If you've ever been compelled to visit Chewelah, it has likely been related to a trip to 49 Degrees North. The ski resort is a draw for thousands of winter sports enthusiasts every season, but the little town of 2,600 people just beyond the mountain is a destination unto itself. Chewelah is an hourlong scenic drive from Spokane, and it offers all the small-town charms you expect. Here are some of the local businesses you can check out if you make the trip.
Chewelah's downtown only takes up a few blocks, so most of its dining establishments are clustered together in one cozy place. But there's still a variety of options beyond the handful of fast food joints that you see as you're pulling into town. The Sportsman Bar & Grill offers elevated pub food, from specialty burgers to seafood, while nearby El Ranchito serves up delicious and affordable Mexican cuisine. And you've got your choice between two family-friendly pizza places: Westside Pizza, a small chain that appropriately has most of its locations in Washington, and Fired Up Pizza, an offshoot of Colville's Fired Up Brewing that serves Neapolitan style pies and craft beers.
Speaking of beer, aficionados of regional suds have been raving about Chewelah's Quartzite Brewing Co. since it opened in 2016. Housed in a former auto body shop, the Quartzite taproom boasts a minimalist yet inviting design, with a mix of two-person tables and longer communal tables (and a few comfy armchairs in the corner) to accommodate groups of all sizes. The taproom itself is only open Thursdays through Saturdays, and there's always a food truck out front while they're in operation — one in the afternoon for lunchtime customers, and another in the evening for folks coming in after work. Quartzite's specialty beers, from their creamy amber ale to their rich stout, have gotten attention beyond the reaches of Chewelah: Owner Patrick Sawyer estimates that about 40 percent of their customers are from out of town.
Not into beer? That's fine, because just down the street from Quartzite is ChewVino Wine Bar, a quaint bistro style spot that offers a full bar as well as an extensive selection of wines from the region and elsewhere. The business first opened in 2013, and current owner Diane Conroy took it over a year and a half ago. "I think Chewelah is really changing," she says, noting that she's not just serving local customers. "We have skiers coming from all over the place — Spokane, Colville, B.C." But there are plenty of regulars, who come in for tapas or artisan pizza and check out the work from local and regional artists that's featured at ChewVino every month.
ARTS & HISTORY
Many other businesses pride themselves on showcasing local art, freeing up their wall space for Chewelah's ArtWalk, which occurs on the first Tuesday of each month. It's a chance to not only familiarize yourself with Pacific Northwest art but to stop in at the various shops and restaurants that participate. You can also visit Trail's End Art Gallery, which sells local art and gifts, as well as beautiful custom jewelry. Chewelah's local theater community produces several plays throughout the year at the Chewelah Center for the Arts throughout the year, and upcoming productions include the all-ages period musical Newsies (April 2-5) and The Dixie Swim Club (May 22-24 and 29-31), a bittersweet comedy about female friendship. For a more historical bent, the Chewelah Museum offers a glimpse into the town's past, with an ample collection of vintage photos, Native American artifacts and military uniforms. It's open Fridays through Sundays. And don't forget about Chataqua, one of the town's most anticipated annual events. Families flock to Chewelah's City Park during a single weekend every July for a celebration of the town's Native history that features carnival attractions, food vendors, live music, a fun run and a parade.
"The Oasis is the best dive bar in Eastern Washington, in my opinion. The drinks are dirt cheap and the burgers are phenomenal. It is cash only, which I like to warn people about up front."
— Patrick SawyerOwner of Quartzite Brewing Company
"Gather gift shop is fabulous and has great prices. There's something there for everybody. It's one of the nicest gift shops I've been anywhere. Go to Jean's Beans, get a coffee and go shopping."
— Diane ConroyOwner of ChewVino Wine Bar