At the beginning of June, we had the opportunity to visit Spokane when we dined at the Big Table. Kevin Finch, the founder of Big Table, had invited us to join the community meal and to tour Spokane. He provided a wonderful itinerary for us, which I am attaching below.

“Sunday night: Tacos Tumbras downtown. On the way up to our house on the South Hill, drive or walk through Manito Park / Duncan Gardens.
Monday:  Taste (order Doma coffee… let me know what you think, twice baked Almond Croissant) Get them to go and walk to the Steam Plant and explore a bit inside… then on to the Davenport Hotel… break out the coffee and (for you Kimberly) the croissant. The lobby there is brilliant but the coffee served is standard Starbucks. Consider buying some of the Bruttles peanut brittle if the shop is open.”

Although it could seem restrictive, it is a handy way to see a city in a limited amount of time. I thought it was a creative way to get a friend’s perspective of the city.

Kevin is a food lover, just like me. His office is covered in cookbooks, chefs’ memoirs, and ideas for books and recipes. I photographed his book case and this little stack of books that represented his current reading list. I think his wife should take away his Amazon credit. But, it also showed that he knew a little something about food, and he knew a lot about what he enjoyed eating. That’s why we enjoyed following his suggestions.

We arrived in Spokane on Sunday night and dined at Tacos Tumbres. The food was fresh and made to order. It was a pretty slow night for the staff, so we had plenty of attention. When we were finishing up, a few more guests began arriving.

The next morning, we went to Taste for breakfast pastries and lattes. I had the twice baked almond croissant, which was crispy and sweet. The almond flavor wasn’t overwhelming, but it was present. The twice-baked feature enhanced its crisp texture, but some parts of the pastry were really hard. It was rich and satisfying. I forced myself to save some of the pastry for a later morning snack.
The latte was foamy, but since the drink was probably made with a single shot, it tasted pretty milky and was not as strong as I usually take lattes.

The ambiance of the cafe was warm and bright. Light green table mats, fresh flowers, and unique salt and pepper shakers were on most tables, giving the cafe a homey feel without looking kitchy.  Taste also offered afternoon foods, including breads, bars, cookies, salads, soups, sandwiches, panini sandwiches, Bobotie, shepherd’s pie, and macaroni and cheese. Lasagna and moussaka were also on the menu.  The lunch items looked pretty tasty. Some items were labeled gluten-free and vegan, so it took the mystery out of menu reading.

After walking around town for a while, we went to Sukiyaki Inn for lunch. According to our little tourist map, this restaurant is the oldest Japanese restaurant in Spokane. Sukiyaki had a fair assortment of sushi and lunch specials, so we enjoyed freshly rolled sushi and a generously portioned Bento with teriyaki salmon. The service was attentive and polite, and the restaurant was decorated in a predictable Japanese red and black color scheme. Nothing really jumped out about the food, but it completely met our expectations and was enjoyable.

We ate at the Big Table’s dinner that evening. We don’t get to enjoy such exquisite cooking every day, so it was a special treat for us. The food is provided by Sysco and several other vendors, and it is prepared by chefs who donate their time and amazing talent. The service is done by the previous dinners’ guests and by people who support Big Table’s mission. You can read my write-up about Big Table here.

The next day, we went to Sante for breakfast before we left town. Kevin suggested it as a place to visit, and one of the guests we dined with the night before told us that we better eat there before we leave. I’m so glad they did.

Sante is a restaurant and charcuterie that defies anyone who says Spokane lacks a food culture. Upon entering the space, which shares the block with a popular bookstore, you find yourself transported to a quaint European-style restaurant that seems very much at home in Spokane. During the morning it seems relaxed, but at night, be prepared for fine dining.

We ate breakfast – an egg white omelette with spring onions, peppers, leeks, red pepper confiture, fontina, and potatoes; French toast served with house cinnamon and anise syrup; lattes – and we were full from breakfast for several hours. The large omelette was stuffed with vegetables, not just folded over a few well-placed peppers. The potatoes, piled on the plate, were roasted and crisp, but not burnt. The eggy French toast was thick, moist, and sweet from the anise syrup. I usually skimp on syrup in favor of tasting the egg batter, but this time, I poured the whole 2-ounce pitcher of syrup on my toast after one taste. The latte was hot, foamy, full of espresso. Service was courteous, the restaurant was brightly lit, and our server knew the menu extremely well. He was comfortable making suggestions and explaining menu selections.  It was quite a start to the day. I think I’d go back to Spokane just for breakast at Sante.

Spokane is a nice, small city. It has a strong, if smaller than Seattle’s, food community. The advantage is that you’d get to know businesses well, even if you didn’t see them often. The disadvantage is that many leave for Seattle, where the grass really is greener (it rains more). Spokane is worth the drive for the food.

If you go, I recommend:
Taste Cafe & Gourmet To Go
180 S. Howard St. Spokane
Sane Restaurant & Charcuterie
404 W. Main St. Spokane