A Handy Guide to Great Meals in Spokane
Washington’s second-largest city is home to a university, major health care systems, even a Nordstrom and a respectably sized airport. But its collective restaurants—newcomers and longtimers—seldom receive the broader cred they deserve. Here are eight spots for a great dinner (or taco lunch, or pastry-filled brunch) in the Inland Empire.
Gander and Ryegrass
The three-course tasting menu is a lovely showcase for chef Peter Froese’s modern Italian food. But it’s way more fun to go big with the chef’s marathon: six courses chosen by Froese, who fell in love with Italy as a Gonzaga student, during a study abroad program in Florence. This dinner might start with stuzzichini (aka snacks) and span multiple styles of pasta and delicate seasonal vegetables. As tasting menus go, it’s not at all stuffy, though the lunch version is a luxurious daytime activity.
Wild Sage American Bistro
It’s a longtime favorite for a reason. The menu appears straightforward (maybe even a little dated), but goes on to impress you with how it lands the details, like the genuine kick of pepper in the pork tenderloin au poivre. The Yukon taquitos, filled with avocado and seasoned potatoes, are a staple, the popovers with lavender butter a signature. Wild Sage is nice enough for a graduation dinner, but still sufficiently relaxed for a weeknight.
In a world full of gilded tacos, these creations stand out. Each tortilla (a house blend of white and yellow masa) might hold fried maitake mushrooms and manchego, lamb merguez sausage with hazelnut salsa macha, or short rib birria. Mix and match them as needed and augment with margaritas and queso fundito.
Fans of pappardelle and chicken piccata descend upon this relaxed dining room in Browne’s Addition. Chef Anna Vogel prefers the kitchen to the spotlight, putting out impeccable Northwest Italian fare at night and pastry-filled brunch on weekends.
Inland Pacific Kitchen
Finding a plush dining room hidden inside a historic former cracker factory is a bit of a thrill. But not as much as the unrepentantly creative dishes. The trio of chefs—Chong Vang, Dylan Gilbert, and Allen Wells—bring a host of seasonal ingredients into harmony in dishes like squid ink ravioli with spinach, ricotta, and pea puree. Dessert gets especially fun, with seasonal gelatos like sweet pea or corn and butterscotch.
Uno Màs Taco Shop
You could argue Chad White is to Spokane as Tom Douglas is to Seattle—a chef turned restaurateur eager to dip into everything from lobster rolls to barbecue. His newest spot is a Jalisco-inspired taco stand inside the Wonder Market building near the north shore of Spokane’s Riverfront Park. Diners can mix and match five different tacos, plus fast-casual sides like street corn or cowboy beans.
Chef Tony Brown keeps Spokane diners on their toes. In 2021, he relocated his beloved restaurant to another space downtown. His menus share a similar restlessness, roaming from meatloaf to okonomiyaki. Brown’s creativity is on display for both brunch and dinner, and Ruins takes its non-alcoholic and low-ABV cocktail list seriously, bolstering it with housemade syrups and shrubs.
Zona Blanca Ceviche Bar
Restaurateur Chad White’s original spot has moved into bigger, brighter digs, with a beach party of a patio (with an outdoor bar and 16-foot fireplace) tucked near the train tracks. The menu’s more ambitious, too. A fresh sheet embraces a new region of Mexico every couple months, and the staple lineup of ceviche and other seafood dishes feels as transportive as that patio. Never fear, the dorilocos—a street snack served in a Doritos bag that involves, among other things, gummy bears—remain in force.