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Yes, Spokane has good eating!

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Hey folks,

This is my first posting to Chow.

I just moved to Spokane about a couple of months ago from Los Angeles. Of course, living in LA leaves a guy pretty spoiled for good food. So I'm exploring Spokane and finding good food to eat.

The previous threads on Chow about Spokane are filled with occasional praise, lots of middling, blah reports, and even some really ugly insults here and there. The threads are also not terribly recent.

So! Here's what I've found so far that stands out as pretty darn tasty. I'm not aiming for fancy places. My budget's pretty limited.

In no particular order:

Bennedito's on South Hill.
http://www.benniditos.com
Service was great. Had fettuccine bolognese. Lots of very tasty meat and sausage and even veggies. Pasta just right. Portion large and affordably priced. Came with a side of garlic cheese bread, which was actually their pizza dough instead of a sliced italian sub. Very very tasty. The garden salad was also a notch above normal: dark leafy greens that were fresh, with substantial veggies and an excellent pesto ranch. Salad, pasta, and soda came to about $14, and I had had a second meal out of it.

Central Food
http://eatcentralfood.com
In the west-central neighborhood, with a view of the Spokane River and downtown. I've had three meals here so far and everything is mostly delicious (the chicken in the chicken salad sandwich was a bit too gamey for me). They bake their own bread. Service is always friendly and prompt. Food is western bistro/gastropub. Breakfast is especially good, with homemade chorizo and jams for the bread. A standout so far.

Azar's.
http://azarsrestaurant.com
Greek and Middle-Eastern food. I saw this also in another thread. I had the buffet yesterday. Gyros meat was very tender. Vegetable stews were a bit overcooked but still flavourful. Attentive and helpful staff. Spokane has virtually nil for mediterranean food, but this one is decent. The chef offered to make me a certain yogurt drink not on the menu I like if I let her know when I arrive that I'd like some.

White House Grill (Post Falls).
I saw some brutal take down of this place, which didn't jive with my experience. Had lamb kofta with excellent green beans. Another had lamb kabob; also tasty. Of course, their schtick is to be ridiculously heavy-handed on the garlic. A little pricey for me. The food was nothing earth-changing, but nothing insulting either. I lived in Little Armenia in Hollywood for a few years so I'm very experienced with similar cuisine. This was decent.

DeLeon's (Francis and Division
)http://deleonfoods.net
Also covered in other posts. Very good Mexican deli. Huge burritos. Pork and nopalitos was good. They make their tortillas in house, so this is a great place to buy tortillas and chips for home, as well as a killer salsa verde. The market half of the store is not so impressive, but for Spokane, it's the only game in town.

South Perry Pizza
http://www.southperrypizzaspokane.com
This was very good. An attractive space full of bustle and crowds even on a Wednesday night. Came here because their gluten-free crust was recommended and my friend is celiac. An asparagus and pesto pizza was really very fine. Decent beers. Good homemade caesar dressing.

The Shop
http://theshoponsouthperry.com
More of a cafe with bistro grub. Open air space with a good mix of comfy chairs and tables. They have concerts and movies here during the summer. Coffee is good (I'm certainly no snob with my coffee, so your mileage may vary). They have a grain bowl that's quinoa and rice mixed with fresh veggies and a sauce (spicy chili, tahini, or something else) for $5. Probably the best value for health and portion and taste in town. Breakfast sandwiches and other food is good as well. Nothing disappointing yet. Makes this a good spot to park for several hours to work or read. The frequent buyer discount (10% off after 10 visits) is middling-to-poor.

Tacos Tumbras.
http://www.yelp.com/biz/taco-tumbras-...
Most of the menu looks like over-priced american-ish mexican, but the tacos are really GOOD and really CHEAP. Everyone I've met so far loves Tacos Tumbras.

Okay, I'm getting really hungry now. I'll write more later, and keep adding to this thread as I explore. And if I find some place horrible, I'll post that too.

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  1. There's some pretty good coffee in Spokane, too:

    Indaba in West Central.
    http://www.indabacoffee.com
    Fine coffee. Pre-made food from local bakeries. More third-wave coffee than second. I have two uses for a coffee shop: as an office for the day, or as a place to meet with friends. Indaba's great for meeting friends. Bonus points for being walking distance from Central Food.

    Coeur Coffee, also West Central, off of Monroe.
    http://coeurcoffeehouse.com
    A very simple menu. Just coffee and some tea. No pastries. A beautifully designed space in a pretty grungy location. Parking limited to 2 metered hours. Another good meet a friend place. Very affordably priced, tho the mocha is a bit pricey. I haven't had their coffee yet—just a really good iced tea—but they serve Stumptown. Customers inside voluntarily shared how much they love the brews and space here.

    Rocket.
    http://rocketspokane.com
    A local chain. My coffee-snob friends tell me Rocket's coffee is terrible. *shrug* It works for me. Comfy chairs, decently priced food and baked goods. The Garland location is my go-to spot for a long day of design work. The baristas are friendly and cute. Insanely fast wifi here.

    1. Scott,

      Welcome to CH and also to the "Spokane" board.

      I disagree with your appraisal of the other Spokane threads. There were lots of honest opinions about good, middling and poor restaurants, if you only wish to hear "good" things you may appreciate "The Inlander" restaurant reviews where they pander to their advertisers and nary a bad word is spoken. This board attracts more foodie type people and by nature foodies are more critical; and since opinions are like &$$%^#@# and we all got one expect to disagree with some people. The saying I like to tell people is: "We can agree to disagree" especially when it comes to matter of taste.

      I should also tell you that the Spokane Food scene has exploded over the last 3 years with more diverse competition and some really stellar acts coming into town. This has forced many of Spokane's restaurants to either kick it up a notch or as we have seen quite a few have closed.

      Here are some suggestions for you to try

      Pizza - The Flying Goat
      Asian - Gordy's Sichuan - might be a little pricy (honorable Mention Chan Bistro, they have groupons and yelp discounts)
      Thai - Thai on First (honorable mention Savanny Thai & Sala Thai)
      Neighborhood Bistro - Picabu
      PHO - Pho Van A (honorable mention for good value Vien Dong)
      Mexican - Tacos El Sol (food truck)
      Jamaican - Jamaican Jerk Pan (food truck)
      Sushi - Sushi I (for reasonably priced sushi)

      Cheers

      5 Replies
      1. re: RetiredChef

        Thanks for the reply!

        I'm all for posting/reading a bad review too; if a restaurant is lousy, it's lousy. And what's lousy for me may not be lousy for you. It wasn't my intention to come across as uncritical or reactively defensive.

        I think that the few comments I remember used insulting language about people living in this city (one person commented how they were losing their appetite because other people in the restaurant were obese). This was the minority of comments, but they were loud and offensive.

        Plus, all those threads were years old and didn't reflect what I was discovering. As you've said, things have changed here recently in the food scene. So I figured something up-to-date might be useful.

        There are still some things I wish were more common: I miss easy access to diverse Mediterranean and Middle-eastern food. A Persian radio show suggested the other day that a Persian restaurant might be opening in wintertime.

        And I'm surprised how few cheap Chinese places there are, but there is a surprising amount of Thai.

        1. re: ScottArany

          Scott,

          Totally agree with you about the need for updating and the idea of not attacking people or customers on this board. Spokane has seen about 4 Mediterranean/Greek places come and go over the last several years so I am not sure there is much of a market.

          I agree about the Chinese, probably the cheapest around is Hong Kong Express or Ming Wah but neither one of these are California cheap. Lot's of mediocre Thai (it's really been a race to the bottom lately). Ever since the predominant chain, Thai Bamboo, went all bollywood with their new super-stores, their food went way downhill. I will plug Thai on First, they sometimes use non-traditional ingredients but they seem to be able to copy the original flavors of Thai food quite well. They are also the most inexpensive Thai place in Spokane.

          Keep posting you new finds.

          Cheers

          1. re: ScottArany

            Scott, Why do you expect Chinese food to be cheap?

            1. re: Leonardo

              That's what I grew up with in Southern California. Lots of cheap hole-in-the-wall Chinese places. Always thought of that as "normal" so it is odd to not see those places around my new city. Not that I have a deep need for cheap Chinese food, but it's one of those things that—for me—is normal, expected, and nice to have now and then. Like those times when the Chow Mein and Broccoli Beef cravings hit.

              (Though those places are more Western American Chinese than actual Chinese. But that's what Roland Heights, LA, and other Chinese/Taiwanese communities were for.)

              1. re: Leonardo

                Leonardo,

                Both Scott and I are CA transplants from the LA area. I grew up just a few miles from the Buddhist temple in LA. Chinese restaurant were all over the place so the food was very authentic and the competition was fierce. When you have that much competition price wars will ensue, couple that with the fact that most Chinese food is made with very inexpensive ingredients and there is really no reason to charge more than $4 for a bowl of hand drawn noodles. Hence Chinese food can be done very cheaply and when you have a large Chinese community you will find many restaurants that a family of 4 can eat for $20.