A guide to Inland Northwest restaurants leading the way into new tastes

click to enlarge A plate of chickpea gnocchi at Mizuna. - YOUNG KWAK
Young Kwak
A plate of chickpea gnocchi at Mizuna.


You don't have to worry about getting the runaround for making special requests like subbing tofu for meat, or asking if the kitchen uses a separate grill for its non-meat dishes, as the following eateries have well-established reputations for catering to the growing number of diners nixing meat or animal products.

Boots Bakery & Lounge

When your vegan, gluten-free, hipster cousins from Portland comes to visit, take them to Boots. Start your day with some housemade granola and steamed coconut milk — or the popular pumpkin waffles — then pick out something from the deli case to take home for lunch, dinner or dessert, like Boots' infamous "boozy brownie." Everything here is vegan and gluten-free, and the food and atmosphere rival the trendiest eatery you'll find on the Westside. 24 W. Main Ave., Spokane • 703-7223

Cosmic Cowboy Grill

This new fast-casual spot in the Lake City serves up meat, of course, but is also a vegan/vegetarian and healthy eater's dream. Offering a much lighter take on Southwestern flavors, diners can choose from entrées including grain bowls, salads, roasted veggies and fish. Rest assured your health and dietary restrictions are top of mind, as everything is organic; plus, the menu is filled with other gluten-free and low-carb choices. 412 W. Haycraft Ave., Coeur d'Alene • 208-277-0000


Sit underneath the twinkly lights in Mizuna's urban courtyard framed by old brick buildings in the heart of downtown Spokane, and you can almost pretend you're dining in an outdoor café in Paris. Originally a vegetarian restaurant, Mizuna now meets the needs of vegans and omnivores with a creative menu full of dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. 214 N. Howard St., Spokane • 747-2004


Defined as a pub that specializes in serving high-quality food — the term was reportedly coined in 1991, though there were many establishments around the world fitting the description before then — you'll find that and much more at the following local spots that excel in offering both classic and creative appetizers to share, tasty handhelds, and impressive beer lists.

The Backyard Public House

Back in 2014, the Backyard overhauled — both physically and gastronomically — the former dive barn known as the Broadway Bar & Grill. The spot exudes the feel of a neighborhood pub, serving creative yet affordable cuisine. With interior walls of reclaimed wood from Kettle Falls, high wooden tables and warm lighting, there's a comforting vibe that's easy to sink into. Its menu of upscale comfort food offers classics like chicken and waffles, mac and cheese and tasty pub appetizers. 1811 W. Broadway Ave., Spokane • 822-7338

Crafted Tap House + Kitchen

Though it's not right on the lake, Crafted's stylish, expansive patio is arguably the most happening place in downtown Coeur d'Alene. Crafted takes HDG's rustic, industrial design and adds rotating special menus with fresh ingredients. Mainstays have funky names like the "#42," a ground beef burger with garlic-bacon jam, Cambozola cheese and arugula, and the "Rockafella Ya'll," a green-onion Belgian waffle with buttermilk fried chicken, whipped cream, egg, huckleberry sauce and a housemade syrup of blueberry, fennel and black pepper. 523 E. Sherman Ave., Coeur d'Alene • 208-292-4813

The Elk

Long before we were were using the term "gastropub" as part of our local lexicon, The Elk was putting out quality pub fare. Since opening in 1999, its patio has been one of the most popular in town, and the Roasted Corn Salad, Swimming Angel, Pork Soft Tacos and Traditional Reuben have earned a loyal following. 1931 W. Pacific Ave., Spokane • 363-1973

Manito Tap House

Manito is one of the only spots in the region with certified cicerones — the term for a trained beer expert; like a sommelier, but for beer. But this South Hill hangout excels in much more than beer (it offers more than 50 on draft alone, in addition to expansive keg and bottle offerings in its beer cellar), boasting seasonal menus of made-fresh, from-scratch food that complements whatever you're sipping. 3011 S. Grand Blvd., Spokane • 279-2671

Prohibition Gastropub

Prohibition's candy-coated bacon is one highlight of the restaurant's classic gastropub fare, a menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads and savory, indulgent appetizers. Chef John Leonetti also makes his own beef patty mix for Prohibition's burgers, adding an unusual ingredient alongside the seasoning: coffee grounds. In the bar, the focus leans toward whiskey, bourbon and scotch, but also features several local and regional beer tap handles and regional wines. 1914 N. Monroe St., Spokane • 474-9040

Saranac Public House

This favorite downtown gastropub on the hip end of West Main offers gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan dishes as a matter of course in a laid-back environment with abundant seating indoors and out. Another reason to like the Saranac Public House on Facebook: They announce specials and seasonal menu items there. Their house mac and cheese is a must-try favorite, and some also swear by their baked pub pretzel, served with housemade cheese sauce and spicy beer mustard. 21 W. Main St., Spokane • 473-9455


Huge portions that come home in a to-go box barely touched are out. What's in are restaurants whose chefs create menus featuring complementing dishes of varying sizes and price points so you can sample so much more in one sitting, no matter the party size.

315 Martinis & Tapas

Located in the historic Greenbriar Inn, 315 Martinis and Tapas is an elegant yet casual answer to fine dining. Open at 3:15 pm Tuesday through Saturday, its small plates feature everything from its "North Idaho potstickers" to huckleberry meatballs and the house bruschetta that's hard to beat. In the summer, the outdoor seating is the place to be. The cold months mean snuggling up for bites by the fireplace — not a bad option, either. 315 Wallace Ave., Coeur d'Alene • 208-667-9660

Bistro on Spruce

This lovely little neighborhood bistro is located in Coeur d'Alene's happening midtown. It's a place where discriminating locals come to find a menu that's incredibly diverse, with offerings like bistro gumbo, shrimp and grits, orange-glazed salmon, and beef and fungi polenta. Look for the $4 tapas menu, offered Monday through Saturday during happy hour from 2:30-5:30 pm. Your options include the house "hummus trifecta," tempura calamari and bistro onion rings and fries, along with a few other appetizers priced just above that point. 1710 N. Fourth St., Coeur d'Alene • 208-664-1774


What Ruins lacks in size it more than makes up for in big flavors, creativity and a killer vibe. The menu changes every few weeks here, so one day you might delve into Chef Tony Brown's take on traditional Chinese cuisine, and the next you're enjoying the flavors of Greece and the Middle East, with thematic, house-specialty cocktails to boot. Don't be afraid of change; embrace it at Ruins, which also offers themed burger ("McRuins Monday") and ramen (Sunday) nights every week. 825 N. Monroe St., Spokane • 443-5606

Table 13

This restaurant inside the Davenport Grand Hotel serves up an extensive list of small plates, ranging from brisket salad and oven-roasted Washington lamb meatballs to a charcuterie board and ceviche, with nothing surpassing the $13 mark. There's also a collection of Asian fusion dishes, like the poke and Korean short ribs, which fans may recognize from Chef Ian Wingate's past restaurants. 333 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane • 598-4300


In the heart of the Northwest, with its uniquely diverse landscapes that includes fertile valleys, rolling hills of wheat, vast rangeland and plenty of sun, the growing and harvest seasons of the Inland Northwest benefit all local restaurants, like the following, that serve our regional bounty on their menus year-round.

Central Food

Central Food offers one of the best views in town of the Spokane River; its Kendall Yards location (in 2012, it became the first restaurant to open in the still-growing development) also boasts the scenic city skyline, and, if you time it just right, a prime spot to watch the sun set behind an evergreen-covered hill. Chef-owner David Blaine can usually be seen working alongside his team in the open-view kitchen, where they prepare seasonally fresh menus that often feature herbs and veggies grown right outside in the restaurant's on-site garden. 1335 W. Summit Pkwy., Spokane • 315-8036


The quaint location in a refurbished, turn-of-the-century Craftsman bungalow is enough to draw diners inside; the award-winning cocktails and a menu of local ingredients will keep them coming back again. Herbs are grown in an on-site greenhouse, and almost everything is made from scratch, including the bread used in all of Clover's dishes. Fresh, seasonal ingredients are always highlighted on the ever-changing menu, depending on the time of year. 913 E. Sharp Ave., Spokane • 487-2937

Downriver Grill

With a dedicated following of regular diners, this upscale bistro in the Audubon Park neighborhood serves fresh, locally sourced food, paired with Washington wines and microbrews. Each week, Downriver's kitchen offers a fresh-sheet menu highlighting what's in season right now. In the warmer months, the secluded back patio is a must; also, don't miss out on the major bargains offered during all-day happy hour on Wednesday, a day that also features the "Chef's Burger of the Moment" special for $10. 3315 W. Northwest Blvd., Spokane • 323-1600

Latah Bistro

On any given day of the growing season, a local farmer might drop into Latah Bistro with a load of mushrooms, greens, carrots, tomatoes or even beef or pork that may have been grown just miles away. Such is the commitment to sourcing food locally at Latah. The fine dining menu — which includes weekend brunch — runs the gamut of influences, from European bistro fare to unmistakably Northwest flavors. 4241 Cheney-Spokane Rd., Spokane • 838-8338


In a trend rewarding innovation that breaks free from the restaurant industry's cookie-cutter designs of decades past, the following local dining spots' intentionally and carefully designed spaces help customers further grasp both the culinary concepts and regions their menus represent.

Casper Fry

When the Wall Street Journal singled out Spokane as one of a half-dozen mid-sized cities for food lovers, Casper Fry was one of the restaurants inspiring this designation, thanks to its Southern-inspired flavors with a modern twist. Order the Low Country Shrimp and Grits or anything that comes out of the Josper oven, one of only a handful in the country, that uses charcoal and wood chips for smoking and grilling. Inside, exposed brick walls, bar-height tables and the dining room's open layout evoke a rustic, rural aesthetic. 928 S. Perry St., Spokane • 535-0536

Blackbird Tavern + Kitchen

In the historic Broadview Dairy building just north of the Spokane River, the Blackbird is best explained as the more refined version of its pub-food counterpart, Manito Tap House. A menu of upscale comfort food includes appetizers like bacon fat popcorn, chorizo corn dogs and a brisket sandwich on a sticky bun, and the massive beer list is one of the biggest in town. The Blackbird's interior features a utilitarian-meets-modern aesthetic, with high-backed booths, bright-red metal chairs and industrial-style lighting. 905 N. Washington St., Spokane • 381-2473


Over the years, this shabby-chic eatery and bakery located off of Highway 195 just west of downtown has cultivated a large and particularly devoted following. On weekends, the line frequently snakes out the door, but hearty chorizo omelettes, homemade cinnamon rolls, baked blueberry French toast and a hug from proprietor Celeste Shaw make it well worth the wait. 4237 S. Cheney-Spokane Rd., Spokane • 624-4182

Also try

The Lantern Tap House, Perry District

The Two Seven, Spokane's South Hill

The Porch, Hayden, Idaho

Timber Gastro Pub, Post Falls

Sweet Lou's, Coeur d'Alene

Allie's Vegan Pizzeria & Cafe, Spokane's South Hill

Thai Bamboo, Spokane; Coeur d'Alene

Cascadia Public House, North Spokane

Saranac Public House, Downtown Spokane

Wild Sage, Downtown Spokane

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About The Author

Chey Scott

Chey Scott is the Inlander's food and listings editor. She compiles the weekly events calendar for the print and online editions of the Inlander, manages and edits the food section, and also writes about local arts and culture. Chey (pronounced Shay) is a lifelong Spokanite and a graduate of Washington State University...