northwest. The Spokane County Library District is hosting educational snack afternoons (yes, you read that right) at the Moran Prairie, North Spokane, Deer Park, Spokane Valley, Cheney and Otis Orchards libraries called Making Snacks from Around the World. Teenagers from age 13 to 18 are invited to stop by and make new kinds of snacks, plus sample foreign candies and learn lots of fun food facts.

Or, join the Swedish Midsommar Celebration at Riverfront Park (June 22) to sample traditional Nordic food. You could also stop by El Mercadito, a Latin market on the last Saturday of every month, to learn some salsa, zumba or bachata while you peruse local Latin vendors and pick up some free, culturally appropriate produce if you're having trouble restocking your pantry. Unity in the Community (Aug. 17), a multicultural celebration at Riverfront Park, also offers plenty of international food to try.

If you're more interested in environmentalism and you're over 21, join fellow enthusiasts and industry experts at Sip for Sustainability (June 22), a wine and beer tasting event at the Historic Davenport that celebrates Expo '74 and its environmental stewardship theme. Learn about sustainable wine, craft beer, and how the beverage industry is advancing in eco-friendliness.

click to enlarge Summer Guide 2024: Food & Drink
Young Kwak photo
Where the magical distilling process at Dry Fly all goes down.

JUST BREW IT

Summer would definitely not be complete without a cold beer in hand. Or two. Or more. Thankfully, Northwest brewmasters have planned plenty of opportunities to celebrate their craft. But as every experienced drinker knows, it's best to drink your liquor before your beer, so stop by Dry Fly Distillery's Tour and Tasting event (June 27) to sample flights of Dry Fly spirits and support Spokane Preservation Advocates. Then you can throw back as many pints as you like (responsibly, of course).

Check out the second ever Post Falls Lions Brewfest at the American Legion (June 29), followed by the Coeur d'Alene Brewfest (July 6), a favorite that's been running for seven years now. The Grainmaker Beer and Grain Festival (Aug. 9) at YaYa Brewing Co. in Spokane Valley, co-sponsored by LINC Malt, is also a regional destination, drawing some well-known names like Holy Mountain Brewing Co. and Ravenna Brewing Co. from the westside, and Varietal Brewing from southern Washington.

Later that month, the Ales for the Trails celebration (Aug. 17) in Coeur d'Alene City Park raises funds for the North Idaho Centennial Trail. That same Saturday, barley fans meet for Joseph's Grainery's annual Baronesse Barley Harvest Day (Aug. 17), where drinkers can watch Baronesse barley being harvested as they sip on beers brewed with grain from that very field.

To close out the summer before heading into Oktoberfest season, Precious Things Fermentation Project hosts Among the Pines (Sept. 1), a community- and nature-oriented brewfest supporting Live Like Lara. The nonprofit honors the late Lara Gass, sister of YaYa Brewing's founders, whose legacy continues to support a diverse array of worthwhile causes, from providing law school scholarships to improving food security. ♦

Disability Pride Celebration @ Riverfront Park

Sat., July 27, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
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Eliza Billingham

Eliza Billingham is a staff writer covering food, from restaurants and cooking to legislation, agriculture and climate. She joined the Inlander in 2023 after completing a master's degree in journalism from Boston University.