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Dec 11, 2009 12:01 PM

Spokane question

I'm moving to Spokane in January. I've been searching Chowhound for recent reviews and have not seen any for quite some time. My question is what's up with this lack of Spokane reviews? Are there no Chowworthy venues? Are there no Chowhounds there? Am I missing something? Thanks in advance for any insight here.

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  1. Welcome soon to Spokane! Although there may not be many of us that brag on Spokane we have a GREAT number of cuisines and chowhounds around here. The question is, what are you looking for?

    1. The problem I have found with these boards is that unless you are in Seattle or portland nobody ever answers. I put on in for Sandpoint one time not to long ago and the adminisrator moved it out of the Northwest board to somewhere else. Like it was not in the Northwest. even though it is only a short 30 minute drive from Spokane. I know there are alot of good places to eat in eastern WA we just need to start talking about them.
      Lets start with the Harvest Cafe in Rockport just south of spokane. The White house at Stateline is great. Longhorn Bar-B-que in airway heights I think it is still there

      1. Luna should be on any list.

        1. I'm from Spokane, but haven't lived there for almost ten years. Mizuna was, and is, a great casual -fine dining restaurant (about as fine dining as Spokane gets, anyway.) I try to eat there and at Pete's Pizza whenever I'm in town. Their calzones are dreamy.
          Other than that I'm a little out of touch with the food scene in Spokane, though I hear from family that it's been steadily improving.

          If you discover anything, please post!

          1. I’ve posted my Spokane recommendations for Spokane on Chowhound before, here is a slightly updated list.

            Please note that these ratings are good for Spokane area only, Spokane is a culinary wasteland – BUT it IS getting better. Just because I rate something 5 stars here, does not mean it is a 5 star NYC restaurant.

            The ratings are also only about the food and service. There is no fine dining in Spokane, so do not equate these ratings with ambiance. Gordy’s (5 stars) is very casual, Fat Daddy’s (4 stars) is a pizza joint, DeLeons (4 Stars) is a deli inside of a market, etc. etc. etc.

            Also Spokane suffers from what I call restaurant Spokanitis. This is the condition that causes a restaurant to serve a dish absolutely fantastic today and terrible the next. Many of the restaurants in Spokane suffer from some extreme consistency problems, so your dining experiences may vary.

            5 Star Restaurants (We have dined at these a minimum of 5 times and have had very-good to excellent meals each time and they have been highly consistent.) These are in order.

            Mizuna – (Downtown) You could easily pick this restaurant up and place it into NYC, San Francisco, Tokyo, etc and it would be right at home. Currently this is the best in Spokane and the one that we take visiting guest to the most.
            Gordy's Sichuan– (South Hill) The “only” good Chinese food in town and one of the better Chinese restaurants anywhere. No greasy, syrupy mall food here, the food is more upscale, authentic, so if you don’t really know Sichuan some of the flavors may seem a little different than you are used too. also, spicy can mean spicy.
            Vin Rouge – (South Hill) A converted fast food joint that serves very good bistro food. We have always walk away very pleased with the food, both lunch and dinner have been great. However, there are some people who seem to dislike Vin Rouge, it could be the ambiance that sets them off since there is only so much you can do with a fast food joint.
            Sante Restaurant and Charcuterie (Downtown) - Think a slice of Europe in Spokane and you have this place. They cure their own meats, buy everything locally and as much organic supplies as possible. They and are open for brunch and lunch Tues-sun and dinner Thur – sat.

            Spencer’s for Steaks – (Downtown) This is a top-end steakhouse in Spokane!!!!! Think Ruth Chris, expensive, but if steaks are your thing this is it. The Wolf Lodge, near CDA has the local following Spencer’s has better meat and is a more refined dining atmosphere. (It’s only on the bottom of the list because Steak joints don’t do much for me, but if you like steak and have a fat wallet this is THE place in Spokane.

            4 Star Restaurants – Alphabetical order.

            Ambrosia (Valley) – A simple neighborhood bistro in a strip mall, the food is fresh and innovative, service excellent, good wine-list and decent cheese plates and ports, used to be in the 5 star category but food has not been as innovative. It is still very good and I recommend it, but maybe the opening of their new restaurant has divided the chef’s attention.
            Café Marron (Browns Addition, west of downtown) – Four stars for Dinner ONLY, lunches are disappointment (2 stars for those) and not recommended.
            DeLeons (North & Downtown) – The north location is a deli inside of a Mexican market, not the best ambiance but they offers the most authentic Mexican food in Spokane. (I have not tried the downtown location but others who have had said it is the same as the north-side, except it is more of a sit-down restaurant.
            El Gallo Giro (Valley) – Probably the best sit-down Mexican restaurant in Spokane, a gawdy green building that could fit easily in TJ, Ensenada, or Cabo, but the food is good – for Spokane.
            Europa (Downtown) - Nice atmosphere, great for a late night drink and bite to eat, or for a nice dinner/lunch, it’s concept is around the European/American style of dining so don’t expect extremely fast service, they aren’t slow, just different then what most Americans are used to.
            Fat Daddy’s (North) - very casual pizza and Italian place, the best pizza in Spokane, yes it beats David’s (which is good) and easily, Barfaddittos (sacrilege to Spokanenites but it’s true).
            Hay J’s (Valley) – Unpretentious bistro situated besides a gas station, it has been hit and miss but mostly hits.
            Italian Kitchen (Downtown) - This is best Italian in Spokane, but would only rate 3 stars max any where else.
            Latah Bistro (South side) - A nice neighborhood bistro that some feel is an upscale bistro. There prices are certainly upscale (read expensive) but the food is very good. If it was a better value it might be able to creep into the 5 star area until then it is a solid 4+ stars.
            Mr. Don’s (North) – A small Mexican restaurant serving some of the better and more authentic Mexican food in Spokane
            Moxie (Downtown) - A solid 4 star venue, the chef has matured over the years, service can be a little lacking – the food is innovative, but there can still be some items that need a little work, slightly expensive for what you get.
            Picabu Neighborhood Bistro (South Hill) - Very casual, good value bistro in a strip mall. Smaller menu, but the food is always intriguing and different. Great Value.
            Pueblo Amigo (North) – El Gallo Giro and Mr.Don’s has better sit down Mexican but they are close behind them for decent Northern style Mexican food in Spokane.
            Rock City Grill (Downtown) - located at the River Park Square, we have always had a good dining experience at this casual eatery. If you are in the Mall or have just seen a movie there it is the best dining option available, imho.
            Rocky Rococo (Downtown) - I don’t know why I have given this pizza joint 4 stars, except I just seem to like it. Great place to take kids or grandkids, beer is cheap and pizza parties there are economical. Located downtown in a nice historic building, most people really like their deep dish pizza, I prefer thinner crusts but I must admit it’s pretty good, albeit greasy.
            Tacos Tumbras (Valley) – An ex-fast food restaurant, order at the counter and they bring you your order. Food is very good and authentic, giving Deleon’s a strong run for the money, plus they are very economical.
            Taste of India (North) – To my amazement very authentic and very good Punjabi style Indian food, if you want Indian this is the best in Spokane.
            Thai Bamboo (Multiple locations) – A chain that is unexpectedly good and dependable.
            Thai on First (Downtown) - Thai on first is the most consistent and the BEST Thai in Spokane, give them a try and then try other places and you will see. Very good and authentic.
            The Elk (Browns Addition, west of downtown) – nothing fancy just good bar style food.
            Tomato Street (North & CDA) - great for family fun, loud Italian style atmosphere, kids get to write on the tables. Lunch specials are a good value, food is American / Italian but this is a better alternative then the national chain, that’s why it gets 4 stars.
            Two Seven Public House (South Hill) - Same owners and similar concept as the elk.

            3 Stars

            Azteca (multiple locations) – a local Mexican chain that tries very hard, food is from average to above average. Taco Tuesday’s rule for best value as almost any college kid will tell you.
            Anthony’s (Downtown) - Great view of the falls, mediocre food, they used to be a seafood house, but I’ve heard that they are offering much more steaks. Go there for the view during daylight hours, not the food.
            Clinkerdaggers (Downtown) - A Spokane institution with a very nice view of the falls, the food is edible but very expensive – you are paying for the view, think Space Needle restaurant.
            Cyrus O’Leary’s (Downtown) - A complete TGIF Knockoff, food is not as good as TGIF but close and it’s convenient to most activities downtown – a semi-Spokane icon.
            Lindaman’s (South Hill) - It’s a deli with prepared or microwaved items, you point - they zap. To me it s way too overpriced for what you get, but edible and many locals love it.
            Scratch (Downtown) - Been there twice but most items were good to very good, appetizers were overpriced but good, entrees were reasonable in price. A word of warning, don’t order the classic mojito though, after living off of real mojito’s in Miami many years ago they should be shot for what they served. Three stars because the last time we were there the food quality had slipped a bit.
            Steelhead Bar and Grille (Downtown) - Used to be 4 stars, but their food has dropped in quality and they seem to be focusing more on the bar scene. Cool bar and a nice place to stop for a nightcap after dinner at Mizuna’s next door.
            The Onion (Downtown & North) - Think of it as a local Red Robin’s , portions are on the large side, lots of fried food, big drinks, Red Robin is better but they come close.
            Twigs (Downtown, North & Sourth Hill) - The one on the north side is very LOUD when busy (they have no soundproofing), expect to yell out your order, they also epitomize spokaneitis. The south hill location has been the best I would avoid the north side and the mall location if you want to try them. They have a large local following as being the first large-scale hip restaurant and martini bar, don’t be surprised to hear lot’s of recommendations for them.

            Most Chains – would rate in the 3 star range, sure there are some exceptions that would rate lower in my mind, we can all think of those, but that gives you and idea of how I would rate places.

            2 stars and below

            Sorry I won’t list them here, you have seen my recommendations, if it is not on the list, maybe I haven’t tried it or maybe I have and it wasn’t that good. My goal is not to bash restaurants here (Read the other websites I recommend to get my full reviews), however keep reading, there are a few “popular places” that get many recommendations that deserve a word about them and yes there are some negative comments in this list.

            Restaurants that deserve special mentions for various reasons:

            Catacombs (Downtown) - This used to be a 4 star place, ambiance is great, an old coal storage area in a historic hotel. We would just like to go to it to enjoy a drink, late night pizza and the setting, very nicely done. However, just lately the food has been pathetic, I mean really bad, and quite a few people have noticed this and commented on it. I simply cannot recommend the food there anymore, however, a couple of people have said they have gotten their act together again.

            G.W. Hunters (Post Falls) – Huge local following with numerous animals trophies adorning their walls. They are in fact an overpriced 1970’s coffee shop style food establishment that they specialize in elk and venison meat. Food was right out of the 1970’s with prices from the year 2020. Denny’s servers better food at better prices, imho.

            Linnie’s Thai (Downtown & South Hill) - They have a limited menu with many Thai favorites missing????; however the biggest complaint that they suffer from extreme spokanitis. We have had the same dishes come out incredibly good and the next time it has tasted like garbage. I WISH they could get it together, if they did, they would be the BEST Thai in Spokane but until they do I cannot recommend taking a crapshoot on them.

            Luna's (South Hill) - Great Wine list, service was excellent, food was okay to poor (soup had rubbery crab in it, lamb had to be sent back three times and the cassoulette overpowered the flavors and the NY cheesecake was really a French style whipped cheesecake) like I said food was okay to poor AFTER working out the problems. However this is supposed to be one of Spokane’s finest restaurant, they try to act like it, they certainly charge top dollar but they were severely lacking in the food department. I later found out that they go through chefs like we change our underwear so this may be the reason for the poor food. Personally we never went back and don’t plan on it, for the amount of money we spent there ($200+ with 2 items taken off of the bill), I don’t think I should have to give them a cooking lesson.
            NOTE: Luna’s is considered by many in Spokane to be one of the best restaurants, maybe we went on a cursed night, but we still haven’t gotten the pocket-book courage to go back yet.

            Mama Mia’s (North) - OMG the worst overcooked pasta with a tinny tasting botulism sauce we have every tasted, even our friends kids would not eat it. The meatball tasted like sawdust, dry crumbly and horrible, all panada and very little meat. Just how can you screw up Spaghetti and Meatballs and make it inedible? Seriously boil water, cook pasta, pour ragu over it and presto you have a dish 100X’s better then what we served. On a positive note, the calzone we had was awesome with a very think cracker crust - yum.

            Nikko’s (Downtown) - Great wine list and many good selections by the glass, however, the Greek food has been very inconsistent (chronic Spokaneitis). They have upped the prices on their menu making them one of the MOST expensive restaurants in Spokane. They are close to the davenport hotel and I think they are relying on the fact that visitors with expense accounts will be dining there. I cannot fathom paying their prices for such a lack of inconsistency; however I would stop by for the wine bar.

            Steam Plant Grill (Downtown) - a brew-pub with food, they have a great bar, good beer, nice pool tables, and a “fantastic” historical setting. If you are visiting you might just want to stop in for the history and seeing an old steam plant. However, the food is below par and very expensive for what you get. Go there for a drink and to enjoy the history, shoot a game of pool, but stay away from the restaurant.

            Wild Sage (Downtown) - Our first visit was TERRIBLE (but KEEP reading), the manager actually told us that there was nothing wrong with the entree that we sent back, his words were very close to "the taste gets a little getting used to and most people do not like it the first time." Say WHAT, the apps were insipid with no flavor and we left very disappointed and hungry. The second visit, which we were dragged back in against extreme protests by some good friends who were paying, was probably the BEST meal we have had in Spokane (even better then Mizunas [gulp]), executed flawlessly with each dish being a ohhhh and a ahhhhh. You be the judge, this is one of the popular “in” places right now, so maybe we just got it all wrong on the first visit – but boy that food was horrific. If they replicate the second visit again and again this could easily move out of this category and into the 3star range. Sorry Wild Sage, we are still reeling from that first experience, we need more then a few meals that are fantastic to get you higher up on our list.

            White House (Post Falls) - Uhhhh huhhhh, if your motto is, the more garlic the better it tastes, than you will love this place. Forget about any nuances of food or al dente pasta, this is simply “garlicky slop on a plate” (quote from an eight year old). This type of food is definitely not for us, but they have a HUGE local following, again you might want to try them, but we were there with friends and all 8 of us gave it thumbs down. (Sidebar: This place is very popular and very busy so maybe they appeal to a certain type of palate. We had some friends who visited us, also in the restaurant business, her sister lives in CDA and they took them to the white house, our friends thought it was terrible her sister and husband think it is the best restaurant in the whole area – this is truly an either you love em or hate em restaurant.) PS they play really loud music with a fast tempo, not conducive to dining at all.
            NOTE: White house has one of the largest followings in the Spokane/CDA area, “most” people love this place and I am tempted to try it again. It could have just been a major fluke since the almost unanimous agreement is this place is good.


            Anything that pertains to be Chinese (except Gordy’s) stay away from, almost all Chinese food in this town is terrible, I mean really REALLY bad. Chinese fortune cookie says (read with Chinese accent) “The more neon a Chinese restaurant has around it, the more terrible the food is!) PS if anybody has any other suggestions for just edible Chinese – we would love to try them, currently we have eaten at over 15 Chinese style restaurants in Spokane 14 out of the 15 rated 1 or 2 stars max.)

            Mexican food is also a joke, although usually slightly more edible. I have mentioned a few Mexican places; we have tried most of the sit-down Mexican restaurants and have walked out very disappointed from most. I will tell one story though, if you want good sweet and sour chicken there is a Mexican place that’s Arroz con Pollo fooled 4 people into thinking it was sweet and sour chicken in a blind tasting – no I am not making this up. It’s scary up here – caveat emptor and good luck.

            CDA area places that we like

            Café DOMA – Breakfast and lunch spot, small cozy good food.
            Moontime & The Porch – Good pub style food, same owner as The Elk and 27 public house.
            Syringa – I’m not much into Sushi but this is the best place (according to all of my sushi loving friends) for Sushi in CDA.
            The Olympia – Old world style Greek food, pretty good value if you are craving greek.
            Wolf Lodge Steakhouse – Think cowboy steakhouse, jeans, boots and a hat type dining experience, but the steaks are good and cooked correctly, although I find them a tad bit salty. If you are planning on visiting CDA for the day and like steak this is a place you should try. Truly unique.

            I hope this helps

            404 West Main, Spokane, WA 99201

            West 621 Mallon Street, Spokane, WA 99201

            Space Needle
            203 6th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

            Tomato Street
            6220 N Division St, Spokane, WA 99208

            Fat Daddy's
            12424 N Division St, Spokane, WA 99218

            White House Cafe
            3602 Kern Way, Yakima, WA 98902

            El Gallo Giro
            706 W 1st Ave, Toppenish, WA 98948

            901 W 14th Ave, Spokane, WA 99204

            Vin Rouge
            3029 E 29th Ave, Spokane, WA 99223

            Italian Kitchen
            113 N Bernard St, Spokane, WA 99201

            Rock City Grill
            808 W Main Ave Ste 106, Spokane, WA 99201

            214 N Howard St, Spokane, WA 99201

            River Park Square
            808 W Riverside Ave, Spokane, WA 99201