Best Of

Best of Food

Jon Merrell illustration

Best Pho
While pho, thankfully, has become easier to find throughout the Inland Northwest, you can't do better than Pho Van on Division in Spokane when you need a fix of noodles and deep, rich broth. Whether you prefer steak, meatballs, even chicken, Pho Van knows how to deliver, along with all the fresh accouterments the pho form requires — from basil to bean sprouts, Sriracha to jalapenos. (DN)
2nd PLACE: Vien Dong; 3rd PLACE: Vina Asian Restaurant; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Pho Thanh & Cafe, Coeur d'Alene

Best Italian Food
If your idea of Italian is all checkered tablecloths and spaghetti and red sauce, you're missing out on what Inlander readers know is Italian food elevated to greatness. Delve into Italia Trattoria's squid ink fettuccine and spicy wild shrimp, or their wild boar or lamb ragu dishes, and you'll be amazed at your ability to put away a full serving. Add in one of the friendliest staffs in the local restaurant scene and a killer weekend brunch, and you have the best Italian spot in the Inland Northwest. (DN)
2nd PLACE: Tomato Street; 3rd PLACE: Luigi's; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Tito's Italian Grill, Coeur d'Alene

Best Mexican Food
De Leon's excellence goes far beyond tacos, although I don't think I've ever made it out of there without getting at least one Holy Taco (marinated skirt steak, cilantro and onions, named for Jesus the cook. So simple, so delicious). Quesadillas to burritos, torta sandwiches to tamales and fajitas, De Leon's covers pretty much everything one could want out of a Mexican restaurant, and does it with fresh ingredients and great flavors. The hangover-curing, weekend-only menudo and pozole dishes make it a place where you'll also want to recover from late nights, too. (DN)
2nd PLACE: Tecate Grill; 3rd PLACE: Rancho Chico; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Taco Works Food Truck, Coeur d'Alene

Tacos from Cochinito. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Tacos from Cochinito.

Best Tacos
Quality counts, and the ingredients chef Travis Dickinson brings to his delicious array of tacos helps make them the favorite of Inlander readers. Of course, if Dickinson didn't have serious skills, people might not flock to Cochinito for specialties like the lamb birria, octopus or "20 Hr Carne Asada" tacos. Whether dressing them up with housemade salsa, pickled veggies or the perfect spice blend, Dickinson has clearly struck a chord with Spokane's taco-loving masses. (DN)
2nd PLACE: De Leon's Taco & Bar; 3rd PLACE: Gerardo's Authentic Mexican Food; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Taco Works Food Truck, Coeur d'Alene

Best Vegan Options
Best Veggie Burger
Located in the former location of South Hill fave Picabu Bistro, Rüt opened and immediately was a hit with the region's vegan and vegetarian diners. Even meat eaters found plenty to love on a menu that explodes with flavors from Asia, Mexico, even Germany. (Their bratwurst bowl is amazing.) Cauliflower is turned into buffalo wings and a spicy kung pao bowl, and their crispy Brussel sprouts are some of the best around. Burger lovers don't go hungry, either, thanks to the Rüt Burger made with a Beyond Meat burger patty and the Jalapeno Mushroom Burger, which uses an Impossible Burger patty and is served on a pretzel bun. (DN)
2nd PLACE: Boots Bakery; 3rd PLACE: Cascadia Public House
2nd PLACE: Cascadia Public House; 3rd PLACE: Incrediburger & Eggs; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Sweet Lou's, Coeur d'Alene and Ponderay

Best Gluten-Free Options
Sandwiches, pancakes, burgers, pizza — all of these things are delicious, and they can all be hard to find if you can't eat gluten. But Cole's Gluten Free Bakery & Cafe makes it easy to pick from some seriously tasty options, whether you're avoiding gluten, dairy, meat or a combination of things. Sit down for a good breakfast or lunch with friends in the cafe, or buy one of their many pastries, breads or baking mixes to enjoy at home. (SW)
2nd PLACE: Cascadia Public House; 3rd PLACE: Wild Sage Bistro; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Cosmic Cowboy, Coeur d'Alene

Best Steaks
You can order delicious Churchill's sauces to go with your ribeye — béarnaise or peppercorn cream sauce, for starters. But with steaks these good it almost seems a shame to try to improve them with even the finest of sauces. Let the meat be its own star, accompanied only by Churchill's default seasoning, finishing butter, crisp onion straws and unparalleled crispy sear. To this day, I've never chomped into a bite of steak with a better sear than the ribeye I had at Churchill's. (DW)
2nd PLACE: Wolf Lodge Inn, Coeur d'Alene; 3rd PLACE: Masselow's at Northern Quest Resort & Casino

Best Asian Food
Sitting in a South Hill strip mall, Gordy's Sichuan Cafe packs in big flavors and an extensive menu of authentic cuisine into a small shop. The Sichuan restaurant has a longtime patronage, voting Gordy's the Best Asian Food in Spokane time and time again. (AM)
2nd PLACE: The Red Dragon; 3rd PLACE: China Dragon; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Rokkos Teriyaki and BBQ, Coeur d'Alene

Best Chef
of Zona Blanca, High Tide Lobster Bar, TTs Old Iron Brewery
Just as the Inlander was wrapping up vote tallies for the Inland Northwest's best chef, Chad White was announced as a Northwest region semifinalist for the James Beard Awards, one of the top accolades for culinary pros. It's no coincidence for this Top Chef alum. With three diverse and accessible Spokane-area restaurants under his belt — a ceviche counter, lobster bar and barbecue pit — local foodies are eager to see where White heads next. (CS)
2nd PLACE: Tony Brown; Ruins, Eyvind, Hunt; 3rd PLACE (tie): Tanya Broesder, Masselow's Steakhouse, Tyler Schwenk, 1898 Public House; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Adam Hegsted; Honey Eatery & Social Club, Farmhouse Kitchen, Republic Kitchen & Taphouse

TTs won Best New Restaurant and Best Barbecue. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
TTs won Best New Restaurant and Best Barbecue.

Best Barbecue
Best New Restaurant (Opened in 2019-20)
Beer and barbecue is the name of the game at this South Spokane Valley spot that debuted to much acclaim and anticipation last summer. A collaboration between brewery owner Travis Thosath and chef Chad White, TTs offers a mix of Texas and Kansas City-style barbecue staples — brisket, turkey breast, pulled pork, burnt ends, ribs and more — with more than a dozen choices of beer to wash it all down. Joining White in the kitchen is esteemed pitmaster Colin Barker; on the beer side, experienced brewmaster Rachel Nalley is leading the team. (CS)
2nd PLACE: Outlaw BBQ & Catering Market; 3rd PLACE: Longhorn Barbecue; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Drummin Up BBQ, Coeur d'Alene
2nd PLACE: Rüt Bar & Kitchen; 3rd PLACE: High Tide Lobster Bar; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: The Crown & Thistle, Coeur d'Alene

Best Breakfast
Chaps is no secret. A decade ago, the cozy restaurant received a visit from Guy Fieri on his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and it continues to be celebrated as the Best Breakfast in town. With farm family recipes like blueberry muffin French toast and baked oatmeal, it's a tasty and trusty place to start your day. (AM)
2nd PLACE: Frank's Diner; 3rd PLACE: The Cottage Cafe; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: (tie) The Garnet Café, Michael D's Eatery, both in Coeur d'Alene

Wisconsinburger wins again! - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Wisconsinburger wins again!

Best Burgers
If you're looking for a bite of the Midwest, look no further than Wisconsinburger. Tucked away in the South Perry District, the large dining room and patio allow for many mouths at once. From burgers named after cities throughout the Badger State to cheese curds to house-made frozen custard, the craft food eatery has all the components you need for a delicious and authentic Midwestern meal. (AM)
2nd PLACE: Durkin's Liquor Bar; 3rd PLACE: Waddell's Neighborhood Pub and Grill; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Messy's Burgers, Spirit Lake

Best Cheap Eats
You can't beat a $1.77 cheeseburger. Well, in 1969 the fast-food drive-up eatery was serving burgers for 21 cents, but regardless, it's a steal. Through its long residence in Spokane, Dick's has continued its cult following, bringing in diners for fries and a shake. (AM)
2nd PLACE: Atilano's; 3rd PLACE: Zip's

Flying Goat mixes the flavors of Naples with local ingredients. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Flying Goat mixes the flavors of Naples with local ingredients.

Best Pizza
Flying Goat mixes the flavors of Naples with local flavors and ingredients to create unique and classic pizzas fired in a wood-fired stone oven. As the weather gets warmer, the Audubon neighborhood joint is the place to enjoy a slice and a beer with friends out on the patio. Our readers clearly agree. (AM)
2nd PLACE: Veraci Pizza; 3rd PLACE: Republic Pi; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Embers by the Lake, Hauser

Best Sandwiches
They keep it simple. With hefty sandwiches and meat and cheese available by the pound, this family-owned sandwich shop has topped the lists for decades as the best place to grab a sandwich in Spokane. (AM)
2nd PLACE: The High Nooner; 3rd PLACE: Stella's Cafe; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Caruso's Sandwiches

Best Ramen
There's a lot of places out there serving up bad ramen. And Nudo Ramen House in downtown Spokane ain't one of them. Swing by this casual yet aesthetically pleasing joint and choose from an impressively large ramen menu. If you're not in the mood for broth and noodles, they've got you covered: An assortment of rice bowls, appetizers and "ramen burgers" should cure your hunger. (JK)
2nd PLACE: King of Ramen; 3rd PLACE: Midtown Monarch, Coeur d'Alene

Best Sushi
With over 50 rolls on the menu, it's a safe bet that this authentic Japanese spot in the heart of downtown has something to offer everyone. Not to mention the ramen, udon, yakisoba, teriyaki, sashimi and miso soup offered. Don't forget the chopsticks. (MS)
2nd PLACE: Umi Kitchen and Sushi Bar; 3rd PLACE: The Wave Island Sports Grill and Sushi Bar; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Syringa, Coeur d'Alene

Best Thai
"Sawasdee. We're here for you," greets all who visit Thai Bamboo's website. The sentiment is reflected at the restaurant, too, with friendly staff and quick service. All the expected dishes such as pad thai and pad see ew are offered, but that's where similarities to other Thai restaurants end. Round out your meal with Singha, a beer imported from Thailand, for the full authentic experience. (MS)
2nd PLACE: Bangkok Thai; 3rd PLACE: Kuni's Thai Cuisine

click to enlarge Anthony's serves up seafood — with a spectacular view. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Anthony's serves up seafood — with a spectacular view.

Best Outdoor Dining
Best Seafood
With the Spokane Falls cascading right next to this restaurant and fresh seafood served daily, Anthony's offers both great seafood and a batch of outdoor tables with unparalleled views of the Spokane River and downtown. While Spokane may not be located by an ocean, Anthony's seafood does not disappoint, a match in every way for the Spokane Anthony's dining environment. (RU)
2nd PLACE: Clinkerdagger; 3rd PLACE: Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Cedars Floating Restaurant, Coeur d'Alene
2nd PLACE: High Tide Lobster Bar; 3rd PLACE: Clinkerdagger; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Fisherman's Market, Coeur d'Alene

Best Fine Dining
When people are looking for the best place for a nice date, family celebration or swanky business party, Clinkerdagger is the place to go. Located on the Spokane River, this restaurant provides incredible steak and seafood with the added bonus of amazing river views. So, take the opportunity to get dressed up and saunter over to this historic restaurant that's one of Spokane's favorites for a reason. (RU)
2nd PLACE: Wild Sage Bistro; 3rd PLACE: Churchill's Steakhouse; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Beverly's, Coeur d'Alene

Best Bakery
This bakery took off in Spokane 28 years ago and has gone on mission after mission to place lovely additional branches all over the city. Serving coffee, pastries, cookies, bagels, soups, salads and much more, this bakery is the place to go for a hearty meal and heartwarming conversations. With multiple locations and lots of room to sit, these bakeries have something for everyone. (RU)
2nd PLACE: Boots Bakery; 3rd PLACE: Bakery by the Lake, CdA

Spokandy’s huckleberry, peanut butter and salted caramel chocolates. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Spokandy’s huckleberry, peanut butter and salted caramel chocolates.

Best Candy
What better place to buy candy in Spokane then Spokandy? Their website boasts of the "finest chocolate produced in the Pacific Northwest," each piece made with tradition and love. They have been in business for over 100 years and use their deep knowledge and modern innovations to create the best candy around. Just like the city of Spokane, this candy shop is always working to honor its history and look to the future via decadent sweets. (RU)
2nd PLACE: Bruttles Gourmet Candy; 3rd PLACE: Halletts Chocolates; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Mrs. Honeypeeps Sweet Shop, Coeur d'Alene

click to enlarge Hello Sugar, we love you! - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Hello Sugar, we love you!

Best Donuts
A sparkling aesthetic, popular theme weeks and delectable mini donuts are what make Hello Sugar so popular with readers. This little shop has made a big impact on the Spokane community almost immediately upon opening near the Spokane River Centennial Trail. After only being open a couple years, it's hard to imagine Spokane without Hello Sugar serving up some of the best and most creative donuts in town. (RU)
2nd PLACE: Amy's Donuts; 3rd PLACE: Casual Friday Donuts; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Gross Donuts, Coeur d'Alene

Best Eggs Benedict
Every month Frank's Diner uses "30,000 jumbo eggs, 2.5 tons of fresh hash browns [to make] one breakfast at a time priceless," according to their website. A portion of this gargantuan number of eggs is used to make the city's best eggs benedict. With seven types of benedicts to choose from, including unique creations like Great Nana's Meatloaf Benedict and an Irish Benedict served on grilled rye, every Frank's train car offers a trip to benedict nirvana. (RU)
2nd PLACE: The Yards; 3rd PLACE: Bene's, Cheney; NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Belle's Brunch House, Hayden

Best Place to Wait for a Shake

Until I moved to West Central, I had no idea Doyle's Ice Cream Parlor existed. This seasonal gem is only open a few months each year, has been making its own ice cream since 1939, still has an old-school functioning soda fountain and is a killer spot to get a banana split, milkshake or float. And while they make it, take a gander at the crazy vintage toy collection filling the walls of the tiny spot on the corner of Boone Avenue and Nettleton Street. (DAN NAILEN)

Best Brussels Sprouts

It's been more than a year since the glazed Brussels sprouts at Fleur De Sel first blew me away. Sure, I knew Brussels sprouts can be better than the cafeteria-lady reputation that they'd been saddled with — especially if you roast them in duck fat — but these? These were magical.

French chef Laurent Zirotti, who runs Fleur De Sel with his wife, let me in on the secret: If you're a French chef, it's nothing magical. The glazed Brussels sprouts, he says, are classic glacer à brun. Obviously.

"You cook your Brussels sprouts with water, butter, sugar, salt and pepper until the water evaporates," Zirotti says. "It creates caramelization with the butter and the sugar."

The result? The Brussels sprouts become almost little candies, with a glazed outer shell that bursts when you bite into it to reveal a creamy center. The sugar, he says, is the perfect counterpoint to the Brussels sprouts' bitterness. It's a technique that works equally well with mushrooms and turnips, he says. Yum yum yum. (DANIEL WALTERS)

Best Hidden Gem in the West Plains

Located off of Highway 2 in Airway Heights, this humble and cozy restaurant packs a culinary punch. With a mouth-watering array of dishes from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and elsewhere, co-owner and chef Jeannie Choi makes sure everyone is happy and feels at home. I ordered Nasi goreng, an Indonesian fried rice dish topped with a runny egg that I used to frequently buy from street vendors during my time as an exchange student near Jakarta, Indonesia. And with only one bite, I was instantly transported back. Go eat at this restaurant, when you can. (JOSH KELETY)

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