The Skyride tram at Riverfront Park in downtown Seattle.
SPOKANE, WA — Sure, Seattle may have the Mariners, Seahawks, Amazon headquarters, and James Beard Award-winning chefs and restaurants. But Spokane has a spectacular waterfall in the center of the city. Take that.
Seattle may get more attention, but Spokane definitely deserves its own fanfare for attractions and attributes all its own. That’s what I discovered when I was invited to visit the state’s second largest city recently by Visit Spokane.
It’s a most livable city — with home prices not surprisingly a fraction of those in Silicon Valley — a revitalized downtown that’s safe to walk around in at night, a renovated waterfront, a thriving convention scene, fabulous bakeries, and cool restaurants opening in repurposed old buildings.
What’s more, it gets less rain than Seattle.
And it’s the birth place of Father’s Day.
Get to know what else there is to love about Spokane.
It Takes Bread & Beer Seriously
Does it ever, especially at the newly opened The Grain Shed, a bakery and brewery all in one.
At The Grain Shed, they revere local, heirloom grains, but keep their sense of humor about it all.
Yes, come for a pint and a loaf. And for Pizza Mondays.
A scoop of cheese ice cream and blackberry ice cream at Kurt’s Farm Shop.
SEATTLE, WA — Yes, I said, “cheese” ice cream. Not “cheesecake” ice cream. But ice cream made with actual cheese. Have I got your attention now? I should — because this ice cream is worth making a special trip for.
Hats off to my friend Tami, who lived in Seattle for a few years, and suggested I make time for the ice cream at Kurt Farm Shop on Capitol Hill. Tucked inside the Chophouse Row building food hall, this sliver of a shop sells cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and glorious ice cream.
The custard base is made at its Kurtwood Farm using Jersey cream and milk from its own cows.
Gotta love the cow art work.
They’re generous with samples. I knew I wanted the Flora’s Cheese flavor from the get-go. The ice cream is super rich and smooth, with a pronounced naturally sweet milky taste. There are actual bits of frozen feta-like cheese in this flavor. It’s cheesecake-like, but not quite as tangy. There’s more of a developed cheese flavor, though, no funkiness. It’s ever so savory and just a twinge salty. It’s one of those flavors that’s an instant classic.
Follow the sign.
SEATTLE, WA — When my husband and I were planning our recent trip here, there was one thing first and foremost on my mind.
Coconut cream pie.
The Triple Coconut Cream Pie by Tom Douglas, to be exact.
It’s been Douglas’ best-selling dessert ever since he put it on the menu when he opened his flagship Dahlia Lounge in 1989. It’s the primary reason he later opened his Dahlia Bakery next-door. He sells more than 1,000 coconut cream pies a month. He’s donated them to charity auctions, where they fetch upwards of $5,000 each!
Even one of my best foodie friends told me she’s not usually a coconut cream pie fan, but fell hard for this one. A Lyft driver on my trip told me she loved it so much the first time she had it, that she went back the very next day for another slice. Friends on Facebook described the pie as “life-changing.”
Our first stop the morning after flying in was indeed Dahlia Bakery, where you can buy a whole 9-inch coconut cream pie ($42), a 6-inch one ($22), a slice ($7.75) or even a “bite” ($3), which is a two-bite-sized pastry with the same filling and topping as the regular-sized version.
A fun little snack of Spanish sardines at Barnacle.
SEATTLE, WA — When you land in Seattle on a late-Thursday afternoon, what is — and should be — your first stop after checking into your hotel?
The Walrus and the Carpenter for Oyster Happy Hour.
Oh, yes, it is so worth it to make a beeline for this Monday through Thursday Happy Hour, if you are a fan of oysters on the half shell because these are some of the best around. From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., the oysters are half off. From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., they are 25 percent off.
Of course, everyone else has the same idea, so no doubt you will arrive to find the restaurant already packed, as my husband and I did. No matter, it just gives you a great excuse to enjoy a cocktail at adjacent Barnacle bar.
Actually, this one building houses THREE Renee Erickson establishments.
Both places are owned by James Beard Award-winning Chef Renee Erickson. In fact, she even has a third restaurant, Sea Creatures, in this one building. Plus a whole lot more.
Sundays are fried chicken night at JuneBaby.
SEATTLE, WA — It was named the “Best New Restaurant” of 2018 by the James Beard Awards. It is owned by the “Best Chef Northwest” of 2018, as bestowed by the same. And it is worth every single accolade.
JuneBaby is even worth waiting in line for 90 minutes to snag two seats at the crowded, shoulder-to-shoulder bar, as I managed to do a week ago, paying my own tab at the end.
Chef Edouardo Jordan is the first African-American to win that coveted national title. A Florida native, Jordan has some serious cooking chops, having spent time at the French Laundry in Yountville, the Herbfarm in Washington state, and Per Se and Lincoln, both in New York.
He opened Salare, just a block away from JuneBaby, in 2015, which also won acclaim for its globally-inspired fare inspired by all the places he’s worked and lived.
Winner of two James Beard Awards.
JuneBaby, which opened in 2017, is his love note to Southern cooking, particularly the dishes his mother made him while he was growing up. He uses local ingredients, including many heirloom ones, to execute soulful, rustic fare with refined technique. The portions are generous, and the prices relatively moderate for all that you get.