Inlander 03/28/2024

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C o n n e c t at the MAC

EXHIBITIONS PROGRAMS EVENTS

It Happened Here:

Expo ’74 Fifty Years After

May–January

Driving the American Dream: 1970s Car Design

June–September

1924: Sovereignty, Leadership, and the Indian Citizenship Act

February–February

Woman, Artist, Catalyst: Art from the Permanent Collection

June–March

Joe Feddersen: Earth, Water, Sky

September–January

Adult Programs

• Workshops • Gallery Talks

• Book Clubs • Lectures

• Films • Educator Training

Youth Programs

• Field Trips • Summer Camps

• Story Time • Arts and Crafts

Annual Gala

April 13

Mother’s Day Home Tour

May 11-12

ArtFest

May 31-June 2

Best Art Gallery Best Art Festival

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"Best Bank" for 14 years straight.

Thank You.

As the oldest and largest privately-held commercial bank in the Pacific Northwest, we are honored to have been voted “Best Bank” by our community. We are grateful to have been here in the Northwest since 1902, and we can’t wait for what the future holds.

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EDITOR’S NOTE

It is the BEST OF times. The age of wisdom from our readers, the spring of hope for people looking for suggestions, tips and maybe a bit of recognition. In short, this issue is unlike any other you’ll see this entire year, as we unveil your choices — for best taco, vet clinic, escape room, bumper sticker and much, much more — in the superlative degree of comparison only.

OK, enough Dickens. In your hands you hold months of voting, tabulating, notifying, celebrating and plain old reporting of your choices on the best the Inland Northwest has to offer. We’ve done this for 31 years now, and it continues to be a revelation. We have more votes than ever before, new winners and more than a few age-old favorites that have won time and time again.

Thus did the year 2024 conduct its Greatnesses, and myriads of small businesses, artists, athletes and more — the creatures of this chronicle — are bestowed as the Best Of all the land. Congrats to the winners!

COMMENT NEWS CULTURE BEST OF 5 8 18 22 25 28 32 36 FOOD SCREEN MUSIC EVENTS I SAW YOU GREEN ZONE BULLETIN BOARD VOL. 31, NO. 25 | COVER ILLUSTRATION: CODY THOMAS THE INLANDER is a locally owned, independent newspaper founded on Oct. 20, 1993. Please recycle THE INLANDER after you’re done with it. One copy free per person per week; extra copies are $1 each (call x226). For ADVERTISING information, email advertising@inlander.com. To have a SUBSCRIPTION mailed to you, call x210 ($78 per year). To find one of our more than 1,000 NEWSRACKS where you can pick up a paper free every Thursday, call x226 or email frankd@ inlander.com. THE INLANDER is a member of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia and is published at least twice per month. All contents of this newspaper are protected by United States copyright law. © 2024, Inland Publications, Inc. 1227 WEST SUMMIT PARKWAY, SPOKANE, WA 99201 PHONE: 509-325-0634 | EMAIL: INFO@INLANDER.COM SPOKANE • EASTERN WASHINGTON • NORTH IDAHO • INLANDER.COM THE MATRIX AT 25 PAGE 28 LUNCH IN THE VALLEY PAGE 25 GO ZAGS! PAGE 18 PEDESTRIAN MAN PAGE 8
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GERALD BARRAGAN

The outdoor activities.

Which outdoor activities are your favorite? We just moved here, so Riverfront Park’s fun and it’s really beautiful today. But yeah, I would say the weather here in Spokane is nice — you get your winters, and you get your nice springs and summers and all that.

DIANA COSTA

I was just out of town this week, and I talked to three people about how much I love Spokane! I was the president of the “Move To Spokane Committee.” It’s hard to pick a favorite — the weather, the access to outdoor recreation, and nice people. And the size, the size is just right!

MADALINN KNUTSON

Probably having all four seasons. I just moved back from Alabama, and I never want to live there again. Being able to go outside and not have super hot weather all the time. And I mean, we have so many different things here. You don’t realize it until you don’t live here, how many awesome parks and outdoor things and all that we have.

ERIC HANNAH

How welcoming it is outdoors. I’m from Phoenix — it’s too hot, there’s no trees. Here it is just like bike paths and walking paths — everybody’s outdoors just enjoying it. Like you don’t see this in Phoenix, it’s too hot — it’s way too hot.

RACHEL HANNAH

Oh my gosh, there’s so many things. I mean honestly, it’s Riverfront Park.

What’s your favorite thing about Riverfront Park?

The Garbage Goat. I mean, it’s nostalgic, like every kid fed the garbage goat. I grew up here [so] watching my 6-year-old enjoy the things I used to enjoy as a kid, and the new features [are great].

MARCH 28, 2024 INLANDER 5 COMMENT STAFF DIRECTORY PHONE: 509-325-0634 Ted S. McGregor Jr. (tedm@inlander.com) PUBLISHER Jer McGregor (x224) GENERAL MANAGER EDITORIAL Nicholas Deshais (x239) EDITOR Chey Scott (x225) ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR Seth Sommerfeld (x250) MUSIC & SCREEN EDITOR Samantha Wohlfeil (x234) BREAKING NEWS EDITOR Madison Pearson (x218) LISTINGS EDITOR Eliza Billingham (x222) Colton Rasanen (x263) Nate Sanford (x282), Summer Sandstrom (x232) STAFF WRITERS Chris Frisella COPY CHIEF Young Kwak, Erick Doxey PHOTOGRAPHERS Lucy Klebeck, Ashlyn Norris INTERNS Jason Baxter, Will Maupin, Kent “Kento” Morita, Bill Youngs CONTRIBUTORS ADVERTISING Skip Mitchell (x247) ADVERTISING & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Carolyn Padgham (x214), Kristi Gotzian (x215), Autumn Potts (x251), Claire Price (x217) SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Tracy Menasco (x260), Stephanie Grinols (x216), Meghan Fitzgerald (x241) ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Tamara McGregor (x233) ADVERTISING OPERATIONS MANAGER PRODUCTION Ali Blackwood (x228) PRODUCTION TEAM MANAGER, CREATIVE, DIGITAL & MARKETING Tom Stover (x265) PRINT PRODUCTION & IT MANAGER Derrick King (x238) SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER Leslie Douglas (x231) GRAPHIC DESIGNER Colleen Bell-Craig (x212), Raja Bejjani (x242) ADVERTISING ASSISTANTS OPERATIONS Dee Ann Cook (x211) BUSINESS MANAGER Kristin Wagner (x210) ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE CIRCULATION Frank DeCaro (x226) CIRCULATION MANAGER Travis Beck (x237) CIRCULATION SUPERVISOR INTERVIEWS BY ASHLYN NORRIS 3/19/24, RIVERFRONT PARK WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT LIVING IN THE SPOKANE AREA?
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May marks when Spokane’s audacious urban renewal project came to life — now 50 years after, Expo continues to define the city by the falls

Here on the eve of its 50th anniversary, you could say there are not enough superlatives in the English language to do justice to the story of Expo ’74.

4 Spokane was the smallest city on Earth ever to host a world’s fair.

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4 It hosted the first American fair ever to be held with the approval of the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) in Paris.

4 It was the first exposition in the United States since World War II to be held with Soviet participation.

park, Seattle Center, about a mile from downtown. In the case of Spokane’s Expo ’74, the landscape residual is also a pleasant park, and the most dramatic riverscape at the heart of any American city — Spokane Falls.

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4 The BIE used Spokane’s Expo to pioneer a new set of guidelines and regulations for conducting world’s fairs.

4 Held just two years after the first Earth Day, Expo ’74 was the first fair with an environmental theme. Most expositions since 1974, including Shanghai’s huge fair in 2010, have followed Spokane in adopting an environmental theme.

4 Its landscape “residual” is one of the most impressive of any fair anywhere. A “residual” is what is left on the grounds after a fair is over. In the case of New York City, the location of their fair of 1963-64 is now the site of a pleasant park, Flushing Meadows, in the Bronx where the U.S. Open tennis tournament is held every year. Seattle’s Century 21 expo left an equally pleasant

4 And let’s not forget the financial miracle of the exposition. With an investment of less than $5 million, Spokane benefited to the tune of more than $100 million in urban renewal. Pennies on the dollar! As Spokane Mayor David Rodgers remarked afterwards: “Reduced to its essentials, we gave a great big party and the rest of the world came and paid the bill.”

To experience the benefits of Spokane’s Expo ’74 50 years later, one need only walk through Riverfront Park, the magnificent residual of the fair. Much has changed since 1974. The exposition buildings are gone, of course. And the United States pavilion, still standing, has been through several changes, including the installation recently of blinking lights, artistically arranged on the cables above the pavilion floor, where once a tent-like fabric enclosed

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the space. The German beer garden of the fair was transformed — as cleverly planned — into housing for one of the world’s premier carousels; today, the Looff Carrousel is housed in a new building that came with recent park renovations.

In Riverfront Park you can still stand right where tourists stood 50 years ago and look at scenes that have stood the test of time. Near the Carrousel, the Garbage Goat with its environmental message still engages children and their parents.

Walk farther into the park and you witness the scene that most delighted visitors then as now — Spokane Falls. The footbridges across the river were constructed for the fair, and on Opening Day — May 4, 1974 — water thundered through the heart of Expo. Tourists sometimes asked guides how Spokane had managed to divert the river to this channel, little knowing that the opposite was the case. The river had, in essence, beckoned Expo to its banks.

John Van Der Zee, writing for The New York Times, was one of the visitors who was beguiled by the river. Any lover of Spokane’s falls will be moved even today by Van Der Zee’s heartfelt evocation of the falls, written 50 years ago.

“It is 88 degrees in Spokane, a record snowpack is melting in the mountains nearby and the Spokane River is thundering through the fairgrounds within a few feet of flood stage. Standing on one of the bridges between the exhibits, you can feel the spray of foaming white water… The day before, a body was fished from this river and four escaping convicts were pulled out of the rockstrewn current and returned, quaking with relief, to their cells.

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS

Get ready, Spokane, because in about a month, the Expo 50 celebration will be kicking off with a big party from 3 to 9 pm in Riverfront Park on Saturday, May 4 — 50 years exactly from opening day in 1974. Stay tuned as there will be special Expo 50 events all the way through the Fourth of July; learn more at visitspokane.com/expo-50.

“Such a scene — a torrent of fishable, perhaps drinkable, mountain water pouring through a city of nearly 200,000 people — seems foreign, Swiss, perhaps,” Van Der Zee continued. “The river is to Expo ’74 what striking architecture has been to some of the famous world’s fairs in the past. It is Expo’s thematic realiza tion, its most spectacular show and its greatest achievement.”

Spokane’s Expo ’74 was recognized as a triumph in its time and to this day as well.

Some time ago, with four years of hard work and the help of some extraordinary research assistants, I wrote a big book about Expo, speaking and learning about its master builders including the visionary and charismatic King Cole. That said, one of the tales that remains fixed in my memory is a story told to me about everyday Spokanites by Bob Carriker. A history professor at Gonzaga University, Carriker managed the fair’s Ford Pavilion in its early stages. He needed to set up a tepee in the exhibit.

The hides for the tent were available, but Carriker needed poles. He came to realize that “lodgepole pine” was more than a picturesque name. Carriker spotted a likely grove of trees outside Spokane and asked the landowner if he could cut about 15 poles. He offered to pay, but on hearing that the trees would be used at Expo, the owner insisted that Carriker take them free of charge.

“This was something he could do to contribute, Carriker told me. “Now he could bring his grandchildren to the Ford Motor Company exhibit, and there’s a little bit of him and his land inside that exhibit.”

In such ways, Expo ’74 was the triumph of all the citizens of Spokane. n

Bill Youngs is a history professor at Eastern Washington University and the author of The Fair and the Falls, which is being republished by Gray Dog Press as a paperback to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1974 World’s Fair in Spokane.

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ROAD QUIXOTE

As deaths on our roads continue to rise, a local stay-at-home dad is on an ambitious quest to make Spokane’s streets the safest in the U.S.

Erik Lowe is trying to cross the street.

He’s standing on the edge of the curb in Spokane’s Hillyard neighborhood, inches from the cars shooting down Haven Street. There isn’t a marked crosswalk, but it doesn’t matter. Under Washington state law, every intersection is a crosswalk. Drivers “shall stop and remain stopped” to let pedestrians and bicyclists cross.

Lowe leans his head out into the road, making his intentions clear as a new wave of cars approaches. At 6 feet, 9 inches tall, he’s hard to miss.

“I’m going to try to see if they’ll stop here,” Lowe says.

The first driver whips past, either because they didn’t see him or didn’t care. Two more cars do the same.

“And there we go,” Lowe says, disappointed but not surprised.

When a car in the lane closest to Lowe finally stops, he enters the road immediately, forcing the car approaching in the second lane to stop as well. He crosses with a deliberate confidence — looking straight ahead as if challenging the drivers to object.

“If you don’t wave, sometimes they’ll f-cking yell at you,” Lowe says once he’s safely on the other side. (He owns a T-shirt that says “Thanks for not hitting me.”) “They get pissed off because they’re like, ‘Well, maybe I should hit you next time.’”

As he continues along the sidewalk, Lowe raises his voice to be heard over the roar of passing cars.

“We as a society have been so dialed into car culture, and car culture has been so shoved down our throats for over 100 years, we just don’t know anything else,” he says. “It just allows more people to die on our streets.”

SWING FOR THE FENCES

For the better part of a year now, Lowe, a stay-at-home dad and former property appraiser, has been developing a project called “Spokane Reimagined” — a $1 billion tax levy proposal to radically reshape Spokane into a pedestrian- and bike-oriented city.

He stays busy, compiling data on collisions, speaking out at meetings, organizing volunteers, holding public workshops and relentlessly emailing politicians until they can’t help but listen to his message. He’s met with city planners and several City Council members.

“I’ve always been the kind of person to swing for the fences,” Lowe says.

When he first started advocating for safe streets in Spokane, Lowe says he was largely ignored by elected officials. He still often feels that way. But politicians say they’re listening — even if they think his proposals are wildly ambitious and not immediately feasible.

“I definitely appreciate a lot of his efforts to push the conversation around more transit, more pedestrian access and bicycle access throughout our city,” says Spokane City Council member Zack Zappone. “Those are really important goals.”

Council member Kitty Klitzke says she appreciates how Lowe will share information about collisions that happen in her district.

“That’s been super helpful,” Klitzke says. “Sometimes he knows more than I do.”

Klitzke says she’s seen others who dream up big initia-

tives all by themselves get angry when people don’t immediately hand it to them. But she credits Lowe for being flexible and willing to engage on a grassroots level, even if her intial reaction was that his idea was “wildly impractical.”

“He’s doing the work,” Klitkze says. “Even if he is just able to make his points, I think that’s meaningful.”

Council member Jonathan Bingle, who represents Hillyard, thinks the levy Lowe is proposing is an “astronomical ask” that doesn’t seem feasible. But he appreciates Lowe’s dedication to making the city a better place.

“I like people with a vision,” Bingle says. “And I like Erik because that’s a real vision for the city of Spokane.”

KILLER ROADS

Lowe is part of a larger movement of safe streets advocates that’s grown in recent years as pedestrian deaths in the U.S. surge to record levels.

After declining for decades, the number of people killed by drivers each year started climbing again around 2009. The trend accelerated during the pandemic and, in 2022, the number of U.S. pedestrian fatalities surged to a fourdecade high of at least 7,500.

It’s a nationwide crisis, and Spokane isn’t immune. Last year, drivers killed 23 pedestrians in Spokane County — the highest number on record since 2015, the earliest year that data from the state Department of Transportation is available.

Jacob Cain, a volunteer with Lowe’s Spokane Reimagined, says he got involved with the project because he commutes exclusively by bus, and wants to improve transit and walkability in Spokane.

“I do generally find it unsafe to be a pedestrian in Spokane,” Cain says.

People have given a number of theories for the recent uptick in deaths — including smartphones, the increasing size of cars and a pandemic-induced breakdown in social norms. But advocates say the core problem can be traced to

Erik Lowe says the American car-centered transportation system “allows more people to die on our streets.”
...continued on page 10
|ERICK DOXEY PHOTO For more information visit SpokaneReimagined.org TRANSPORTATION
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decades of car-centric street design.

Sarah Rose, a local photographer and volunteer with the Spokane Reimagined project, notes that being forced to drive everywhere infringes on the right to “use our bodies and move within our city how we choose,” and can cause depression, isolation and other health problems. It’s also a climate issue.

“It really gets into how our city is built to serve the people that live there,” Rose says.

PEOPLE POWERED HIGHWAYS

Lowe’s Spokane Reimagined proposal is big and bold. The $1 billion property tax levy

would generate $50 million annually for 20 years. According to Lowe’s math, the median Spokane home would pay around $625 in the levy’s first year.

A quarter of the $1 billion would fund a 140-mile, interconnected network of “people powered highways” throughout the city. The grid would be car free, with bollards that can raise and lower for emergency services.

About $100 million would pay for a slate of amenities including fountains, pavilions, ball courts and at least 20 public restrooms.

Another $250 million would fund the creation of a “First Avenue Tram” running

through downtown between Browne’s Addition and the Intermodal Center, which houses Amtrak and Greyhound.

The project would also include free bike parking lockers downtown, and a city-owned and operated bike share. About $400 million would be set aside for operating and maintenance costs for the tram and other amenities.

“Voters like big proposals,” Lowe says. “Voters are OK with spending money if you can back it up.”

Spokane City Council members — the ones who hold the power to add items to the ballot — are less certain.

“I don’t see taxpayers supporting that at this time,” Zappone says.

Zappone notes that Spokane voters rejected a $200 million bond proposal to pay for new school facilities in February, as well as a $1.7 billion countywide ballot measure to build a new jail last November.

“A huge price tag scares people away,” Zappone says. “I think there’s a wariness — property values have gone up.”

Klitzke also sees logistical hurdles. The idea is “interesting and worth exploring,” she says, but it would need more democratic participation to align with the state Growth Management Act and federal and state transportation planning guidelines. It would also have to complement the city’s existing transportation plan.

Still, Zappone says the proposal represents an “aspiration and a vision.” On Monday, the City Council approved a $3.1 million slate of eight traffic calming projects. Zappone says he’s currently looking into improving funding issues with the city’s traffic calming program by incorporating more “adaptive designs” — short-term traffic calming fixes like paint and planter boxes that are cheaper and faster than the standard concrete projects.

ORANGE-PILLED

Lowe isn’t deterred by the skepticism. Big, bold change is possible, he says, pointing to the Netherlands — a modern-day bastion of bike and pedestrian infrastructure. People sometimes forget that just 40 years ago, the country was “just as car-centric as we are,” Lowe says.

“Kids kept dying in their streets,” Lowe says. “They decided enough was enough.”

Growing up in the Mead School District, Lowe says he was “just as car-brained as everyone else.”

It wasn’t until he moved to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University that Lowe realized a different world was possible. The coastal town has a large bus network that runs through campus, and student ID cards double as bus passes with unlimited rides on all routes.

“I saw how great it was to not have to drive around, to be able to walk everywhere and ride the bus,” Lowe says.

After Western, Lowe went to law school, graduating from the ...continued on page 12

CONTINUED... NEWS | TRANSPORTATION
“ROAD QUIXOTE,”
10 INLANDER MARCH 28, 2024

Spring Cleaning

Spokane begins camp removal and graffiti clean up as the weather warms. Plus, a new home for people undergoing cancer treatment; and visiting student-athletes face racism in Idaho.

For years, Spokane leaders have bemoaned the challenges with homeless camping and drug use along the I-90 “gateways” welcoming visitors to the city. Now, Mayor Lisa Brown is preparing to take a stab at addressing the problem — this time with new funding agreements from state government. On Monday, Brown announced that the city had reached an agreement with the state Department of Transportation that will designate the Division/ Browne corridor between Sprague Avenue and I-90 as a “priority encampment zone” under the state’s Right-of-Way program that funds encampment removals on state-owned land. The program previously funded efforts to address East Central’s Camp Hope. The state will initially reimburse the city $440,000 for litter and graffiti cleanup efforts and may provide another $400,000 later. The city anticipates an additional $4 million in similar funding under a different agreement with WSDOT. This week, the city removed the fencing under the Browne Street viaduct, which was installed under the previous Woodward administration to deter camping and that Brown says has been ineffective. The city said “work to connect unhoused neighbors to services” and clean up litter and graffiti near the gateways began Monday. (NATE SANFORD)

REST AFTER RADIATION

Adult cancer patients who need to come to Spokane for treatment are one step closer to getting a new place to stay while they receive treatment. Thanks to help from U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the most recent budget appropriations approved by Congress last week will provide $1.5 million for local nonprofit Cancer Can’t to build several new apartments for cancer patients to use for free. The nonprofit is still raising money for the project, with plans to again ask Washington’s Legislature for help next session. The patients they currently put up in hotels often face long drives from Montana, Oregon, and surrounding rural areas and need to stay for days or weeks at a time for radiation treatment. The new apartments planned for West Central, just north of Kendall Yards, will offer more comfortable accommodations, and a handful of units will be rented out to the market to sustain the cost of the other units.

(SAMANTHA

CDA CONDEMNS HATE

Late last week, players with the University of Utah and UC Irvine women’s college basketball teams staying in Coeur d’Alene for the NCAA Tournament were harassed by someone in a truck flying the Confederate flag shouting the N-word and racist slurs while driving by. Later, as the players left a restaurant, multiple drivers revved their engines and shouted racist slurs. Coeur d’Alene Mayor Jim Hammond, Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations leader Tony Stewart, and Coeur d’Alene Resort President Bill Reagan denounced the hateful actions at a Tuesday press conference. “I offer my most sincere apology,” Hammond said. Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White encouraged victims and witnesses to contact their department at 208-769-2320. White says the department is considering possible charges that could be filed if and when they find who was responsible, including Idaho statutes on malicious harassment and disorderly conduct, as well as a federal crime that may be appropriate but more detail is needed from the victims. (SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL) n

NEWS | BRIEFS
Under the Browne viaduct in August 2023. ERICK DOXEY PHOTO
MARCH 28, 2024 INLANDER 11
877.871.6772 | SPOKANE, WA

You are invited to a dinner and award ceremony honoring General James Mattis on April 9

Heather Foley and the Thomas S. Foley Institute

invite you to a dinner and award ceremony honoring General James Mattis.

The former U.S. Secretary of Defense and four-star Marine Corps General James Mattis will be recognized for his lifetime of service to the country with the Thomas S. Foley Award for Distinguished Public Service.

The dinner and ceremony will be held T Tuesday, A April 9 at the John J. Hemmingson Center on the Gonzaga University campus in Spokane.

For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit us at https://foley.wsu.edu/award.

Premier Sponsors: D Dr and Mrs Ed Schweitzer

Media sponsor: T The Spokesman-Review

University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He moved around: Pittsburgh, Seattle and Redmond. In all those cities, Lowe says he was primarily a transit user. But when he and his wife moved back home and bought a house in Spokane Valley in 2018, Lowe found that he was once again reliant on a car to get around the Valley and the city of Spokane.

In 2019, he and his wife had a child.

Lowe bought a bike trailer so he could bike around Spokane with his kid, but quickly discovered that it wasn’t safe. It was a radicalizing moment. The streets were like a “death zone,” he says.

Lowe hasn’t personally been struck by a car, but he knows people who have. His grandfather, a motorcycle distributor and racer, spent six months in a body cast after being struck by a taxi. A friend of his at Western dealt with chronic pain after being rear-ended. A friend from high school died in a collision a couple years after graduation.

Stories like that are common. Rose, one of Lowe’s volunteers, says she first started waking up to the problem of traffic violence after she says one of her friends was hit by a driver while trying to cross downtown’s Main Avenue, and then immediately given a ticket for entering the crosswalk after the blinking timer had started.

Rose started looking into data on collisions in Spokane and watching videos from a popular urbanist YouTube channel called “Not Just Bikes.”

That’s when Rose says she became “orangepilled” — a riff on the national color of the Netherlands and the “take the red pill” scene from the Matrix that’s become internet slang for waking

up to a certain worldview or ideology. To become orange-pilled is to embrace the Dutch vision of bike- and pedestrian-oriented streets.

Rose met Lowe at a neighborhood town hall meeting last year and is now one of about two dozen volunteers who have signed up to help the Spokane Reimagined project. She says she worries about her parents, and how they’ll manage to get around Spokane once they’re too old to drive. She also worries about her friends who are starting to have children.

“Are they going to play basketball with their friends in the local park?” Rose says. “Will they ride their bikes to get there, or will their parents take on the full-time job of driving their kids everywhere because it’s too dangerous?”

STRUCTURAL ISSUES

Lowe knows his proposal is ambitious and likely to be an uphill battle. Starting big is part of the strategy.

“You have to propose something big, because then when it gets whittled down, it might still be something that’s worth doing,” Lowe says.

Earlier this month, Spokane Mayor Lisa Brown told City Council members that she thinks it will be necessary to go to voters with a “public safety levy” in August as the city grapples with a $50 million budget deficit.

Details are still up in the air, but Lowe hopes some elements of the Spokane Reimagined plan could be incorporated into the public safety levy. After all, traffic safety is a public safety issue, he

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“ROAD QUIXOTE,”

says, noting that the city’s police and fire departments spend a significant amount of time and resources responding to collisions.

Zappone says it would be interesting to have a conversation about incorporating traffic safety into the public safety levy, but it seems like a “large part” of the levy will have to cover existing police and fire services.

Lowe isn’t excited about the prospect.

“That’s not going to fix the underlying structural issues killing kids on our streets,” Lowe says.

Last week, Lowe met with two other Spokane Reimagined volunteers at the Saranac Commons in downtown Spokane. They talked about making signs to hold up along the route of the upcoming Bloomsday race, highlighting two spots along the race’s path where people have been killed by drivers.

The volunteers are also discussing the idea of a “rapid response team” that would contact politicians every time a pedestrian is hit by a car in their district.

Cain, the Spokane Reimagined volunteer, says the goal is to build a coalition that can show the City Council and other legislative bodies that addressing traffic violence is a political necessity.

“Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, that affects everyone,” Cain says. “But it’s going to take a total change of the American mindset. We’ve just been so car centric for so long. I think it’s going to take a lot of work, but I’m optimistic.”

Lowe believes Spokane is ready for dramatic change.

He points to Anne Hidalgo, who was elected mayor of Paris in 2014 and launched an ambitious plan that radically transformed the city’s bike network in just a few years.

“She had naysayers, she had people laugh at her,” Lowe says. “She didn’t care. She’s just like, ‘I’m going to do it, this is what my plan is.’ It was widely successful.” n

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Retirement for All

A new Washington program will automatically start retirement accounts for workers who don’t already have access

More than 1.2 million Washington workers will soon have an easier option to save for retirement thanks to a law that passed at the very end of this year’s legislative session.

Under the new Washington Saves plan, private sector workers who don’t already have access to a retirement account will be enrolled in an automatic Individual Retirement Account, with a set amount of their pre-tax paycheck going into an account that will follow them to future jobs.

More than half of the full-time workers in the private sector have access to a 401(k) or other retirement savings account through their employer, and virtually all public sector and union employees have that option.

But younger people, members of minority communities, and those who work in hospitality or construction are far less likely to have a retirement savings option.

About 63% of workers between 18 and 25 in Washington don’t have the option to contribute to a retirement account through their employer, and 43% of workers of any age lack that access, according to a December 2023 Pew Charitable Trust report commissioned by the Washington

Legislature.

Those gaps are important to address, because the sooner you start saving, the more compounding interest can work in your favor to help build up savings for retirement, says Washington Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti, who pushed for the new program.

“Two out of three millennials today have zero retirement savings, and it’s even worse for Gen Z,” Pellicciotti says. “If money has been invested professionally, with compounding interest early in one’s career … it almost guarantees they will be a millionaire before they retire.”

What’s already alarming is the number of near retirees without any savings: Nearly 42% of American workers aged 56 to 64 do not have a retirement account, according to a 2021 Census Bureau survey.

“That is putting us toward a potential crisis,” Pellicciotti says.

The lack of retirement savings among older workers is already expected to cost Washington state $3.9 billion in so-

cial safety net spending over the next 20 years, according to the Pew report. During that same time frame, it’s expected that another $25.9 billion in federal social assistance will be needed just for Washington residents who don’t have enough money saved.

“The public will not accept a 90-year-old without housing and food living on the streets,” Pellicciotti says. “It’s critical that people have access for a dignified retirement. And the reality is, when it comes to retirement, it’s important that people start saving early.”

Over the next few years, a 15-member governing board will determine how the Washington Saves program will operate, including how much of someone’s paycheck should automatically be put into their

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Washington state Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti
14 INLANDER MARCH 28, 2024

account, which will be somewhere between 3% and 7%. The board will also decide how the funds will be managed by financial professionals.

The program is scheduled to start in July 2027, and workers who don’t want to participate can opt out.

But Pellicciotti says that many workers want an easy way to save, and in other states with this type of program, workers have largely chosen to participate.

Fifteen states have created a retirement savings program, and in the seven whose programs are operational, about 64% to 82% of people remain enrolled (instead of opting out), according to the Pew report.

The Washington Saves plan is one of three major financial policy changes Pellicciotti has been working to put in place in recent years to economically empower Washingtonians.

The other two include plans to require that schools teach financial literacy — that requirement almost passed this session, but the House and Senate didn’t concur after some amendments were made — and the creation of a “baby bond” program called the Washington Future Fund.

The future fund would invest money for every baby born under Apple Health (the state Medicaid program), so by the time they turn 18 they’d have savings to put toward an education, buying a home, or starting a business.

Pellicciotti hopes to bring both the financial literacy bill and the future fund bill back before lawmakers next year.

“The steps that we’re taking — economic opportunity at birth, the tools to economically thrive throughout one’s career, and the ability for retirement security later in life — when we do these things well and simply empower people and give them the tools to be economically successful, it is a major contributor to their well-being overall and their health,” he says. “This is where we can move things in the right direction.” n

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Inclusive Instruction

Washington legislators voted this session to add the perspective of marginalized communities into state learning standards

Nearly 40 years ago, Cal Anderson was appointed to the Washington House of Representatives, becoming the first openly LGBTQ+ person to hold the office in the state. He then went on to win four elections and serve eight years in the House before being elected to the state Senate in 1994. Anderson served as a senator for just seven months before dying of AIDS in 1995. His name, however, is absent from any Washington curriculum on state government, according to state Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle.

That may soon change though with Gov. Jay Inslee’s March 18 signing of Senate Bill 5462 into state law, which would make sure that the K-12 curriculum is more inclu-

sive of people from marginalized communities. The law takes effect on June 6.

“The whole point is that LGBTQ+ people are represented in the curriculum,” says Pedersen, who was one of the bill’s primary sponsors. “Whether that’s politicians, artists or authors, the identity of those people is not hidden, but instead recognized so that young people can see for themselves the kinds of contributions that have been made.”

This won’t only impact LGBTQ+ youth though. The law mandates the inclusion of perspectives from “people from various racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, people with differing learning needs, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, and people with various socioeconomic and immigration backgrounds” in public school education.

“I hear from students that oftentimes what they’re learning and talking about hasn’t been relevant or necessarily inclusive to them,” says Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Auburn, also a sponsor as well as vice chair on the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. “When young people have cultural relevance to their current lives, they are so much more engaged in their own learning. And they are more apt to be successful in their future endeavors.”

The new law, which was originally introduced during the 2023 legislative session but died in a House committee, tasks the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction with reviewing and updating the existing curriculum for all grade levels to incorporate the contributions and perspectives of these communities. By June 2025, the Washington State School Directors’ Association and OSPI must provide policies and procedures for local school boards to select which materials and courses they’ll offer students.

“When young people have cultural relevance to their current lives, they are so much more engaged in their own learning. And they are more apt to be successful in their future endeavors.”

“We look forward to working with the Washington State School Directors’ Association to support the review and update of a model policy and procedure to support instructional material adoption to meet the requirements of the legislation,” OSPI spokesperson Katy Payne wrote in an email. “OSPI also looks forward to consulting with the expertise of the state’s commissions to update the tools and procedures we use in the learning standards revision and adoption process to include screening for biased content to ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion are incorporated into all state learning standards.”

School districts would be required to incorporate these standards by Oct. 1 of the 2025-26 school year.

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The bill drew opposition from school boards across the state, including the Mead and Central Valley school boards, claiming that the bill would undermine their local authority.

“The Mead School District Board of Directors opposes [the law], as it subverts local school boards elected to consult and adhere to adopted policy and procedure,” the Mead School Board said in a unanimously approved resolution opposing the bill. “In equipping future-ready students, the Mead School District will seek to foster belonging, instill purpose, and cultivate curiosity in ALL the students it serves.”

The Central Valley School Board passed a similar resolution a few days later and notified the Legislature of their decision with a letter from board President Pam Orebaugh.

“Please do not require the expenditure of valuable dollars to add another layer of outside regulations,” she wrote. “Our community values and thrives on local control and budget accountability.”

Educational curriculum is mandated at the state and federal level already. For example, fifth grade teachers are required to instruct their students on multiplying and dividing fractions. And in social studies, an eighth grade student must learn how to analyze evidence to verify the validity of a viewpoint.

SB 5462 doesn’t change that, it solely adds to the curriculum requirements already in place, according to Wilson and Pedersen.

As a former Federal Way Public Schools board member herself, Wilson understands the concerns of local school boards but says the new law does not take away a school board’s rights.

“A school board member’s job is to ensure policies are in place and to hire the superintendent while ensuring that they are following those policies,” Wilson says. “School board members do not have expertise in pedagogy.” n coltonr@inlnader.com

MARCH 28, 2024 INLANDER 17

VICTORY TASTES SO SWEET

Gonzaga’s men and women are still dancing in the NCAA Basketball Tournaments’ Sweet 16s

HOMETOWN MAGIC

In front of a pair of packed and raucous crowds at the Kennel, the Gonzaga women won two games and propelled themselves into the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in program history and the first time since 2015.

It was a destiny that this fantastic team not only deserved, but fully earned on their home court. The Zags have been consistent winners for years, but again and again they’d missed breaking through to the tourna-

ment’s second weekend. But this team would not be denied.

A slow start in the opening round against a brutally physical 13-seed UC Irvine team on Saturday saw the 4-seed Zags trailing after the first quarter. However, things quickly turned into a blowout in favor of the home team. Gonzaga ended up winning 75-56.

Two days later, on Monday night against 5-seed Utah, the Zags overcame a slow start by brutalizing the Utes with a 19-to-3 run midway through the game to pull out of reach of the visitors from Salt Lake City. By

the time the run ended, Utah could only try in vain to claw back, but the sellout crowd was so deafening that the Utes stood little chance. Gonzaga won 77-66 and punched their ticket to a Sweet 16 date in Portland with 1-seed Texas on Friday.

A pair of wins in the Rose City would set this team apart from previous Gonzaga teams, as the women have never advanced beyond the Elite Eight. And now, the Final Four is just two wins away. (WM)

Gonzaga vs. Texas • Fri, March 29 at 7 pm • ESPN

SPORTS
Kaylynne Truong helped guide the Zags to two wins. ERICK DOXEY PHOTO
18 INLANDER MARCH 28, 2024

TURNAROUND KINGS

Two months ago the Gonzaga men might’ve been a safer bet to miss the NCAA Tournament than make the Final Four.

Now? The Zags are playing like one of the best teams in the country.

In 24 years at the helm of GU, this is Coach Mark Few’s most impressive midseason turnaround.

The Bulldogs breezed through the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament last week in Salt Lake City. Against trendy upset pick McNeese State in the First Round, GU barely broke a sweat. It was clear within five minutes of game action that the Southland Champs had no shot of even making the game competitive. GU’s size and execution overpowered their foe. Anton Watson nearly had a triple double (12 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists) and Graham Ike shot a perfect 100% from the field (6-6). The Zags also shooting 47.6% from 3 was just the icing on the cake.

Saturday’s showdown with perennial power Kansas was much closer… for one half. The Jayhawks were winning 44-43 at halftime, but the undermanned KU squad got run out of the building in the final 20 minutes of the game, leading to a 82-68 Zags win. Again the Zags were electric behind the arc (53.3%), and four of five starters notched 15+ points.

The Zags now face off against 1-seed Purdue in the Sweet 16 on Friday evening in Detroit. The two teams squared off at the Maui Invitational at the start of the season, with the Boilermakers winning 73-63. But that game was far tighter than the score indicated. Gonzaga led at half and were still within a bucket with under seven minutes to play despite shooting an abysmal 6-32 (18.8%) from 3. If the Zags can shoot even mediocre from deep, pressure Purdue’s guards, and stay out of foul trouble caused by giant and soon-to-be two-time National Player of the Year Zach Edey, they have a legit chance of advancing to the Elite Eight and potentially having a date in the Final Four this time next week. (SS) n

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Anton Watson had two of his best games to ignite the Bulldogs. GONZAGA ATHLETICS PHOTO

An Unlikely Match

My Fair Lady highlights the willpower and heart of a girl embarking on a journey to transform her life

Be transported to 1912 London with Best of Broadway Spokane’s next production, My Fair Lady, a tale of transformation, tenacity and friendship.

The musical’s main character is Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower vendor who embarks on a journey to transform into a proper lady through the coaching of linguistics professor Henry Higgins.

Based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion, My Fair Lady premiered on Broadway in 1956 starring Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison, with a film version starring Harrison and Audrey Hepburn released in 1964.

This production of My Fair Lady, coming from New York City’s esteemed Lincoln Center Theater, stars Anette Barrios-Torres as Eliza Doolittle. The Miami native and recent graduate of Oklahoma City University is making her national touring debut with the show.

Barrios-Torres studied musical theater and had previously worked with My Fair Lady’s touring company conductor, who suggested she audition for the role.

“The whole process for me happened in three days from first callback to final callback, and all on Zoom and tape,” she says. “It was kind of insane, but I’m so grateful that it happened.”

Barrios-Torres says this production is particularly special to her because My Fair Lady was her favorite movie as a child.

“I used to collect different editions of the original play by Shaw and became really fascinated with the film and tried to find bootlegs from the original musical with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison,” she says. “What Wicked was to a lot of kids, My Fair Lady was to me.”

While it uses the original My Fair Lady script, BarriosTorres says this production highlights Doolittle’s agency in the story a bit more.

“We definitely have, I think, shifted some of the perspective to fit the intention of Eliza really being the boss in this story, where I think the film is presented in a way that makes it feel like this happened to Eliza when she kind of happened to it,” Barrios-Torres says. “I think it really shines a light on the things she’s able to make happen.”

Barrios-Torres says that Doolittle’s story of searching for a home and somewhere she belongs is something many people can relate to, and that the character inspires her in many ways.

“I really love her ferocity, and I think it’s something that I sometimes lack in my own life or feel and don’t

express, so I have a really exciting outlet where all of that can go,” she says. “She feels everything so deeply and is usually quite plain about her emotions and lets them be known.”

Anyone who’s watched the musical or film of My Fair Lady knows that Doolittle’s character is loud, particularly in the beginning. Barrios-Torres says she’s been grateful to have good coaches working alongside her during the show.

“This role is a monster,” she says. “She’s so difficult, and singing and screaming eight times a week is definitely something that has tested my stamina and my technique, but it’s been something that I’m so grateful I’ve been able to keep up with.”

The production also features a full-size orchestra accompanying the actors with the original 1956 arrangements, and the audience can expect to hear My Fair Lady’s iconic songs including “Wouldn’t it be Loverly?” and “The Rain in Spain.”

“The music is just gorgeous,” Barrios-Torres says. “You don’t get to sing scores like this anymore, so we’re so fortunate to get to hear and sing this every night.”

Overall, the actress says the show is perfect for people who love the film and want to see Eliza’s character showcased in a slightly new way.

“I think My Fair Lady is as relevant and universal as it ever was, especially with the idea of highlighting the agency of women,” she says. “And without changing a single word of text, we are restoring Shaw’s original intention for the story.”

“It’s a night of very glittery and rugged nostalgia.” n

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CULTURE | THEATER
20 INLANDER MARCH 28, 2024
Playing Eliza Doolittle is a dream role for Anette Barrios-Torres. JOAN MARCUS PHOTO
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POVERTY FRANCHISE

It’s hard to be excited about the Mariners when their ownership clearly doesn’t care about winning

Amere 17 months ago, Seattle Mariners fans were on cloud nine. The team had ended a 21-year playoff drought. While the season didn’t end with a World Series appearance, hope abounded in Seattle. Center fielder Julio Rodríguez had become Major League Baseball’s brightest young star. The team had a youthful, exciting core to build around including catcher Cal Raleigh and ace pitchers Logan Gilbert and George Kirby. It looked like the Mariners were in prime position to be baseball’s next perennial contender.

But as the 2024 season opens this week, that once sunny optimism has been obscured by more than your average Seattle rain clouds.

After failing to capitalize on the momentum and missing the playoffs last year, M’s players and fans alike expressed how they desperately wanted ownership to spend more money on improving the roster. After all, the Mariners were a team in the bottom half of MLB spending despite being in a wealthy market with fan support.

So what did the Mariners do this offseason?

Well, they traded away starting third baseman Eugenio Suárez to dump salary. Then they traded away starting outfielder Jarred Kelenic… to dump salary. To complete the trilogy they traded away Cy Young winner Robbie Ray… to dump salary (but at least they got Mariners fav Mitch Haniger back in that deal). They also didn’t re-sign slugger Teoscar Hernandez.

After cutting that much salary, did they pony up for a superstar like Shohei Ohtani? Did they sign NL Cy Young and Seattle native Blake Snell — who openly expressed wanting to play for the Mariners? Nope. Nah. No chance.

The M’s signed a backup catcher (Mitch Garver), a reliever (Ryne Stanek), and a back-end starting pitcher (Austin Voth). That’s it. They eventually made small trades for second basemen Jorge Polanco and utilityman Samad Taylor, but that was hardly headline-making stuff.

Instead of building on the cheap young core, the Mariners es-

sentially sat the offseason out. In his January offseason report card story, ESPN’s David Schoenfield fittingly gave the M’s an F grade.

Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto had a lot of heat on him for his inaction, but he openly stated that ownership had placed financial limitations on what moves he could make.

And that’s the problem.

The Mariners ownership group is a joke. Principal owner John Stanton and the rest of the M’s brass have turned what should be a gem MLB team into a poverty franchise.

Fundamentally, you probably shouldn’t be a pro sports owner if you do not want to spend to win. Treat the companies that helped you amass wealth as a business, but you need to be willing to not make wild profits as a team owner. Especially in a rich market like Seattle, the lack of willingness to open up one’s pocketbook is embarrassingly pathetic.

Things were only made worse at a now infamous Mariners press conference after last year’s disappointing season. Dipoto practically shamed Mariners fans for not being stoked that the team was not contending, citing winning “54%” of games as the goal and further saying, “We’re actually doing the fan base a favor in asking for their patience to win the World Series while we continue to build a sustainably good roster.” Well any patience wasn’t rewarded at all this offseason, as the roster appears to be markedly worse than it was heading into Opening Day last season.

While it sucks to have a bad owner overseeing a terrible team, it’s not actually the worst situation you can be in as a fan. In those cases, it’s easy to just tune the team out. The actual worst thing is the Mariners’ current citation: a good team that’s full of promise... but owned by wildly out-of-touch cheapskates who care more about higher profits than winning on the field.

If the Mariners owners don’t care about winning, why should fans care about the Mariners? n

Seattle Mariners Opening Day vs. Boston Red Sox • Thu, March 28 at 7:10 pm • Root Sports

CULTURE | SPORTS
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Peace, Love and Best Of

Since the Inlander’s very first Best Of Readers Poll 31 years ago, it’s always been one of our most popular issues. Inlander readers are quick to pick it up and find out which local businesses, events and people made it to first place, hoping their own favorites are in the mix and to seek out other top-rated spots to visit. And anyone in the running is, of course, eager to see if they broke the top three.

Know who else is also excited, year after year, to find out and finally share the results? Us! After months of prep — deciding which of the nearly 200 questions will be on the ballot, launching the voting cycle, tallying the votes through our third-party, independent online system, assigning stories on the winners, designing the issue, and so much more — getting to see what our readers have chosen as the best of the Inland Northwest never ceases to be fun for the entire Inlander team.

And so here it is. There are brand new categories (like “Best Seltzer,” “Best Local Book of the Past Year” and “Best Candles”) along with several new inductees to the Hall of Fame, folks who’ve logged a total of 10 first-place wins. There are upsets, too, and even two local businesses that have won first place for 30 years straight — congrats to Domini Sandwiches and Auntie’s Bookstore! There’s tons more to reveal, including winners of reader-popular categories like the “Best New Restaurant” and “Best New Business” that opened here in the past year. Plus, we’ve again thrown some fun “bonus” questions into the mix, such as asking you all to chime in on who should have a Spokane street named after them.

Each year, the Best Of issue is the Inlander’s extra special gift to the community — a supersized celebration of this place we call home. We can’t wait for you to see what’s inside.

WRITERS

Eliza Billingham, E.J. Iannelli, Lucy Klebeck, Will Maupin, Anne McGregor, Ted S. McGregor Jr., Ashlyn Norris, Madison Pearson, Colton Rasanen, Renee Sande, Nate Sanford, Summer Sandstrom (denoted as SSa), Chey Scott (CS), Carrie Scozzaro (CSz), Carrie Shriver (CSh), Seth Sommerfeld (SS), Samantha Wohlfeil

Nicholas

BEST OF COVER ARTIST

Cody Thomas

PHOTOGRAPHERS

Leslie Douglas, Erick Doxey, Young Kwak

Cody is a local artist, graphic designer and photographer originally from Oregon. His aesthetic is heavily influenced by his antique store upbringing, which has led him to embrace a retro style — seen in his celebration of the 1970s vibe that’s evocative of Expo ’74. When not working on projects, he can often be found thrifting for inspiration with his wife or watching B horror movies. See his portfolio on Instagram (@codythomasdesign) and at codythomasdesign.com.

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 3 WELCOME! Exceptional Homebuilding & Remodeling 509.475.2706 lonnie@builtontrust.org 2021 2021 BEST HOMEBUILDER BEST HOME REMODELER Thank You Inlander voters! CONTENTS FOOD .......................................... 4 MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT ........... 32 NIGHTLIFE & DRINK LOCAL ......... 42 SANDPOINT ................................ 64 ARTS & CULTURE ......................... 66 SHOPPING .................................. 74 SPORTS & REC ............................. 88 THE PALOUSE .............................. 98 HOME & SERVICES ...................... 100 HEALTH & BEAUTY ...................... 110
EDITORS
Deshais,
COPY EDITOR
Frisella ART DIRECTION Ali Blackwood
Chey Scott
Chris

BEST BURGERS

Wisconsinburger

Tim Ahern is about to celebrate his 10th anniversary as head chef and culinary mastermind at Wisconsinburger. And now his restaurant has hit 10 years as purveyors of Best Burgers.

The restaurant opened in 2014, on a quiet residential street in Spokane’s South Perry neighborhood. A lot has changed over the years, but Ahern says the restaurant’s goal of high-quality burgers with Midwest flavor remains the same.

“We try to serve it as fresh and as delicious as possible,” he says.

Wisconsinburger has 10 different burgers on its menu and a weekly special created by Ahern. The burgers come with a variety of flavor combinations featuring ingredients like jalapeños, mushrooms, bacon-jam, cheese curds and more. The menu also has several sliders and house sausages.

Ahern’s favorite burger is the Pulaski. It’s simple: Just the patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion ring topped with ranch dressing. The chef first put the burger on the menu as a weekly special shortly after the death of celebrity chef and author Anthony Bourdain.

“He had said a couple times that was his favorite kind of burger,” Ahern says. “That was my homage towards him.”

The burger was a hit and became a regular fixture on Wisconsinburger’s menu.

The coolest thing about burgers, Ahern says, is their versatility.

“It’s super similar to pizza. You can pretty much throw anything on and nine times out of 10 you’re going to nail it,” Ahern says. “You have to match the flavor profile with beef, of course, but generally it creates a pretty wide field.”

4 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024

The flexibility of burgers gives Ahern a lot of room for creativity. He’s originally from the Southwest, and sometimes experiments with spices and other Southwestern flavors.

“That’s part of what I really love about my job,” he says. “I have this opportunity to experiment with a lot of different things.”

Ahern will cook a burger well-done if somebody requests it, but he thinks medium rare is the ideal way to bring out the juiciness and flavor in the meat.

“When you nail it, it’s like butter,” he says.

Almost everything at Wisconsinburger is made in-house from scratch. Ahern uses Washington Premium Angus beef that’s ground fresh on site every morning.

“It takes a lot of work to accomplish it, but I believe it shows in the finished product,” he says. “What we serve on the plate is a step above what most people do just because we put that extra effort into it.”

— NATE SANFORD

2nd PLACE: Durkin’s Liquor Bar

3rd PLACE: Cascadia Public House

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Roger’s Ice Cream & Burgers, Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 5 catering thank you for voting us spokane's best tacos & margs! second best?? ( )
Wisconsinburger has it all: burgers, beer and cheese curds. ERICK DOXEY PHOTOS

BEST ARTISAN BREAD THE GRAIN SHED 

There are so many things that make Grain Shed’s bread unique. The ingredients are thoughtfully sourced, emphasizing grains grown as nearby as Endicott, Washington. Loaves are distinct, from fragrant Oatis sourdough to spicy Vollkornbrot rye, to nutty and slightly sweet cherry pecan. Consistency and nutritive value are ensured through freshly milled flour and a meticulously monitored baking process. This was the vision chef-turned-baker Shaun Thompson Duffy evolved from his original Culture Breads into the Grain Shed, co-founded by brewers Teddy Benson, Joel Williamson and Palouse Heritage farms’ Don Scheuerman. More than just bread, the Grain Shed also includes a brewery, a business incubator — check out Texas-inspired food utilizing Grain Shed’s baked goods at Locos in Hillyard — and a place for people to connect and create community. (CSz)

2nd PLACE: Rind and Wheat; 3rd PLACE: Great Harvest; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Back Pocket Bakery & MAK Bread, Coeur d’Alene

BEST DESSERT MiFLAVOUR

Whether you go to their storefront on Sprague or find one of their treats in a local grocery store, you don’t want to miss out on the delicious macarons and other French pastries prepared by the miFlavour staff. Their raspberry cheesecake macarons? The perfect indulgent pick-me-up for any “treat yo’ self” moment. Their mirror glaze mousses? Beautiful. Not into sweets? They’ve even got savory croissant sandwiches. Find everything from chocolate bars to macaron ice cream sandwiches at this popular dessert shop. (SW)

2nd PLACE: Birdie’s Pie Shop, Hayden, Post Falls and Spokane; 3rd PLACE: Breaüxdoo Bakery

BEST SUSHI

UMI KITCHEN & SUSHI BAR

“Umi, oh my, I’m a fool for you, baby!” Ok, that might not be exactly what Lulu sings. But it’s the song this city’s been singing this past year while digging into Las Vegas rolls, Kobe beef rolls, and, of course, the Spokane roll at this uber popular Kendall Yards sushi spot. Chefs Tong Liu and Haru Wang have captured the hearts of seafood lovers across the Northwest with their killer knife skills and unstoppable creativity — East Coasters are tempted by the baked lobster roll, and raw fish skeptics can join in the fun with the First Love roll with banana tempura and coconut cream. This is the stuff of simp-y love songs for sure. (EB)

2nd PLACE: Sushi.com; 3rd PLACE: QQ Sushi & Kitchen; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Syringa Japanese Cafe, Coeur d’Alene

BEST BAKERY Rocket Bakery 

“BEST cookies, BEST coffees, Rocket Bakery is our family’s all-time favorite!” (Tami M.); “Best German chocolate cake I’ve ever had!” (Elizabeth N.); Love the lemon bread.” (Tracy S.); “PINK COOKIES!” (Louise L.)

2nd PLACE: miFLAVOUR; 3rd PLACE: The Grain Shed;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Birdie’s Pie Shop, Post Falls and Hayden

BEST RAMEN

Nudo Ramen House

“Amazing and modern without losing authentic and top-notch flavor and service! Big fan, appreciate their accommodations for allergies as well.” (Cynthia R.); “Kale noodles! Veggie broth! Perfect for a cold winter day.” (Tiana F.); “Eating the perfectly balanced flavors in those housemade bowls of noodly goodness in the cozy atmosphere served by very chill servers makes it even more soothing and filling.” (Al P.)

2nd PLACE: King of Ramen; 3rd PLACE: Little Noodle;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Syringa Japanese Cafe, Coeur d’Alene

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READER COMMENTS
BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 7

Sorella

My friend texted me a few weeks ago: “I’ve been wanting to try that new restaurant in Kendall Yards with the pictures. What’s it called again?”

I knew what she was talking about immediately. She was thinking of the gorgeous, golden gallery wall in Sorella, Lauren Blumenthal’s new Italian restaurant on the east end of Summit Parkway’s shopping and dining strip.

Because even if you’ve never been inside, you know how beautiful Sorella is just from glancing through the windows. It’s memorable to passersby and Inlander readers alike, who voted Sorella the best restaurant that opened in the past year.

“I had waited so long to open that I was just so anxious to get people in,” Blumenthal says. “The only thing I

cared about was opening the doors. I knew I put my best foot forward and poured my entire heart and soul into that place. I truly believed that whatever was supposed to happen with it would happen. I’m lucky enough that it has been so successful. It truly has exceeded any and all expectations.”

It’s not just luck that has kept the reservation book full. There’s the thoughtfulness of the decor — handpicked, thrifted glassware and wall hangings glittering over the perfect shade of teal green. There’s the thoughtfulness of the menu, which offers a variety of price points for different meals — salads for under $10, pastas for under $20, entrees under $50, and a steak that goes for over $100 for a really special occasion.

And there’s the thoughtfulness of Blumenthal, who seats many of the guests herself — always relaxed and

poised, the perfect hostess quickly putting guests at ease.

“I’ve done almost every role there is to do [in a restaurant] leading up to this point,” she says. “I don’t think that just because I opened a place of my own that that should stop. It gives me an opportunity to have a personal experience with the guest, for one. And two, I think it opens up the opportunity for the staff to trust me more.”

Through the exhaustion of a restaurant’s first year, Blumenthal worked to keep herself inspired by experimenting with new ideas to improve guest and staff experiences.

“I think it’s like any serious relationship or parenting — it’s not going to be all good all the time,” she says. “But at the end of the day it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and continue to do.”

With such immediate success, some restaurateurs might start dreaming about new projects or possibilities. But Blumenthal isn’t too hung up on the future.

“I think it’s very healthy to have goals. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here,” she says. “But I also think that people get very caught up in thinking too far ahead. I really do try my best to focus on the day to day — I’m really not worried about what happens tomorrow.”

There is, however, something on her mind.

“Sorella will expand in its own way” is all Blumenthal will say.

2nd PLACE: House of Brunch

3rd PLACE: Zozo’s Sandwich House NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Parallel 47, Hayden

8 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 Thanks, Spokane, for awarding us The Best 3RD & DIVISION • SPOKANE, WA BEST Cheap Eats! 23 Time Inlander Best Of Winner!
Sorella serves tasty pasta in a pretty setting. YOUNG KWAK PHOTOS BEST NEW RESTAURANT

BEST CUPCAKES

Sweet Frostings Blissful Bakeshop

Using high quality ingredients and giving extra attention to detail, Sweet Frostings produces cupcakes and other baked goods worth every bite.

“I think having that professional level of service and high expectations sets us apart from a grocery store or home baker,” says manager Jessica Winfrey.

Winfrey’s mother Sally Winfrey started Sweet Frostings in 2011 after a friend, Judy Rozier Beebe, approached her about starting their own cupcake store selling higher-quality sweets than one could typically find via the grocery store or baking mix. Now they’ve logged 10 years of first-place wins.

Sally, who’s been baking for 40 years, had worked as a merchandiser in grocery stores for years.

“I sold mixes and fillings and things that weren’t made with real quality ingredients,” she says.

Sweet Frostings, on the other hand, uses real ingredients and tries to buy from local farms and businesses as often as possible.

“We use real heavy cream, we use real vanilla, real cocoa, real Belgian chocolate,”

Sally says. “I think that what’s helped our longevity is being consistent and trying to sell the best product humanly possible.”

Sally brought Jessica on board shortly after opening Sweet Frostings. The mother-daughter team caters to a variety of dietary needs, offering gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free and vegan options.

“We work really hard on educating our staff so that they can also help guide people,” Jessica says.

“Everything’s made from scratch, [but if] we make mistakes, if somebody says, ‘Hey, this cupcake is dry’ or something like that, we’ll remake it,” Jessica says. “Our goal is to make everyone happy.”

Sweet Frostings also offers a wide range of customization choices for its cakes and cupcakes.

“We come out with all sorts of fun, beautiful cookies, but if you want a rock-and-roll, country disco ball theme, we’ll make that for you,” Jessica says. “That’s kind of what we’ve always specialized in, doing that extra customization.”

Sweet Frostings sells cakes, cupcakes, cookies, macarons, pastries and even home decorating kits, plus coffee and a variety of party supplies at its stores: downtown’s flagship location and a second shop in North Spokane.

“If you really need your grandma’s baking, but grandma’s in a different state and you need it right now and you’re not going to make it yourself, then come to Sweet Frostings,” Jessica says.

2nd PLACE: Breaüxdoo Bakery

3rd PLACE: Nothing Bundt Cakes

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Stacie’s Cakes, Post Falls

10 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
Serving up Scandinavian and Traditional style breakfasts 7640 N Division St • Spokane oldeuropeanbreakfast.com 517 N. Pines • Spokane Valley littleeurorestaurant.com Best Breakfast
Sweet Frostings’ treats have a signature look and flavor. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
2021
Team 2024 Team 2024

BEST BBQ OUTLAW BBQ & CATERING 

With its foundation as a catering company, the likelihood is high that you’ve experienced the deliciousness that is Outlaw BBQ at a company event or big family get-together. Meat so tender you can cut it with a fork. Yummy sides like savory bacon ranch potato salad or cheesy cornbread. And plenty of sauce, from tangy “yella” to a not-too-spicy PNW red, both available for purchase by the bottle in case you have a hankering to try your hand at barbecue. But why would you? Find totally legit barbecue at any of four locations: a carryout-only spot on the South Hill, plus sit down service on the North Side, in Spokane Valley and the newest collaboration, an event space with Brick West Brewing Co. downtown. (CSz)

2nd PLACE: TT’s Old Iron Brewery and BBQ;

3rd PLACE: Longhorn Barbecue; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Relic Smokehouse and Pub, Coeur d’Alene

BEST DONUTS DONUT PARADE

Doughnut cravings can strike at any time, morning, noon, or in the middle of the night. Thankfully, Donut Parade is open 24/7 to satisfy any sweet tooth. Located on North Hamilton, a short drive from Gonzaga University or the NorthTown mall, Donut Parade makes tried-and-true favorites like melt-in-your-mouth maple bars, old fashioned or blueberry cake doughnuts, cinnamon swirl, jelly and custard-filled, and apple fritters. Or, maybe like a doughnut that’s a little bit different, like the savory-sweet combo of a maple bacon bar, or a chocolate bar covered in M&M’s and pretzel pieces. Buy them individually or splurge and treat yourself (and maybe share with your friends or family) to a dozen delicious doughnuts. (CSh)

2nd PLACE: Fluffy’s Donuts To Go;

3rd PLACE: Retro Donuts; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Gross Donuts, Post Falls

BEST PIE

BIRDIE’S PIE SHOP

There’s a good chance you or someone you know is a “frequent pie-er” at this sweet, nostalgic local chain. Owner Sharee Moss and her “pie chicks” consistently churn out the area’s favorite pies, from 11-inch family-sized crusts to perfectly miniature pie bites. Traditional flavors are always available, from a savory chicken pot pie to the sweet tooth-satisfying apple, triple berry, pecan, and key lime. But Birdie’s keeps it fun with rotating daily flavors at all three shops across North Idaho and Spokane, with plenty of gluten-free options to boot. You’ll feel just as at home in Birdie’s Pie Shop as you would in Grandma Birdella’s ovenwarmed kitchen. (EB)

2nd PLACE: Bean & Pie; 3rd PLACE: Cyrus O’Leary’s Pies

READER COMMENTS

BEST BOBA BocoPOP

“The coolest owners! Amazing customer experience. Funny Instagram.” (Bobby E.); “They have the sweetest staff and the softest, chewiest tapioca.” (Ari B.); “The absolute best boba within a good five-hour radius.” (Owen W.)

2nd PLACE: Black Straw Tea Bar & Kitchen; 3rd PLACE: Poke Express and Boba Tea Time; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Awaken Coffee, Coeur d’Alene

BEST CAKES

Nothing Bundt Cakes

“I could eat these cakes every day. They are so moist and soft and delicious. The strawberries and cream is an absolute favorite.” (Kendall F.); “My mother schedules her whole week around visiting this cake shop.” (Heather H.); “Mini bundt cakes — you can try them all!” (Tina M.)

2nd PLACE: Sweet Frostings; 3rd PLACE: Just American Desserts; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Village Bakery, Hayden

BEST PIZZA Market Street Pizza

“LOVE every one of their wood-fired pizzas that I’ve tried (and it’s a lot), but I love the LuLu the most — the hot honey and eggs on top make this a killer pizza.” (Beth R.); “Two words… Italian frybread. This place has it all, and the flavors are outstanding.” (Michelle G.); “Their fermented dough really makes them stand out.” (Sheila B.)

2nd PLACE: The Flying Goat; 3rd PLACE: Versalia Pizza

12 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 2021
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BEST CHEAP EATS

Frugals

It was June 1988. Walt Disney Pictures and Steven Spielberg were releasing Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The UEFA Euro football tournament was being hosted in West Germany. James Hansen, a NASA scientist, warned Congress about this new idea called human-caused climate change. The average cost of a hamburger was under $1. And people were flocking to drive-thrus.

When Port Angeles, Washington-based entrepreneurs Peter and Sheila Stewart analyzed the burger industry, they took note of the drive-thru craze. So they opened the first Frugals, a small fast-food joint with a double drive-thru. The design would cut down on overhead costs and keep food prices down, even though they focused on high-quality ingredients and never-frozen beef.

The concept was a winner, and Frugals expanded to Tacoma in 1990, Auburn in 2000, and Kalispell, Montana, in 2001, with other locations popping up in Montana over the years until Spokane’s own Frugals opened in March 2022.

Jessa Morris started as a supervisor when the joint first opened two years ago in the old Wolffy’s Hamburgers location on North Hamilton. Now she’s the general manager overseeing the whole tiny establishment, from the 11 barstools that line the counter to the open kitchen and the still-popular drive-thru

window. Line cooks at the grill and dressing station have to stand back-to-back to fit in the little kitchen, but it’s always good vibes, Morris says.

“Everyone likes the 1950s look,” she says. “Everyone’s in a good mood. When Zag students walk in, we know them all by name and get their food going before they even order.”

It’s no secret that dining out costs are skyrocketing, and groceries aren’t far behind. But at Frugals, you can still get a chicken sandwich or a quarter-pound hamburger with an all beef patty for $4.95, or a cheeseburger for under $6. There’s not many places where you can get a full meal with fries and a drink for just a sawbuck. But at Frugals, it’s their mission to keep their original low-cost, low-price mission alive.

“It helps those that are struggling in the world,” Morris says.

Frugals is a throwback to simpler times, like 1950s optimism and small, local chains. But one thing has changed since the first Frugals more than 35 years ago — a lot of people want to stop in, say hi, or hang out. In fact, more people walk into the tiny diner than go through the drive-thru, Morris says.

2nd PLACE: Dick’s Hamburgers

3rd PLACE: Zip’s Drive-in

14 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
Frugals fills you up without emptying your wallet. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
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BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 15

BEST INTERIOR DESIGN OF A RESTAURANT STEAM PLANT RESTAURANT & BREW PUB

Organic design in an industrial space? Yes, if you consider that the Steam Plant Restaurant & Brew Pub’s eye-catching interior is a natural evolution of the 108-year-old building’s primary function as a power source for Spokane’s downtown core. In 1996, rather than tear down or tile over the interior gizmos and gadgetry, owners renovated the interior to incorporate those unique industrial qualities of the multitiered space. In 2018, HDG Architecture added its touch with a new bar, booths and tables. And it’s not just the Steam Plant’s interior that intrigues visitors. There’s nothing quite like seeing the former plant’s twin stacks lit up at night. (CSz)

2nd PLACE: Sorella; 3rd PLACE: Wooden City; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Beverly’s, Coeur d’Alene Resort

BEST HOT WINGS FLAMIN’ JOE’S

Every chicken wing needs a good sauce, one that is thoroughly coated so every bite becomes something you’ll want to tell your friends about. At Flamin’ Joe’s, it’s well-known that their wings will leave diners licking their fingers. With 22 different homemade sauces, including the original buffalo sauce, which offers eight levels of spice, it’s OK to get saucy. With an additional six dry rubs to choose from, there’s always something to try. Choose traditional wings, jumbo drumsticks or boneless wings with a sauce, or dry rub of your choice in a pack of six, 12, 18 or 24 wings. You can feed multiple people or just one, but with flavors like these, it’ll be hard to share. (AN)

2nd PLACE: Market Street Pizza;

3rd PLACE: The Flying Goat; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Capone’s, CDA, Post Falls and Hayden

BEST CHICKEN SANDWICH  LOGAN TAVERN

It’s hard to beat a house-battered chicken sandwich, that fried tangy buttermilk mixture creating the perfect crunch in every bite, and lettuce, pickles and fry sauce rounding out the flavorful balance. Logan Tavern’s buttermilk crispy chicken sandwich clearly hits that mark for Inlander readers, who voted it the best this year, and last year, and the year before that… For those who feel a little more adventurous, “make it sexy” as their menu says, and add Cajun honey butter, Nashville hot sauce or Buffalo sauce. (SW)

2nd PLACE: Cascadia Public House; 3rd PLACE: Wooden City; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Izzy’s Comfort Kitchen, Coeur d’Alene

BEST CATERER BEACON HILL CATERING & EVENTS

Finding the perfect location for a special event is hard enough, but adding catering to the mix can be a lot more of a hassle. At Beacon Hill Catering and Events, party planners can let their worries go and enjoy breathtaking views paired with delicious food; of course, they’ll also come to your venue, too. Founded in 1997 on 200 acres of foothills in northeast Spokane, Beacon Hill has outlasted changing trends. Since no two events are the same, each menu is also carefully crafted by its expert chefs to suit any style of event, from formal weddings to casual daytime parties and everything in between. And for those hungering for Beacon’s delectable bites after a first, second or third introduction, the caterer continues to offer its pandemic-created “Beacon at Home” take-home meals. (AN)

2nd PLACE: London’s Ultimate Catering;

3rd PLACE: Compassion Catering; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Graze and Rosé, Coeur d’Alene

16 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024

READER COMMENTS

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST PIZZA

Embers POST FALLS AND HAUSER

“Embers is one of kind! Unique, authentic pizza served by some of the best servers in the industry.” (Linda C.); “Their Gluten-Free Vegan is the best around!” (Louise D.)

BEST BAGELS

Hidden Bagel 

“I’m from NYC, and I know bagels. Hidden Bagel knows what they’re doing — chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Just like they do it back home.” (Wendy O.); “The veggie breakfast sammie is incredible!” (Aly R.); “Hidden Bagel has changed my Spokane life!!” (Wendy L.)

2nd PLACE: Rocket Bakery; 3rd PLACE: Ultimate Bagel; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Back Pocket Bakery, Coeur d’Alene

BEST STEAKS

Churchill’s Steakhouse

“They cook fine steaks to perfection. Service is extraordinary. Dishes and cutlery are delightful.” (Bob F.); “The filet mignon.” (Gary K.); “Best steak I’ve had, and I’ve had steaks at some of the most highly rated places in the U.S. Churchill’s outshined them all.” (Lee W.)

2nd PLACE: Masselow’s Steakhouse; 3rd PLACE: Wolf Lodge Steakhouse, Coeur d’Alene

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 17 W. 703 Sprague • 509-747-2324 • www.dominispokane.com Thank you Spokane for voting us BEST SANDWICH in the Inland NW Now REOPEN and still serving the best! CELEBRATING 61 YEARS OF GREAT SANDWICHES!
Spokane & North Idaho’s rock alternative North Idaho’s best radio DJ! Thank you for voting Uncle L ry

ANTHONY’S

BEST SANDWICHES  DOMINI SANDWICHES

From fire to flood, nothing has stopped the fanfavorite Domini Sandwiches from serving up hefty lunchtime fare. Reopened March 11 after weeks spent repairing damage from frozen pipes, the restaurant is back at it, receiving its 30th Best Of award from Inlander readers. “We’ve got this huge following, and generations of people who’ve come in,” says owner Tom Domini. This is the restaurant’s 61st year, and since Expo ’74 it’s been known for sandwiches stacked high with quality meats and cheeses (don’t come looking for veggies) that wow guests with their size. Amazingly, after all these years, Domini says he still loves eating sandwiches, too. “It’s my favorite lunchtime food.” (SW)

2nd PLACE: Zozo’s Sandwich House;

3rd PLACE: The High Nooner;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Back Pocket Bakery, Coeur d’Alene

Eating at any of Anthony’s 32 locations throughout Washington, Idaho and Oregon offers the best features of any small, Washington-based chain restaurant plus the customized experience of a company committed to community. Its size and self-reliance on its own seafood company means Anthony’s can provide top-notch quality from its hearty New England clam chowder to Willapa Bay oysters to Northwest salmon. And yet each Anthony’s location is unique, too. In Spokane, enjoy the exciting view of the Spokane Falls, while the Coeur d’Alene location in the city’s Riverstone development features local art and a relaxing yet upscale environment. (CSz)

2nd PLACE: Zona Blanca Ceviche Bar; 3rd PLACE: Yummy Crab Seafood

18 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 2021 #1 Best New Biz One Brick at a Time Buy-Sell-Trade! Spokane’s only locally owned LEGO®-based shopping experience. 3915 N Monroe, Spokane (509) 743-8801 brickbuybrickspokane.com Thank You, Spo�ane!
30YEARS! Thanks
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for the Sweet Votes!

BEST SALADS TWIGS BISTRO

Salads can have a bad rap for being boring and bland, but Twigs Bistro uses high-quality and fresh ingredients to craft salads that will dazzle your taste buds. Take their pear and roasted beet salad or Insalada Mista, both of which incorporate sweet and tangy flavors into every bite, or their orange chicken salad with spiced cashews and crispy wontons that give a crunchy kick. Plus, the atmosphere at Twigs Bistro’s four Spokane-area locations and their list of specialty cocktails adds to diners’ experience, so whether you’re trying to eat healthier or just really love salad, check out where Best Of voters’ declared as the region’s best spot for salads. (SSa)

2nd PLACE: Caruso’s Sandwich & Artisan Pizza; 3rd PLACE: Cascadia Public House; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Dockside, Coeur d’Alene Resort

READER COMMENTS

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST STEAKS

Wolf Lodge Steakhouse

“Nothing better than a ribeye grilled over a wood fire! And the Rocky Mountain Oysters are a real delicacy!” (Ellen K.); “Large portions. Fun atmosphere.” (Barbara K.)

BEST FINE DINING

Wild Sage Bistro

“Wild Sage is always coming up with new and exciting dishes. They have a wonderful commitment to the highest quality ingredients and unique cocktails.” (Christine L.); “Amazing flavor combinations, entire menu is really good, able to advise and modify for gluten, dairy, corn, soy, etc. Service is superb!!” (Tim G.); “Great wine, taquitos and staff!” (Kyle S.)

2nd PLACE: Churchill’s Steakhouse; 3rd PLACE: Clinkerdagger; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Beverly’s at Coeur d’Alene Resort

BEST MILKSHAKE

Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle

“I live in the Valley and I drive to the Garland District for one of their shakes.” (Sharon G.); “The neighborhood vibe and the old-school feel can’t be beat!” (Patrick P.); “Mmmmmm… so creamy good, and they give you the mixer can to finish.” (Pamela P.)

2nd PLACE: Zip’s; 3rd PLACE: Roger’s Ice Cream & Burgers, Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 19
2021
Hamilton & Sharp in the GU District • great place to watch the game or grab some grub! We’re thrilled to be serving Spokane’s Best Chicken Sandwich and BEST Pub Food! Best Chicken Sandwich Best Pub Food 2021

BEST VEGAN FOOD

BEST VEGETARIAN FOOD RÜT BAR & KITCHEN 

Vegetarian or vegan comfort food like wings, burgers, fries or pasta might sound paradoxical, but “good food that caters to everyone’s tastes” is at the root of what RÜT Bar & Kitchen does, says chef and co-owner Josh Lorenzen, who opened RÜT with Justin Oliveri in 2019. Add abundant gluten-free options, an upbeat vibe, excellent service, and a bangin’ happy hour (3-5 pm daily) to the list of why RÜT is a go-to for all eaters. “I would venture to say that over 75 percent of our clientele is not vegan,” Lorenzen adds. (CSz)

BEST VEGAN FOOD

2nd PLACE: Taco Vado; 3rd PLACE: Boots Bakery & Lounge; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Heart Bowls, Sandpoint

BEST VEGETARIAN FOOD

2nd PLACE: Mizuna; 3rd PLACE: Cascadia Public House; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Mango Tree, Coeur d’Alene

BEST INDIAN FOOD THE MANGO TREE

In the earliest Hindu scriptures, the mango tree and its fruit are considered sacred. Six thousand years later, the Mango Tree restaurant is continuing the tradition of delicious food and intimate, secluded dining experiences across Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. Their curries, biryanis and samosas have earned crowds of dedicated followers. Butter chicken poutine, naanchos, Indian kitchen fries and the chicken malai sandwich have changed the way many think about ordinary life. If you’re looking for something delicious, unique, luxurious and celebratory, do as the masses do and savor the spice and sweetness of the Mango Tree. (EB)

2nd PLACE: Karma Indian Cuisine; 3rd PLACE: Taste of India

BEST ITALIAN FOOD ITALIA TRATTORIA

In the midst of Browne’s Addition, Italia Trattoria has taken the hearts of Best Of voters with a love for Italian cuisine. With house-made pasta, locally sourced and seasonal produce, and a frequently changing menu, there’s always something new and fresh to try. Diners can expect to find classic dishes like spaghetti and meatballs or gnocchi, as well as more adventurous choices like squid ink fettuccine. Plus, Italia serves weekend brunch; their popular menu includes fresh pastries, eggs benedict, hashes and more, so you can satisfy your cravings for Italian food morning or night. (SSa)

2nd PLACE: Tavolata; 3rd PLACE: Tomato Street; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Angelo’s Ristorante, Coeur d’Alene

READER COMMENTS

BEST BURRITOS Atilano’s

“They by far are the best. They have several different choices, most of all they are gigantic!” (Annee S.); “Fresh made and a great value. You won’t walk away hungry!” (Jami H.); “The fajita burrito is the perfect pick-me-up.” (Josh C.)

2nd PLACE: De Leon’s Taco & Bar; 3rd PLACE: Neato Burrito

BEST THAI FOOD Kuni’s Thai Cuisine 

“The best food! So many choices, and they will modify or change anything you request.” (Jane G.); “The best Thai food I have eaten in Eastern Washington! Owner even came up to my table and asked how the food tasted.” (Irene C.); “They have fresh rolls, and the Pad See Ew is fantastic!” (Hayley C.)

2nd PLACE: Thai Bamboo, Spokane and Coeur d’Alene;

3rd PLACE: Bangkok Thai

20 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
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BEST PHO PHO VAN

Some heralds of spring never change. The South Hill turkeys start nibbling early sprouts. You forget about Daylight Saving Time. Pho Van wins Best Pho. Don’t mess with how the world works, OK? What makes a good bowl of pho stays the same, too — countless hours simmering homemade broth, fresh, crunchy veggies and superbly slurpable noodles. Even your subpar chopstick skills can’t keep you away from this delightful year-round dish. Bask in the comfort of a hot bowl of soup and the knowledge that a few precious things stay constant in this world of unending chaos. (EB)

2nd PLACE: Vien Dong; 3rd PLACE: Vina Asian Restaurant; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Pho Le 1, Coeur d’Alene

BEST TAKEOUT NOODLE EXPRESS

Before the pandas arrived in the region, there was Noodle Express, with sauces and slaws that inspired frantic internet searches to scoop the restaurant’s secret ingredients. Available for both dine-in and to-go orders — try the party “pans” to feed a crowd — Noodle Express has built a loyal following for its savory rice and noodle bowls, salads, wraps, soups, and appetizers like garlic green beans and savory potstickers. You can find their Asian-inspired fast casual food in Airway Heights, Spokane, Spokane Valley and Hayden, Idaho, so the only searching you need to do now is with Google maps. (CSz)

2nd PLACE: Feast World Kitchen; 3rd PLACE: Kuni’s Thai Cuisine; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Thai Bamboo

BEST MARGARITA BEST MEXICAN FOOD DE LEON’S TACO & BAR 

Some business owners aspire to build empires. Sergio and Mayra De Leon have built communities. “We love what we do, love our customers and are so grateful for our amazing staff!” says Sergio De Leon. Since opening their namesake restaurant and grocery store in 2005, the company has since expanded to four Spokane locations and a newly opened restaurant in Coeur d’Alene. This year’s doublewin was especially exciting for the De Leons. “Voted Best Margarita made us jump for joy!” says Sergio, describing the popularity of their margarita flights. “We have such a vast variety of margaritas, and we are thrilled to see everyone enjoying them.” (CSz)

BEST MARGARITA

2nd PLACE: Cochinito Taqueria; 3rd PLACE: El Que; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Terraza Waterfront Cafe, CdA

BEST MEXICAN FOOD

2nd PLACE: Molé Restaurant; 3rd PLACE: Rancho Chico; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Nadine’s Mexican Kitchen, Rathdrum

READER COMMENTS

BEST CHARCUTERIE BOARD Wanderlust Delicato

“Wanderlust is the best place to check out new cheese along with all the delicious wine. The owner, Amber, is so hospitable — you will want to come back over and over again.” (Marina M.); “They have the best quality choices and can make your board right there!” (LeeAnne R.)

2nd PLACE: Boards By Brit; 3rd PLACE: Krafted Eats; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Stylus Wine and Vinyl Bar, CdA

BEST FROZEN YOGURT Didier’s Yogurt & More

“Love the medium on Tuesdays special.” (Linda R.); “Love the owner… the workers, and the yogurt is delicious.” (Molly C.); “Gimme some of that huckleberry froyo!” (Sherry J.)

2nd PLACE: Froyo Earth;

3rd PLACE: Blu Berry Frozen Yogurt; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: 32 Below Frozen Yogurt & More, CdA

BEST GLUTEN-FREE Cole’s Bakery & Cafe

“The only true GF restaurant and bakery.” (Jeff T.); “Nice variety.” (Robin C.); “GF Fish and Chips!” (Karen W.)

2nd PLACE: Boots Bakery; 3rd PLACE: Wild Sage Bistro; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Izzy’s Comfort Kitchen

22 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
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BEST TACOS

 COCHINITO TAQUERIA

When longtime chefs Justin Curtis and Travis Dickinson opened the downtown Spokane location of Cochinito Taqueria in 2020, they turned heads with both their business model and their food. Cochinito paired the best of fast-casual counter service with elements of fine dining, from locally sourced ingredients to elevated preparation of its dishes, especially tacos. Fried maitake mushroom, charred Spanish octopus and beef rib birria are just a few of the options in Cochinito’s array of tacos, all priced at $5.50 or below. In 2023, a second location in Hayden, Idaho, opened and gained them an even larger following of fans who think every day is a good day for tacos. (CSz)

2nd PLACE: De Leon’s Taco & Bar; 3rd PLACE: Indigenous Eats

BEST BRUNCH BRUNCHEONETTE

With a menu featuring a unique mix of southern flavors, from chilaquiles to shrimp and grits, as well as classic favorites like waffles and pancakes, Bruncheonette has been serving tasty brunch in Spokane since 2016. Like all great brunch places, they also take their morning cocktails seriously, with two dozen mimosa flavors and a wealth of spiked coffee options. The best part? You don’t have to wait for the weekend: They’re open for that delightful convergence of breakfast and lunch every day of the week between 7 am and 2 pm. (SW)

2nd PLACE: House of Brunch; 3rd PLACE: Chaps; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Dockside, Coeur d’Alene Resort

BEST OUTDOOR / PATIO DINING

OSPREY RESTAURANT & BAR

Tucked on the north bank of the Spokane River, overlooking a calm stretch of water near Division Street, Osprey’s patio offers a comfortable, modern space to enjoy a meal right on the river. With outdoor heating to keep the patio open even through the chilly months, the restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and a popular weekend brunch. It’s hard to find a better outdoor space to enjoy the blissful rays of the golden hour, with happy hour served daily from 2 pm to 5 pm. (SW)

2nd PLACE: No-Li Brewhouse;

3rd PLACE: Clinkerdagger;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Terraza Waterfront Grill, Coeur d’Alene

24 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024

BEST BREAKFAST

BEST EGGS BENEDICT FRANK’S DINER

As the most important meal of the day, breakfast in an inspiring location is even more nourishing. Make that two locations for Frank’s Diner: downtown and North Spokane, both housed in a restored vintage railroad car. You needn’t be a history buff to appreciate Frank’s Diner, but you do need to bring your appetite. In addition to omelets, baked goods and an assortment of generously portioned breakfast entrees, Frank’s is THE place for eggs benedict, with eight options ranging from the new Southern caprese benedict with fried green tomatoes to the Irish with house-made corned beef. Or make it a classic — English muffin, ham, eggs and hollandaise sauce — like Frank’s Diner itself. (CSz)

BEST BREAKFAST

2nd PLACE: Chaps;

3rd PLACE: Old European;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Chomper Cafe, Hayden

BEST EGGS BENEDICT

2nd PLACE: Bene’s, Cheney;

3rd PLACE: Chaps;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: (tie) Franklin’s Hoagies; Izzy’s Comfort Kitchen

READER COMMENTS

BEST CHINESE FOOD Mustard Seed

“They always have the best fusion dishes every time I go there, plus their Osaka dishes are the best, hands down!” (Joni G.);

“Halibut cheeks are the best!” (Maria T.); “Feel like Chinese? Mustard Seed is always tasty.” (Chris L.)

2nd PLACE: Red Dragon;

3rd PLACE: Gordy’s Sichuan Cafe; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Chinatown, CdA

BEST CANDY Spokandy 

“I love the history and the variety of goodies.” (Andrea C.); “My whole life, Spokandy all the way! Truffles and mints are the BEST!” (Ellen K.); “They are always the best place to get your holiday candy.” (Ray M.)

2nd PLACE: Bruttles Gourmet Candy Shoppe;

3rd PLACE: Halletts Chocolates;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Mrs. Honeypeeps Sweet Shop, CdA

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 25
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BEST ICE CREAM THE SCOOP

Best Nail Salon

Curing the sweet tooths of Spokane since 2003 doesn’t seem like an easy job, but the Scoop has continued to make it look effortless. Creamy and delicious ice cream is made fresh daily as imagination brings new recipes to a delectable reality. Among its recent flavor lineup are combos like strawberries and cream, pistachio pineapple marshmallow, and vegan cookies and cream. The Scoop’s flavors change frequently, offering many chances to find a new favorite, and two locations means double the opportunity to enjoy. Try location-specific options like the South Hill’s Dole soft serve or Kendall Yards’ bubble cones, or enjoy your ice cream in a classic waffle cone available at both stores. (AN)

2nd PLACE: Pete and Belle’s; 3rd PLACE: Doyle’s Ice Cream Parlor; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Roger’s Ice Cream & Burgers, Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls

BEST MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD EMRAN RESTAURANT & MARKET 

Food has been equated to many things — love, culture, community, adventure, medicine. Emran Restaurant & Market offers all that, with dishes that sing with love of food and family and an environment that celebrates the richness of Afghan culture. Place an order for crispy bolani, redolent with the fragrance of potato and leek; savory meatballs in thick red sauce; or the ancient country’s national dish, Kabuli pulau, and peruse the adjacent market while you wait. Or bring some friends and enjoy sharing in one of three carpeted, cushioned booths flooded with light and worlds away from busy Division outside this unique new Spokane gathering place. (CSz)

2nd PLACE: Skewers; 3rd PLACE: Baba; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: White House Grill, Post Falls

26 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 Embers by the Lake 12008 N Woodland Beach Drive Hauser, ID 83854 (208) 981-0533 Embers by the Green 4365 E Inverness Drive Post Falls, ID 83854 (208) 618-3388 Both locations are open Wednesday-Sunday 4pm-9pm We Love Your Votes, You’ll Love Our Pies NORTH IDAHO’S BEST PIZZA loss NAIL LOUNGE G Spokane’s Luxury Nail Lounge, Using Only High End Products 509-868-0915 1314
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NORTH IDAHO’S BEST MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD

White House Grill

An elderly couple are headed toward the door at White House Grill when they spot its chef hanging out at the bar.

“Wonderful,” the man says. “Delicious as usual. We’ll be back.”

Four regulars are sitting with the chef. One sips a dirty martini, as he does before every Wednesday afternoon bowling session. He’s been coming to White House Grill for the past 20 years. The two at the end have him beat by close to a decade — they’ve been regulars for almost 30 years, ever since the Mediterranean restaurant opened in 1996.

Yes, they come back for the Chilean sea bass and the blackened salmon. Or the calamari, which comes piled high on the plate. Or the sarmisak, a savory, extravagant dip that epitomizes the restaurant’s exaggerated love for garlic. But really, they come back for the chef, Raci Erdem.

Erdem makes people laugh. He left Turkey in 1990 for New York City when he finally took a good look at himself and realized he wasn’t going to be a professional soccer player — a childhood dream that came to a crashing halt because, well, “I sucked ass,” he says.

Erdem started out as a “coffee boy” in Brooklyn and fell in love with restaurants. He eventually also fell in love with a woman moving to Spokane, so he moved West, too. He started his own restaurant, White House Grill, in a small, white house on Spokane Street in Post Falls.

At first, he didn’t even realize his establishment shared a name with the most prominent

political building in the U.S. But when he opened a second restaurant and wanted to come up with a theme, he took advantage of the similarity. He opened up the Oval Office, a martini bar down the block from the White House Grill. The martini menu started featuring some pretty politically incorrect, pretty hilarious drinks.

There’s Princess Charles. Orange 2024. Obama’s Mama. Mexican Caravan. Purple Politician (“It’s not red, it’s not blue, it’s purple just for you!”).

“It’s poking the bear,” Erdem says. “Just to see people’s reaction to such a not important thing in my life.”

North Idaho may not seem like the perfect place to crack Trump jokes. But apparently, Post Falls can’t get enough.

“It became so popular that people wait for us to change our menu,” Erdem says, just because they want to see what potentially offensive names he’s come up with next.

Erdem pays attention to the people in his restaurant, not to reviews or awards. He even puts his cell number on the front of the menu — a direct line to the president! — so people can tell them what they think of him immediately.

But it’s almost all positive. People come back weekly, even daily, to chat and joke and relax.

“I love to laugh,” says the dirty martini drinker, who’s only delighted by Erdem’s hospitality.

“The most important thing to me is customers and how their experience is,” Erdem says. “Don’t try to make everyone happy. Just choose one thing and be good at it.”

28 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
White House Grill chef-owner Raci Erdem. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 29
30 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 2721 N Market St 11420 E Sprague Ave
BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 31 2021 Best Pizza BEST WINGS
FOR VOTING US Best Pizza
Thank You Spokane

BEST ESCAPE ROOM

Think Tank Escape Room A

fter they’ve successfully solved one of Think Tank Escape Rooms’ fully immersive puzzles, the most common question players ask staff is whether the downtown Spokane venue is part of a larger franchise.

It’s not.

“It’s humbling to hear that — it really is,” says Jeffrey Savelesky, who opened the venue in early 2019 with his wife, Jolene. “That’s the highest form of compliment I think we can get.”

If you’ve been to Think Tank, you probably get why people ask this. Yet Savelesky devised, designed, built and programmed each of its incredibly detailed and high-tech rooms.

“We’re tech-centric,” he says. “We have a lot of tech even if it doesn’t show, which is how we provide a really consistent game.”

A theme-park industry veteran of more than 30 years, Savelesky took his knowledge overseeing the construction of various rides and attractions to craft an experience at Think Tank that’s on par with some of the world’s most popular amusement venues. When players step inside one of its three themed rooms (a

32 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
Think Tank Escape Room owners Jolene and Jeffrey Savelesky ERICK DOXEY PHOTOS

fourth is expected to open later this spring), they feel truly transported to another world.

Without giving too much away, Think Tank’s most recently opened room, Space Mission Guardian, is set on a satellite space station. To complete the mission, players must first “travel” to the outpost, where they’re tasked with securing cryogenic vials of an antidote to a deadly virus spreading across the planet (a storyline actually crafted pre-COVID). Inside the puzzle, they’ll encounter airlock doors, flashing lights and buttons, levers, computer stations, and more.

An escape room enthusiast since the industry got going more than a decade ago, Savelesky says he and older family members began doing the challenges together to “keep mentally sharp.”

“I was looking to retire from being on the road all the time, and the two just lined up really well,” he says. “We thought, ‘OK, what are the things that we liked about them, and what are all the things we didn’t like.’ We didn’t think, ‘How can we outsmart a player in creating a puzzle that’s difficult to solve,’ but instead, ‘How do we take somebody out of their daily lives for an hour and give them an amazing experience that builds some camaraderie?’”

When it comes to the challenge at hand — escaping — Think Tank’s philosophy is to let players steer the ship. Rather than stump a group with complexity, players can ask for unlimited hints or, for an extra challenge, none at all. Time extensions are also sometimes possible. And if a group’s doing incredibly well on the clock, they’ll get extra challenges thrown at them since each room was designed to be adaptive while also offering a range of difficulty.

“My background is entertainment, not outsmarting people with puzzles,” Savelesky says. “We really want to create showpiece experiences, and for people to come here and go, ‘Wow, this is different than anything I’ve seen anywhere else.’ And hopefully, we’ve achieved that.”

2nd PLACE: Unit 55 Horror Games

3rd PLACE: 59:Escape Adventures, Post Falls

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 33 CDA • 751 N. 4th • (208) 667-4843 CDA (Ponderosa Golf Course) • 1291 N Galena Dr • (208) 664-1101 POST FALLS • 315 N Ross Point Rd • (208) 457-8020 HAYDEN • 9520 N. Government Way • (208) 762-5999 4 LOCATIONS! SPORTS BAR! HOT WINGS! BEST BEER GARDEN FULL BAR FRESH INGREDIENTS HOUSE MADE BREAD FAMILY FRIENDLY MORE TAPS THAN TABLES! CAPONESPUB.COM P-5913 All items subject to stock on hand. Prices and equipment brands subject to change. 12118 E Sprague Ave, • Spokane Valley, WA 99206 Phone: (509) 926-3646 Store Hours: Monday - Saturday 8:00am-6:00pm Sunday 10:00am - 4:00pm W 2803 Garland (Garland & Driscoll) Spokane, WA 99205 Phone: 328-0915 Store Hours: Monday - Saturday 7:30am-7:00pm Sunday 8:00am - 5:00pm Frame Shop Hours: Monday - Saturday 10:00am-7:00pm www.riverridgehardware.com www.petershardwarespokane.com 2021 Thanks for voting River Ridge Hardware ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS Join us for our #1 Peter’s Hardware 90th Anniversary April 5 • 9am-4pm River Ridge Hardware 70th Anniversary April 6 • 9am-4pm
Think Tank’s “Space Mission: Guardian” room has lots of high-tech elements.

BEST INDOOR CONCERT OF THE PAST YEAR FOO FIGHTERS  (SPOKANE ARENA, 8/4/23)

It may have felt like waiting everlong, but when the Foo Fighters finally stopped in Spokane for the first time in six years, fans experienced a triumphant marathon rock and roll set worthy of this honor. Dave Grohl and company treated the sold-out crowd to a blistering array of hits — “My Hero,” “The Pretender,” “Big Me” and so many more — that showcased why the band has ruled the modern rock landscape (bonus points for bringing along the Breeders to open the show). And for all the intense headbanging moments, the Foos also brought the emotion when paying tribute to their late drummer Taylor Hawkins with a rendition of “Aurora.” To mildly paraphrase the band, we got the best, the best, the best of Foo. (SS)

2nd PLACE: Macklemore (Spokane Arena, 10/10/23); 3rd PLACE: The Jonas Brothers (Spokane Arena, 11/7/23)

BEST BAND, MOSTLY COVERS TAMARACK RIDGE BAND

Because the Coeur d’ Alene music scene is a bit atypical, it’s honestly a rare occasion when Inlander readers vote a North Idaho musical act into our Best Of issues. But it’s easy to see why folks are drawn to CdA’s own Tamarack Ridge Band. Tapping into the Inland Nortwest’s love of both country and rock hits, the group’s renditions — mostly belted out by singer Lynette Cheri — go down smooth while also having a secret weapon most cover bands lack — strings. With Debbi Hahn on violin, TRB’s arrangements possess an element of freshness even when playing a song we’ve all heard hundreds of times. No matter if you catch them in a bar or as part of an outdoor concert series, Tamarack Ridge Band is likely to have you on your feet and swaying to your favs. (SS)

2nd PLACE: Bruiser;

3rd PLACE: Rusty Nail and the Hammers

BEST LOCAL SINGER-SONGWRITER BLAKE BRALEY

This may be Blake Braley’s first Best Of win, but he’s no stranger to Spokane’s live music scene. For the past eight years, Braley and three of his best friends have taken the Zola stage almost every Saturday night and created soulful sonic sorcery with a slate of funk-filled covers and originals to a crowd full of regulars who seek out his soulful stylings. Having released a self-titled EP in 2020 and a live album just this past February, Braley has even more good things coming as he hits the road this fall as a permanent member of Allen Stone’s band. Braley has made a name for himself here in his hometown of Spokane, and loyal listeners will undoubtedly follow his fervent voice no matter where his bright future takes him. (MP)

2nd PLACE: Matthew Joseph Hughes; 3rd PLACE: Allen Stone

34 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 Thanks for your support, Spokane! 829 E Boone Ave #E, Spokane • (509) 850-9292 • iespokane.com Ask us about Catering your event! Best New Restaurant Best Taco 2021
ERICK DOXEY PHOTO

BEST TRIVIA NIGHT GARLAND BREW WERKS/ BEARDED TRIVIA

Trivia nerds in the Inland Northwest faithfully gather four nights a week around Spokane to get their helping of Mike Duke’s Bearded Trivia. Along with Garland Brew Werks, Duke hosts trivia nights at YaYa Brewing Company, Lumberbeard Brewing and Flatstick Pub, Mondays through Thursdays, respectively. For 90 minutes, attendants must shift their brains into overdrive as they traverse Duke’s mental obstacle course, which he’s finely tuned over the past decade as Spokane’s go-to trivia ringleader. (CR)

2nd PLACE: Brick West Brewing Co., Colin Burk; 3rd PLACE: nYne Bar & Bistro; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Crown & Thistle Pub, Coeur d’Alene

READER COMMENTS

BEST RECORD STORE 4000 Holes

“Great selection and Beatles memorabilia.” (Jim T.); “Longest history in Spokane with the owner Bob having deep knowledge of rock from the NW scene to global. If it’s not in the store, Bob will find it for you. Bob has played in many bands over the years and knows the music business on both sides of the stage.” (Leslie S.); “A Spokane institution!” (Jesse R.)

2nd PLACE: Bigfoot Records;

3rd PLACE: Resurrection Records;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Long Ear, Coeur d’Alene

BEST OUTDOOR CONCERT OF PAST YEAR Modest Mouse, Pixies, Cat Power, Spokane Pavilion, 9/6/23

“They were so fantastic, and the Pavilion was rocking!” (Benjamin M.); “Love the large grass seating because of the incline. Easy access and speedy entry.” (Linda C.); “So good! The Pavilion was a great spot!” (Ashley L.)

2nd PLACE: Ghost, Amon Amarth, BECU Live at Northern Quest, 8/5/23;

3rd PLACE: Lindsey Stirling, BECU Live at Northern Quest, 8/29/23;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Michael Franti & Spearhead, Soja, Festival at Sandpoint, 8/3/23

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 35 THANK YOU FOR YOUR VOTES! 2021 2021 2021 OPEN DAILY 7AM-2PM 1011 W. Broadway Ave • 509-443-5968 1st PLACE BEST BRUNCH (Again!) 2021

READER COMMENTS

BEST TOURING BROADWAY MUSICAL OF PAST YEAR

Six 

“What a refreshing and interactive event. Loved it!” (Sharon H.); “So different!” (Maria T.); “The music and the costumes!” (Jessica B.)

2nd PLACE: Les Miserables; 3rd PLACE: Tina — The Tina Turner Musical

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE

BECU Live at Northern Quest

“Love the venue and great sound no matter where you sit!” (Kelly D.); “Not too big, not too small — Goldilocks just-right size to see the performers and feel like you’re part of the action.” (Sherry J.); “Good venue, and when you’re done, you can go upstairs and relax in the best rooms and the best beds around!” (Ronnie L.); “Just wow…” (Dennis E.)

2nd PLACE: The Knitting Factory; 3rd PLACE: Spokane Pavilion; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Nashville North, Stateline

BEST RADIO DJ OR TEAM

Dave, Ken & Molly, KZZU

“So funny! And good-hearted — just fun to listen to.” (Heather B.); “They’re the classic radio trio for Spokane!” (Margarita M.); “Always and forever.” (Jess D.)

2nd PLACE: Jay & Kevin, Big 99.9 Coyote Country;

3rd PLACE: Electric Bender with AnT_EyE, KYRS;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Uncle Larry, KPND, Sandpoint

BEST VENUE FOR COMEDY SPOKANE COMEDY CLUB

You don’t fully understand how wonderful it is that we have Spokane Comedy Club until you attend similar spaces in other cities. A bad comedy club can be a truly miserable experience: mediocre talent on stage, a chatty heckling audience derailing things, overpriced drink minimums that make the evening unreasonably expensive and overall terrible vibes. It’s enough to make one question why they would ever do anything but throw on a comedian’s Netflix special and stay inside. But Spokane Comedy Club has none of those issues. It’s a tight-run ship of professionalism without sacrificing the laughter. The cabaret-style seating means there’s no bad view in the joint, the lack of a drink minimum alleviates the monetary stress (especially for sober folks), and the club consistently draws top-tier touring talent that feel at home in the downtown space’s welcoming walls. The quality is no laughing matter, but thankfully the shows still are. (SS)

2nd PLACE: Blue Door Theatre; 3rd PLACE: Northern Quest Resort & Casino

BEST ARCADE

BEST PLACE FOR A KID’S BIRTHDAY PARTY CHAOS ARCADE

For the past three years, Chaos Arcade has been successfully carving out a niche somewhere between the modern ticket-based games reminiscent of a Dave & Buster’s experience and the old-school classics. Spokane gamers can move from a Mario Kart racing game to Street Fighter on a retro arcade cabinet in a matter of minutes. The arcade even has a handful of virtual reality experiences for those seeking an even newer gaming experience. Also, with a few party packages and a full menu at the Chaos Café, it’s no surprise that the arcade was also named the best place to have a children’s birthday party. (CR)

BEST ARCADE

2nd PLACE: Jedi Alliance; 3rd PLACE: Gamers Arcade Bar; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Triple Play Family Fun Park, Hayden

BEST PLACE FOR A KID’S BIRTHDAY PARTY

2nd PLACE: Pattison’s North Roller Skating Center;

3rd PLACE: Players & Spectators Event Center; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Triple Play Family Fun Park, Hayden

36 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
JOAN MARCUS PHOTO

In a Best of category where perennial favorites often have an inherent leg up when it comes to popular appeal, the fact that Bright Star took top honors might indicate just how strong Spokane Valley Summer Theatre’s production was. The musical by Edie Brickell and Steve Martin premiered as recently as 2014, and its Broadway run spanned just a few months in 2016. In other words, a theatrical warhorse like The Sound of Music or Les Misérables it is not.

And yet, Bright Star’s decade-hopping story based on the folktale of the Iron Mountain Baby clearly struck a chord with SVST’s theatergoers — so much so that they had trouble separating themselves from it.

“Usually there’s that fourth wall. You know this isn’t happening. What was so different about this show is that we could hear people in the audience reacting very strongly,” says Andrea Olsen, who starred as Alice Murphy in Bright Star opposite J. Clayton Winters as Jimmy Ray Dobbs.

One Bright Star character who has a sinister adoption ruse became a focal point for the audience’s anger. When this character later revealed he was dying, Olsen recalls someone in the house shouting, “Good!” Another audience member commented that they practically had to restrain their mother to keep her from rushing the stage and walloping the baddie.

Bright Star, Spokane Valley Summer Theatre

“My guess is that we were all so committed to the story that it really came across as real,” she says. “It was a great team, a great cast. No, not great — fabulous. We felt it. And what was so cool is that we felt that way every night.”

But Olsen says that the specialness of this regional premiere didn’t stop there. She also points to inspired direction from Yvonne A.K. Johnson as well as sensitive interpretations of the show’s bluegrass-style songbook from music director Matt Goodrich and area folk musicians.

“The band was amazing, just first-class,” she says. “And the music of Bright Star is so uplifting. You can’t help but sit there and tap your toe.”

For many, that magical combination of cast commitment, audience captivation and down-home music proved irresistible.

“It was so satisfying on so many levels. People came back and saw it many, many times. They kept asking us, ‘Will you do it again?’ We probably could’ve sold out two more weeks. And I think that speaks to the level of the production.”

2nd PLACE: The Addams Family, Spokane Civic Theatre

3rd PLACE: Sweeney Todd, Stage Left Theater

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Tommy, Aspire Community Theatre, Coeur d’Alene

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Andrea Olsen in Bright Star DYLAN K. JOHNSON PHOTO

‘LILAC HAZE’

No one has been talked about more in the past year than Taylor Swift.

She’s a musical powerhouse, having released four re-recorded albums and one brand-new album in the past three years with another set to release in April. Oh and, not to mention, she’s been on a 152-stop world tour for over a year.

Whether you like it or not, Swift is dominating just about every facet of life on Earth and the internet at the moment — including our Best of Reader’s Poll!

For fun, we asked Inlander readers what Taylor Swift would title a song about Spokane, and boy did y’all deliver some clever ideas.

First place goes to “Lilac Haze” a play on the singer’s popular song “Lavender Haze” from her 10th studio album, Midnights. We’re proud to be the Lilac City here in Spokane, and “Lilac Haze” sounds like a perfect tribute to the fluffy, purple blooms that we know “All Too Well.” (Get it?)

Other submissions include “Crying in the Davenport,” “Evergreen,” “Big Red Wagon” and a host of Garbage Goat-themed titles including “Garbage Goat Blues,” “Be My Trash Goat (Taylor’s Version),” “Don’t Let the Garbage Goat Bite,” “Feeding Your Love Letters to the Garbage Goat,” “I Wish I Could Feed You to the Garbage Goat” and this instant classic, “I Am the GOAT, You are the Garbage.”

Of course, Swift’s love life has always been scrutinized by the public and media alike, so her new beau Travis Kelce appeared in reader responses quite a bit, too. “Karma is the Guy on the Spokane Chiefs” takes the cake for most clever. And thank you to the singular reader who submitted what we think would be a piercing, emotional ballad: “Travis Kelce Left Me for a Marmot.” Given his past tweets about feeding bread to a “squirle,” it doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

A recurring theme among submissions was — you guessed it — potholes. “Teardrops Keep Fallin’ in the Potholes” is pretty similar to one of Swift’s biggest hits, “Teardrops on My Guitar” and really reflects how a lot of Spokanites feel about road infrastructure.

Shout-out to the reader who used the title of an existing TSwift song, “Sparks Fly,” but renamed it “Spark’s Fly (Pothole Version)” — it’s almost too perfect.

Did you know Swift has actually been to Spokane? In May 2009 her Fearless Tour made a stop at the Spokane Arena. So, if we see one of these song titles pop up on her next album, we can only assume that the Lilac City made an impression on her.

38 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 2021 YOU’LL MAKE YOUR CACTUS JEALOUS. DRYLAND REVIVAL LANDSCAPES SO DROUGHT-TOLERANT WWW.DRYLANDREVIVAL.COM Congratulations to the 2024 Winners of the Inlander’s Best of the Northwest Reader’s Poll! from The Spokane Fall Folk Festival 29 Years of Celebrating our Cultural Diversity November 9 & 10, 2024 Spokane Community College Lair For complete information about the festival: visit spokanefolkfestival.com
BEST SONG-ABOUT-SPOKANE TITLE FOR TAYLOR SWIFT’S NEXT ALBUM
LESLIE DOUGLAS PHOTO ILLUSTRATION
Voted Best Steaks by Inlander’s readers 12 years in a row! Thank you Spokane! Best Steaks 509.474.9888 165 South Post Street, Spokane, WA ChurchillsSteakhouse.com 2021

THANKS SPOKANE FOR

Uncle Larry, KPND Sandpoint

Listening options have never been more abundant. Digital services like Spotify create vast algorithms to deliver music directly to listeners’ feeds. Podcasts let folks dive deep into their passions both broad and incredibly niche. The internet makes most radio stations from around the country streamable with just a couple clicks. But even with so many options, there’s a certain charm to tuning your dial to your favorite terrestrial radio station — the finite nature of its signal reach makes each broadcast feel like your own special little slice of airwave real estate.

Real radio listeners are a different breed. There’s often a routine to things — dialing up one’s favorite station accompanies drivetime commutes, mindless parts of the workday, getting through chores or other parts of life that need a little sonic pep. And because of the regularity of radio, there’s a characteristic that becomes an essential element for many of our favorite DJs: comforting familiarity.

Larry Pearson — known on the air as Uncle Larry — has comforting familiarity in spades.

Uncle Larry primarily hosts the weekday afternoon block of programming (2 to 6:59 pm) at Blue Sky Broadcasting’s Sandpoint rock station KPND 95.3 FM. The smooth, calm, rich and unassuming timbre of his voice guides listeners throughout their afternoons with effortless ease. His tones feel like a warm comfort blanket while he transitions between KPND’s eclectic alternative rock offerings, which can span from classic acts like the Rolling Stones to Washingtonian grunge favs Soundgarden to modern rock hitmakers Manchester Orchestra or Cage the Elephant.

The familiarity in Uncle Larry’s radio game comes from years — nay, decades — of experience, as he’s been gracing Inland Northwest airwaves for 41 years.

“My very first job back in 1983 was here at Blue Sky Broadcasting at this very radio station. And I stayed a year before going back to work in radio in Spokane for the following 35 years,” Pearson says. “And then I’m back here again.”

Back in the 1970s, Pearson was a carpenter, but when recession hit and new builds dried up, he decided to pursue a career where many who knew him thought he’d excel.

“Enough people had told me over the course of my life that ‘you’ve got this radio voice.’ Why not take advantage of that?” he says.

KPND’s reach means loyal listeners from Spokane to Ritzville to Moscow can hear Uncle Larry’s dulcet tones, and the station’s independent AAA (adult album alternative) keeps the music surrounding his talk fresh.

“As much as you would like to think people are coming to the radio station for you, it’s not the case,” Pearson says with a laugh. “That’s probably the biggest compliment we get on this radio station — the diversity of the music instead of hearing the same song every three hours.”

“This is a job that is as much fun as anything else. It’s a lifestyle. I’ve been doing it for 41 years, and as long as I can continue doing it and continue being relevant and being able to relate to the listeners, I’ll do it as long as I possibly can.”

40 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 WWW.SWEETLOUSIDAHO.COM Thank you to inlander voters! PONDERAY 477272 Hwy 95 N Ponderay, Idaho CDA 601 E Front Ave #101 Coeur d’Alene, Idaho ATHOL 6915 E Athol Crossing Rd Athol, Idaho BEST BBQ IN SANDPOINT
IDAHO’S
RADIO DJ
NORTH
BEST
VOTING US BEST RECORD STORE! 1610 N. MONROE ST • 509.325.1914 Best music store in Eastern Washington Record Store 2021 Vinyl • CDs • DVDs • T-shirts • Posters & more 2021 @spokaneplayground BEST ARTS & CULTURE EVENT

READER COMMENTS

BEST MOVIE THEATER

AMC River Park Square 20

“Comfortable seats, 3D movies.” (Donna S.); “Dolby Theater experience is like no other!” (John S.); “Comfy seats and great popcorn.” (Patti L.)

2nd PLACE: The Garland Theater;

3rd PLACE: Magic Lantern Theatre;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Regal Riverstone, Coeur d’Alene

BEST BOWLING CENTER

Lilac Lanes Casino & Bowling Center

“Supports Special Olympics competitions at their business.” (Shirley L.); “They contribute to the community.” (Carolyn W.); “It’s got Lilac in the name, so you know it’s good.” (Hector A.)

2nd PLACE: North Bowl;

3rd PLACE: Players & Spectators Event Center; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Sunset Lanes, Coeur d’Alene

BEST GAMING / COMIC BOOK SHOP THE COMIC BOOK SHOP

Much like Lois Lane in peril, nerdy locals know they’re in safe hands when they see that Superman logo. While Lane sees it on a skin-tight bodysuit, Spokanites see it above the doors to The Comic Book Shop’s North Division store. Don’t be fooled by the building’s nondescript exterior or the most generic business name of all time, the space is a Marvel-filled marvel (literally there are seven huge shelves of just new Marvel graphic novels). The offerings are a true cornucopia of nerdom: comics, action figures, Funko Pops, posters, shirts, Gundam model kits, D&D supplies, tables for card gaming, and even a selection of Japanese Lays chips and other snacks to fuel one’s geekdom. A multiverse of possibilities, the Comic Book Shop’s reach also includes outposts at NorthTown Mall and in Spokane Valley. While it might not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound — because… you know… it is a building — there’s no denying that The Comic Books Shop is super, man. (SS)

2nd PLACE: Merlyn’s; 3rd PLACE: Uncle’s Games; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: EntertainMART, Coeur d’Alene

BEST RAP ACT / ARTIST EXZAC CHANGE & MATISSE

You can’t fake chemistry, and no Inland Northwest hip-hop act has chemistry that instantly pops like ExZac Change and Mattisse. Free-flowing collaborative energy practically ping pongs back and forth whenever the two MCs team up for an album (like 2022’s Growth Spurt) or one of their party-starting live performances. They’ve been rapping together for over a decade and it shows. A true sum of its parts, the duo also excels in their solo rap efforts, with both Matisse and ExZac dropping new tracks in 2024. Relentless boosters of the local culture (including ExZac’s exploits with the podcast Happy 2 B Here), they’re the type of uplifting and accessible artists who make the scene a place worth being seen whenever they link up. (SS)

2nd PLACE: T.S. the Solution; 3rd PLACE: Truehoods

BEST BAND, MOSTLY ORIGINALS SNACKS AT MIDNIGHT

Those seeking a musical pick-me-up needn’t look any further than Spokane’s own Snacks at Midnight. The pop rock quintet’s relentlessly positive tunes feel like sunbeams cutting through the darkness, and the band’s energetic live shows match that vibe with bouncy kinetic energy and playful dashes of funk. The group has built up a following by gigging constantly — both at Spokane staples like Zola and the Big Dipper and a host of North Idaho bars — in support of their first record, 2020’s Mom’s Proud. And 2024 is shaping up to be Snacks at Midnight’s biggest year yet with its second album, What You Think You Want, dropping on vinyl this summer. Despite what the name might suggest, Snacks at Midnight are anything but musical junk food. (SS)

2nd PLACE: The Nixon Rodeo; 3rd PLACE: Hayes Noble

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 41

BEST PLACE TO DANCE

nYne Bar & Bistro

Arandom Uber driver recently told nYne Bar & Bistro owner Kitty Kane how much he liked picking people up from the club after a night of dancing. He told her that everyone comes out looking happy, with most raving about the night they just had.

“I don’t even know this guy, he doesn’t have to lie to me,” she laughs. “I’m humbled because we’re just doing our thing here.”

Even without the anecdotal evidence, folks have been affirming nYne’s spot in Spokane’s spotlight for more than a decade now. Inlander readers have voted it the best place to dance 10 times since the queer bar opened in 2009. If you were to subtract the danceless days of the pandemic, that’s an award almost every year — cementing its place in the Best of the Inland Northwest Hall of Fame.

“We want everyone to come in and have a good, fun time,” Kane says. “Everyone’s welcome here.”

This isn’t something that just happens though. Kane works hard to ensure that the people that she hires — security, bartenders, barbacks — exude the same energy that the bar has cultivated for the last 14 years. She’s also turned what was essentially an oversized garage into a place where people want to come, have a

drink with their friends and dance the night away in absolute bliss.

“You can just feel it when you’re in a space that is your space,” Kane says, emphasizing the importance for queer folks to have a safe place, like nYne, to gather.

“I want people to walk in the door and be like ‘Oooh, I belong here.’”

Part of that success is thanks to her diligent DJs who do their best to match the energy of the crowd.

“We cannot make everyone happy at the same time. That’s just life,” she says. “But what they try to do is keep people on the dance floor and keep them happy.”

Even though she’s worked hard to create this dancing haven in Spokane, Kane says it wouldn’t be possible without the people who still go downtown for a night out. And to the people who may not go out anymore, for whatever reason, she has a simple request.

“Come back to downtown.”

2nd Place: Zola

3rd Place: Highball at Northern Quest NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Nashville North, Stateline

42 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
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READER COMMENTS

BEST CASINO Northern Quest Resort & Casino

“They have everything.” (Tonya P.); “Northern Quest is an iconic, regional destination. The amount of restaurants, events, games and amenities is simply unmatched. Not to mention, the Kalispel Tribe donates about $1 million to local nonprofits every year. They are the best, hands down.” (Amy A.); “Best MMA events that contain the best area fighters and DJs (GrandMixer GMS) and UFC guests.” (Shaun J.); “Best Casino in the PNW.” (Tyson M.)

2nd PLACE: Spokane Tribe Casino;

3rd PLACE: Coeur d’Alene Casino

BEST LOCAL CIDERY

One Tree Cider House

“I think I love all their flavors but nothing has beat their Lemon Basil — an easy local favorite!” (Chelsea C.); “Yum! Seasonal options are fun, too.” (Ashley L.); “Great atmosphere!” (Shannon K.)

2nd PLACE: Trailbreaker Cider;

3rd PLACE: Liberty Ciderworks; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: CDA Cider House

BEST COFFEE ROASTER THOMAS HAMMER COFFEE ROASTERS

There’s nothing like a good cup of coffee to start your day off right, and Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasters has had locals covered for more than three decades and counting. One of their taglines is “Small batches. Big flavor.” And with that, there’s something for every coffee lover, like the sustainably sourced Guatemala Adiesto Ecobrew with notes of tangerine, cocoa and cane sugar, or the White Zombie, a brew that’s perfect for people who don’t really like the taste of coffee but still want a caffeinated charge. With more than 20 locations across the Inland Northwest, from Fairchild to Moscow and Post Falls to Pullman, finding a quality cup of Thomas Hammer’s tasty bean brew thankfully isn’t too hard. (CSh)

2nd PLACE: Roast House Coffee; 3rd PLACE: DOMA Coffee, Post Falls

BEST LOCAL WINERY ARBOR CREST WINE CELLARS

Tucked away near the historic Hutton Settlement on the outskirts of Spokane city limits, Arbor Crest Wine Cellars sits in the majestic Cliff House Estate, a grand cliffside manor with sweeping views of the Inland Northwest. The winery offers an extensive menu of fine wines made from Columbia Valley grapes. The wines are thoughtfully paired with charcuterie, hummus plates, fudge truffles, steak, lamb, baba ganoush and other delicacies. In summer, the winery hosts an outdoor concert series featuring local artists. The estate is also a prime spot for weddings, bridal showers and other special events. (NS)

BEST PET-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT OR BAR PATIO BARK, A RESCUE PUB

Beer, dogs and cats. What’s not to love? At Bark, A Rescue Pub, dog lovers can kick back and relax, before or after their meal, alongside a host of rescue dogs and cats who reside on-site. And yes, the animals are available for adoption. All profits from adoptions, reservation fees, donations, and a portion of food and beverage sales go toward supporting the work of the Spokane Humane Society. The animals stay in a separate area from the restaurant with a team of caretakers. And while local regulations prevent visitors from bringing their own dogs inside the restaurant, well-behaved dogs are welcome on the patio. The restaurant even has a separate “pup menu” for them. (NS)

2nd PLACE: Barrister Winery; 3rd PLACE: Winescape; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Coeur d’Alene Cellars

2nd PLACE: Brick West Brewing Co.; 3rd PLACE: Uprise Brewing Co.; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Laughing Dog Brewing, Ponderay

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It’s Times Like These We Learn To Live Again!

It’s Times Like These We Learn To Live Again!

Best Indoor Concert:

Best Indoor Concert:

Thanks for giving us the best of you, Spokane!

Thanks for giving us the best of you, Spokane!

INLANDER

BEST HOTEL BAR

PEACOCK ROOM LOUNGE,  HISTORIC DAVENPORT HOTEL

BEST HAPPY HOUR TAVOLÀTA

What do you call a fake noodle? An im-pasta! But what do you call handmade noodles at impastably good prices? Just the well-loved happy hour at Tavolàta. Every day from 4 to 6 pm, you can get the same entrée-sized serving of some of the restaurant’s most popular pasta dishes for about $10 less than they cost at dinnertime. (Currently just $13 each at happy hour!) Pair that with a cocktail, wine or beer for $10 or less, or some small plates and a dessert, and you’ve got an affordable date night, with the AMC River Park Square theater right upstairs. (SW)

2nd PLACE: Zola;

3rd PLACE: The Safari Room, Davenport Tower; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Stylus Wine and Vinyl Bar, Coeur d’Alene

There’s nothing quite like drinking a cocktail beneath the exquisite stained glass ceiling at the Historic Davenport Hotel. Between the flamboyant décor reminiscent of a jazzier era and the dedicated bar staff working to maintain a sophisticated vibe, it’s clear why the Peacock Room Lounge is considered the pinnacle of Spokane’s hotel bar scene. Its downtown location also makes it the perfect place to meet up before an event for a few award-winning double martinis, or afterwards to wind down the night with a decadent house-made dessert. (CR)

2nd PLACE: The Safari Room, Davenport Tower; 3rd PLACE: The Lounge at Masselow’s, Northern Quest; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Whispers, Coeur d’Alene Resort

READER COMMENTS

BEST WINE BAR Nectar

“Love the location, awesome staff, love the monthly wine club (and beer club) which gets you great discounts and exposure to new wines. Great patio.” (Jeremy C.); “Great views, wine and staff. The winter igloos are a great way to have an intimate drink.” (Jeff H.)

2nd PLACE: Stylus Wine and Vinyl Bar, Coeur d’Alene;

3rd PLACE: Whim Wine Bar

BEST SPORTS BAR EPIC at Northern Quest

“Love the food while watching the game! Great service!” (Kelly D.); “Check out the HUGE screens. Great place to watch your favorite sports team!” (Mary C.)

2nd PLACE: Poole’s Public House;

3rd PLACE: 24 Taps Burgers & Brews;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Capone’s, Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Hayden

48 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 Thank you for believing in a world-class beer city. Shared pints with neighbors and friends remove barriers and elevate our city. The power of one community. A sense of place. CAMERA READY
BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 49 Authentic Thai cuisine with a modern twist Best Thai two years in a row! 509 290-5993 • 101 E Hastings Rd • Spokane WA Thank you to our talented and dedicated team! Best Thai Food Best Takeout 2021 Best Thai Food 2021 AND INLANDER READERS AGREE ymcainw.org The YMCA is the Place for EVERYONE to Get Healthy When you join the YMCA, you’re committing to more than better health, you’re supporting the values & programs that strengthen the entire community. Thank you for voting for the YMCA as the Best Place for Health and Wellness for 10 years! Come see what the buzz is about and join the Y today!

Atticus Coffee & Gifts

In the heart of downtown Spokane inside a charming building with exposed brick walls and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the air, Atticus Coffee & Gifts has served as a go-to for many since opening in 2009. Now Atticus has logged first-place wins in 10 different Best of polls.

“It’s hard to separate the coffee from the retail because they feed off of each other,” says Kaylee Gaines-McGee, Atticus’ manager. “People come get coffee and they go shop, or they shop and come get coffee.”

Gaines-McGee manages the retail side of Atticus, while manager Jamie Freedman runs the cafe.

“It’s just kind of that safe spot for everybody to come and just relax and enjoy, whether it be for coffee or shopping,” Freedman says. “It’s a business built on our regulars — they’re family to us.”

Atticus serves a variety of local goods, and sources its coffee from Anvil Coffee and 4 Seasons Coffee Roasters.

“We do have a great product, but we’re not pretentious about our coffee,” Freedman says. “We want to serve a quality product, but more importantly we want to develop a connection with our customers.”

Along with coffee, the cafe serves locally sourced tea and baked goods from Chaps Diner and Bakery and Boots Bakery & Lounge.

As its name suggests to careful observers, Atticus is still a companion of its nextdoor-neighbor, Boo Radley’s (both shops were originally owned by Kris and Andy Dinnison but now have different owners), but with a slightly less eccentric and everchanging selection of gifts, decor, tea and coffee.

“I don’t think there’s a customer that comes in who doesn’t appreciate how much fun we’re having back here,” Freedman notes. “It’s a fun atmosphere to be in, and I think that people really feed off of that as well as the products that we serve.”

Freedman began working at Atticus four years ago, while Gaines-McGee joined five years ago. Since then, the two have made it their mission to curate a comfortable and inviting space for shoppers that keeps them coming back.

“The relationships we’ve built with that community, they’re so strong and they’re so important to all of us that we want to keep that going and we want it to grow,” Freedman says. “This is a place where everybody comes and they feel at home.”

2nd PLACE: First Avenue Coffee

3rd PLACE: Revel 77 Coffee Roasting

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Vault Coffee, Coeur d’Alene

— SUMMER SANDSTROM

50 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
You, Spokane. CRAFTED BEAUTY MED SPA
Thank
BEST
COFFEE SHOP, SINGLE LOCATION
Jud ’s nchanted Garden Judy’s Enchanted Garden 2628 W Northwest Blvd, Spokane (509) 325-1081 Unique perennials, annuals, trees, shrubs, garden art, gifts, & more! Local Garden Supply/Nursery Thank you
Barista Brendon Bracewell (left) works the coffee counter at longtime local fave Atticus Coffee & Gifts. YOUNG KWAK PHOTOS
YOU FOR VOTING FOR JAY & KEVIN IN THE MORNING
THANK
Kelly Tareski Photo

BEST LOCAL DISTILLERY

Dry Fly Distilling

As the first distillery in Washington since Prohibition, Dry Fly has been making a name for itself since 2007, with distribution now bringing its products to about 40 states. With a passion for local sourcing — they use grain grown outside Rosalia, share barrels in partnership with local wineries and breweries to create unique flavors, and even serve burgers from Medical Lake cows whose diet includes Dry Fly’s spent grain — it’s clear that the distillery has a deep love for the Inland Northwest.

“We care a lot about our community and keeping things local here,” says Patrick Donovan, vice president of operations for Dry Fly. “That’s always been our primary focus.”

And the community loves them back.

In fact, Inlander readers have shown Dry Fly so much love that it’s now in the Best of Hall of Fame, with 10 first place wins as the Best Local Distillery.

Since 2021, the distillery has been able to grow its offerings from a much larger space on the corner of Riverside and Monroe. In addition to having more room to produce its canned cocktails and a growing selection of vodka, gin, whiskey and bourbon, Dry Fly added food and a full drink menu. Its staff members also teach cocktail classes, and within the last year the distillery even started offering the chance for community members to create their own gin.

“Within a three-hour window, a group can come in, make their own botanical deck, and bottle their own gin and walk out with it,” Donovan says. “It’s their own special blend. We always tease ’em that if it sucks, that’s not our fault. People have a great time with it.”

That’s also opened the door in recent months for Dry Fly to work with local bartenders in town to create private label specialty gins for restaurants.

“We give them a conduit to explore and be creative and have their own ideas,” Donovan says. “The fun part for us is they get a glimpse of what we do every day and sometimes how hard it is to create the spirit that you want.”

With the inspiration for Dry Fly happening on a fishing trip, the brand has also stuck to its founders’ nature-loving roots by offering both canned cocktails that are easy to pack along for drinks “on the fly” and premixed “Guided Sip” cocktails that simply need to be poured to enjoy. Dry Fly’s bloody mary uses a Spiceology blend, and its Earl Grey old fashioned uses a tea concentrate from Revival Tea Company.

“It’s like we row the boat for you. We make the drinks, just fill your glass with ice, pour over and enjoy,” Donovan says.

From the early days of bottling parties that relied on community members to help get their spirits out the door, to the days of packaging north of 50,000 gallons of hand sanitizer during the pandemic, Donovan says the community has always played an essential role in supporting Dry Fly, providing great memories even through tough times.

“I’m really grateful for Spokane,” Donovan says. “There’s just so many experiences, personally, that I’ve had with people enjoying and being involved with Dry Fly.”

2nd PLACE: Browne Family Spirits

3rd PLACE: 2 Loons Distillery NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Up North Distillery, Post Falls

52 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 ank you for voting us for BEST PET SUPPLIES! 6320 N Ash St. • (509) 465-9663 2915 E 29th Ave C • (509) 744-9663 North South Hill 2021
Dry Fly’s whiskey, bourbon, vodka and more are all made with locally grown grain. YOUNG
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THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT.

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Wake Up Call Coffee

Incoming call from Wake Up Call Coffee! The drive-thru coffee chain is the best in the Inland Northwest according to Inlander readers for the fourth consecutive year.

Courtney True, head of Wake Up Call’s marketing and social media, attributes these wins to the bond that the company has with its customers.

“We want to know every single one of our customers, know their drinks and become friends with them,” True says.

She also points out Wake Up Call’s mission.

“Our main thing has always been great coffee and great service, we just care deeply about the community and how we can help,” she says, adding that Wake Up Call aims to be a positive place for customers, baristas and the community at large.

The coffee chain, founded in 2004, opened 14 new locations in the Tri Cities in the past year, bringing its grand total to 29 stores throughout Washington and Idaho.

Each location, with the exception of its Sprague Union District cafe, are drive-thrus. About half of them have lobbies, some of which are aptly designed to look like a red London telephone box.

Congruent with the London theme is a converted double-decker bus that brings Wake Up Call to major Spokane events such as Bloomsday, Hoopfest and Spokane Indians’ games.

The brand also partners with nonprofits throughout the year. In the past they’ve donated a portion of a certain drink’s profits or day’s worth of sales to Spokane Angels.

Alongside great coffee provided by Dillanos Coffee Roasters, thoughtful service and taking care of their community, Wake Up Call is known for its signature energy drink, the MadHatter, derived from green coffee with no artificial colors or flavors.

Versions of the drink created by each location go head-to-head in a bracket each March for a competition known as “MadHatter Madness.” Some flavors from this year’s lineup are Steptoe’s Paradise Breeze (guava, passionfruit, strawberry and lemonade) and Edison’s Space Jam (blue raspberry, watermelon, white peach).

“We love the creativity of our baristas. A lot of the drinks that we come out with are drinks that our baristas came up with,” True says.

The business also has an app, “a central location for everything Wake Up Call,” which tracks a user’s drink orders and offers a loyalty program.

Wake Up Call’s attention to its customers’ needs, as well as to the support of its staff, is what has grown the company from its very first Spokane Valley location on Dishman-Mica Road to the successful, regional drive-thru chain it is now.

“The people are just amazing, every barista we have, it’s like a family,” True says.

2nd PLACE: Dutch Bros Coffee

3rd PLACE: White Dog Coffee

54 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
ACTS ARE MADE UP OF SMALL DEEDS. OUR TEAM
GREAT
IS AMAZING.
BEST DRIVE-THRU COFFEE
Wake Up Call’s East Central Spokane location. ERICK DOXEY PHOTO
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BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 55 Spokane 2525 E 29th Ave, Suite 1B Spokane, WA 99223 (509) 535-4864 Now Baking! North Spokane 9706 N. Newport Hwy, Ste. 29 Spokane, WA 99218 (509) 204-5435 NothingBundtCakes.com for voting us “Best Cake” & “Best Cupcake” in Spokane!

The Goat Lounge

M“ake it a double” has taken on new meaning recently at the Goat Lounge in Coeur d’Alene, which doubly impressed Inlander readers in this year’s Best of the Inland Northwest poll. Readers voted the stylish Fourth Street spot as North Idaho’s best place both for craft cocktails in general and for the amber-colored cocktail known as the old fashioned in particular.

“We take care in what we do,” says head bartender and general manager Armando Garcia, who has been with the Goat Lounge since owner Dave Pulis and his late wife, Janet, launched it in 2022.

Located adjacent to the Pulises’ other downtown Coeur d’Alene drinking establishment, The Moose Lounge, the Goat has an upscale vibe compared to its occasionally raucous and considerably larger neighbor. Its tagline is “crafty cocktails, tasty tapas and fine wine,” Pulis says.

At the Goat, tuck into a spot by the fireplace or snag an outdoor seat in warm weather. Perch along the cozy bar, groove to the nonstop jazz, and tell Garcia what he’s heard more often than he can count: “Make me something I’ll enjoy.”

Garcia says that no matter who’s behind the bar, the priority is the same: “You have to make a drink that the person is going to like.”

That means using fresh-pressed juices, employing meaningful techniques and choosing ingredients with care.

For example, like other artisan drink outlets, the Goat serves its old fashioned over an oversized square ice cube — a gentleman’s cube, notes Garcia.

“It doesn’t water down the drink as quickly as smaller cubes,” he explains.

Yet the Goat’s old fashioned features subtle differences from others, such as the complex flavors of a classic Kentucky bourbon, Four Roses. The Goat uses both angostura and walnut bitters. And in addition to the standard garnish of a peeled orange, the bar gussies up its Bordeaux cherries with rye whiskey, cognac and Luxardo liqueur for a not-too-sweet finish.

If you’re not a fan of the old fashioned, the Goat has plenty of other cocktails, like the one Garcia is fond of: the white Manhattan with rye, Lillet aperitif and vanilla bean. It’s one of the many newfangled specials Garcia and the Goat’s team of mixologists have devised that has grown the Coeur d’Alene’s reputation as a go-to for craft cocktails well beyond the confines of North Idaho.

“That one’s going to put us on the map,” says Garcia, who also heard someone tried to order a white Manhattan while in Seattle. “They didn’t realize it’s our drink.”

56 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 1321 W 3rd Ave, Spokane Chefs from around the world making authentic meals Thank you for voting us Best Takeout! 2605 N. 4th St • CDA • (208) 601-6602 styluswineandvinylbar.com NOSH. SIP. LISTEN. Thank you! Thank you! BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE BEST CHARCUTERIE BOARD BEST WINE BAR BEST HAPPY HOUR NORTH IDAHO’S BEST CRAFT COCKTAILS & BEST OLD FASHIONED
A Goat Old Fashioned, front, and Coeur de la Fleur. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 57

BEST BEER BAR

BEST PUB FOOD

THE VIKING

Located near the Spokane Arena and the Podium, the Viking has everything you’d want from a pub. Good beer. Hearty food. Trivia nights. Happy hour. Live music. Pool tables. Shuffleboard. Sports on TV. Good vibes and friendly faces. The interior has a cozy wood panel aesthetic with vintage beer signs and a horned viking helmet on the wall. Readers choose the Viking this year for both best local beer bar and best pub food. The menu has all the classics you’d expect from a pub: massive pretzels with cheese, burgers, wings, tacos, nachos, fried pickles, steak bites, chicken strips and all sorts of other cheesy fried goodness. (NS)

BEST BEER BAR

2nd PLACE: Community Pint; 3rd PLACE: Manito Tap House; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Pour Company, Moscow

BEST PUB FOOD

2nd PLACE: Cascadia Public House; 3rd PLACE: Logan Tavern; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Crown & Thistle Pub, Coeur d’Alene

BEST CRAFT COCKTAILS

BEST

OLD FASHIONED

HOGWASH WHISKEY DEN

As the name suggests, the old fashioned cocktail dates to the 1800s and is one of the oldest drinks in the classic cocktail canon. You can find a variation of it at almost any bar in Spokane, but it’s Hogwash Whiskey Den that takes the top overall spot for best old fashioned this year. At Hogwash, old fashioneds are made with Benchmark Bourbon, simple syrup and bitters. The drinks are garnished with an orange slice and cherry. The bar also makes a seasonal version of the drink that mixes the bourbon with spiced pear liqueur, vanilla, burnt sugar and clove bitters. But it’s not just old fashioneds — readers also voted Hogwash as having the best craft cocktails overall. (NS)

BEST CRAFT COCKTAILS

2nd PLACE: Durkin’s Liquor Bar; 3rd PLACE: Purgatory Whiskey Bar; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Goat Lounge, Coeur d’Alene

BEST OLD FASHIONED

2nd PLACE: Purgatory Whiskey Bar; 3rd PLACE: Durkin’s Liquor Bar; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Goat Lounge, Coeur d’Alene

READER COMMENTS

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLES Zola

“So much great seating and selection for drinks/food! Also love the live bands!”

(Chelsea C.); “Love the live music and the vibe.” (Jenny K.); “My favorite drinks in the area; creative and tasty.” (Natalie F.)

2nd PLACE: nYne Bar & Bistro;

3rd PLACE: Globe Bar & Kitchen

BEST WINE TASTING ROOM Maryhill Winery

“They have a great build-out and patio.”

(Susan D.); “So many different wines to choose from, their list is extensive and all are amazing.” (Beverly F.); “Live music three times a week!” (Mike P.); “It’s always SO fun!” (Stephanie R.)

2nd PLACE: Barrister Winery; 3rd PLACE: Arbor Crest Wine Cellars; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Coeur d’Alene Cellars

58 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 59 Thanks Spokane for getting us on the podium
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BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE FLATSTICK PUB 

What makes a terrific first-date place? Somewhere fun and casual — with good food and drink — and that allows you to get to know each other without too much extra pressure. Flatstick Pub in downtown Spokane checks all the boxes and then some. There’s a nine-hole mini-golf course, Duffleboard (Flatstick’s own combo of mini-golf and shuffleboard) and wickets. You can even do date night on Monday during bingo or Thursday with Bearded Trivia. Order a brick oven-baked pizza, salad or tasty snacks to share, like mini corn dogs. Flatstick has 34 beverages on tap, almost all from Washington producers. Perhaps the best date night value is during happy hour (Mon-Fri from 3-5 pm), which offers any drink and unlimited gameplay for $15. (CSh)

2nd PLACE: Wooden City; 3rd PLACE: Nyne; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Stylus Wine and Vinyl Bar, Coeur d’Alene

BEST NEW NIGHTSPOT SPOKANE LIVE AT SPOKANE TRIBE CASINO

After opening in 2018, Spokane Tribe Casino finally became a live entertainment hotspot in the fall of 2023 with the opening of Spokane Live. The new indoor venue space is simple but sleek, boasting a welcoming wood finish, a wraparound second-story mezzanine, and an audio system that sounds good from any spot in the room. With a capacity of 3,400, Spokane Live has already hosted a range of acts, from a sold-out show by Celtic punks Dropkick Murphys to hip-hop standouts like Flo Rida and Nelly to typical casino classic rock fare like Blue Öyster Cult and comedic headliners like David Spade and Nikki Glaser. The space also hosts Thursday country nights with line dancing and barbecue, live band karaoke on Fridays, and bingo on Wednesdays and Sundays. It’s the full gamut of casino thrills. (SS)

2nd PLACE: Garden Party; 3rd PLACE: Diversion Events

BEST LOCAL BREWERY

BEST LOCAL SELTZER NO-LI BREWHOUSE

This brewery has — no lie — some of the best beer and vibes in town. Family owned and fully independent, No-Li Brewhouse sits on the banks of the Spokane River in the Logan neighborhood. In addition to “best local brewery,” Inlander readers also recognized No-Li for its new line of hard seltzers this year. Hard seltzers exploded in popularity during the pandemic, thanks in part to Gen Z TikTok memes about how there “Ain’t no laws when you’re drinking [White] Claws.” Big corporations like Bud Light and Four Loko have tried entering the sugar-free carbonated alcohol water game in recent years, but No-Li’s seltzers — with flavors like huckleberry and peach tea — pack far more local flavor and are the perfect way to unwind on a sunny summer evening. (NS)

BEST LOCAL BREWERY

2nd PLACE: Brick West Brewing Co.; 3rd PLACE: Whistle Punk Brewing;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Post Falls Brewing Co.

BEST LOCAL SELTZER

2nd PLACE: Four-Eyed Guys Brewing Co.; 3rd PLACE: Brick West Brewing Co.

62 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 THANK YOU SPOKANE CHEERS TO 20 YEARS OF WAKE UP CALL! PROUDLY SERVING THE INLAND NORTHWEST SINCE 2004
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There isn’t a single reason to visit Sandpoint; there are countless ones. Shopping, dining, dancing, and doing something outdoors are all reasons to love this North Idaho resort town, which is also home to several unique annual events.

If it’s summertime, a quintessential Sandpoint event is the annual 11-day outdoor musical extravaganza known as FESTIVAL AT SANDPOINT, which won best Sandpoint community/arts event in this year’s Inlander’s Best of the Inland Northwest Readers Poll.

“The spirit of the Festival is so unique in that it unites people from all walks of life,” says Executive Director Ali Baranski. “Whether you are reuniting with old friends or just enjoying the shared experience of live music with strangers, you can’t help but feel the magic of the Festival and the community.”

In addition to a wide range of musical acts — confirmed performers for 2024 include Jason Mraz & the Superband and Blues Traveler — the outdoor festival features a tasty lineup of food vendors.

“The selection will include cuisines from across the globe, with something for every palate, including glutenfree, vegetarian, and vegan options,” Baranski says.

Looking for a place to pre-funk (or post-funk) your

Festival experience? Sandpoint is awash in options, including two spots that tied for first place in this year’s readers’ poll for best craft cocktails. The 219 LOUNGE has been a go-to for good times going on nine decades (yes, really), while right around the corner, 113 MAIN offers both craft cocktails and a carefully curated food menu.

Both are family-owned and, not coincidentally, the family members who own them are related. Longtime restaurateur Mel Dick has turned the 219-er, as it’s known, into a hotspot for live music, drinks and dancing, while his son, Justin Dick (who also owns Sandpoint’s Trinity at City Beach) has transformed the historic building at 113 Main St. into a treasured destination for sophisticated yet casual dining.

If your best buzz comes from something other than alcohol, Sandpoint has options in that category, too. Even though coffee is one consumable that could easily be created at home, poured into a travel mug and made into a mobile beverage, JITTERZ ESPRESSO COFFEE provides more than just a cuppa joe, says co-owner Laura Quast.

“People know when you go to any Jitterz locations you’re going to get consistency,” says Quast, who in 2006 opened the first of 14 Jitterz stands throughout North Idaho with her husband, Jason.

Other reasons to seek out Jitterz include a daily special — they’re known for their hand-blended granitas, Quast says — a four-hour daily happy hour when drinks are $3 or under, and, of course, service with a smile.

“Making people’s day … that’s our goal,” Quast says.

Beyond beverages, Sandpoint also boasts so many food venues, you could dine there for months and not have the same meal twice.

Situated just steps from both the lake and downtown Sandpoint, SECOND AVENUE PIZZA has been a favorite for more than 20 years. Some menu items pay tribute to local landmarks like the Schweitzer Ski Flake, while others have earned a reputation for over-the-top ingredients and deliciousness, like the hefty, 7-pound Juke Box Special.

Just across the river in Ponderay, FARMHOUSE KITCHEN BBQ takes this year’s first place honors for best barbecue. Mouthwatering options include slow-smoked brisket, pork or brined turkey breast with choice of sauce and sides. Order in and enjoy your meal inside Farmhouse’s stylish, modern dining room. Or place a familystyle order to-go, such as for you and up to a dozen of your friends planning to “meat up” for a perfectly pleasing day in Sandpoint.

64 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024

BEST COMMUNITY/ARTS EVENT

1st PLACE: The Festival at Sandpoint

2nd PLACE: Pend Oreille Arts Council’s Arts & Crafts Fair

3rd PLACE: Schweitzer Fall Fest

BEST CRAFT COCKTAILS

1st PLACE: 113 Main; 219 Lounge (tie)

2nd PLACE: Crow’s Bench, Schweitzer

3rd PLACE: Trinity at City Beach

BEST DRIVE-THRU COFFEE

1st PLACE: Jitterz Espresso Coffee, Sandpoint

2nd PLACE: Kessa’s Coffee, Ponderay

3rd PLACE: The Brim Coffee Shop, Ponderay

BEST PIZZA

1st PLACE: Second Avenue Pizza

2nd PLACE: Powder Hound Pizza, Sandpoint and Schweitzer

3rd PLACE: Savory Neighborhood Grill

BEST BBQ

1st PLACE: Farmhouse Kitchen BBQ, Ponderay

2nd PLACE: Smokesmith Bar-B-Cue, Sandpoint

3rd PLACE: Sweet Lou’s, Ponderay

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BEST LOCAL BOOK OF THE PAST YEAR

Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree

You never expect to go viral.

Spokane author Travis Baldree certainly didn’t expect his independently published fantasy book to blow up overnight, but that’s exactly what happened in 2022.

“Legends & Lattes was a National Novel Writing Month project that I wrote during COVID when I was watching nothing but The Great British Bake-Off and Fixer Upper,” Baldree says. “I had no expectation that anybody would read it or care about it at all. It was just the kind of thing that I wanted for myself right then.”

The premise of Legends & Lattes revolves around Viv, an orc adventurer who retires from her career to open a tranquil coffee shop, a premise Baldree says started out as a lighthearted joke with extremely low stakes.

Once the book’s cover was posted on Twitter and shared by Seattle-based fantasy author Seanan McGuire, it caught fire on TikTok and other platforms in the days after. The book landed on The New York Times bestseller list and was also nominated for both a Hugo and Nebula award.

In November 2023, Baldree released a prequel to Legends titled Bookshops & Bonedust after being scooped up for a book deal by Tor Books.

66 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024

“Initially it wasn’t going to be a prequel at all,” he says. “It was going to be a fantasy Murder, She Wrote story. I thought it was a great idea, I had it all planned out, and I wrote about 15,000 words of it and realized I hated it. I compare it to Scooby Doo because nobody cares about the mystery, they only care about the weirdos in the van. I only cared about the weirdos in the van in my attempted mystery novel. Maybe I’m not a very good mystery writer.”

Baldree started over three times before he found a story he wanted to write. His “failed attempts” weren’t all for naught, though. Most of the characters from the other endeavors find a place within Bookshops & Bonedust

Bookshops & Bonedust takes place before Viv opens her coffee shop, while she’s still working for a mercenary company called Rackam’s Ravens. Her career isn’t going the way she planned, and she finds herself spending time in a bookshop encountering suspicious characters and planting seeds of change.

As for future books from Baldree, fans will be excited to know that there are at least three more on the way, and one takes place in the Legends & Lattes universe.

“This whole journey has just been unexpected thing after unexpected thing,” Baldree says. “And for that, I’m so grateful.”

2nd PLACE: The Strange Beautiful by Carla Crujido

3rd PLACE: Unexpected Weather Events by Erin Pringle

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Spokane author Travis Baldree has had breakout success for his two cozy fantasy novels. YOUNG KWAK PHOTOS

Thank you for voting for us Spokane!

BEST BOOKSTORE AUNTIE’S BOOKSTORE 

Auntie’s is a local landmark. Since 1978, the bookstore has stood in downtown Spokane as a destination for book lovers. It has a well-stocked section of local authors and regularly hosts book readings and other events. The store also hosts a variety of regular book clubs with themes like “Science/nature,” “Mystery/thriller,” “Queer & weird” and more. Auntie’s also celebrates freedom of expression by participating in Banned Book Week by highlighting titles that have been challenged or banned in libraries and schools across the country. If you aren’t sure what to read, just ask! Staff are super knowledgeable and always ready to give recommendations to seasoned literary snobs and new readers alike. (NS)

2nd PLACE: Page 42 Bookstore;

3rd PLACE: Wishing Tree Books;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Well-Read Moose, Coeur d’Alene

BEST LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIAL MAYOR LISA BROWN

This year, the title for best local elected official goes to Mayor Lisa Brown, the former state Senate majority leader who defeated the incumbent mayor in November. Brown’s first few months in office have been busy. When a cold snap struck in early January, Brown declared a state of emergency and rushed to expand the city’s shelter capacity. Her new administration is now grappling with the city’s looming $50 million budget deficit. There are a lot of challenges ahead, but Brown has allies: The two runners-up in this year’s best local elected contest both campaigned alongside Brown and pledged to collaborate with her on a “better way” for Spokane. Mayors tend to do well in Best Of contests. Former Mayors Nadine Woodward, David Condon and Mary Verner all won best elected official at some point in their term. (NS)

2nd PLACE: Betsy Wilkerson, Spokane City Council President;

3rd PLACE: Paul Dillon, Spokane City Council member; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Amy Evans, Coeur d’Alene City Council member

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BEST TV SPORTSCASTER TRAVIS GREEN, KREM

It hasn’t taken long for Travis Green to establish strong support among sports fans here in the Inland Northwest. The 2016 graduate of Colorado State University arrived at KREM in the fall of 2021 after getting his start at a TV station in Corpus Christi, Texas. By July of 2022, he had been promoted to sports director at KREM. In the spring of 2023, less than a year-anda-half after arriving in Spokane, he was voted Best TV Sportscaster by Inlander readers. Now, in the spring of 2024, Green has picked up another win in the category. (WM)

2nd PLACE: Dennis Patchin, NonStop Local; 3rd PLACE: Alex Crescenti, KXLY

READER COMMENTS

BEST NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION

Ronald McDonald House Charities, Spokane and Coeur d’Alene

“It is wonderful to have a place to stay when families have so much stress in their lives! My granddaughter was lucky enough to be able to stay there whilst she went through her cancer treatments.” (Carolyn T.); “RMHC is a huge resource to the region as a whole and supports one of our region’s largest employers, the medical industry.” (Jacob B.); “The work they do is incredible.”

(Matthew G.)

2nd PLACE: Union Gospel Mission;

3rd PLACE: Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery

BEST CHARITY EVENT

Tom’s Turkey Drive, KREM TV and Second Harvest

“It’s the largest food drive in the area. Thousands of families get a full Thanksgiving dinner.” (Dan W.); “Every year gets better. Everyone gets to participate. They make it fun!” (Jeannine L.); “Year after year, Tom Sherry has driven this event to success. It benefits so many in our area. Thank you, Tom!” (Jane S.)

2nd PLACE: Beyond Pink Designer Fashion Show & Auction; 3rd PLACE: Spokane Humane Society FurrBall; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Showcase, Community Cancer Fund, Coeur d’Alene

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 69

BEST LOCAL POET

Laura Read

Through the lush lines and stanzas of her work, it’s quite apparent that Laura Read adores Spokane.

Read moved to Spokane as a young child and from the moment she began writing, the city has informed her work. Several poems in her collection Instructions for My Mother’s Funeral glean their titles from places in the Lilac City: “The House on North Stevens,” “The Big Dipper” and “Donut Parade.”

their life, you know?”

And for most of Read’s life, that’s what she’s been doing. Poetry. She’s published four collections of her own: The Chewbacca on Hollywood Boulevard Reminds Me of You, Instructions for My Mother’s Funeral, Dresses from the Old Country and, just last year, But She Is Also Jane

She’s also begun work on a new collection set to release in fall 2025 called The Serious World.

“Because I’ve been here so long, [Spokane] seems to be like a container for some of my memories,” Read says. “I’ve lived here a long time, and I feel like it’s the way I hold onto myself, if that makes sense. It contains all of who I am.”

Read served as Spokane’s second poet laureate from 2015-17, but she’s shared her knowledge of the written word with people of the region since far before that.

Read has been a professor at Spokane Falls Community College for 25 years, was adviser of SFCC’s creative arts magazine, The Wire Harp, and, as of a few years ago, also began teaching poetry at Eastern Washington University as part of the school’s MFA in creative writing.

“It’s heaven,” she says. “I love my job. It’s fun to work with people who want to do poetry for

“It’s about mental health,” Read says. “There are some poems that are specific to mental health and the pandemic, but it’s also about Sylvia Plath and Marguerite Duras, two historical women that I love.”

Read is also working on a prose book right now, her first venture into a non-poetry realm.

The topic? Spokane.

“My identity is wrapped up in Spokane,” she says. “I have so many students who live here that I’ve taught poetry to, and it’s great to be a part of this artistic community with all of these people I’ve known for years. I feel so rooted in this community.”

2nd PLACE: Mery Smith

3rd PLACE: Chris Cook

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Spokane poet Laura Read YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

READER COMMENTS

BEST TV WEATHERCASTER

Jeremy LaGoo, KREM

“It is such a joy watching him, and he knows what he’s talking about. Educational and entertaining!” (Nancy M.); “Let’sss Goooooo Lagooooooo!!!” (Shane T.); “He is not afraid to have fun and be a little goofy. This makes him feel more approachable and local. His dog also deserves a vote.” (Terri G.); “Comedic value…” (Mark D.)

2nd PLACE: Leslie Lowe, NonStop Local;

3rd PLACE: Kris Crocker, KXLY

BEST ART GALLERY

The MAC

“I love the size — big enough to get a real feeling for their exhibits, but not too big that it’s overwhelming.” (Beth R.); “Great exhibits and interactive areas in a beautiful space.” (Louisa S.); “Love the changing exhibits and the Campbell House.” (Michelle S.)

2nd PLACE: Terrain Gallery;

3rd PLACE: Marmot Art Space;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Art Spirit Gallery, Coeur d’Alene

BEST ARTS / CULTURAL EVENT TERRAIN 

Every fall, without a doubt, there’s a line around the block in downtown Spokane of excited people waiting to enter an… abandoned building? No need to worry, it’s just Spokane’s biggest celebration of local art — Terrain! Put on by the arts nonprofit of the same name, it’s truly a one-of-a-kind event. Hundreds of artists get to display their work in the heart of downtown for the once-a-year, one-night showcase highlighting every facet of the region’s thriving art scene. Over 10,000 people traipse in and out of the building, up and down the stairs and all around, absolutely buzzed to be seeing a plethora of local art. The festival doesn’t just include paintings, drawings and sculptures — Terrain is filled with whimsical installations, dance performances, live music, poetry and so much more. Run by dynamic duo Ginger Ewing and Jackie Caro, Terrain celebrates its 15th iteration in 2024, and you’ll definitely have FOMO if you don’t attend. (MP)

2nd PLACE: Spokane Pride; 3rd PLACE: Unity in the Community

BEST LOCAL PODCAST SPOKAST!

Spotify claims it hosts close to 5 million podcasts. The website Exploding Topics claims that about 450,000 of those are about education, 222,000 are about health and fitness, and 159,000 are about sports. But there is only ONE podcast that rose to the top of our list for celebrating the people living, working, learning, working out and playing sports in Spokane, Washington. Tune in to Brennon Poynor’s weekly interviews to hear local artists, athletes, leaders and entrepreneurs explain their process and love on the city. And the thing is, Spokast! isn’t just about producing its own show — half of its space is dedicated to helping other creators record their own podcasts. Now that’s what we call celebration and support. (EB)

2nd PLACE: Grind 365;

3rd PLACE: Trending Northwest

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BEST BUMPER STICKER THAT REALLY GETS US KEEP SPOKANE KIND OF GROSS

A garbage-sucking goat. A B-list zombie show. An unfathomable amount of Carhartt. Spokane’s got character alright, though it’s not exactly what you would call, well, elegant. But that’s the point, right? When locals Taylor Weech and Erika Prins Simonds accidentally coined the phrase “Keep Spokane Kind of Gross,” it was only with the utmost affection. Their nostalgia and hometown pride balked at the idea of getting rid of the “eyesores” that colored their childhood and entertained as adults. Others felt the same. Now, the slogan is a sticker sold at Giant Nerd Books and stuck on bumpers cruising down Monroe, Riverside, Market and 29th. Proud Spokanites can also broadcast it from their chest with T-shirts sold at Boo Radley’s. No matter how Spokane grows, don’t get rid of our goat! (EB)

2nd PLACE: Spokane Doesn’t Suck;

3rd PLACE: Transcend the Bullshit

READER COMMENTS

BEST TV ANCHORPERSON Mark Hanrahan, KREM

“Serious yet funny. Great delivery style.” (Rick H.); “Well spoken, informative, friendly demeanor.” (MaryAnn M.); “Always upbeat and smiling!” (Teri D.); “No-nonsense reporting, just straight forward with the facts.” (Phyllis C.)

2nd PLACE: Whitney Ward, KREM;

3rd PLACE: Tim Pham, KREM

BEST LOCAL INSTAGRAM

@spokaneplayground

“I love Anna’s page because she not only shares all the best things with us but she is a HUGE supporter of local business.” (Corinna R.); “She’s super genuine and highlights things other than food.” (London H.); “Spokane Playground beautifully tells the story of Spokane.” (Emily T.)

2nd PLACE: @spokaneeats;

3rd PLACE: @trendingnorthwest

BEST ARTS FESTIVAL ArtFest at the MAC

“Outdoors with music, beer, great vibe!” (Jamie A.); “Well-curated show that draws talent from a broad area.” (Terri G.); “It is legendary to me!” (Robin C.); “Because you can’t get enough handcrafted jewelry.” (Tomas L.)

2nd PLACE: Art on the Green, Coeur d’Alene;

3rd PLACE: Terrain’s Brrrzaar

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YOUR SUPPORT MATTERS.

WINNER

Best Charity Event (N. Idaho) SECOND PLACE

Best Running Event

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all who support and participate in our events. As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we’re inspired to continue our mission to help local cancer patients, their families, and the Inland Northwest organizations that serve them. Thank you.

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 73

BEST CANDLES

Dandles Candles

The Inland Northwest is, for about three months each year, a pretty dark place. Literally. Like, for a short stretch in December, the sun goes down before 4 pm. But on the plus side, that means there’s more time for enjoying the golden ambiance and beguiling scents of candles. And Inlander readers say Dandles Candles are the best, not just in those dark winter months, but all year round.

Now celebrating 25 years, it’s easy to see why the local company started by former news anchor and reporter Dana Haynes is so popular. There is a Dandles Candle suitable for virtually any occasion, style, and scent preference. The candles — tens of thousands of them — are still poured by Haynes in small batches using clean-burning soy wax with dozens of scents, including regulars like “library” as well as an assortment of seasonal offerings.

74 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024

“My rule of thumb is I don’t pour a scent I don’t like!” she says. “My nose has worked pretty well for me.” She has one employee to bounce ideas off. “We are always looking for new scents, but we have a very tried-and-true scent list… We are very strategic about scent selection.”

The Tuscan Lemon Grove candle was inspired by a couples’ trip to Italy. “I created that scent as a gift for each of them as a travel candle, but I liked it so much I decided to include it in our line,” Haynes says.

Then there’s the seemingly endless variety of containers that make Dandles Candles stand out. Best sellers include a cement bowl candle with two wicks and a jar wrapped in wire. Elegantly simple clear glass candles are suitable for any decor style, while hobnail jars evoke a delicate nostalgia.

Dandles Candles are available at local boutiques including Ferrante’s Marketplace Cafe and Lucky Vintage & Pretty Things, the latter of which also offers candle refills. Keep an eye on social media for the annual — and very popular — holiday open house at the Dandles Candles studio.

As for the busy company’s future, Haynes says, she’s looking to expand into the Seattle and Puget Sound area, as well as Montana. “We’re just trying to provide even more choices for our customers… My personal sweet spot is the whole research and development process — researching new candles, can we make it for this price — but I also still enjoy a long day pouring.”

2nd PLACE: The Candle Bar Co.

3rd PLACE: Bungalow Candle Studio

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Holaday & Co., Coeur d’Alene

Circling Raven Golf Club

Voted as Best North Idaho Golf Course by the Inlander’s Best of the Inland Northwest Readers Poll, Circling Raven is nestled among 620 acres of wetlands, woodlands and Palouse grasses. You’ll admire the aesthetics almost as much as the play!

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 75
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Dandles Candles owner Dana Haynes sells her hand-poured candles at Lucky Vintage & Pretty Things, along with many other local shops.
YOUNG KWAK
PHOTOS
BEST NORTH IDAHO GOLF COURSE
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BEST TOY STORE WHIZ KIDS 

The independent and locally owned Whiz Kids offers a variety of educational and fun activities that keep kids engaged and entertained. A staple of River Park Square, the shop prides itself on quality customer service and sells toys ranging from stuffed animals to puzzles and bouncy balls for endless play. It also carries plenty of science and math-based materials such as flashcards, science kits and brain teasers that provide a fun twist on learning. Fiction and nonfiction books round out the selection, providing something for kids of all ages to enjoy. (LK)

2nd PLACE: The General Store; 3rd PLACE: Figpickels Toy Emporium, Coeur d’Alene

BEST WINE SHOP VINO! A WINE SHOP

With a legacy stretching back nearly 30 years it’s easy to see why locals trust — and love — the expertise, service and selection at Vino! in downtown Spokane. Vino!’s team brings more than 85 years of combined wine industry knowledge and experience to their customers. The shop’s popular Wine of the Month Club can match any budget or interest, from those who are simply “wine curious” to seasoned sippers curating their own wine cellars. For wine enthusiasts seeking to expand their palates, Vino! offers a robust schedule of weekly wine tastings, plus in-store events with winemakers from near and far, as well as pairing dinners co-hosted with local restaurants and more. (CS)

2nd PLACE: Nectar; 3rd PLACE: Rocket Market; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Pilgrim’s Market, Coeur d’Alene

BEST WOMEN’S BOUTIQUE AUDREY’S BOUTIQUE

Not many businesses in the Inland Northwest have been around as long as Audrey’s Boutique, which opened in the late 1960s. Throughout the five-plus decades since, Audrey’s has not only kept abreast of fleeting fashion trends, it’s stood out from bigger competitors at malls and online by offering something those platforms can’t: an unwavering commitment to personalized customer service. Current and fourth owner Victoria Ferro is well-known as Audrey’s resident “bra whisperer” due to her superb skills in helping women in all stages of life find undergarments that are well-fitting and comfortable. (Since its founding, Audrey’s has specialized in fitting bras for post-mastectomy breast cancer survivors, and still does.) Audrey’s sells much more than bras, though — formalwear, swimsuits and more are also among its year-round selection. (CS)

2nd PLACE: Simple Wildflower; 3rd PLACE: Jema Lane Boutique; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: T-Blue Boutique, Coeur d’Alene and Hayden

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READER COMMENTS

BEST GIFTS

Boo Radley’s

“I buy strange gifts.” (Ron H.); “Super eclectic and fun!” (Morgan H.); “Unique items you won’t find anywhere else.” (Leigh H.)

2nd PLACE: Atticus; 3rd PLACE: From Here; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Mix It Up, Coeur d’Alene

BEST INTERNATIONAL MARKET

De Leon Foods

“I love entering these doors and feeling like I’m back in Mexico again. Delicious food cooked in the deli!” (Margarita M.); “Get what you need here. Great hot foods counter, too!” (Sherry J.); “Love me some tamales.” (Jeff H.)

2nd PLACE: Asian World Food Market; 3rd PLACE: Best Asian Market

BEST HOTEL

The Historic Davenport Hotel

“Best sleep ever on their oh-so-comfy bed, shower is roomy with the best smelling soap ever, the whole establishment is gorgeous, and it’s a Spokane landmark!” (Sharon W.); “A classic.” (Hayley C.); “Unique: a trip to the 1900s — elegant. Peacock Lounge is a great place for a drink.” (Malika O.)

2nd PLACE: Northern Quest Resort; 3rd PLACE: The Davenport Grand Hotel; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Coeur d’Alene Resort

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Huckleberry’s Natural Market

Walking into Huckleberry’s Natural Market is the beginning of an experience. From the onset, you’re greeted by the aroma of food cooking in the bistro, only to soon be met with a myriad of vibrant produce displayed in the store’s center.

Founded in 1996, Huckleberry’s was one of the first natural and organic food-focused grocery stores in the Inland Northwest, says current store manager Josh Davidson. That timing allowed the store to establish a strong brand that’s lasted for decades — and generations.

“We have a lot of customers that will say they grew up as a kid coming into Huckleberry’s, and now they’re adults and they’re bringing their kids into Huckleberry’s,” Davidson says. “They just have a special place in their heart for our market.”

Davidson says Huckleberry’s department layout is

similar to traditional grocery stores, but with a focus on sourcing organic produce, meat, eggs and dairy products, and a mission to frequently partner with local farms in the Inland Northwest.

“If you’re coming to buy produce at Huckleberry’s, we’re going to go through it and make sure that you’re going to get the best you can find,” he says. “You should be able to walk up and find the best one, knowing that we’re doing the best we can to source the very best product for you.”

Huckleberry’s also sells a variety of scratch-made sandwiches, soups and other meals at its 9th Street Bistro, which also has a salad bar and an espresso and juice bar.

While the store doesn’t have an in-house bakery, it stocks its shelves with items from other local producers like Chaps, Rocket Market and Just American Desserts, among others.

Recently, Huckleberry’s remodeled its beer and wine

department, adding a new temperature-controlled area and a spirits selection, as well as other updates.

“We’ve always done a good job of finding high-end wines and locally sourced beers and craft breweries,” Davidson says. “But adding spirits to the mix and just opening up the floor plan back there was a big part of [the remodel].”

One of Davidson’s favorite things about Huckleberry’s is its staff, and he thinks that’s part of what makes the shopping experience for customers unique.

“We have an amazing team of employees that work at the store,” he says. “They work really hard to make sure our guests feel comfortable. I just feel like you can’t really find anything else like [Huckleberry’s].”

2nd PLACE: Pilgrim’s Market, Coeur d’Alene

3rd PLACE: Main Market Co-op

78 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 2021 817 W. Garland, 509-863-9231 anks Spokane
BEST ORGANIC / NATURAL FOODS Huckleberry’s has been providing super fresh food since 1996. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
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BEST BRIDAL SHOP HONEST IN IVORY 

Every bride wants to look their best on the big day, and Honest in Ivory has them clothed, from veil to shoes and everything in between. If your jewelry needs polishing, the boutique has a ring cleaner, as well as fun “Mrs.” T-shirts and jackets. Honest in Ivory encourages its brides to love their body while shopping for a beautiful designer dress. The shop has bridesmaids’ gowns, too. Whether you’re looking for something off the shoulder, romantic and dreamy, elegant and stunning, or a little less traditional like a lacy, black gown, you’ll find it there. Honest in Ivory also has a sister consignment shop, Dearly, offering sample gowns in addition to consigned dresses for the bride in a hurry or on a budget. (CSh)

2nd PLACE: Marcella’s Bridal;

3rd PLACE: Believe Bride;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Cloud Nine Bridal, Coeur d’Alene

BEST PET SUPPLIES THE URBAN CANINE

For the four-legged friends in our lives, only the best will do. This mindset is foundational to the entire team at the Urban Canine. At its two Spokane stores (South Hill and Five Mile), the Urban Canine stocks everything a pet parent needs (and yes, despite the name, this inventory also caters to felines) to keep their best friends happy and healthy. Find high-quality food and treats, collars, toys, carriers, beds, and beyond. Frequent customers can sign up for a loyalty program, and staff are always more than happy to offer advice and personal recommendations. (CS)

2nd PLACE: Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile;

3rd PLACE: (tie) Northwest Seed & Pet, The Yuppy Puppy; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: GoodDog Pet Supplies Plus, Coeur d’Alene

BEST FLORIST ROSE & BLOSSOM

Florists have magical jobs. They’re required to take something gorgeous that nature has already produced, and turn it into an even more dazzling feat of beauty — which can be a challenge. That doesn’t phase Rose & Blossom owner Terri O’Connor though. She has been brightening the Inland Northwest with her exquisite floral bouquets for more than three decades. What started in 1992 as niche rose store Just Roses Plus morphed into an all-inclusive floral shop when O’Connor rebranded it as Rose & Blossom in 2014. Now, she has a team of florists with almost a century of experience among them creating masterful pieces of floral art for folks throughout Spokane County. (CR)

2nd PLACE: Adelaide Co. Floral; 3rd PLACE: Appleway Florist; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Duncan’s Florist Shop, Hayden

BEST DOG TRAINER DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF

Whether you have a new puppy in the family or just adopted an older dog and want them to learn some new tricks, Diamonds in the Ruff has welcomed all since 1996. Four-week group classes start at $175, and private lessons and specialty classes are also available. If you’re searching for an answer to a behavioral question, check out the FAQs on their website. Diamond in the Ruff covers everything from what’s normal dog behavior to how to get your puppy to stop biting, as well as advice on fearful dogs and dealing with noise phobias about thunder or fireworks. Even more, the local trainer’s site recommends blogs and books to help you and your furry family member develop a healthy, happy relationship for many years. (CSh)

2nd PLACE: Pawsitive Connection Dog Training;

3rd PLACE: Method K9, Post Falls

BEST FARMERS MARKET PERRY STREET THURSDAY MARKET

For six months a year, Spokane’s vibrant South Perry neighborhood comes alive every Thursday afternoon. While neighbors meander the historic neighborhood’s streets — market baskets, carts and wagons in tow — to the market’s hub next to Grant Park, those from farther afield have good reason to make the trek by bus, bike or car. For more than two decades now, the Perry Street Thursday Market has been locals’ go-to for some of the freshest and tastiest produce and other foodstuffs in the region. In 2024, the market celebrates its 22nd anniversary, marking another year highlighting locally grown, harvested and handmade goods. (CS)

2nd PLACE: Kendall Yards Night Market;

3rd PLACE: Liberty Lake Farmers Market;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Kootenai County Farmers’ Market, Hayden

80 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 CAMERA READY

READER COMMENTS

BEST NEW CAR DEALERSHIP

Wendle Motors

“No high-pressure sales pitch. Reliable repairs, polite employees.” (Shirley L.); “Amazing service!” (Erin B.); “Locally owned, great sales staff, involved in the community.” (Andy K.)

2nd PLACE: Parker Automotive Group, Coeur d’Alene; 3rd PLACE: Gee Automotive Companies

NORTH

IDAHO BEST CAR DEALERSHIP

Parker Automotive Group

“Great customer service, not just selling you a car.” (Larry M.); “Integrity.” (Robin C.); “Easy to work with, excellent customer service.” (Sharon G.)

BEST JEWELRY

Jewelry Design Center

“I shop exclusively here and have had a good experience. Do an excellent job on the maintenance and cleaning of various jewelry. They even fixed a pair of sunglasses for me that I did not buy there.” (Michael M.); “Far and away the best jewelry buying experience Spokane has ever seen. The craftsmanship is perfection. I cannot express how much I recommend them, from buying a watch battery to your anniversary or engagement ring!” (Christopher V.); “All the sparkles in the store. So many to choose from.” (Karen C.)

2nd PLACE: Tracy Jewelers; 3rd PLACE: Pounder’s Jewelry; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Clark’s Diamond Jewelers, Coeur d’Alene

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NORTH IDAHO’S BEST WOMEN’S BOUTIQUE

T-Blue Boutique

Kareen Link once dreamed of running her own business, making meaningful connections with women while playing dress-up. And now she’s done it — times three.

In 1994, while visiting family in Coeur d’Alene, Link fell in love with the town and everything it stood for.

“I was like ‘What the downtown summer voodoo is this? I’m moving here!’”

While Link initially landed in real estate, after 12 years she decided she wanted a change.

So in 2009, with zero retail experience, she and a former partner bought what was formerly Tiffany Blue Boutique in downtown Coeur d’Alene. Shortly thereafter, they changed the name to TBlue Boutique and opened two new stores, one in Riverstone and then Hayden.

“I wanted to be involved in women’s lives in the community in something I loved to do passionately and really speak life and beauty into them and maybe change the way they see themselves in the mirror — help them to see their worth and identity, which you really can do in a cute pair of jeans,” Link says, laughing.

While all three stores definitely have the T-Blue stamp of style, they also have their own distinctive vibe.

“Because the locations are in a smaller community and relatively close to each other, we wanted to give our customers three different shopping experiences,” Link says. “So we decided to style each

store with its own flair, so we could play dress-up with everybody.”

The downtown store, on Sherman Avenue showcases one-of-a-kind showstoppers, but also stocks looks that are classic and timeless, and fun and funky.

“Then we realized, ‘Let’s make something more similar with the same style, flavor and idea, but more price conscious,” says Link. “So we opened the Riverstone store in 2012.”

“Four years later, we needed that store where, you know, you’re always going to find that classic piece you can put in your closet and wear all the time. So we opened in Hayden.”

The Hayden location has menswear as well. Eventually, Link would like to expand the men’s selection in all three locations.

Reflecting on the past 15 years she’s been living her dream, Link says the relationships she’s built with fellow retailers and the community at large — but most of all, the crew of women who work for her and the women who walk through T-Blue’s doors — has been the absolute frosting on the cake.

“From breast cancer survivors to divorce to first dates, you hear and see everything in the dressing room,” says Link. “It almost makes me emotional because women have let me, and the girls who work for me, into their lives and most secret places because there’s that trust.”

“I love doing this, and I’ll do it for as long as I can.”

82 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
2021
BEST GAMING/COMIC BOOK STORE - MERLYN’S BEST BOOKSTORE AUNTIE’S AUNTIE’S
2021
T-Blue Boutique owner Kareen Link ERICK DOXEY PHOTO

BEST RETAIL CANNABIS SHOP

BEST CANNABIS EDIBLES SELECTION CINDER 

What do you look for in a dispensary? If it’s convenience, there’s surely a Cinder near you, considering there are three locations around the Spokane metro area: downtown, North Spokane and Spokane Valley. If it’s selection, Cinder’s got you covered, especially with edibles. If it’s value, their daily themed deals are always friendly on the wallet. Check all of those boxes and you’ve got a good dispensary. Check them as thoroughly as Cinder does, and you’ve got an eight-time Best of winner in the retail cannabis shop category, and remember, we’ve only had retail cannabis shops for a decade. (WM)

BEST RETAIL CANNABIS SHOP

2nd PLACE: The Green Nugget; 3rd PLACE: Lucky Leaf Co.

BEST CANNABIS EDIBLES SELECTION

2nd PLACE: The Green Nugget; 3rd PLACE: (tie) Apex Cannabis, Piece of Mind Cannabis

BEST LOCAL CANNABIS BRAND BLUE ROOTS CANNABIS CO.

Quality over quantity is a commitment at Blue Roots Cannabis Co., though they may need to make an exception when it comes to winning awards. This is the third-straight Best Of win for the Airway Heights-based company. Founded in 2013, Blue Roots has been growing small-batch cannabis since the early days of legalization. Don’t let the word “small” fool you, though. Blue Roots’ selection of products is vast, offering everything from flower and prerolls to cartridges and disposables. (WM)

2nd PLACE: Phat Panda; 3rd PLACE: (tie) Buddy Boy Farm, Lilac City Gardens

BEST BUDTENDER NICOLE WALKER, THE GREEN NUGGET

Nicole Walker knows cannabis. She got her start working on a medical farm in California before returning home to Spokane six years ago and moving into the retail side of the business. For the past four years she’s built quite a reputation behind the counter at the Green Nugget. A people person at heart, Walker says the best part of her job, “really is the customers.” With her background in medical marijuana and years of experience at a recreational dispensary, Walker enjoys helping everyone find the product they need, whether it’s a preroll for pain or an eighth for enjoyment. (WM)

2nd PLACE: Mitchell Dunn, Lucky Leaf Co.; 3rd PLACE: Vincent Alberty, Cinder

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 83 Thank You Inlander Readers for Voting us Best Roofing Firm 3 Years in a Row! 2021 2021 2021 Roofing / Exteriors Insulation / Energy Audit SCAN TO SCHEDULE YOUR FREE ROOF INSPECTION 509-420-5663 myglacierhome.com Coverage in ID & WA WA Reg: GLACIPS8427G

READER COMMENTS

BEST WEDDING VENUE

Beacon Hill

Catering & Events

“They completely help plan for your special day. The venue is gorgeous, the food incredible and the staff is so accommodating.” (Linda R.); “The view!” (Heather E.); “Consistent, detailed, delicious!” (Ali O.)

2nd PLACE: Arbor Crest Wine Cellars; 3rd PLACE: Kalispel Golf and Country Club; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Hagadone Event Center, CDA

BEST THRIFT SHOP

Global Neighborhood Thrift & Vintage

“Global Neighborhood Thrift has the best vintage goods, books, clothing, housewares and everything else you need! And they provide all of this with a very worthwhile mission of welcoming refugees, providing English classes, teaching job skills, and doing all of this while loving our earth and all of its people.” (Norilee K.); “I love that they have a vintage section that’s actually affordable!” (Anna P.); “Good clothes and helping refugees? What’s not to like?” (Sam L.)

2nd PLACE: Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest; 3rd PLACE: Union Gospel Mission Thrift Store; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Idaho Youth Ranch Thrift Store, Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls

BEST PAWN SHOP

Pawn 1

“Honest and ethical!” (Margaret H.); “Pawn One was at least willing to listen to the details of the jewelry before giving me a quote — and higher than any of the other pawn shops around.” (Vicki S.); “Local!” (Shirley S.)

2nd PLACE: Double Eagle Pawn; 3rd PLACE: Axels Pawn

BEST GROCERY STORE

My Fresh Basket

“It is like no other grocery store in Washington! It is a must to go to.” (Kristy L.); “Great service! Beautiful fresh fruits, veggies, super fish and butcher counter with knowledgeable staff.” (Victoria F.); “Organic, great staff, great owners!” (Erica N.)

2nd PLACE: Pilgrim’s Market, Coeur d’Alene; 3rd PLACE: Huckleberry’s Natural Market

BEST NEW BUSINESS (OPENED IN PAST YEAR) BRICK BUY BRICK 

Lego lovers rejoiced last year when Spokane got not one, but two local spots fulfilling all their brick-building needs. While River Park Square’s official Lego store brings brand-new pieces and box sets to the Inland Northwest, the locally owned Brick Buy Brick takes things several steps further by offering gently used sets and bulk pieces alongside brand-new Legos. Located in the charming Garland District, the shop also has an event room that’s been popular for kids’ birthday parties. From allowance-friendly bulk bags and a build-your-own mini fig table to higher-end sets and rare, collectible Legos, Brick Buy Brick has it all. Locals looking to offload their own collections can also schedule trade-in appointments. (CS)

2nd PLACE: Mulberry Market Co.; 3rd PLACE: Entropy; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Gentleman Sausages, Coeur d’Alene

BEST SKATE SHOP PARADIGM SKATE SUPPLY

The name does not lie at Paradigm Skate Supply, where everything available is specifically for skaters. Owner Kip Harrison sells snowboards, too, but his true passion lies with skateboarding first and foremost. Founded in 2008 just a few blocks from the famed but now-demolished Under the Freeway Skatepark, Paradigm is more than just a shop selling decks, trucks and all the gear a skater would need. Harrison and his crew have built an inclusive hub for skaters from around the Spokane community. Paradigm works to support that community with events like stand-up comedy and art shows. (WM)

2nd PLACE: Pistole Boardshop; 3rd PLACE: Shred Sports

84 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024

BEST ANTIQUE SHOP

BEST VINTAGE BOUTIQUE BOULEVARD MERCANTILE

With its ever-rotating array of furniture, clothing, art, decor and more, every trip to Boulevard Mercantile is ripe with discovery. For nearly a decade (the shop will celebrate its 10th anniversary in early 2025!) the thoughtfully curated store in Spokane’s core, on Washington Street just north of the river, has been an esteemed conduit between its handpicked local vendors and the region’s growing community of vintage and antique enthusiasts. Shoppers love that every trip to Boulevard offers something new, even though all those “new” pieces are actually pretty old objects. Among the limitless examples of what one might find: a handbuilt antique buffet, swanky midcentury sofa, cozy wool mackinaw, botanical lithograph prints and so much more. (CS)

BEST ANTIQUE SHOP

2nd PLACE: Tossed and Found; 3rd PLACE: Blue Cat Vintage; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Rebel Junk Vintage Market, Coeur d’Alene

BEST VINTAGE BOUTIQUE

2nd PLACE: Veda Lux; 3rd PLACE: Chic and Shab; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Rebel Junk Vintage Market, Coeur d’Alene

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 85
Thanks for Voting Us Best Artisan Bread • Bagels • Sandwiches 311 E Coeur d’Alene Ave, Unit A, CDA • (208) 292-9581 2432223 © Touchmark, LLC, all rights reserved TOUC HM AR K ON SO UT H HI LL 2929 S Waterford Dr ive · Sp ok ane, WA 99203 · 509-536-2929 Thank you for voting Touchmark on South Hill as one of Spokane’s Best Retirement Communities! 40+ YEARS OF THE FULL LIFE Learn more: 509-255-7167 22 W Indiana Ave, Spokane, WA (509) 325-2008 salonspokane.com salonspokane 2021 ank you Spokane! We invite everyone to come see why we’re voted Best Tanning Salon First Tan Free * with purchase Full Menu on FACEBOOK 1902 W Francis Ave, Spokane 509-279-2721 • qqsushiandkitchen.com Thank You for Voting! Thank You for Voting!

2nd PLACE: Lucky You Lounge; 3rd PLACE: Hastings

WHITE ELEPHANT: “Especially at Christmas! And their model train department is really missed!” (Gary K.); “Great prices and sporting goods!” (Chris K.); “TOYS!” (Jessica J.)

LUCKY YOU LOUNGE: “Great local hang, food was awesome, music always satisfied.” (Pamela P.); “Was the best place for music and dancing with great atmosphere. I miss the pink bathroom.” (Michaela M.); “PLEASE COME BACK!!!” (Justyce B.) ED NOTE: Good news, Justyce, as the old Lucky You Lounge space has just reopened as The Chameleon, featuring music, food and arts events.

HASTINGS: “It was my childhood! Renting movies, buying CDs, books, toys, gifts, etc. It was THE best store in all of Spokane. #RIPHastings.” (Brandon N.); “Do I really need to explain?” (Ashley L.); “I’ll never get over it.” (Claire H.)

86 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 913 E Sharp Spokane, WA 99202 219 N Pines Rd Spokane Valley, WA 99206 509-921-7673 roseandblossom.com IN STORE PURCHASE COUPON: 20% OFF IN STORE PURCHASE ONLY (NOT AVAILABLE FOR DELIVERY) EXP. MAY 31, 2024 2021 Thank you Spokane for making us #1 BEST NOW CLOSED LOCAL BUSINESS YOU MISS MOST THE WHITE ELEPHANT 

WA 99218

Spokane Valley 615 North Sullivan Road, Suite D

Valley, WA 99037

Membership required. Restrictions apply. All Pacific NW residents are eligible to join. Federally insured by NCUA. Visit your local BECU in April to open an Early Saver account and receive a special gift while supplies last! HEALTHY MONEY HABITS START NOW This QR code should lead you to https://www.becu.org/-/ media/Files/PDF/Join-Flyer_Early-Saver.pdf. If the code leads you to another site, avoid entering your information and report the incident to BECU. Scan the QR code to learn more.
Division 916 N Division Street Spokane, WA 99202 Tellers available
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Spokane North 9420 N
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MONEY ANSWERS FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE SECONDS.

BEST RUNNING EVENT BLOOMSDAY

There’s no better way to explore a city than on foot, which makes this timehonored spring tradition one of the best options for locals and visitors alike to discover Spokane. The 12-kilometer road race, in its 48th year, takes place the first Sunday of May and typically hosts as many as 50,000 athletes, from elite competitors to hobby joggers. Runners start downtown and receive cheers and energy from aid stations, entertainment from local bands and the support of the broader Spokane community all along the 7.46-mile course to the finish line at the Monroe Street Bridge. Bloomsday brings out the best in the Lilac City. (LK) 2nd PLACE: The Boulevard Race; 3rd PLACE: Spokane River Run; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Negative Split Hiawatha Trail Run, Lookout Pass

BEST ATHLETE ANTON WATSON, GU 

No doubt about it, 5th-year forward Anton Watson has earned all-time Zag status — and our readers fully concur. Deciding to come back for another year to anchor this year’s squad was huge for Zag Nation, and he proved that right away in their early-season game against UCLA, when he went off for 32 points on 14-15 shooting, including 3-3 from three-point land. He’s the only player in Gonzaga basketball history to have more than 1,300 points, 700 rebounds and 200 steals in a career. After his 64th game in the Kennel on Feb. 24 — Senior Night — he expressed what was most special about the ride from Gonzaga Prep to Gonzaga University: “Just to embody what it means to be a Zag. The players who came before me, I looked up to them, and it’s cool I represent that in the city of Spokane. It comes up a lot, everyone says I’m a ‘true Zag.’ I feel like that’s the best compliment anyone can give me.” To commemorate Watson’s winning mix of chill vibes and ferocious play, we offer this poster for you to cut out and hang up on your Gonzaga shrine wall. (TM)

2nd PLACE: Ben Gregg, GU; 3rd PLACE: Yvonne Ejim, GU

BEST GOLF COURSE KALISPEL GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB

Set among towering pines where Spokane’s northern suburbs give way to the idyllic meanders of the Little Spokane River and the stunning backdrop of Rattlesnake Ridge, Kalispel Golf and Country Club is as visually impressive of a course as there is in a region absolutely full of them. The par-72 course is known not only for its scenic beauty but the quality of its fairways and greens. The high-quality food and drink options at the club’s 1898 Public House are known to keep golfers around even after they’ve wrapped up the back nine. (WM)

2nd PLACE: Indian Canyon; 3rd PLACE: Downriver Golf Course; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Circling Raven, Worley

88 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 Federally insured by NCUA
(WE HAVE 16 IN A ROW.) numericacu.com GET YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED HERE.
BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER
DERRICK KING DESIGN | ERICK DOXEY PHOTO
ANTON WATSON BEST ATHLETE 2024

BEST COMMUNITY EFFORT LIKE EXPO ’74 THAT PUTS US ON THE MAP

THE PODIUM 

Not only does The Podium look awesome, with its orange angled roof rising majestically out of a basalt cliff near the city center, it’s called a “world-class championship venue” for one reason in particular: the 200-meter, state-of-the-art banked track that’s a dream for runners looking for speed. With 75,000 square feet of competition space, there’s plenty of room for big events that are drawing athletes from all over, like the recent West Coast Indoor Track and Field Championships. The Podium, which opened in December 2021, can accommodate 16 volleyball courts, nine basketball courts or 21 wrestling mats, meaning athletes from our region and well beyond will enjoy taking competition to the highest levels in this elite space. And don’t feel left out if your competitive days are behind you because after hours, The Podium is also a cool concert venue. (AM)

2nd PLACE: Spokane Pavilion Concerts; 3rd PLACE: One Spokane Stadium

BEST BIKE SHOP

THE BIKE HUB

To prepare riders for all of the biking opportunities the Inland Northwest has to offer — clubs, races and a wide variety of trails — is The Bike Hub, with three locations throughout the area. Locally owned since 2009, the Bike Hub offers everything a cyclist needs: bikes of every type, parts, accessories, repairs, fittings, rentals and even their own “pre-shred drink mix” roasted by DOMA Coffee. Not only does the Bike Hub help you get on a bike, but its bike-loving employees also nurture a cycling community. The shop’s Because Bikes podcast discussing regional cycling, plus videos on local trails, maintenance and performance improvement tips, can be found on its website. (LK)

2nd PLACE: North Division Bicycle Shop; 3rd PLACE: Wheel Sport Bicycles; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Coeur d’Alene Bike Co.

READER COMMENTS

BEST BEACH

Coeur d’Alene City Park Beach

“The water is gorgeous, the scenery is even better, and who doesn’t love… chilling on the grassy knoll?” (Michael T.)

2nd PLACE: Boulder Beach, Spokane River; 3rd PLACE: Sandpoint City Beach

BEST PLACE TO SNOWBOARD Mt. Spokane

Ski & Snowboard Park

“It’s so close to our city, making it a quick drive. The terrain is awesome, and night skiing!” (Maxine M.); “Great staff and management!” (Kyle K.); “Easy drive and fun runs.” (Kimberly S.)

2nd PLACE: 49° North Mountain Resort; 3rd PLACE: Schweitzer

BEST SNOW SPORTS SHOP Shred

“Quick turnarounds, no overselling, great quality of work, good website.” (Kyle H.); “They know their stuff.” (Aaron M.); “Expert staff, professional yet personable, best customer support, goes the extra mile, loyal to returning customers.” (Kimberly P.)

2nd PLACE: Sports Creel; 3rd PLACE: Spokane Alpine Haus; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Sportsman & Ski Haus, Coeur d’Alene

BEST WINDOWS

90 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 Let’s Work Together YOUR ONE STOP FOR COMMERCIAL & RESIDENTIAL GLASS RiverCityGlass.com | (509) 532-0252
Thank y Inland and thank y Spokane f voting!
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Falls 1604 E. Seltice Way (208) 773-1581 Rathdrum 14236 N. Highway 41 (208) 687-5217 Coeur d’Alene 1217 N. 4th Street (208) 667-9466 Proudly serving the communities of Thank you for voting us best local hardware stores in North Idaho three years in a row! We work hard to be your neighborhood helpful place.
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BEST SKATEPARK

Hillyard Skatepark

Entering its third decade of existence, the Hillyard Skatepark has long been a magnet for skaters from around the city thanks to the community that it fosters, the history it holds and, of course, the features of the park itself.

The park is known for its long, undulating snake-like run, which caters to transition skaters who carve around or air out above the 12,000-square-foot space.

Vance Rios and Daniel Kinne, two regulars at Paradigm Skate Supply (another Best Of winner this year), speak highly of the park.

“You can go in a circle and get your carve on and stuff. It’s cool because you see bicycle people there, they’re airing out, too,” Rios says.

Built in 2003, Hillyard’s park was one of the first dedicated skateparks in the city. Both Rios and Kinne credit its age for helping build the skate community in Spokane. Before Hillyard, the only other option of similar size was the now-demolished Under the Freeway (also known simply as UTF) skatepark under the I-90 overpass at McClellan Street.

Designed by Seattle’s Grindline Skateparks, the park’s many drop-ins, quarter-pipes and bowls are known as some of the more challenging around.

“It’s just insane how people can skate Hillyard,” says Rios, who considers himself more of a street skater.

“It’s really good for transition skating,” Kinne adds. “It is for the lesser level of what Tony Hawk does. Bowls, half pipes or pipes, that kind of stuff. It’s got that and it’s got some pretty intense features for that there.”

You could actually ask the great Tony Hawk himself about the challenges of Hillyard, as the World Champion skateboarder brought his tour there back in 2012 for a show in front of hundreds of fans.

While that was 12 years ago now, and nine years after the park debuted, Hillyard isn’t showing its age. Lighting was added in the years since Hawk’s visit, and just last summer the concrete saw a new paint job.

It may be the oldest around, but Hillyard’s been voted as the best yet again.

2nd PLACE: Joe Albi/ Dwight Merkel Skatepark

3rd PLACE: Riverfront Skate & Wheels Park NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Coeur d’Alene Skatepark

92 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
for Building Us Up! AtlasBuildingGroup.com 2026 N Beebe Blvd, CDA (208) 818-7941 Best Homebuilder
Even Tony Hawk has skated Hillyard. DAVID UHLENKOTT PHOTO
93 We Have Thank you for voting us the best. (509) 838-5717(208) 643-7371 2021

BEST DAY TRIP DESTINATION FROM SPOKANE/CDA PALOUSE FALLS

The Palouse may be known for its miles of rolling hills and agricultural land, but to Inlander readers, it’s the home of a toptier day-trip destination. Located about two hours from both Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, Palouse Falls — often known as the crown jewel of Southeast Washington — plummets 200 feet into a winding flood-carved landscape, eventually flowing into the southern end of Snake River. The views are jaw-dropping to say the least. And with three separate viewing areas, people can spend their entire day trip finding new ways to discover Washington’s official state waterfall and its surrounding state park. (CR)

2nd PLACE: Wallace, Idaho; 3rd PLACE: Leavenworth, Washington

BEST OUTDOOR REC SUPPLIES

REI

REI is Spokane’s one-stop shop for outdoor apparel and gear, making any customer well-equipped for wherever their outdoor adventure takes them. Floating the Spokane River? Pick up a tube or rent a paddleboard. Running Bloomsday? Test out some road-running shoes and stock up on electrolytes. Mountain biking on Beacon Hill? Get some help fixing up your bike before you head out. Consider becoming a co-op member to benefit from a wide range of discounts, rewards and events. Memberships include access to REI’s Re/Supply Program, the updated version of its popular Garage Sale, during which gently used returned or traded items are sold at a discounted price. (LK)

2nd PLACE: Rambleraven Gear Trader; 3rd PLACE: Shred Sports; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Black Sheep Sporting Goods, Coeur d’Alene

READER COMMENTS

BEST PLACE FOR A PICNIC  Manito Park

“The grounds and flower gardens are absolutely beautiful. Drive or bike through and enjoy a nice peaceful picnic with nature.” (Renee B.); “With all of the various spaces and views, going to Manito means you have a lot of locations to have a picnic!” (Jazmine J.)

2nd PLACE: Riverfront Park;

3rd PLACE: Mount Spokane State Park; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Coeur d’Alene City Park

BEST PLACE TO SKI

49° North Mountain Resort

“The size of the ski area, the quality of the snowfall and snow making, and the commitment to customer service.” (Tim T.); “I love the amount of variety on the runs.” (Steve K.); “Less fog, less people, less money, the friendliest staff and the best place to take an RV.” (Rick M.)

2nd PLACE: Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park;

3rd PLACE: Schweitzer

94 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
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Spike Gonzaga University

In 1985, after years of live bulldog mascots, Spike officially stepped onto the court in a mail-order costume and became the lovable character Gonzaga University and all of Spokane knows today.

His name was chosen via a student survey, but what he exudes is far from a spiky personality, despite the bared teeth. Rather, Spike is friendly, welcoming and loyal, and can be found high-fiving the smallest of Zag fans and hyping up one of the best student sections in the nation, the Kennel Club.

According to Devon Thomas, Gonzaga’s Senior Associate Athletic Director, Spike is an embodiment of what Gonzaga represents.

“Spike’s the physical manifestation of the Gonzaga spirit, or at least the Gonzaga athletic spirit,” Thomas says. “The mascot goes hand in hand with our spirit squad, with our band — it’s another element to bring that excitement, that joy.”

Spike is so popular that when he isn’t prowling the field, court or stands, he might be seen at a local event or even a birthday party.

That’s right, Spike can come to your birthday, too. Unless he’s busy shooting another TV commercial.

In 2022 Spike appeared in Nissan’s “Road 2 Final Four” ad along with Duke’s Blue Devil and Arizona State’s Sparky the Sun Devil. In 2015, Spike ran around with other March Madness team mascots in one of Nike’s “Welcome to Bracketville” commercials.

Apart from national TV, Spike gets plenty of screen time at home athletic events, appearing on the McCarthey Athletic Center’s Jumbotron and in fan photos. Thomas says families often approach him asking for Spike to head their direction for photos.

“You don’t necessarily get an opportunity to see your favorite Zags — you know, Yvonne Ejim or Graham Ike — out and are able to take pictures all the time with them, so Spike is next,” Thomas says. “He’s the way that a lot of people can connect with Gonzaga athletics.”

This connection through Spike serves to bring people into Zag Nation and rally behind Gonzaga athletics. Without him, something would be missing.

2nd PLACE: Ribby the Redband Trout, Spokane Indians Baseball; 3rd PLACE: Boomer the Bear, Spokane Chiefs Hockey; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Joe Vandal, University of Idaho

96 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 Thanks for supporting the arts in our community! aspirecda.com (208) 696-4228 tickets@aspirecda.com Best Local Play in the past year UPCOMING SHOWS APRIL 26 THROUGH MAY 5 AUGUST 2 - 11
BEST LOCAL SPORTS MASCOT Spike unites Zag Nation. ERICK DOXEY PHOTO

When it comes to sweets, you don’t need a storefront for people to know you’re great, as GOOSE HOUSE BAKERY’s Molly Rizzuto has proven since 2015.

Voted the best bakery on the Palouse, Rizzuto’s at-home Moscow bakery is a popular choice for people looking to order specialty cakes, scones, bars, event platters, wedding cakes and more. Formerly a pastry chef in Portland, Rizzuto now bakes small orders on the Palouse six days a week.

While most people order through her website, if you want to try some of her creations out in the wild, you can drop by One World Cafe, where most days you’ll find some of her scones, shortbread, biscotti and bite-sized minis.

“They’re hard to describe — they look like mini cupcakes, but it’s not cake,” Rizzuto says of her bite-sized treats. “It’s in between a candy and a dessert.”

She also provides desserts for the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre’s Met Opera series.

On any given day, Rizzuto may bake five to 15 cakes that people have ordered, or she’s busy putting together platters of delicious treats for events at the University of Idaho or Washington State University.

Rizzuto says she particularly likes the local winter markets at the end of each year, when she gets to interact with her many customers in person every few weeks through the holiday season.

“That’s super special, and I come away feeling super connected to my community,” she says.

Head over to Pullman, and you’ll find that Inlander readers love to peruse a new (to them) book at their favorite bookstore, BRUSED BOOKS. Pop out the back door and head across the street to enjoy a pint at PARADISE CREEK

BREWERY, which readers again voted the best on the Palouse.

On campus, you might come across Lt. Col. Nick Jeffers, who was voted the best professor on the Palouse. Jeffers chairs WSU’s Department of Aerospace Studies and teaches national security, leadership ethics, and the profession of arms. He’s also the commander of the Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) at WSU and U of I, helping train students who want to become military officers.

“He’s the best Aero professor, and an outstanding leader and role model,” one reader wrote. “He is incredibly knowledgeable and conveys information really well in a way you can really understand.”

Nearby, in Apartment Land — the ever-expanding neighborhood of apartments next to campus — readers said they find their favorite tacos at THE LAND. While the restaurant’s daily menu is more focused on bar food

98 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
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favorites like nachos, loaded fries, burgers and salads, every week people turn up for their special Taco Tuesday menu.

The $2 and $4 margaritas can’t hurt when it comes to bringing people in each Tuesday, but they also offer a selection of chicken, pork or mushroom tacos, each topped with cilantro, onion and housemade green or red salsa for just $1.75 each.

People also like to order the taco packs, says manager Brady Stephens. For $11.50, the Taco Fry Pack comes with six tacos and a portion of seasoned fries with limes on the side. Or, focus on the spirit of the weekly holiday and go for the plain ol’ Taco Pack, which includes nine tacos for $15.75.

“The pork tacos are sooo tasty!” one voter made sure to comment.

BEST BAKERY

1st PLACE: Goose House Bakery, Moscow

2nd PLACE: Sugar Babe Bakery, Pullman

3rd PLACE: Flour Power Bakery, Pullman

BEST BOOKSTORE

1st PLACE: Brused Books, Pullman

2nd PLACE: BookPeople of Moscow

3rd PLACE: The Bookie, WSU

BEST BREWERY

1st PLACE: Paradise Creek Brewery, Pullman

2nd PLACE: Hunga Dunga Brewing, Moscow

3rd PLACE: Palouse Brewing Company, Palouse

BEST COLLEGE PROFESSOR

1st PLACE: Nick Jeffers, WSU Aerospace

2nd PLACE: Alexandra Teague, University of Idaho Creative Writing

3rd PLACE: Michael Salamone, WSU Politics, Philosophy & Public Affairs

BEST TACOS

1st PLACE: The Land, Pullman

2nd PLACE: La Casa Lopez, Moscow

3rd PLACE: Red Card Pub, Pullman

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COURTESY PHOTOS
WSU students head to the Land for its Taco Tuesday deals (facing page); Goose House Bakery’s cakes (left) are beautiful and sweet.

BEST ARCHITECT OR ARCHITECTURE FIRM

Uptic Studios

Matthew and Julie Collins founded Uptic Studios on April 1, 2010.

“All good decisions are made on April 1, right?” Matthew says with a chuckle. “But yeah, literally it was Julie and I in our basement for the first couple of years… We’ve been steadily growing ever since.”

Arriving at the office-in-the-basement stage 14 years ago was already the culmination of a winding journey for the multi-talented pair, who met at Gonzaga Prep. After graduation, Julie studied (and got a degree in) special education from Gonzaga University, while Matthew went off to study business at Santa Clara University.

His summer job back home in Spokane changed the course of their lives.

“I was a barista at the Park Bench in Manito Park, and the dean of architecture at WSU would come in the mornings and have an espresso and I’d sit down and talk to him about it,” Matthew says. Those conversations sparked his creativity, and he soon transferred to WSU, where he earned a degree in architecture.

He and Julie got married, started a family and moved to Seattle, where Julie was a teacher and Matthew worked in a big architecture firm. After a rainy 10-month stretch on Bainbridge Island, both were ready for a change.

A move to Savannah, Georgia, allowed Matthew to both work as an architect and study product design at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Meanwhile, Julie began honing her natural talents for design, styling and photography before the couple returned to Spokane to start their firm. She later returned to school for a degree in interior design and is now leading Uptic Curated, specializing in “procurement,” which is the design term for selecting everything that’s not

attached to the interior of a space, such as furniture and art.

“Uptic Studios is kind of the ultimate design challenge,” says Matthew.

“It’s about people, it’s about community, it’s about the love of design, it’s about elevating the human experience,” adds Julie.

Uptic Studios’ contemporary residential and commercial designs strive to meet both aesthetic and functional needs for their clients, while employing cutting-edge building strategies.

“We’re working to figure out how to reduce energy consumption and really make buildings as efficient as possible,” Matthew says. For example, Uptic designed the South Perry District’s net-zero, modular BlockHouse development, which opened in late 2020.

Last fall, Uptic — now including more than 20 employees — moved into a newly renovated HQ in a historic East Sprague building, a long way from their basement origins.

On an early spring day, the open space is flooded by natural light, enlivened by the current installation of colorful paintings by Neicy Frey and desks dotted with vases of blooming daffodils.

“We’re just getting started. This is the launchpad for this company to go further,” says Matthew. “Uptick is a financial term meaning ‘to increase in value.’ As designers, we feel like we want to be adding value to whatever we’re doing or we shouldn’t be at the table.”

2nd PLACE: HDG Architecture

3rd PLACE: Fusion Architecture

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Architects West, Coeur d’Alene

100 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
COURTESY PHOTO
Uptic designs modern homes and commercial spaces.

2021

It is with immense gratitude that we extend our heartfelt appreciation to all those who have supported us throughout the years. Serving generations of residents and their families has been our greatest honor, and we are humbled by the trust and confidence placed in us by the Spokane community.

We recognize that our success is not solely attributed to accolades or awards. Rather, it is the people –our cherished residents and dedicated team members – who truly make our communities thrive. Being Spokane’s only accredited LifePlan communities is a testament to our commitment to providing exceptional care and quality services. And Rockwood at Whitworth is Spokane’s only university affiliated community!

Spokane’s Leader In Senior Living Since 1960

To everyone who has voted for us, we express our deepest thanks.

Visit one of our thriving communities today!

Rockwood at Whitworth •509-466-0411

Rockwood South Hill •509-536-6650

rockwoodretirement.org

BEST LOCAL GARDEN SUPPLY / NURSERY RITTERS GARDEN CENTER & NURSERY

Ritters’ superb plant collections are obviously a top draw for customers all year around. While the plants are gorgeous, it’s the helpful, easy-to-grasp signage that takes the mystery out of how to maintain that new plant once you get it home. Plants are rated on how easy or difficult they are to grow, the amount of light and water needed, and even what type of pot they’ll thrive in — and Ritters stocks plant containers aplenty. But you’ll be missing out if you don’t take some time to browse the beautifully curated displays of merchandise in the store including loads of kitchen accessories, delightful lotions and soaps, and some beautiful garden-related books. (AM)

2nd PLACE: The Plant Farm;

3rd PLACE: Judy’s Enchanted Garden; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Vanhoff’s Garden Center, Coeur d’Alene

102 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 @boulevardmercantile • 509-327-7547 1012 N WASHINGTON st. • spokane SPOKANE’S ULTIMATE VINTAGE DESTINATION Thanks for voting us # 1
clothes, furniture, decor, records & more
Vintage 2021
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Antique 2021
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READER COMMENTS

BEST KITCHEN STORE

The Kitchen Engine 

“Spokane classic with the best brands.” (Jerome S.); “Huge amount of product, and the staff is helpful.” (Leslie M.); “They. Have. Everything.” (Vicki T.); “Top quality and service. Returns no problem. Free parking.” (Nancy C.)

2nd PLACE: The Culinary Stone, CDA; 3rd PLACE: Kitchen Kraft

BEST BANK

Washington Trust Bank

“The community is so important to Washington Trust.” (Tashara K.); “Love my branch. They know my name and tend to keep their employees.” (Char P.); “Always treat you like you own the bank!” (Larry M.); Local, professional, helpful. (Sharon W.); “They go the extra mile to help.” (Carrie K.)

2nd PLACE: Banner Bank; 3rd PLACE: Wheatland Bank

BEST FLOORING BROTHERS FLOORING & DESIGN

Step in to Brothers Flooring and be prepared to spend a few minutes investigating the countless irresistibly tactile displays of carpet, wood, engineered wood, tile and luxury vinyl plank. And when you’re ready to get serious about choosing your flooring, there’s always a friendly and knowledgeable staff member ready to help determine what type of material works best for your projects. But even with all that on-site expertise, don’t try to choose flooring based on what it looks like in the shop. At Brothers, you’ll be sure to leave with ample samples to test out in your own space. Once you’ve made the perfect choice, you’ll have all the help you need in getting it installed. (AM)

2nd PLACE: United Floor Covering;

3rd PLACE: Caruso’s Floors

BEST HOMEBUILDER BEST REMODELER BUILT ON TRUST

Lonnie Edwards, owner and founder of Built on Trust, takes quality control seriously. In fact, he says he still finds himself wielding equipment on job sites a few days a month — that’s while Built on Trust completes five to 12 custom homes a year. And he doesn’t mind at all when inspectors show up. “Everybody always wants to complain when an inspector is onsite,” Edwards says. “If I miss something, I want it to get caught.” He keeps clients happy by almost never running over budget, while shouldering all the worries along the way. Edwards likens the emotions around building and moving into a new home as to how you feel when you get a brand-new car. “We’re gonna have fun building your house,” he says. (AM)

BEST HOMEBUILDER

2nd PLACE: Strohmaier Construction; 3rd PLACE: (tie) Condron Homes; Greenstone Homes; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Atlas Building Group

BEST REMODELER

2nd PLACE: Strohmaier Construction; 3rd PLACE: Levi’s Custom Carpentry

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 103 THANK YOU spokane for VOTING

BEST LANDSCAPING FIRM COPPERCREEK LANDSCAPING 

Who doesn’t want a backyard oasis — maybe complete with a fire pit, swimming pool or hot tub? Or perhaps an outdoor kitchen adjacent to a gently splashing water feature that’s perfectly lit at night? Coppercreek is ready to help out your outdoor infrastructure, including landscaping — that includes choosing and siting trees, shrubs, container plants, ground covers and perennials — and also designing and crafting hardscape, such as walls and stairs. Beyond that, you’ll find plenty of expertise in creating dreamy outdoor living spaces, water features and sport courts. Whatever your yard-dreams, Coppercreek Landscaping founder (and WSU grad) Matt Barton’s team is ready to assist. (AM)

2nd PLACE: Blend Outdoor Design; 3rd PLACE: Dryland Revival

BEST LOCAL HARDWARE STORE RIVER RIDGE HARDWARE

Tucked in next to the beautiful vintage brick Finch Elementary, River Ridge Hardware of course has the requisite mind-boggling and essential arrays of tools and plumbing parts, as well as a paint counter to get the perfect color for whatever project is on your list. But there’s so much more: yard and garden accessories — including a selection of adorable garden boots — in one corner, a custom frame shop for your latest art collectible, and you can rent pretty much any tool under the sun. And if you poke around, you’ll see someone has a sense of fun, because mixed among the “serious adulting” necessities are… toys, including an engaging selection of jigsaw puzzles and a display of Wabobas, a colorful tossable that you’ll just have to see to understand. (AM)

2nd PLACE: Miller’s Hardware; 3rd PLACE: The General Store; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Seright’s Ace Hardware, Rathdrum

BEST HVAC SERVICE

HOLLIDAY HEATING + COOLING + ELECTRIC

Whether there’s a swirling blizzard or a blistering heat dome outside your four walls, Holliday Heating + Cooling has more than 30 years experience in keeping the indoor climate perfectly attuned to your comfort. Inlander readers expressed confidence in Holliday for snappy repair of all types of heating and cooling systems, as well as help choosing and installing new systems, including the lesscommon but environmentally friendly geothermal systems that can help save up to 70 percent on utility bills. If you’ve already got a quote, Holliday is happy to offer a free second opinion. (AM)

2nd PLACE: Sturm Heating & Air Conditioning; 3rd PLACE: Bill’s Heating & A/C, Post Falls

104 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
MATT BARTON PHOTO
Style and performance can be yours, year in and year out, with Pella® windows and doors. Visit your local Pella branch today to explore all the styles, finishes and hardware that help create your one-of-a-kind look. Whether you’re interested in wood fiberglass or vinyl, Pella has the windows and doors you desire. Thank You For Voting Us Best Window Company!
2021

READER COMMENTS

BEST RETIREMENT / SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITY Rockwood Retirement Communities

“The residents and employees are one big happy family. They also serve our community well.” (Amy S.); “Super nice and caring staff.” (Thomas O.); “Best floor plans, friendly staff, great activities, programs, music, lectures, movies.” (Royce G.)

2nd PLACE: Touchmark;

3rd PLACE: Fairwood Retirement Village

BEST PLUMBING FIRM

Gold Seal Plumbing

“On time, communication, no hard sales, honest pricing and getting the job done!” (Dan W.); “They come quickly when you have a problem, and they get it fixed. (Marian F.); “Gold Seal is always friendly and professional!” (Kristie W.)

2nd PLACE: Bulldog Rooter;

3rd PLACE: Peck Plumbing & Heating

BEST CREDIT UNION

STCU

“I switched to STCU years ago, and every employee has been amazing. Plus you can’t beat their programs and rates.” (Megan S.); “Best billboards!” (Ashley W.); “People-first credit union with a huge impact on the community. Made a huge difference during and after the Medical Lake and Grey fires this year.” (Joel S.); “If you have to ask, you’ve never been a member.” (Rob R.)

2nd PLACE: Numerica;

3rd PLACE: Canopy Credit Union

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 105 509-326-3151 GARLAND ANIMAL CLINIC Thanks for voting us one of the best Veterinary Clinics year after year, Spokane! www.garlandanimalclinic.com Complimentary New Pet Exams! Wellness Exams Urgent Care Surgery & Dentistry Puppy Kindergarten GarlandAnimalClinic_BestOf_032824_6S_AP.pdf
916 W 2nd Ave, Spokane (509) 456-7575 • wildsagebistro.com Thank you, Spokane! 2021 Proudly featuring the artistry of Elijah Crume since 2010 Best Fine Dining

NW Granite

NW Granite owner Eugene Chornenky has been helping customers outfit their kitchens for more than a dozen years. And it’s easy to get excited about designing a kitchen if you take a stroll through the bustling showroom that includes numerous full-scale kitchen models featuring a variety of countertops and cabinets, from traditional options to contemporary European styles.

Though the shop has “granite” in its name and offers a large array of slab stones for people to choose among, Chornenky says more customers are now opting for manufactured stones from Cambria, Silestone, Caesarstone, Dekton and others.

“It’s maintenance free… it’s not stain proof, but it’s stain resistant, way more than granite or marble,” he notes.

And all the manufactured products are easy to peruse.

“We’ve designed our showroom in a gallery style so people don’t have to shuffle through slabs,” Chornenky says. “They can just walk through, and they don’t have to take samples from racks.”

The process of getting countertops is easy and speedy for customers: NW Granite’s team takes measurements at the home, creates a template and then fabricates the counters, all within five to seven business days. As for installation, “It depends on the size of the kitchen, but two to three hours we’re in and out,” says Chornenky.

NW Granite doesn’t just sell countertops, though. There’s a broad range of cabinetry, including contemporary and traditional door styles in various wood and paint finishes. Chornenky has news for those trying to end the domination of the white kitchen. “Old Faithful is white shaker. You can mix and match everything with white.”

As for why he thinks Inlander readers chose NW Granite, Chornenky thinks it’s their service that has created loyal, often repeat customers.

“We want people not to just find us on Google or something, but refer us to their friends, to their family. We have a lot of customers who, we did their kitchens 10 or 15 years ago and now they moved… and they’re coming back.”

2nd PLACE: Mario and Son

3rd PLACE: Capaul Stoneworks

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: FloForm Countertops, Post Falls

106 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 BEST CUSTOM COUNTERTOPS
Independent Living Assisted Living  Memory Care Call 509.467.2365 for tours and pricing Still Spokane’s Best in Location and Value! Watch our guided video tour at www.fairwoodretirement.com CAMERA READY
ANNE McGREGOR PHOTO

READER COMMENTS

BEST FURNITURE

BEST HOME DECOR SHOP

Tin Roof 

“All around amazing furniture, beautiful and timeless.” (Erin C.); “I like that they have designers working there to help customers.” (April L.); “They stood behind their product even when the manufacturer didn’t!” (Gary K.); “Unique pieces not seen in every other store.” (Lori N.)

BEST FURNITURE

2nd PLACE: Walker’s Furniture & Mattress; 3rd PLACE: Dania; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Runge Furniture

BEST HOME DECOR SHOP

2nd PLACE: The Bohemian; 3rd PLACE: Chic and Shab; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Mix It Up Home, Coeur d’Alene

BEST REAL ESTATE AGENT

Marianne Bornhoft

WINDERMERE

“Personality, smart, makes you feel like you’re the most important client she has. And a hard worker.” (Lyndia D.); “She’s an amazing Realtor and does a lot for the community.” (Sandy M.); “Excellent responsiveness, intuitive market sense.” (Chris L.); “Marianne makes and keeps strong relationships while offering mentorship and example-setting along the way.” (Christopher R.)

2nd PLACE: Samara Behler, eXp Realty; 3rd PLACE: Alyssa Curnutt, REAL Broker

Umi Kitchen & Sushi Bar

Best Sushi (1st)

Maryhill Winery

Best Tasting Room (1st)

Nectar Wine and Beer

Best Wine Bar (1st), Best Wine Shop (1st)

The Hidden Bagel

Best Bagels (1st)

The Scoop

Best Ice Cream (1st)

Sorella

Best New Restaurant (1st)

Best Interior Design of a Restaurant (2nd)

Core Pilates

Best Pilates (2nd)

Bean & Pie

Best Pie (2nd)

Molé Mexican Food (2nd)

Prairie Dog Mercantile

Best Pet Supplies (2nd)

Kendall Yards Night Market

Best Farmers Market (2nd)

Marmot

Best Gallery (3rd)

Baba

Best Middle Eastern Food (3rd)

Versalia Pizza

Best Pizza (3rd)

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 107
kendallyards.com THANKYOUFOR SUPPORTINGALLTHE SMALL BUSINESSES WITHINOUR COMMUNITY!
2024 2024 2ND PLACE 2024 3RD PLACE

BEST ROOFING FIRM

GLACIER ROOFING AND EXTERIORS, SPOKANE AND COEUR D’ALENE

You gotta have a roof over your head, and the folks at Glacier Roofing get Inlander readers’ votes for being the best in their business in the Inland Northwest. Clients start with a free inspection and assessment of the current roof’s condition and obligation-free advice on the best path forward. Did you know there are no fewer than seven different types of roofing? From standard asphalt shingles to stone-coated steel to metal panels and concrete tiles, Glacier Roofing literally has you, and your home, covered, with more than 20 years of experience on hundreds of roofing projects. (AM)

2nd PLACE: J&A Roofing;

3rd PLACE: Patriot Roofing & Exteriors

BEST WINDOWS

PELLA WINDOWS & DOORS

In addition to making an aesthetic statement, windows have to be tough, yet see-through; they allow sunshine in, but turn away rain, snow, graupel and smoke. So when you’re in the market for windows, you want to actually see what you’re getting. At the Pella showroom, you can slide out huge panels of installed windows from their window “library” — operate the window, gaze through it, examine the differences between vinyl, wood and fiberglass frames, compare traditional and contemporary options. Black frames are in, and happily the wait time for new windows is back down to four to eight weeks after pandemic supply chain issues. (AM)

2nd PLACE: River City Glass;

3rd PLACE: The Coeur d’Alene Window Co.

BEST LOCAL PERSON WHO NEEDS A STREET NAMED AFTER THEM Bing Crosby 

2nd PLACE: Rick Clark of Giving Back Spokane; 3rd PLACE: Mark Few

BING CROSBY: “I mean, he’s the most well known and it kinda just flows…” (Brandon N.); “Maybe if the city named a street after him, the streets might get plowed promptly at White Christmas time.” (Ron H.).

RICK CLARK: “Rick has done so much for the Spokane community. So many people need help where we live, and Rick does his absolute best to help as many people as he can. More people should have a caring heart like Rick!” (Mandie H.).

MARK FEW: “700 Wins = Street.” (Ryan S.).

OTHER TOP VOTE-GETTERS: Harold Balazs, Cami Bradley, King Cole, Helga Estby, May Arkwright Hutton, Carl Maxey, Anne McClain, Craig T. Nelson, Ryne Sandberg, John Stockton, Julia Sweeney, Sydney Sweeney, Billy Tipton, Percy “Happy” Watkins, Elizabeth Welty, Willie Wiley, Sandy Williams, Walt Worthy.

108 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024

BUT DON’T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT

You be the Judge ENJOY A WEEK OF TANNING FREE &

BEST EQUIPMENT BEST PRICES
BEST TEAM

BEST HEALTH CLUB

YMCA

It’s not hard to understand y the Y has earned Best of Hall of Fame status as the Inland Northwest’s Best Health Club(s). (In fact, it’s somewhat of an unfair advantage.)

YMCAs are much more than just gyms.

That’s no knock against the gym prowess of the five YMCA branches in the Inland Northwest. There are free weights and cardio machines aplenty, plus indoor swimming pools and basketball courts for one’s aquatic and sporting sweats. In 2023, the nonprofit organization poured over $1 million into equipment upgrades to continue offering top-of-the-line gyms.

But the Y really leans into the full meaning of the health in health club. One’s personal health shouldn’t be defined just by getting jacked or losing weight.

“We’re committed to that whole person wellness,” says Mary Berry, vice president of communications and marketing at YMCA of the Inland Northwest. “So while

we have physical spaces that help people achieve their wellness goals, we;re so much more than that. And I think that’s really what people feel is — they feel a sense of community, they feel a sense of belonging. They’re not just coming in to get a sweat on — they’re meeting people, they’re creating friendships.”

You aren’t just gonna find Instagram gym rats at a Y. You’ll also find kids and parents doing tumbling classes and seniors in aquatic aerobics class. You’ll find Special Olympians training for competition through a partnership with the organization, and cancer survivors staying active through the free Livestrong program. Depending on which YMCA members visit (and memberships are good across all locations), the possibilities will vary.

“Anytime a Y is built, there isn’t a cookie-cutter kind of formula for it,” Berry says. “It’s a collaboration with the community to really identify what the community wants. What is important to them?”

A glance around at the region’s clubs proves her point. The North YMCA branch boasts a lazy river, community garden, walking trails and disc golf. While the South Y lacks a pool, it was a former Gold’s Gym, so the free weights section is tops. The Y in Spokane Valley

even has a greenhouse.

And the YMCA’s community programming reflects that diverse mindset. The organization is one of the largest child care providers in the region (for kids from six weeks to 6 years old). They have extensive programming before and after school hours so kids can have safe activity spaces (plants grown from the aforementioned greenhouse help feed teens at the Central Y). A veterans group uses the South Y as its meetup spot. And there are plenty of non-physical offerings like crochet clubs open to all-ages.

“You wouldn’t necessarily think, ‘Oh, I’m gonna go to the gym and knit,’” jokes Berry.

A YMCA can be almost anything to anyone. A gym? Yes, sure. But really each Y is a unique community hub all to its own.

“I heard a saying the other day,” says Jeanne White, marketing director at YMCA of the Inland Northwest “When you’ve seen one Y, you’ve seen one Y.’”

2nd PLACE: MÜV Fitness

3rd PLACE: The Union Studios

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Peak Health & Wellness

110 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024
YMCA of the Inland Northwest offers exercise classes and much more. COURTESY PHOTO
BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 111 Qualifying credit, service, and other requirements may apply. See rep for details. See Terms and Conditions (including arbitration provision) at www.T-Mobile.com for additional information. T-Mobile, the T logo, Magenta and the magenta color are registered trademarks of Deutsche Telekom AG. © 2023 T-Mobile USA, Inc.

BEST EXPERIENCE FOR YOUR INLAND NORTHWEST BUCKET LIST THE ROUTE OF THE HIAWATHA 

Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or prefer a more casual pedal, the absolutely stunning descent along the Route of the Hiawatha (also known as the Hiawatha Trail) is an excursion that can be enjoyed by all levels, and one that Inlander readers feel is truly a can’t-miss activity for residents and visitors alike. Don’t let the 15-mile distance frighten you as it’s all downhill from the top of the mountain, where riders immediately enter the 1.6-mile-long St. Paul Pass Tunnel, carved through the mountains straddling Idaho and Montana more than 100 years ago. Beyond the pitch-black tunnel, sweeping views and seven super-high train trestles await. With shuttle buses to take riders back to the mountaintop parking area, and nearby access to Lookout Pass Ski Area, there’s no excuse not to prioritize a summertime ride (open late May through mid-September) along this historic former railroad carved through the rugged Bitterroot Mountains. (CS)

2nd PLACE: Numerica SkyRide over Spokane Falls; 3rd PLACE: Visit Palouse Falls

BEST SPA

LA RIVE AT NORTHERN QUEST

Whether you’ve had a hectic week or just need a bit of relaxation, La Rive Spa at the Kalispel Tribe-operated Northern Quest Resort & Casino offers a myriad of services that will leave you feeling restored. La Rive means riverbank, a nod to the spa’s use of natural materials from the Pend Oreille River in some of its treatments. Before or after treating yourself to a massage, facial or one of many other restorative services, check out La Rive’s luxurious amenities including a pool, hot tub and sauna. The spa also offers monthly specials and packages to give you the most out of your experience. (SSa)

2nd PLACE: Davenport Spa and Salon;

3rd PLACE: Luxe Salon & Medspa;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Highlands Day Spa, Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene

BEST AESTHETIC/MEDICAL SPA SARAH HAMILTON FACE

There’s more to beauty than meets the eye, and the team at Sarah Hamilton FACE focus on helping each client achieve their goals without creating overdone results. Combining their years of experience with high-quality products and services, its staff prioritizes creating a friendly, relaxing environment for all. FACE offers laser treatments, fillers, microneedling, botox, tattoo removal and much more, so clients can meet many of their medical and aesthetic needs. Founder Sarah Hamilton is nationally renowned and has almost two decades of experience that she imparts by training skincare professionals around the country. (SSa)

2nd PLACE: Crafted Beauty;

3rd PLACE: Renew Aesthetics & IV Hydration Bar, Coeur d’Alene

112 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024

READER COMMENTS

BEST DENTAL PRACTICE

Dr. C Dental

“Everyone there is kind and gentle. Very professional. They work great with insurance and help you make informed decisions.” (Kristina S.); “They are efficient, and their staff is friendly.” (Susan B.)

2nd PLACE: NorthView Family Dental;

3rd PLACE: Sleep Dentistry of Spokane;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Riverstone Dental Care, Post Falls and CDA

BEST ORTHODONTIST

Damon Orthodontics

“Personal care and tailored treatment plans, and we’re not just another patient in the chair.” (Kati S.); “Best in Spokane for decades now.” (Louise D.); “Compassionate staff who cares about your health.” (Jared R.)

2nd PLACE: Bret Johnson Orthodontics;

3rd PLACE: Josh Johnson Orthodontics; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Curtis Orthodontics, Coeur d’Alene

BEST JUICE AND SMOOTHIE BAR

Method Juice Cafe

“Organic goodness, their full menu, nourishing food, great customer service!” (Samantha P.); “The rice bowls are icing on the cake.” (Taci V.); “The BEST smoothies!” (Caroline K.)

2nd PLACE: Wellness Tree;

3rd PLACE: Huckleberry’s Natural Market; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: The Wellness Bar, CDA, Post Falls and Hayden

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 113

Buy Sell Trade Fashion B u

407

buffaloExchaNge.cOm

AMC River Park Square

Anthony’s

Arbor Crest Winery

Art on the Green

Atticus

Auntie’s Bookstore

Azteca

Boo Radley’s

Churchill’s Steakhouse

Clinkerdagger

Dave, Ken and Molly

David’s Pizza

Dennis Patchin

Dick’s Hamburgers

Domini Sandwiches

Dry Fly Distilling

Dutch Bros.

The Elk

Frank’s Diner

Gordy’s Sichuan

Thomas Hammer

Historic Davenport Hotel

Huckleberry’s

Jaazz Salon

Jewelry Design Center

KZZU

Liberty Park Florist

Luigi’s

MAC ArtFest

Manito Park

Mizuna

Mt. Spokane

Mustard Seed

No-Li Brewhouse

Nordstrom

Northern Quest Resort & Casino

Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Nyne

Riverfront Park NEW

Pawn 1 Pig Out in the Park

REI

Hastings

Rocket Bakery

Satellite Diner

Schweitzer

Tom Sherry

Spa Paradiso

Spokane Arena

Spokane Civic Theatre

Starbucks

STCU

Sweet Frostings

Swinging Doors

Thai Bamboo

The Tin Roof

Tomato Street

Twigs

Stephanie Vigil

Value Village

The Viking Washington Trust Bank

Wendle Motors

Wheel Sport

Wisconsinburger

YMCA Camp Reed

YMCA of the Inland NW

114 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 ROOF REPLACEMENTS ROOF REPAIRS ROOF INSTALLATIONS
DOWNTOWN!
W. Main Ave. (At Washington st.) 509-606-1032
sustaiNable style
ce
siNce 1974
y
Spokane Inlander - 4 Units S - 3.6” x 5.4”
WINNERS THROUGH INLANDER READERS
HISTORY
S e l l T r a d e Fas h i o n
10-TIME
POLL

READER COMMENTS

BEST WAXING SALON

European Wax Center, 

Spokane and Hayden

“Awesome service, amazing wax, very fast, clean and effective. There are three locations open seven days for convenience. (Dave C.); “They have the best waxers in the Inland Northwest! (Stephanie L.)

2nd PLACE: The Studio;

3rd PLACE: Mode Salon and Wax Studio, Spokane and Hayden

BEST NAIL SALON

Gloss Nail Lounge

“11/10 job every time, very clean and beautiful space.” (Mareval O.); “Gloss Nail Lounge is more than a place to have your fingers and toes spiffed up! The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and they treat you very nicely.” (Kelly B.); “It’s like walking into a sisterhood!” (Leanna V.)

2nd PLACE: Glaze Nail Salon & Spa; 3rd PLACE: The Studio

BEST BARBER SHOP

LEGACY BARBERSHOP

Whether you’re looking for a clean buzz cut, a shapely beard trim or the whole barbershop experience (spinning candy-striped pole and all), Legacy Barbershop has got you covered. And with three locations across the city, it’s easy to get faded (in haircut terms, that is) wherever you are. Owner Kolby Balcom strives to create a friendly atmosphere while providing high-quality services to all the shop’s clients. Balcom also adds to a list of Spokane businesses that are proudly veteran-owned. (CR)

2nd PLACE: Red Oak Barbershop;

3rd PLACE: Black London’s Barbershop; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Maverick’s, Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint

BEST EYEWEAR BLINK EYECARE

The phrase “the eyes are the windows to the soul” has never been more true than at Blink Eyecare. Treating everyone like family and priding themselves on customer service is just the beginning. Expert optometrists use the latest technology to ensure exact prescriptions and eliminate any distortion in peripheral vision when patients order a new pair of specs. With over 800 designer frames, Blink customers can also be sure to find the right match — each frame is handpicked with Spokanites’ preferences in mind, and since no face is the same, keeping a wide variety in stock is key. You won’t need an optometrist to see that Blink is one of the best. (AN)

2nd PLACE: Garland Vision Source; 3rd PLACE: Deer Park Vision Source; NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: EyeGuys, Hayden

BEST TANNING DE SOLEIL SALON AND SPA

Winter in the Inland Northwest comes with a lot of cloudy days and little sunshine, making it hard to get your daily dose of vitamin D, but De Soleil Salon and Spa can help. The salon’s level one tanning bed has tanning bulbs, a body cooling system, and if you prefer not to tan your face, staff can turn those bulbs off for you. Level two features a 360-degree bed for an all-over tan. Pricing is based on time spent under the bulbs. But if you’re avoiding traditional tanning beds, consider quick-drying airbrush tanning. DeSoleil also offers red light therapy, an anti-aging tool that helps smooth and reduce wrinkles, boost collagen production, and other benefits. (CSh)

2nd PLACE: Slick Rock Tanning, Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Hayden;

3rd PLACE: Sunny Buns

BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 INLANDER 115

Fourth Street Tattoo

Fourth Street Tattoo has all the makings of a traditional tattoo parlor. Each square inch of wall space is taken up by original artworks and flash sheets (pre-drawn tattoo designs) of varying styles. One large sign in the entryway reads “NO drunks, drinks, children, deals, food, phones, smoking, or photos of art ”

However, studio owner Jacob Redmond has

made sure to add his own personal flair to the space. Shelves filled with plants (mostly cacti) line the shop’s northwestern windows from floor to ceiling. Two old-school, coin-operated gumball machines filled with surprise tattoo designs sit in the corner between the two botanical barriers. A few taxidermied animal heads are spread out around the studio, too.

In addition to Redmond, who’s been tattooing

for nearly three decades now, the shop has four artists: Chris Jacobson, Shawn Peaks, Jake Casey and James Fanara. Each has a different style focus, which Redmond says makes the shop’s environment less competitive.

“That way, we can direct people to the [artist] who would do the best job,” he says.

That collaborative environment and wide array of available tattoo styles is part of the reason that folks love Fourth Street so much.The proof is in the polls. This is the third year in a row that Inlander readers have named Fourth Street as North Idaho’s best tattoo studio — the shop will be approaching its fourth anniversary this year.

Four years ago, a fire ripped through a downtown Coeur d’Alene building in the dead of night, displacing six local businesses. A salon, a burger joint, an art cooperative, a haberdashery and an insurance brokerage were among the blaze’s wreckage. The sixth and final affected business was Heart City Tattoo, a studio owned by Redmond.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the tragedy it seemed to be. The fire happened a few months before the pandemic shuttered businesses across the country, leaving Redmond in the perfect place to build back better than before.

“The pandemic actually worked out really well,” he explains. “It gave us time to build this place out while everybody else was sitting at home.”

Redmond says it wouldn’t have been possible without the influx of community support the shop received. The new location right off the highway was helpful, too.

“When we were downtown there were a lot of problems with parking,” he says. “Then, if there was any sort of downtown event going on, it would just kill business for the day.”

Rebuilding also meant rebranding. Less than a year after Heart City burned down, Fourth Street Tattoo was born. And like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Redmond and his team of artists emerged stronger than ever before.

116 INLANDER BEST OF THE INLAND NORTHWEST 2024 Thank You We love delighting our guests! 2021 N Spokane Wandermere 9642 N Newport Hwy Northpointe Plaza (509) 891-6000 Spokane Valley 506 N Sullivan Rd Starbucks Plaza (509) 924-4533 Coeur d’Alene/Hayden, ID 273 W Prairie Shopping Ctr (208) 518-0400 Locally owned and operated at 3 Inland Northwest Locations: Every Body Smooth 2021 First Wax Free* Book today at waxcenter.com *Limitations apply, see website for details.
IDAHO’S BEST TATTOO STUDIO
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CHRIS JACOBSON TATTOO

READER COMMENTS

BEST TATTOO STUDIO

Fortunata Tattoo Studio

“The artists at Fortunata Tattoo are not only extremely talented, but also genuinely care about making beautiful pieces for their clients.” (Francesca P.); “Provides a luxury spa-like feel to getting a tattoo. Always a clean and inviting environment to be in. The owners care a lot about their customers and strive to be even better each year.” (Ness M.); “All the artists are so incredibly talented, and it’s such a welcoming and fun environment!” (Meredith M.)

2nd PLACE: Anchored Art Tattoo & Gallery;

3rd PLACE: UndeadINK;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Fourth Street Tattoo, Coeur d’Alene

BEST HAIR SALON

The Studio

“The Studio has everything you could ever need from hair to lashes to wax to skin care, with the best atmosphere and run by two of the best people I know. Their entire space is full of joy, inclusivity and kindness.” (Hannah M.); “Tons of providers, I can get in anytime, and it always fits my schedule. The space is beautiful, and the staff are so lovely!” (Sam M.)

2nd PLACE: Luxe Salon & Medspa;

3rd PLACE: Oasis Hair;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Bombshell Salon, Coeur d’Alene

BEST PILATES PRECISION PILATES

If you’ve ever taken a Pilates class, you understand that it’s not as simple as it seems. Pilates requires precision with each move, and Precision Pilates works with each client to ensure they get the most out of their workouts in a fun and positive environment. From traditional Pilates mat and reformer classes to a studio full of equipment, plus Bodywrx classes that incorporate cardio and mobility training with Pilates, you’ll start seeing results no matter your experience level. And if you fall in love with Pilates, Precision also offers teacher training using a program crafted by Lolita San Miguel, who was trained by Joseph Pilates himself, to ensure students successfully master the ins and outs of Pilates. (SSa)

2nd PLACE: Core Pilates and Wellness;

3rd PLACE: Luxe Salon & Medspa;

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Highlands Day Spa, Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene

BEST YOGA STUDIO ECLIPSE POWER YOGA 

Located on Spokane’s South Hill, Eclipse Power Yoga offers a variety of ways to enjoy yoga for newcomers and faithful yogis alike. The studio offers everything from high-energy power beats classes combining music with yoga, to yin and Buti yoga. Infrared heat is available for some classes, which helps promote flexibility and blood circulation. Outdoor classes are also taught on the rooftop or in a park. “Yoga in the Wild” features a short hike followed by yoga instruction and meditation, while retreats and other adventure opportunities are offered throughout the year. For those needing financial help, Eclipse offers the Joanne Heyamoto Scholarship Fund, named in honor of its owner’s mother. (CSh)

2nd PLACE: Shala Living Yoga;

3rd PLACE: Beyoutiful Hot Yoga, Spokane and Coeur d’Alene

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BEST VETERINARY CLINIC

Union Animal Hospital

Linsey Sutton always had a special bond with animals. She’s had more than 33 pets of her own over the years — everything from goats to a small energetic terrier named Max. Max is starting to get old, and in recent years, he’s been struggling with heart disease. Thankfully, he’s able to get care at Union Animal Hospital, the veterinary hospital Sutton owns and operates in Spokane’s East Central neighborhood.

“My whole purpose behind wanting to own my practice was wanting to make sure I had a clinic that I would want to take my pet to,” Sutton says as she pets Max in the clinic’s exam room. “I want to make sure they’re getting the kind of care I would expect my pet to have.”

A lifelong Spokanite, Sutton purchased Union Animal Hospital in 2015. It was previously an animal dental clinic, but Sutton expanded it to an all-service hospital with an in-house lab. Other than a handful of specialized surgeries, Sutton says the hospital is able to do almost everything in-house.

When the hospital first started, Sutton ran it with just one other person. But business has been booming, and Union Animal Hospital now has close to 25 employees and sees 60 to 80 patients each day — mostly dogs and cats, but also iguanas, guinea pigs, chinchillas, birds, ferrets and a host of other animals.

Many veterinary clinics and hospitals have been consolidated

into larger chains in recent years, but Sutton says she’s proud that Union Animal Hospital is locally owned and operated. She says it helps provide patients with an extra level of care and a personalized touch. In addition to the administrative work of managing the business, Sutton continues to see patients on a regular basis.

The pandemic was a crazy time for the veterinary industry. Spokane saw an influx of new arrivals seeking care for their animals, and the lockdown prompted a number of other people to bring home new pets. Many animal clinics became overwhelmed and stopped taking new patients, Sutton says.

But even as Union Animal Hospital became flooded with new patients, Sutton says the hospital stuck to its goal of never turning people away.

“I always try to put myself in the shoes of those pet owners,” Sutton says. “Tons of people would tell us that they called four or five places and no one would see them… But we’re here. People need help, so let’s figure out a way to help them.”

2nd PLACE: Garland Animal Clinic

3rd PLACE: Indian Trail Animal Hospital

NORTH IDAHO’S BEST: Alpine Animal Hospital, Coeur d’Alene

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Dr. Linsey Sutton (center, holding dog) founded Union Animal Hospital in 2015. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
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FIGHTING FOR FOURTH MEAL

Before Relentless Wrestling holds its biggest show ever at Northern Quest, we chat with Taco Bell-obsessed headliner Alex Zayne

Regional fans of high-flying pro wrestling action are in for a treat this weekend, as standout local indie imprint Relentless Wrestling is putting on its biggest show ever. Relentless Wrestling 24: Monumental will more than triple the promotion’s normal monthly show capacity by heading to Northern Quest Resort and Casino for the first time.

To match that size boost, Relentless is bringing in more top-end talent then ever before. That includes oddball AEW star Danhausen, New Japan Pro Wrestling standout Tom Lawlor, and the hottest name in the indie pro wrestling scene this year, Mustafa Ali — the former WWE cruiserweight champion and current TNA X

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MARCH 28, 2024 INLANDER 23
Alex Zayne (bottom right) and the other grapplers entering the Relentless ring this weekend.
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BURGERS TO DIE FOR AT KILLER PRICES the classic

Division champion.

Squaring off against Ali will be another indie standout, the flamboyant Alex Zayne. The Kentucky native has made a name for himself in New Japan Pro Wrestling, competing in its prestigious Best of the Super Juniors and World Tag League tournaments. He also has a unique wrestling gimmick that doesn’t initially sound like a gimmick — he really likes Taco Bell. Referring to himself as “The Sauce,” he incorporates nods to the fastfood chain in everything from his move names to his Fire Sauce-red hair.

We caught up with Zayne to talk about his wrestling origins, battling for Relentless, and indulging in Fourth Meal.

INLANDER: What first got you interested in professional wrestling?

ZAYNE: My grandfather was a fan of pro wrestling. One day when I was like 3, my mom and grandmother left me home alone with my grandfather. Of course, as a young sprout, I was throwing a fit of some sort. And he was like, ‘Oh, look at the TV!’ There’s a snake on the TV!’ And Jake the Snake was on the TV with his snake. And it was all history from there — I was hooked.

When did you start pursuing it yourself?

I started backyard wrestling, initially. So just me and friends getting all charged up and starting to try wrestling moves on each other. And then that progressed into ultimately looking for a place to train when I was old enough. Back then, in Kentucky, you could train before getting licensed to actually start working. So I started training around 16 until I was able to work at 18. And then after that, I really just learned on the road.

How would you describe your wrestling style?

In most cases, a high-flying, daring style. Saucy for sure.

Well, speaking of saucy, how did your Taco Bell-related aura come about?

Initially it came about because I was always working out late at night. And when I got out

of the gym, only a couple restaurants would be open, one of those being Taco Bell. And for those who are not in the know, you can get quite the protein count from Taco Bell for like pennies on the dollar. [laughs] So I would swing by there a lot of nights throughout the week after a latenight workout and grab my Taco Bell fix. And then from there I started just hashtagging everything #bodybytacobell, and it just progressed into more and more Taco Bell.

You even officially linked up with Taco Bell in Japan, right?

I had my own Alex Zayne combo meals, which was a crazy experience for me after knocking on the Taco Bell door for so long.

You also name some of your signature moves after Taco Bell items.

Yeah, we have the Baja Blast, which is a flipping sidewalk slam. I was doing the Crunchwrap Supreme, which was a shooting star double knee drop to the back. Then my finishing maneuver is the Taco Driver, which is kind of hard to describe — it’s like a choking pumphandle driver. I invented that move on my trampoline doing it on my little brother in like 2006.

What’s on the horizon for you in New Japan?

As you may have noticed, when I recently did World Tag League, tagging with Lance Archer, that was my official coming up to the heavyweight division [main event scene] from the junior heavyweight division [division of lighter, younger wrestlers]. So I think that opens up a lot of doors and opportunities for me within New Japan. I would love to do the G1 [NJPW famed singles tournament]. I would love to go back to do World Tag League with Lance. So finding my footing in the heavyweight division and aiming for some sort of title representation would be my ultimate goal within the next year or so.

How do you think your style matches up with Mustafa Ali?

Even though we have a similar style, he is quicker and more smooth. I’m a lot more reckless. So I’m interested in how the styles will come together and mesh in the ring. I think it’ll be a very exciting, fast-paced and reckless sort of match. I’m looking forward to bringing him into my world.

What do you enjoy about the current state of indie pro wrestling?

One of the things that’s hard to argue against is the amount of just incredible, incredible talent out there. Getting booked against someone with the fire behind them like Ali, that’s quite the opportunity. Relentless bringing me in to work against a talent like Ali is quite the compliment.

Great independent companies like Relentless are playing a lead role in progressing the modern era of professional wrestling, where you can see world-class talents go head-to-head in your hometown. And not in an arena, it’s a very up-close, personal sort of setting. n

Relentless Wrestling 24: Monumental • Sat, March 30 at 7 pm • $39-$79 • All ages • Northern Quest Resort & Casino • 100 N. Hayford Rd., Airway Heights • facebook.com/RelentlessPNW

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Alex Zayne, aka “The Sauce”
CULTURE | SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT 24 INLANDER MARCH 28, 2024
“FIGHTING FOR FOURTH MEAL,” CONTINUED...

LUNCH IN THE VALLEY

Grab a great midday meal at these two new spots in Spokane Valley

Noon nosh. Midday munch. Siesta fiesta. Nightlife gets all the glory, but nothing makes or breaks a day like lunch. What else hits the spot like breaking from work, taking that first bite and talking hot, juicy goss’ with your lunch bunch besties?

If you’re lucky enough to be looking for a lunch spot in Spokane Valley, you’re in for an especially mean meal. Don’t look for billboards or online ads — neither of these trending spots have spent a cent on advertising. The new kids on the block have already gotten in with the cool crowd thanks to word of mouth and unsolicited social media attention. If Spokane Valley is one big cafeteria, these are the queen bees everyone is buzzing about.

BIRRIERIA EL SAZÓN

This new Mexican spot’s got “the touch.” The newest location of the El Sazón franchise, which also has locations in Pasco and Kennewick, had a line out the door the day before they officially opened. Their soft opening wasn’t posted anywhere, but like any “secret” party, the people came out in droves. El Sazón had to close early just to get ready for their grand opening day. Even after they officially opened on Jan. 4, the hype has remained.

On a recent weekday, the dining room was already half full before it was technically afternoon, and a line snaked from the register to the door. Next to the register, an employee grilled fresh corn tortillas on a hot griddle. The jar in front of her, labeled “Tips for Tortillas,” was almost full of dollar bills.

Besides tortillas, all the salsas and churros are also housemade, says co-owner and general manager Matthew Gonzalez, who’s taking orders from the ever-growing line.

“It just takes time to make something good,” he says. The birria, the meat the restaurant is named for, is

braised overnight and then cooked for six more hours before it’s served.

Gonzalez is from Southern California, which is also home to the birria trends that have spread from Los Angeles to birrierias across the country. Birria itself is a traditional Mexican way of preparing and serving goat or beef with a luxurious consomme or broth. But the fried quesabirria with cheese (two for $10.42) or the borderbusting birria ramen ($14.84) are newer, more Instagrammable trends.

The birria at El Sazón comes in any form you like — burritos, tacos, tortas, sopitos, gorditas and mulitas. You can also choose pork or chicken for protein if you prefer. The handmade churros come plain ($1.74) or filled ($1.97) with sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, strawberry, caramel or chocolate. El Sazón is also one of the only spots in Spokane that offers champurrado ($3.13), a hot, cinnamon-y Mexican chocolate drink and one of the most popular versions of atole, a traditional Mesoamerican masa-based beverage.

The El Sazón brand is an offshoot of El Riconsito, a family-owned franchise that has over 15 locations in Western and Central Washington. It’s not often that a franchise is known for authenticity or fresh food. But Gonzalez says the chain has an integrated supply chain within the company. That way, they can keep ingredients, recipes, and quality consistent across stores and over time. Gonzalez says he’s meeting people in Spokane Valley who used to travel to the Tri-Cities to eat at El Sazón. Now they’re thrilled to find the same food closer to home.

Soon after El Sazón opened, a new Atilano’s location popped up right next door. But according to Gonzalez, there’s no beef between the neighbors — there’s

plenty of food and customers to go around. Plus, El Sazón is open early for breakfast and late for after-hours cravings.

Food comes out of the kitchen minutes after it’s ordered, delivered to the table only moments after the guests sit down. Tortillas sizzle, live fútbol plays on TV, Spanish and English mingle in the dining room, and most of the tables have at least one half liter glass bottle of Mexican Coke.

“El sazón” literally means “seasoning.” But to say someone’s got “el sazón” is to say they have the magic touch, Gonzalez says, like a grandma who measures with her hands and heart for the perfect dish. Whatever the special ingredient is for good food and overnight success, it’s clear this restaurant’s got it.

Birrieria El Sazón • 11519 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley • Open daily 8 am-midnight • 509-960-8101

THE HUNGREE BEE

Deanna and Duane Henderson used to own Buzzworthy Farms, a cannabis business mascoted by a cute, stoned bee. Turns out, he got a little hungry.

When the Hendersons got out of weed, they switched to sandwiches but kept the mascot. Ever since Hungree Bee opened last June, they’ve been humming along thanks to plenty of regulars and social media buzz.

Deanna is the “queen bee” of their sandwiches, her husband says. She used to be a sales rep and traveled the country constantly, eating along the way. Whenever she ate something that she liked, she’d try to recreate it at home. Pretty soon, she got to be a pretty good cook.

At Hungree Bee, Deanna only uses Boar’s Head

MARCH 28, 2024 INLANDER 25 OPENINGS
El Sazón brings quesabirria and more to the Valley. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
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“LUNCH IN THE VALLEY,” CONTINUED...

deli meats, a brand known for its high quality and lack of additives. She gets fresh bread from Alpine Bakery delivered every morning. Each sandwich is $13 for a whole, or $7.49 for a half. A whole sammy is massive, at least a meal and a half for most people, even without the chips and pickles that come with.

She’s dreamt up all their unique flavor combos, from the Busy Bee with roast beef, apples and a balsamic vinaigrette, or the Cran Bee with turkey, cream cheese, homemade stuffing and cranberry sauce, or the Hornet, which features “Cowboy Candy,” candied jalapeños from Texas.

“A lot of people tell us that the flavors are the

right mixture,” Duane says. “They come in from LA and they go, ‘This is really good.’ She’s got these flavors down really well with the sandwiches that she makes.”

Not to mention Deanna’s baked beans, which she was hesitant to put on the menu but hasn’t stopped selling out of. The beans are slow cooked with sage sausage and peaches for a sweet but savory, buzzworthy combo.

It might be easy to pass by Hungree Bee on Trent Avenue if it didn’t have bright blue gates, white stucco arches and sunny yellow accents. Inside, Hungree Bee coloring pages line the decorative arches. A Seahawks logo is on one wall,

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A Bellissimo Bee with ham, salami, pepperoni and lots of toppings. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
FOOD | OPENINGS

and a Gonzaga logo on another. An embroidered pillow cover from Spokane’s 1974 World’s Fair is framed on the back wall. Wicker bee napkin holders decorate the tables, and bee-related kitsch decorates the kitchen where Deanna and Duane fly around.

“There’s one guy that paints all these rocks for us and brings them in,” Deanna says, pointing toward some pretty stones in front of the cash register. Some are silly faces, another is the restaurant’s logo, and one is a cute little bee with a message on the bottom.

“He painted a bunch of these, and he wrote on there, ‘Please bring me home. Hungree Bee on Trent,’” Deanna says. “He’s placing these all over Spokane.”

So if you find a bee-painted rock hidden in a secret spot around town, it’s your responsibility to take it back to its hive. It’s cutesie, free, grassroots advertising that the Hendersons would never have thought of but wouldn’t dare turn down.

Bvvvvt. Chk. Chk. Bvvvt-pft. The printer suddenly busts out a long receipt. “Oh, there’s an order,” Deanna says. “It’s a big one, too.”

She’s already in the middle of three catering jobs this week, and Hungree Bee hasn’t even opened for the day yet. But the mom-andpop sandwich shop is tucked between a post office and a marijuana shop, down the street from an elementary school, near an industrial park and hemmed in by a neighborhood of friends and family. Teachers, Avista workers, errand runners and neighbors call in or order online almost constantly.

“It’s just been a lot of fun — a real positive experience,” Deanna says. “Not really challenging. I know how to cook. I know how to make a sandwich. I know how to do the business side because of our last business. But this is a lot easier than the cannabis business. And people are happy. They come in and they have a good experience, and it just makes you happy to see them be pleased by what they’re getting. Our reviews are phenomenal. It’s unbelievable.”

More like, un-BEE-lievable. n

Hungree Bee Sandwiches • 14411 E. Trent Ave., Spokane Valley • Open Mon-Fri 10 am-4 pm, Sat 11 am-3 pm • 509-443-4592

MARCH 28, 2024 INLANDER 27
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THE MATRIX AT 25

The game-changing sci-fi classic returns to theaters for its silver anniversary

“Ablinking cursor pulses in the electric darkness like a heart coursing with phosphorus light, burning beneath the derma of black-neon glass.”

So begins the shooting script for Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s 1999 cyberpunk noir-fu head trip The Matrix, which seemingly came out of nowhere and forever changed the landscape of cinema. Right off the bat, that opening description presents a microcosm of the whole film: enigmatic, arresting, more than a little florid and pretentious, and obviously incredibly well thought through. The Matrix’s clarity of vision is but one of the multitudinous factors that make it as relevant and enjoyable today as it was when it debuted a quarter century ago.

“THE MATRIX HAS YOU.”

This tagline was emblazoned in OCRA-A font across The Matrix teaser posters featuring human embryos encased in slimy pink pods. Along with its disorienting trailer they sowed understandable skepticism about this heady and vaguely marketed action flick.

At the time, star Keanu Reeves was at a career low, having already belly-flopped in his first turn at the sci-fi genre with the woefully received Johnny Mnemonic in 1995.

But whether they knew it or not, audiences of ’99 were perfectly primed for The Matrix. Clinton-era economic stability had led to a general sense of complacent malaise, though conspiracies about hidden worlds and boogeymen in black suits and shades thrived thanks to the popularity of The X-Files, Men in Black and the burgeoning phenomenon of internet message boards. Those virtual communities traversed the boundaries of time and space with their paranoiac theorizing and stoner philosophizing. Addition-

ally, the final spring of the 20th century saw a blossoming technophobia thanks to the possibility of a “Y2K” digital apocalypse that loomed large. The vibes were simultaneously suffocatingly anodyne and soaked in dread. Something game-changing was necessary to give the unexpecting masses a good, hard look behind the proverbial digital looking glass.

Aspects of The Matrix do read as endearingly quaint, as it’s an artifact of the pre-smartphone era — a high-water mark of the “Nokiawave” subgenre. But retro trappings notwithstanding, The Matrix remains eerily prescient. The underground resistance fighters of the blighted real world, led by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (CarrieAnne Moss), escape the Matrix’s facsimile reality through landline phones. And the cumbersome (if sexy!) cellphones they wield are only useful for cordless conversation.

In 2025, we find ourselves more plugged in than ever before — hapless addicts to the computers in our pockets and on our wrists, often spending more hours in a virtual world than the tactile one that our flesh bags inhabit. Our every move in physical and digital space is tracked and monitored, something we shrug off as the new normal. And that’s to say nothing about how the conversation around artificial intelligence has evolved over the last quarter century, and accelerated exponentially over the past two years. Our own version of “the Matrix” does indeed “have us,” all the more reason why The Matrix continues to elicit thrills with its brainy ambition.

That The Matrix was able to predict such contemporary dangers, synthesize so many collective anxieties, engage with academic explorations (Jean Baudrillard’s simulacrum,

René Descartes, Plato’s allegory, evolutionary psychology, religion, determinism, gnosticism, systems of control, the cult comic books The Invisibles and Hard Boiled, and many more topics than I have space to mention), and make them all palatable to wide audiences persists as a cinematic miracle. The Wachowskis wisely smuggled their .torrent of deep thoughts — and what, in retrospect, is a clear allegory for the transgender experience — within a mash-up of wildly inventive visual effects and pop culture influences like Hong Kong wuxia films, industrial goth subculture, body horror, and shoot-em-ups. But The Matrix transcended the sum of its parts: It endures as its own cultural milestone, inspiring a glut of parodies and copycats. (Say it with me now: “bullet time.”) The Wachowskis were even pioneers of the nowcommonplace concept of a trans-media shared universe, subsequently expanding the Matrix lore through sequels, video games, comic books and animation.

Personally, The Matrix has evolved from being a go-to rewatch staple at adolescent sleepovers (The Matrix was the first film on the then-nascent DVD format to sell over 3 million copies) to the victuals of hifalutin discourse in my college “Dystopian Sci-Fi” comparative lit class to a cherished gem I marveled at in large scale during repertory theatrical showings. I salivate at the opportunity to see it on the big screen once again, and not just out of nostalgia. More of The Matrix’s secrets, immaculate composition, and resonance are unearthed with every revisitation.

To quote Reeves’ Hacker-cum-messiah Neo, seeing The Matrix in theaters will always make you say, “Whoa.” n

The Matrix screens at Regal Cinemas April 3 & 4.

28 INLANDER MARCH 28, 2024
Black never goes out of style.
MARCH 28, 2024 INLANDER 29 Securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial (LPL), a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer (member FINRA/SIPC). Insurance products are offered through LPL or its licensed affiliates. BECU and BECU Investment Services are not registered as a broker-dealer or investment advisor. Registered representatives of LPL offer products and services using BECU Investment Services, and may also be employees of BECU. These products and services are being offered through LPL or its affiliates, which are separate entities from, and not affiliates of, BECU or BECU Investment Services. Securities and insurance offered through LPL or its affiliates are: Not Insured by NCUA or Any Other Government Agency Not Credit Union Guaranteed Not Credit Union Deposits or Obligations May Lose Value Learn more at becu.org/investments Personalized service to address your financial goals. Talk to an experienced financial advisor today.

Last week saw the arrival of the latest blockbuster Playstation 5 game, Rise of the Rōnin, an epic action RPG set in Japan’s Edo period. But the game has been part of my life for more than a handful of days.

That’s because last year, my digital likeness was captured to represent one of its characters. In the game I portray famed 19th century samurai Nakaoka Shintarō

A lot goes into having your facial expressions captured for a video game. A professional makeup artist painted dots on my face. A helmet with infrared cameras was secured to my head. While my exact face isn’t in the game, my facial motions certainly are. It was an amazing experience.

But against the backdrop of accelerating development of AI, it has given me pause.

In signing up to play this character, I signed away the rights to my digital likeness for use in the game and for the purposes of online marketing. But, with the rapid rise of generative AI tools and applications, a high-fidelity scan of my face and recordings of my voice are more than enough to make a digital version of me say anything. Including what was not on the script at the recording sessions.

As an actor, this is a worrying prospect that can affect my reputation and my future prospects.

For instance, it’s quite common for any production to ask actors to come back on set or to the recording booth. This can be for anything from lost digital files to directors or producers changing their mind about a creative direction. That’s part of the job, and on a SAG-AFTRA union set, that’s another day of paid work. But with the ability to recreate a person’s voice — and digital likeness — it’s quite possible for productions to digitally manipulate lines and delivery instead of paying the actor for their time.

Another possibility is that the production manufactures lines of dialogue and actions that I’ve never had the knowledge my character would portray. It’s one thing to always know what my character is saying by virtue of performing the lines. But it could be quite possible to

make my image do unspeakably horrible things without my knowledge. The digital version of me might also be acting in a way that doesn’t reflect my abilities or choices I would make as a performer, and could harm my reputation.

This insight comes as an AI insider. My regular day job is at Google, where I’ve worked on Gemini (formerly Bard). My contributions include developing the Japanese personality of Google Assistant and designing the first-ever digital health care worker for the World Health Organization during the COVID lockdowns. That said, I also picketed with SAG-AFTRA against certain uses of AI last year.

The way I view AI is akin to the automobile. Both are tools that have and will continue to drastically change how life is around the world. But in the same way we needed licensing and common sense laws passed for the safe usage of automobiles, we need concrete AI laws and policies in place to protect everyone. My hope is to help build these products to be safe and ethical. But I’m afraid we are reaching a point where someone will have a Ralph Nader moment and publish, Unsafe at Any Scale, The Designed-In Dangers of AI

It’s increasingly obvious that ethics boards and mission statements have little practical sway over the large companies’ decisions that are beholden to shareholder interests. It is organizations like SAG-AFTRA that codify rules and protections that allow actors and artists like myself to at least hope for a semblance of a dignified life. But real laws and policy will ultimately determine if companies shape their products to allow sustainable and equitable media production to continue.

So should I be concerned about my likeness rights with AI for my role in Rise of the Rōnin? Yes, I think I should be. But who really would say no to an opportunity like this? It was an absolute privilege and honor to portray Nakaoka Shintarō. Both things can be true, and hopefully stronger policy and union agreements will prevent actors from even worrying about it at all.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Rise of the Rōnin takes dozens of hours to complete and this writing is really cutting into my gaming time. n

30 INLANDER MARCH 28, 2024 SCREEN | ESSAY
the
An actor ponders being in Playstation’s new Rise of the Rōnin during the AI age
Playing
Game
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Playing a Different Tune

With Beyoncé going country, here are some other artists who might consider genre swapping

The Queen Bey is back… y’all

This week sees the release of Beyoncé’s eighth studio album, Cowboy Carter. As the title suggests, the pop icon and Texas native is going country. The album’s first two singles — “Texas Hold ’Em” and “16 Carriages” — are certified bangers that show that she’s more up to the task for what might seem like an extreme genre shift to casual listeners. But big artists making massive sonic shifts isn’t anything new.

Heck, just last year country icon Dolly Parton released her first rock album — Rockstar (a bit on-the-nose, Ms. Parton) — after avoiding the genre for 48 albums. But for every genre switch that goes swimmingly (Machine Gun Kelly from rap to pop punk, for example), there are loads that flop (KISS going disco, anyone?).

With Beyoncé on the brain, we thought we’d brainstorm some other modern artists who might have a blast switching away from their best known musical styles.

BILLIE EILISH POP -> ART PUNK

As a pop superstar known for her atypical helter-skelter style, Eilish has long flaunted somewhat of a f— off outsider edge. A perfect realm to lean into that vibe with less of a polished pop edge would be to take a page out of Pussy Riot’s book and create some noise punk chaos. To properly achieve this, she’d probably need to put together some sort of distinctive outfit with a mask so that people would at least have a chance to appreciate the music on its own before folks start stanning for it just because it’s Elish. Something tells me she also could throw a good elbow or two in a mosh pit and might get a kick out of busting her lip while doing so.

SHARON VAN ETTEN FOLK SINGER-SONGWRITER -> SYNTH ROCK

Easily one of the best songwriters of the past decade and a half, Van Etten knows how to craft an absolutely gutting and gorgeous folk tune. But on her 2022 album We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong, the standout track by far was the lone outlier in the bunch — the synth heavy jam “Mistakes.” The single was so good it made you wonder why SVE didn’t do the whole album in that style. If she decides to take that big swing, there might be a classic dancefloor album percolating in that noggin of hers.

32 INLANDER MARCH 28, 2024
ESSAY Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter should be quite the departure from her last album, Renaissance

RUN THE JEWELS HIP-HOP -> ROCK

Considering we live in a world where hip-hop beats reign supreme, it’s a bit strange that elite rap producers rarely let their rhythms venture into other realms. Run the Jewels’ El-P is one of the best beat crafters in the business, so having him lay a foundation upon which rock guitars, bass, etc. could be laid is a potentially intriguing prospect. Add in Killer Mike’s vocal delivery — already more ferocious than most rock singers — and you’ve got the start of a very enticing sonic stew.

FATHER JOHN MISTY

INDIE ROCK -> PARODY SONGS

When Father John Misty peacocked his way into the pop culture consciousness, he did so with two satirical classics: Fear Fun (a tonguein-cheek mocking of the rock star mystique) and the masculinity-skewering I Love You, Honeybear. There was just one minor problem — a lot of people didn’t get the joke. Instead they took the songs literally and thought FJM was a pompous and pretentious arse. Perhaps if Father John leans into his inner Weird Al people will finally get the joke. (Probably not though.)

ALISON WONDERLAND

EDM -> CHAMBER POP

In the dance music world, Aussie Alison Wonderland stands out from the pack of button pushers and knob twisters by interjecting live elements including her own vocals and cello playing. With a clear ear for the melodic, she could harness those skills to make a much more analog album of sweeping chamber pop music.

EAGLES OF DEATH

METAL GARAGE ROCK -> DEATH METAL Duh

ANDREW W.K.

HARD ROCK -> EDM

When Andrew W.K. broke through in 2001, his hard rocking tunes about partying, partying and… uhhh… partying were a refreshing blast of knucklehead bliss. But the kids these days? They certainly aren’t listening to rock music when they want to get their party on. While he did start an acclaimed (now defunct) New York City Dance club in 2008, Santos Party House, it may now be time to fully embrace the dance floor and start dabbling in making electronic dance music. When it’s time to beat drop he will always beat drop hard!

TEGAN AND SARA INDIE POP -> CHILDREN’S MUSIC

The Canadian twin sister duo have already gone through two major genre shifts, starting out in the folk realm before moving to indie rock and eventually pop. But there’s something about them — along with their ace melodicism — that would make them ideal to put out a record for the kiddos. Bonus: Their duo singer dynamic would allow them to portray characters in song and play off one another.

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE

INDIE ROCK -> SYNTH POP

Ben Gibbard’s emotional lyricism has been at the core of classic indie albums like Transatlanticism and Plans. That said, his sad boy music could probably reach such great heights if there was a little bit of danceable fun injected into the mix. (For some reason this one really feels like mailing it in…)

PHOEBE BRIDGERS

INDIE ROCK -> HARDCORE PUNK

Punisher’s album-closing “I Know the End,” showcases Bridgers’ ability to belt out a shredding scream. If she gets sick of making tunes that get categorized as “sad girl music,” perhaps she could do “mad girl music” instead. A good hardcore screamfest can sometimes be even more cathartic than bawling one’s eyes out anyway.

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

ROCK -> SLACKER INDIE

Few elements of a massive band have been so routinely mocked as the lyrics that RHCP singer Anthony Kiedis writes. They’re often word salad collections of California-centric verbiage that focus more on rhyming than making any lick of sense. It’s a joke to many because of the sincere gusto with which he spits them out. But there’s another artist who emerged from California around the same time who pens oftnonsensical verses focused more on word sounds than anything else: Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus. His band’s laissez faire attitude gives him far more leeway when playing with a sometimes goofy vernacular. The key for Kiedis being taken more seriously might be for the Chili Peppers to not actually take things so seriously.

TAYLOR SWIFT

POP -> COUNTRY

I dunno… just have a feeling she’d be good at it. n

MARCH 28, 2024 INLANDER 33

Thursday, 3/28

BACKWOODS WHISKEY BAR, Devon Wade

CHAN’S RED DRAGON ON THIRD, Thursday Night Jam

CHECKERBOARD TAPROOM, Weathered Shepherds

J MCCRACKEN’S PUB AND BBQ, Deb the Wolf

J QQ SUSHI & KITCHEN, Just Plain Darin

RED ROOM LOUNGE, Hip-Hop Night

ZOLA, The Rub

Friday, 3/29

AK ASIAN RESTAURANT, Steve Starkey

THE BEE’S KNEES WHISKEY BAR, Justyn Priest

BOLO’S BAR & GRILL, Haze

THE CHAMELEON, Michael Jackson vs. Prince: A Tribute Dance Party with KosMos the Afronaut

CHAN’S RED DRAGON ON THIRD, Justyn Priest

CHINOOK STEAK, SEAFOOD & PASTA, Kyle Swaffard

FOXHOLE BAR & GRILL, Kidd Whiskey

J THE GRAIN SHED, Haywire

IOLITE LOUNGE, Earl Berkley

IRON HORSE (CDA), Pastiche

J MILLWOOD MASONIC CENTER, Emergency Exit, Dual Play

MOOSE LOUNGE, Hasenpfeffer

NIGHTHAWK LOUNGE (CDA CASINO), Rusty Nail and the Hammers

To celebrate the biggest day on the Christian calendar, the Big Dipper is hosting a light and breezy show befitting the tenderness of spring. … (Wayne Campbell voice) Nott! Instead the all-ages haven hosts an “Easter Doom & Gloom” concert headlined by Seattle death metal duo Nott. The band generates an insane wall of sound for a two-piece. Vocalist/guitarist/bassist Tyler Campbell bellows with demonic darkness while drummer Julia Geaman gives the group a punishing sense of rhythmic physicality. If dressing up in your Sunday best involves digging into your drawer of black band tees with unintelligibly violent-looking fonts, then this show’s lineup will be your ideal aural Easter buffet.

— SETH SOMMERFELD

Nott, Blighted Eye, False Visions, Toxic Vengeance, Xenoplasm • Sun, March 31 at 6:30 pm • $15 • All ages • The Big Dipper • 171 S. Washington St. • thebigdipperspokane.com

DANCE SORRY FOR PARTY ROCKING

PEND D’OREILLE WINERY, Pamela Benton RED ROOM LOUNGE, Live DJs

THE RIDLER PIANO BAR, Just Plain Darin

SPOKANE VALLEY EAGLES, Stagecoach West

ZOLA, Star Court

Saturday, 3/30

BOLO’S BAR & GRILL, Haze

J CAFE COCO, B

THE CHAMELEON, Sorry for Party Rocking

CHAN’S RED DRAGON ON THIRD, The Bobby Patterson Band

CHINOOK STEAK, SEAFOOD & PASTA, Kyle Swaffard

HISTORIC DAVENPORT HOTEL, Thomas Pletscher Trio

IRON HORSE (CDA), Pastiche

MOOSE LOUNGE, Hasenpfeffer

NOAH’S CANTEEN, Son of Brad PEND D’OREILLE WINERY, Tom Catmull

RED ROOM LOUNGE, Live DJs

J SIRINYA’S THAI RESTAURANT, Steve Starkey

J SPOKANE TRIBE CASINO, Lita Ford

SPOKANE VALLEY EAGLES, Sharky and the Fins

WHISKEY GLASSES BAR & GRILL, The Black Jack Band

ZOLA, Blake Braley

Sunday, 3/31

While the former Lucky You Lounge still has plenty of live concerts on its schedule, it’s obvious that DJ nights will be a big part of the venue’s plan. To take a page out of SNL icon Stefon’s book, “Spokane’s hottest new club is the Chameleon.” With its lush jungle aesthetics and new video projection system, the Chameleon already has the vibe of a nightclub where (despite its camouflage-suggesting name) people want to be seen and party the night away without the awful parts about some stereotypical clubs (manufactured exclusivity, annoying lines, egotistical bouncers, everything being wildly overpriced, etc.). Club Cham will be in full effect during “Sorry for Party Rocking,” a dance night centered on charting bangers from 2010-2015 (Rihanna, Icona Pop, Ke$ha, Calvin Harris, Lil John, etc.).

— SETH SOMMERFELD

Sorry for Party Rocking • Sat, March 30 at 9 pm • $10 • 21+ • The Chameleon • 1801 W. Sunset Blvd. • chameleonspokane.com

J THE BIG DIPPER, Nott, Blighted Eye, False Visions, Toxic Vengeance, Xenoplasm HOGFISH, Open Mic

J SOUTH HILL GRILL, Just Plain Darin

Monday, 4/1

EICHARDT’S PUB, Monday Night Blues Jam with John Firshi

J LYYV ENTERTAINMENT, Victress Voice Open Mic RED ROOM LOUNGE, Open Mic Night

Tuesday, 4/2

J PEND D’OREILLE WINERY, Sean Bostrom ZOLA, Jerry Lee and the Groove

Wednesday, 4/3

BACKWOODS WHISKEY BAR, Max Malone BARRISTER WINERY, Front Porch Rockers

J THE BIG DIPPER, Reaping Fields, SIMP, Psychic Death

THE DRAFT ZONE, The Draft Zone Open Mic

PEND D’OREILLE WINERY, Annie Welle

RED ROOM LOUNGE, Red Room Lounge Jam

34 INLANDER MARCH 28, 2024 MUSIC | SOUND ADVICE DEATH METAL NOTT
J = THE INLANDER RECOMMENDS THIS SHOW J = ALL AGES SHOW

SPOKANE VALLEY EAGLES, Stagecoach West

J TIMBERS ROADHOUSE, Cary Beare Presents

Coming Up ...

J THE BIG DIPPER, Piper’s Rush, AA Bottom, Push, April 4, 7:30 pm.

THE CHAMELEON, Gotu Gotu, Polykronos, Peru Rush, April 4, 8 pm.

J KNITTING FACTORY, Hippie Sabotage, April 4, 9 pm.

J EVANS BROTHERS COFFEE, Traesti Darling, Dario Ré, April 5, 6:30-9 pm.

J THE BIG DIPPER, Millington, Good Terms, College Radio, The Pink Socks, Fine-Line, April 5, 7:30 pm.

J BING CROSBY THEATER, Dawn Of Life, April 5, 8-10 pm.

J THE CHAMELEON, Kadabra, Itchy Kitty, April 5, 9 pm.

J 49 DEGREES NORTH, Quarter Monkey, April 6, 12-4 pm.

J BING CROSBY THEATER, Hagfest Northwest, April 6, 7-10 pm.

SPOKANE ARENA, MercyMe, Newsboys, David Leonard, April 6, 7 pm.

J THE BIG DIPPER, Malinois: The Price EP Release Show with Cold Hearts, Warcrime, Dragged Out, April 6, 7:30 pm.

THE DISTRICT BAR, Devours, Total Chroma, April 6, 8 pm.

THE CHAMELEON, Club Blush, April 6, 9 pm.

J THE BIG DIPPER, Serpentspire, The Night We Died, Propagate the Rot, Stasi, Bonemass, April 7, 6:30 pm.

J KNITTING FACTORY, Alestorm, April 9, 7 pm.

J THE BIG DIPPER, Bad Image, Psychic Death, KURB, Puddy Knife, April 10, 7:30 pm.

THE DISTRICT BAR, Charlie Parr, The Lowest Pair, April 11, 8 pm.

J PEND D’OREILLE WINERY, Heat Speak, April 12, 5-8 pm.

THE DISTRICT BAR, Flotsam and Jetsam, April 12, 7 pm.

J BING CROSBY THEATER, Petty Fever, April 12, 7:30 pm.

J KNITTING FACTORY, Set It Off, Crown the Empire, Caskets, DeathbyRomy, April 13, 6:30 pm.

J THE BIG DIPPER, Electric Chair, Psychic Death, Simp, Reaping Fields, April 16, 7:30 pm.

MUSIC | VENUES

219 LOUNGE • 219 N. First Ave., Sandpoint • 208-263-5673

ARBOR CREST WINE CELLARS • 4705 N. Fruit Hill Rd., Spokane Valley • 509-927-9463

BABY BAR • 827 W. First Ave. • 509-847-1234

BARRISTER WINERY • 1213 W. Railroad Ave. • 509-465-3591

BEE’S KNEES WHISKY BAR • 1324 W. Lancaster Rd.., Hayden • 208-758-0558

BERSERK • 125 S. Stevens St. • 509-315-5101

THE BIG DIPPER • 171 S. Washington St. • 509-863-8098

BIGFOOT PUB • 9115 N. Division St. • 509-467-9638

BING CROSBY THEATER • 901 W. Sprague Ave. • 509-227-7638

BLACK DIAMOND • 9614 E. Sprague Ave. • 509891-8357

BOLO’S BAR & GRILL • 116 S. Best Rd., Spokane Valley • 509-891-8995

BOOMERS CLASSIC ROCK BAR • 18219 E. Appleway Ave., Spokane Valley • 509-368-9847

BUCER’S COFFEEHOUSE PUB • 201 S. Main St., Moscow • 208-596-0887

THE BULL HEAD • 10211 S. Electric St., Four Lakes • 509-838-9717

CHAN’S RED DRAGON • 1406 W. Third Ave. • 509-838-6688

COEUR D’ALENE CASINO • 37914 S. Nukwalqw St., Worley • 800-523-2464

COEUR D’ALENE CELLARS • 3890 N. Schreiber Way, Coeur d’Alene • 208-664-2336

CRUISERS BAR & GRILL • 6105 W Seltice Way, Post Falls • 208-446-7154

CURLEY’S HAUSER JUNCTION • 26433 W. Hwy. 53, Post Falls • 208-773-5816

THE DISTRICT BAR • 916 W. 1st Ave. • 509-244-3279

EICHARDT’S PUB • 212 Cedar St., Sandpoint • 208-263-4005

FIRST INTERSTATE CENTER FOR THE ARTS • 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. • 509-279-7000

FOX THEATER • 1001 W. Sprague Ave. • 509-624-1200

IRON HORSE • 407 E. Sherman, Coeur d’Alene • 208-667-7314

IRON HORSE BAR & GRILL • 11105 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley • 509-926-8411

JOHN’S ALLEY • 114 E. Sixth St., Moscow • 208-883-7662

KNITTING FACTORY • 911 W. Sprague Ave. • 509-244-3279

MARYHILL WINERY • 1303 W. Summit Pkwy. • 509-443-3832

THE MASON JAR • 101 F St., Cheney • 509-359-8052

MAX AT MIRABEAU • 1100 N. Sullivan Rd., Spokane Valley • 509-922-6252

MILLIE’S • 28441 Hwy 57, Priest Lake • 208-443-0510

MOOSE LOUNGE • 401 E. Sherman Ave., Coeur d’Alene • 208-664-7901

MOOTSY’S • 406 W. Sprague Ave. • 509-838-1570

NASHVILLE NORTH • 6361 W. Seltice Way, Post Falls • 208-457-9128

NORTHERN QUEST RESORT & CASINO • 100 N. Hayford Rd., Airway Heights • 877-871-6772

NYNE BAR & BISTRO • 232 W. Sprague Ave. • 509-474-1621

PEND D’OREILLE WINERY • 301 Cedar St., Sandpoint • 208-265-8545

THE PODIUM • 511 W. Dean Ave. • 509-279-7000

POST FALLS BREWING CO. • 112 N. Spokane St., Post Falls • 208-773-7301

RAZZLE’S BAR & GRILL • 10325 N. Government Way, Hayden • 208-635-5874

RED ROOM LOUNGE • 521 W. Sprague Ave. • 509-838-7613

THE RIDLER PIANO BAR • 718 W. Riverside Ave. • 509-822-7938

SEASONS OF COEUR D’ALENE • 1004 S. Perry St. • 208-664-8008

SPOKANE ARENA • 720 W. Mallon Ave. • 509-279-7000

SOUTH PERRY LANTERN • 12303 E. Trent Ave., Spokane Valley • 509-473-9098

STEAM PLANT • 159 S. Lincoln St. • 509-777-3900

STORMIN’ NORMAN’S SHIPFACED SALOON • 12303 E. Trent Ave., Spokane Valley • 509-862-4852

TRANCHE • 705 Berney Dr., Wall Walla • 509-526-3500

ZOLA • 22 W. Main Ave. •

MARCH 28, 2024 INLANDER 35
LOANS AVAILABLE New Construction • Land Development Bridge Loans • Fix & Flip CALL NOW (509 ) 926-1755 • www.pmcmoney.com
509-624-2416

BENEFIT LEVEL GROUND

Have you ever dreamed of owning a piece of original art? Terrain’s annual gallery fundraiser offers the chance to do that and much more. The Spokane-based art nonprofit is known for its efforts to increase accessibility to art through advocacy, equity and support for artists. This year, its fundraiser features work by over 65 regional artists, and each piece — no matter the medium, size or artist — is offered for only $200. All proceeds support Terrain’s gallery space on North Monroe Street. Artwork is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and pieces typically sell incredibly fast — about 80% sold in the first half-hour of last year’s event. Preregistration (bit.ly/ TGFundraiser) is recommended if you plan to buy art. Line up early for a chance to purchase a piece before listening to a DJ set by rosethrow, getting a drink from the bar, and enjoying the presence of other art lovers and artists. Read more about the fundraiser and featured artists at Inlander.com.

Terrain Gallery Fundraiser • Fri, March 29 from 6-9 pm •

All ages • Free • Terrain Gallery • 628 N. Monroe St. • terrainspokane.com

COMEDY THAT’S NO ORDINARY RABBIT

Lancelot. The Black Knight. Second Swallow Savvy Guard. And there are some who call him…Tim. John Cleese has educated audiences about the airspeed velocity of swallows, inspired unwavering bravery in the midst of mere flesh wounds, and created one of the most quotable, irreverent King Arthur adaptations of all time. The writer and actor is riding into Spokane, coconut shells and all, to screen Monty Python and the Holy Grail at the First Interstate Center for the Arts and answer all your toughest questions in an open Q&A, like “How do you know if a witch is made of wood?” and “African or European swallow?” and “What is your favorite color?”

Cleese says he’s coming alone, but make sure to be on the lookout for an innocent, sweet-looking animal with nasty, big, pointy teeth!

John Cleese and the Holy Grail • Sat, March 30 at 7:30 pm • $40$250 • First Interstate Center for the Arts • 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. • firstinterstatecenter.org • 509-279-7000

COMMUNITY DON’T WORRY, BE HOPPY

Easter is kinda weird if you think about it for too long. Like, seriously, where did that rabbit get so many eggs, and why doesn’t he want us to find them? Eggs are NOT cheap right now, as we all know. Anyway… There are plenty of egg hunts to attend in the area on pre-Easter Saturday, including the annual High Country Orchard hunt on Green Bluff (9 am-3 pm), one in Medical Lake’s Waterfront Park (11 am) and Riverfront Park’s annual hunt. This year, Riverfront’s event is split into different locations for different age groups and even includes a sensory-supportive egg hunt at the Providence Playscape featuring stuffed eggs, staggered start times and smaller crowds. (Registration is required for the sensory supportive egg hunt.) For more information and a detailed map, visit riverfrontspokane.com.

Riverfront Park Easter Egg Hunt • Sat, March 30 from 10-11 am • Free • Riverfront Park • 507 N. Howard St. • riverfrontspokane. com • 509-625-6600

36 INLANDER MARCH 28, 2024

GET LISTED!

Submit events online at Inlander.com/getlisted or email relevant details to getlisted@inlander.com. We need the details one week prior to our publication date.

VISUAL ARTS DIVERSE PERSPECTIVES

Enjoy a one-of-a-kind arts event during Trans Spokane’s Trans Day of Visibility Art Show. In celebration of the annual Transgender Day of Visibility happening on Sunday, March 31, regional artists representing the transgender, two-spirit, nonbinary, genderqueer, intersex, and gender-diverse communities have teamed up for this inclusive celebration of creative expression. Experience the vibrant world of trans and gender-diverse artistry from participating artists who are all based in the Inland Northwest. Catch a glimpse of some breathtaking pieces (including the above, titled “Jhonas Amulacion”) and make sure to bring some cash to tip your favorite artists. Attendees are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask and bring all their friends to see some incredible art.

Trans Day of Visibility Art Show • Sat, March 30 from noon-3 pm • Free • Central Library • 906 W. Main Ave. • facebook.com/transspokane

THEATER MOVING FORWARD

Spokane’s Stage Left Theater, alongside six other community theaters around the U.S., has been selected to produce one of the American Association of Community Theatre’s 2024 NewPlayFest winners. The selected play, I Thought I Knew You, follows the character of Jen and her parents in the aftermath of her brother Cody’s death. Written by Philip J. Kaplan and directed by Susan Hardie, the play straddles the line between horror, comedy and ghost story as Jen encounters the apparition of her brother and wrestles with finding answers to her questions about what happened and who’s to blame. I Thought I Knew You examines the conundrum of how a family moves forward from tragedy and what happens to those who get left behind.

I Thought I Knew You • Through Sun, April 7; Thu-Sat at 7 pm, Sun at 2 pm • $25-$30 • Stage Left Theater • 108 W. Third Ave. • stagelefttheater.org • 509-838-9727

MARCH 28, 2024 INLANDER 37
may 4 - july 4, 2024 don’t miss a thing Expo7450thCelebration_032824_12V_TM.pdf

I SAW YOU

DATING APPS ARE TOXIC I didn’t unmatch you. I deleted my dating app. I will no longer be using them. I will no longer be dating. Dating in general gives me panic attacks, and I don’t want to open a dating app and have my anxiety triggered just to talk with you. I’m not mad. I like you.

HEY, DOOFUS I’ve loved you forever, but it’s time to fully let you go in that respect. You’re the best friend I’ve always needed, and I’m so thankful to have you in my life. No one else I want at my back, and I’ll always have yours, too.<3

BLACKROOM BOY I saw you on the 17th day, in a crowded venue, in this nowhere town, painted with pretty lights. I was no one then, and you were no one too. Together we were someone, and you swore I was made just for you. For 10 years you had Rose’s and I flowers of clover. We lived as if we were unbreakable and made all our dreams come true, so why did I forever feel not good enough for you? It wasn’t until I needed you most I found in your place only a ghost, a blackroom boy and your white room was loving me. I hope a blackroom girl sees you for everything you truly are, I’m sorry I’m not a princess, I’m that place between sleep and awake where you still remember dreaming. I’ll be waiting there.

LUVNMD To the handsome bearded man who drives a blue truck. I saw you last night under the clouded night sky, listening as you revealed the depths of your psyche

to me. Pushing up against the edges of our growth into the next phase of this partnership. What will we choose to tend to, what will we nourish, as we are messy with the deep dark soil of our garden, exhausted from pulling karmic weeds over the year. What are we wanting to bring to life? As we enter this intense eclipse season, may we remember our deep loving connection and hold hands as we move forward into our future and watch what we have planted come to bloom.

D&D CHARACTER CHAT/ABSOLUTELY

LOVELY GIRL Hi, so I am notoriously slow at realizing that I need to ask someone out… usually I realize it about 10 minutes too late… but I ran into you and your friends at Neato Burrito on Saturday night and interjected about your backstory for D&D characters. When I was leaving I should have given you my number but, here we are. Anyway, you are lovely and I’d love to take you out and be nerdy :) if you read this…hit me up!

RUSTING Will, remember when you exclaimed: “I AM Dylan!” You wander the world, desperately seeking affirmation and admiration on a grand stage with your wanna-be poignant pontificating. The mirror doesn’t tell you what you long to believe, and you wax poetic, creating the narrative you need. Ah, the false self. You lament. Try this: Simply put genuine goodness into the world with no conditions. It comes back to you, tenfold. Abandon the lie.

CHEERS

IT’S MORE FUN WITH A BAND March Madness is upon us, and we’ll see how our local teams progress through the bracket. I was filling out my bracket (which will no doubt be totally incorrect after a few rounds of the tournament), and I reflected upon the past season. My wife and I attended a few women’s and men’s Eastern Washington University basketball games this year, and one thing stood out to me. The basketball playing was good but the pep band was better. I know that’s a ridiculous comparison, but the Eagles pep band was consistently entertaining with their jammin’ tunes, end-court shenanigans and crazy style (the red and black galea was a nice touch). Thank you, EWU pep band, for an entertaining season!

WHY I LIKE LIVING IN SPOKANE To the woman from Spokane Public Works who guided us through the plan review for traffic calming on the Altamont loop, thank you very much. You were very patient with our grievances and helpful on laying out the steps ahead. We are looking forward to working with you.

commissioner is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Go read all about it and show your support to this brave woman of integrity. Let’s get rid of the other guy. He clearly shows his disdain for a fellow elected official, and wants her to GO TO THE BACK OF THE BUS! Let him know what you think of his disgusting actions.

PROOF OF INSURANCE The state should require proof of car insurance at the time of yearly tab renewal. Insurance is required by state law. A crash is too late to discover a car is uninsured (if the car hasn’t hit and run). Police aren’t enforcing traffic laws to determine whether or not a car is insured. So be proactive and make it required upon licensing. That’s not a lot to ask.

UNITED STATES One thing I have noticed about this country on both sides of the political spectrum is that both seem to think that the world revolves around the United States of America and its policies. As time goes on, the world will become less dependent on the U.S.A. (hint: debt) than it has been in the memorable past. It would be most prudent for U.S. citizens of this country to realize this fact ASAP in order to improve conditions from within. Good luck.

JEERS

EMPTY WATER BOTTLES ARE A THREAT!

Shame for not allowing empty water bottles into the new downtown stadium for absolutely no reason. What are you worried about? I can take an empty water bottle through airport security but not here? Not that I’d expect water to even be available, you ran out during the match. It’s like none of you have ever even seen a sporting event on TV.

SELFISH DRUNK DRIVERS As customers at convenience stores and gas stations, we all know your drinking and driving when you get a 24-ounce tall boy and A CUP OF ICE. Just stop it. Why are you so selfish and inconsiderate of others? Maybe we should start calling the cops on you guys. Grow up and quit being so entitled.

THE AUDACITY OF HATE: ROSA PARKS

REVISITED? Rosa Parks revisited? What an embarrassment a certian Bonner County commissioner has become. He needs to be impeached or lose this year’s election! The campaign of HATE and discrimination that he’s conducted against a fellow

RE: RE: MINE We get it. You’re afraid of women having autonomy. You need mental help if you are so worried about someone else’s body and whatever goes in or out of it. Get a life, touch grass, talk with God and remember Exodus 12:29.

RE: RE: MINE II Being anti-choice and forcing women to have babies isn’t a mental illness, and you can’t be institutionalized for it no matter how crazy your arguments are. You’re not pro-life, you’re pro-birth. If you are going to pretend that pro-life is about ensuring everyone has a chance to live, then give them everything they need to live for life, affordable housing, enough food that no one goes hungry, and health care for life. Or did you miss that part in the Bible where Jesus housed the needy, fed the masses, and healed the sick?

RUSH HOUR MAYHEM To the city of Spokane Valley. To cut out one lane of Sprague for a bus that carries two people at a time is the stupidest thing I have ever heard!!! Spokane Valley is growing faster than you know, and on any given day at rush hour the road is packed! I think you need to replan your idea!

DEMOCRACY NOW/AL JAZEERA Shame on Dish network for taking Al Jazeera and Democracy Now off the air. The only channel you can get Democracy Now is PBS, and only in the middle of the night. There is no channel to get Al Jazeera or Democracy Now on Dish network. I guess they don’t want us to hear the truth, just commercials and talking heads that have nothing to say, but blabber for one minute until yet another 10 commercial “break.”

STATE BOARD OF T&CC This is a group of incompetents who are paid high wages to do little. They’re also the fools who purchased a failed system for over $100 million. It’s time the taxpayers of Washington looked into each of their salaries and asked for an accounting of what they do for the money. It smells like fraud.

KKK Ideologically, the Klan blended xenophobia, religious prejudice, and white supremacy together with a broadly conservative moralism. Amidst a global recession that came in the aftermath of World War I, fear and anxiety were widespread among native-born white Protestants that the country they had known and been accustomed to dominating was coming undone. They worried about an influx of eastern European immigrants who adhered to Communism and other supposedly subversive political creeds, about the seemingly growing influence of Catholics and Jews in American life, and about the migration of African Americans out of the South. n

38 INLANDER MARCH 28, 2024
P E T C O C O M O R O S I N A L L C O R A L I N E M C K I D D S T O K E D U P L O O S E F I T E G E S T S T A R O S U S C I A T E N I P D A N M A D E T H E N E X T M O V E U N C L E N C H Y O U R J A W R A R E C O L L E C T I O N S F L Y A T A J L O S T Y THIS WEEK'S ANSWERS SOUND OFF 1. Visit Inlander.com/isawyou by 3 pm Monday. 2. Pick a category (I Saw You, You Saw Me, Cheers or Jeers). Provide basic info: your name and email (so we know you’re real). 4. To connect via I Saw You, provide a non-identifying email to be included with your submission — like “petals327@yahoo.com,” not “j.smith@comcast.net.” “ You’re afraid of women having autonomy. ” Annual Garden Fair & Plant Sale Sign up for shopping time slots Fri & Sat April 26th & 27th https://spokane.mastergardenerfoundation.org

BENEFIT

TERRAIN GALLEY FUNDRAISER A benefit show featuring pieces by local artists sold for $200 each. March 29, 6-9 pm. By donation. Terrain Gallery, 628 N. Monroe St. terrainspokane.com

DAWGHAUS & KATZ BUILD RAFFLE This third annual raffle benefits Pet Savers, a nonprofit spay, neuter and vaccine clinic. Each raffle ticket costs $1. Packages include Gonzaga men’s basketball tickets, restaurant and brewery gift certificates and more. March 30-April 13, daily from 10 am-7 pm. $1. River Park Square, 808 W. Main Ave. petsaversspokane.org

COMEDY

THE PUNDERGROUND An improvised punning competition with spots for up to 12 contestants and seats for a pun-loving audience. March 28, 7:30 pm. Pay what you want. Blue Door Theatre, 319 S. Cedar St. bluedoortheatre.org (509-747-7045)

BLUE DOORS AND DRAGONS A unique improv comedy journey guided by the whims of the dice, audience suggestions and the creativity of Blue Door improvisers. April 5, 7:30 pm. $9. Blue Door Theatre, 319 S. Cedar. bluedoortheatre.org

PREACHER LAWSON Preacher Lawson is best known for his appearance on season 12 of America’s Got Talent where he made it to the final round. March 29, 8-10

pm. Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague Ave. bingcrosbytheater.com

JIMMY FAILLA Failla is a former New York City cab-driver-turned-comedian who was named Outstanding Male Comedian of the year at the 2014 New York City Nightlife Awards. March 30, 8 pm. $38-$68. The Fox Theater, 1001 W. Sprague Ave. foxtheaterspokane.org

JOHN CLEESE AND THE HOLY GRAIL

Cleese tells stories of his life and career with a Q&A to follow. Before he takes the stage, watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail on the big screen. March 30, 7:30-9:30 pm. $40-$250. First Interstate Center for the Arts, 334 W. Spokane Falls. firstinterstatecenter.org

FUNNY FUNNY FUNNY JOKE JOKE

JOKE A unique comedy experience that takes full advantage of the Garland Theater’s projector system, combining stand-up comedy, live sketches and other mixed-media comedic bits. This month features Adam Tiller, Alex Kaufman, Brittney Holden and host Josiah Carlson. April 4, 7 pm. $15. Garland Theater, 924 W. Garland Ave. funnyfunnyfunnyjokejokejoke.com (509-327-1050)

COMMUNITY

JOURNEY TO THE CROSS An outdoor walk-through event where participants hear the story of Easter performed by a cast of 250. March 29-31; Fri from 6-8 pm,

Sat from 4-9 pm, Sun from 4-7 pm. Free. Spokane Valley Seventh Day Adventist Church, 1601 S. Sullivan Rd. cross.journeyspokane.com

HIGH COUNTRY ORCHARD EASTER

EGG HUNT An Easter egg hunt with designated areas based on age. Tickets include participation, interactions with farm animals, outdoor games and a playground. March 30, 9 am-3 pm. $15. High Country Orchard, 8518 E. Green Bluff Rd. highcountryorchard.com

MEDICAL LAKE EASTER EGG HUNT An egg hunt featuring candy, prizes and pictures with the Easter Bunny. Ages 0-12. March 30, 11 am. Free. Waterfront Park, 1386 S. Lefevre St. fb.me/e/4hpZPtDlm

APRIL 2024

APRIL 1ST

MON Monday Night Bingo –Fools’ Cash Giveaway 5 winners will win $500 cash.

APRIL 5TH — 8TH

FRI Regular Session –Bingo Golf Giveaway

SAT Matinee Session

Regular Session

SUN Regular Session – $5 Buy-in (minimum electronic buy-in $25). All regular games pay $1,000.

MON Monday Night Bingo –Dauber Day

APRIL 12TH — 15TH

BINGO UPSTAIRS ALL WEEKEND

FRI Regular Session –Bingo Golf Giveaway

SAT Matinee Session

Regular Session

APRIL 26TH — 29TH

BINGO UPSTAIRS ALL WEEKEND

FRI Regular Session –Bingo Golf Giveaway

SAT Matinee Session

Regular Session

SUN Regular Session – $5 Buy-in (minimum electronic buy-in $25). All regular games pay $1,000.

MON Monday Night Bingo

APRIL 19TH — 22ND

FRI Regular Session –Bingo Golf Giveaway

SAT Matinee Session

Regular Session

SUN Regular Session – $5 Buy-in (minimum electronic buy-in $25). All regular games pay $1,000.

MON Monday Night Bingo

SUN Regular Session – $5 Buy-in (minimum electronic buy-in $25). All regular games pay $1,000.

MON Monday Night Bingo

Play any Friday in April for the chance to win one of 5 rounds of golf at Circling Raven Golf Club

MARCH 28, 2024 INLANDER 39 EVENTS | CALENDAR CASINO | HOTEL | DINING | SPA | CHAMPIONSHIP GOLF 37914 SOUTH NUKWALQW • WORLEY, IDAHO 83876 • 1 800-523-2464 • CDACASINO.COM WELCOME HOME. WELCOME HOME. Session types and hours are subject to change on holidays and during other special event celebrations. Please see the Bingo venue for more details. REGULAR BINGO SESSIONS M ATINEE-STYLE BINGO SESSIONS FRI & SAT SUN SAT MON Admissions opens 4 PM 11 AM Admissions opens 11 AM 4 PM Session begins 6 PM 1 PM Session begins NOON 6 PM
BINGO GOLF GIVEAWAY

EVENTS | CALENDAR

RIVERFRONT PARK EASTER EGG HUNT

An Easter egg hunt for kids. Ages 0-2 at Clock Tower Meadow (10 am), ages 3-5 at Havermale Point (10:25 am), ages 6+ at Lilac Bowl (10:35 am) and a sensory supportive egg hunt at the Providence Playscape (11 am). March 30, 10-11 am. Free. Riverfront Park, 507 N. Howard St. riverfrontspokane.com (509-625-6600)

EASTER EGG HUNT An Easter egg hunt for children with treats to find. March 31, 12:15-1 pm. Free. The Vine Church, 9140 N. Reed. TheVineIdaho.org

POKÉMON TOURNAMENT: THE FINAL

BATTLE Learn how to play the Pokémon card game and collect a bag of Pokémon-themed prizes and activities. Please leave your cards at home, the library will provide decks for all players. Ages 6+. April 4, 2-4 pm. Free. Spokane Valley Library, 22 N. Herald Rd. scld.org

WHAT’S HAPPENING FOR THE EXPO 74 50TH ANNIVERSARY? Hear from Matt Santangelo, Program Manager for the Expo ’74 50th Celebration, as he shares what’s planned as part of the upcoming celebration. April 4, 4-5:30 pm. Free. Shadle Library, 2111 W. Wellesley Ave. spokanelibrary.org (509-444-5390)

FILM

FLOWERS & SNAKES Watch Follow the Blooms featuring local florist Katie Lila and then Figures, a documentary about searching for one of the world’s most venomous snakes. Q&A to follow. March 28, 6 pm. $17. Magic Lantern Theatre, 25 W. Main Ave. magiclanternonmain.com

FILM SET ETIQUETTE CLASS Rebecca Cook teaches participants how to read a call sheet, basic set etiquette and more about the film industry. See website for Zoom link. March 30, 11 am-12:30 pm. Free. fb.me/e/3kgQ9liMs

URANIUM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL A festival featuring cutting edge films on nuclear issues around the world, including Brazil, Germany, India, Canada and United States. April 3-4, 5:30-9 pm. $7. Magic Lantern Theatre, 25 W. Main Ave. uraniumfilmfestival.org

FOOD

your birdwatching adventures. Learn how to identify birds, set up binoculars and what books and apps are available. March 28, 6:30-7:30 pm and March 30, 8-10 am. Free. North Spokane Library, 44 E. Hawthorne Rd. scld.org

PARKER SUBARU SKI FREE FRIDAY

Stop by the dealership to pick up a lift ticket (valid only day of). March 29. Free. Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area, I-90 Exit 0. skilookout.com

RELENTLESS WRESTLING 24: MONUMENTAL Top pro wrestlers featured on WWE battle it out in the ring. March 30, 7 pm. $39-$79. Northern Quest Resort & Casino, 100 N. Hayford Rd. facebook. com/relentlessPNW (509-242-7000)

WATER WISE WEDNESDAY WORKSHOP: ALL ABOUT COMPOSTING Learn how to compost and why it’s helpful for your soil and the environment. April 3, 6-7 pm. Free. Shadle Library, 2111 W. Wellesley Ave. spokanelibrary.org

THEATER & DANCE

I THOUGHT I KNEW YOU Jen returns home to comfort her devastated parents after her brother deliberately explodes a van in Louisville, killing himself and five other people. Thu-Sat at 7 pm, Sun at 2 pm through April 7. $25-$30. Stage Left Theater, 108 W. Third. stagelefttheater.org

MY FAIR LADY The story of Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a “proper lady.” April 2-7; TueSat at 7:30 pm, Sat also at 2 pm, Sun at 1 pm and 6:30 pm. $52-$100. First Interstate Center for the Arts, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. broadwayspokane.com

ISLAND OF HOPE Discover life at Ellis Island and the fears and dreams of every immigrant through one young girl’s journey to America. Presented and performed by Living Voices. April 3, 11:1512:15 am. Free. The MAC, 2316 W. First Ave. northwestmuseum.org

VISUAL ARTS

ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT EASTER BREAKFAST A buffet of pancakes, sausage, eggs and beverages. Girl Scout Troop 2326 will have a cookie booth. March 31, 8-11 am. $4-$6. Green Bluff Grange, 9809 Green Bluff Rd. greenbluffgrowers.com

EASTER BRUNCH ON THE RIVER A family-friendly event with brunch food, activities and a meet-and-greet with the Easter Bunny. March 31, 9-11 am & 12-2 pm. $30. Ruby River Hotel, 700 N. Division. easterbrunchontheriver2024.eventbrite.com

SOURDOUGH 101: BASICS Learn the history of sourdough and how to care for and use a sourdough starter. April 3, 1-3 pm. $28. Southside Community Center, 3151 E. 27th. campusce.net/spokaneactii

WINE DOWN WEDNESDAYS Beverly’s resident sommelier Justine Recor offers complimentary tastings of wine and conversations about their origins. Every week on Wed from 4-9 pm. Free. Beverly’s, 115 S. Second St. beverlyscda.org

SPORTS & OUTDOORS

INTRODUCTION TO BIRDWATCHING: WAIKIKI SPRINGS Get the most out of

This show features rarely displayed artworks from the museum’s permanent collection, spanning from historical pieces by Hogarth and Goya to contemporary works by Holzer and Shimomura. Tue-Sat from 10 am-4 pm. through June 29. Free. Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU, 1535 NE Wilson Rd. museum.wsu.edu

MEANDER BOOK WORKSHOP Northwest Inland Book Arts Society member Beth McIlraith teaches a fun and easy way to make a meander book out of just one sheet of paper. March 30, 10-11:30 am. Free. The Hive, 2904 E. Sprague Ave. inwbookartssociety.wixsite.com

TRANS DAY OF VISIBILITY ART SHOW A showcase of art created by local transgender, two-spirit, nonbinary, genderqueer, intersex and gender diverse people. March 30, 12-3 pm. Free. Central Library, 906 W. Main Ave. facebook.com/ transspokane (509-444-5336)

WORDS

DROP IN & WRITE Aspiring writers are invited to be a part of a supportive writers’ community. Bring works in progress to share, get inspired with prompts and spend some focused time writing. Thursdays from 5:30-7 pm. Free. Spark Central, 1214 W. Summit. spark-central.org

WRITE TOGETHER: A COMMUNITY

WRITING SESSION Bring your current project and your favorite writing tools and prepare to hunker down and write. Local novelist and Writing Education Specialist Sharma Shields writes alongside and provides advice if needed. March 29, 10:30 am-12:30 pm. Free. Central Library, 906 W. Main. spokanelibrary.org

FUTURE TENSE: THE THRILL OF SPECULATIVE FICTION In this hybrid lecture and generative writing workshop, audiences learn a brief history and definitions of speculative fiction and then participate in writing exercises led by Tara Campbell. April 2, 5:30-7 pm. Free. Central Library, 906 W. Main Ave. spokanelibrary.org

DOGS AND CATS A group display of works that capture the essence of beloved pets and the universal significance of pets in our daily lives. Daily from 11 am-7 pm through March 30. Free. Liberty Building, 203 N. Washington St. spokanelibertybuilding.com

ALEXIS MAKI: BEYOND LAND AND SEA This exhibition focuses on the appearance of a landscape and the ways it can be manipulated to create a new place. Mon-Fri from 10 am-6 pm, Sat from 10 am-2 pm through March 31. Free. Colfax Library, 102 S. Main St. whitcolib.org

NATURE & NURTURE: WOMEN PAINTERS OF WASHINGTON Artwork from regional female painters, including Sara Cate, Carol Hartstock, T. Kurtz, Nancy Rothwell. Mon-Fri from 10 am-5 pm through March 29. Free. Spokane Art School, 503 E. Second Ave. spokaneartschool.net

BEYOND HOPE: KIENHOLZ AND THE INLAND NORTHWEST EXHIBITION This exhibition delves into the collaborative artistic journey of American artist Edward Kienholz and his wife, Nancy, in the small town of Hope, Idaho. Tue-Sat from 10 am-4 pm through June 29. Free. Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU, 1535 NE Wilson. museum.wsu.edu

SUBVERSIVE INTENT: SELECTIONS FROM THE COLLECTION EXHIBITION

ORIGIN STORIES Create a short comic based on a myth, legend or anything else that inspires you. Registration required. April 2-5, daily from 9:30-11:30 am. Free. Spark Central, 1214 W. Summit Pkwy. spark-central.org

TEEN WRITE CLUB Teen writers are invited to get feedback on their work and explore all things prose and poetry. Every Tuesday from 5:30-7 pm. Free. Spark Central, 1214 W. Summit Pkwy. sparkcentral.org (509-279-0299)

BROKEN MIC Spokane Poetry Slam’s longest-running, weekly open mic reading series. Wednesdays at 6:30 pm; signups at 6 pm. Free. Neato Burrito, 827 W. First Ave. bit.ly/2ZAbugD

FORGE: SHAPING ASIAN AMERICAN WELLBEING A lecture and Q&A with local Asian therapists discussing issues Asian American youth and young adults face and solutions for it. April 3, 6-7:30 pm. Free. Gonzaga University Hemmingson Center, 702 E. Desmet. bit.ly/acls-forge

SEEING OUR SAMENESS Buddhist monks from Sravasti Abbey explore why empathy is needed now and how we can expand our care to include all living beings. April 3. Free. North Idaho College Student Union Building, 495 N. College Dr. nic.edu/diversity (208-769-3300)

PRESCHOOL STORYTIME PLAY& LEARN Share books, songs and fun. Every Wednesday from 10-11 am. 10-11 am. Free. South Hill Library, 3324 S. Perry. spokanelibrary.org n

40 INLANDER MARCH 28, 2024

Germany Goes Green

The European Union’s largest nation is embracing recreational cannabis

Germany took a long and winding road to get here, but the nation of 85 million people has arrived at its destination of cannabis legalization.

Starting April 1, possession and consumption of cannabis will become legal for recreational purposes. On July 1, private cannabis clubs with up to 500 members will be allowed to distribute recreational cannabis. Medical marijuana has been legal in Germany since 2017.

The legislation was passed by Germany’s parliament in February, with 407 members in favor and 226 against. On March 22, a motion to delay implementation of the plan failed in Germany’s version of the Senate, which cleared the law to come into effect as planned.

BE AWARE: Marijuana is legal for adults 21 and older under Washington State law (e.g., RCW 69.50, RCW 69.51A, HB0001 Initiative 502 and Senate Bill 5052). State law does not preempt federal law; possessing, using, distributing and selling marijuana remains illegal under federal law. In Washington state, consuming marijuana in public, driving while under the influence of marijuana and transporting marijuana across state lines are all illegal. Marijuana has intoxicating effects; there may be health risks associated with its consumption, and it may be habit-forming. It can also impair concentration, coordination and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug. Keep out of reach of children. For more information, consult the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board at www.liq.wa.gov.

Under the law, adults 18 years and older will be allowed to carry up to 25 grams and possess up to 50 grams cannabis.

Unlike Washington’s regulations, Germany’s will allow for public consumption of cannabis outside of particular areas such as school zones.

There are no provisions for creating a legal market — the noncommercial cannabis clubs will fill that void for now — though the government has said that establishing a legal market is the second pillar of a long-term legalization plan.

Germany’s government has been working toward legalization since 2021, when the current coalition gov-

ernment led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz assumed power. Two of the parties making up the coalition, the Greens and the Free Democratic Party have long advocated for legalization. Together with the other party in the coalition, Scholz’s Social Democratic Party, the government announced its intention to legalize cannabis.

Throughout 2022 and 2023, various versions of the legalization proposal were floated before the 2024 version stuck.

Cannabis legalization is a controversial issue in Germany. According to reporting from Al Jazeera, a recent poll found that 47% of Germans are in favor of legalization while 42% are opposed.

Despite the lack of clear public sentiment, Germany will now have one of the most progressive policies on cannabis in the world.

Germany becomes the ninth country to legalize cannabis and the third to do so in the European Union, joining the small nations of Malta and Luxembourg. It will be the second-most populous nation to legalize, behind Mexico. Uruguay was the first country to legalize cannabis, back in 2013, followed by the countries named above plus Georgia, South Africa, Canada and Thailand. n

NOTE TO READERS

Be aware of the differences in the law between Idaho and Washington. It is illegal to possess, sell or transport cannabis in the State of Idaho. Possessing up to an ounce is a misdemeanor and can get you a year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine; more than three ounces is a felony that can carry a five-year sentence and fine of up to $10,000. Transporting marijuana across state lines, like from Washington into Idaho, is a felony under federal law.

MARCH 28, 2024 INLANDER 41
Sun-Thur 8am-10pm • Fri-Sat 8am-11pm | 2424 N. Monroe St • (509) 919-3470 greenhand DAILY SPECIALS OPEN EVERY DAY! VENDOR DAYS EVERY FRIDAY EARLY BIRD MONDAY 811AM 20% Off (excludes all pre-rolls) TOP SHELF TUESDAY 20% Off WAX WEDNESDAY 20% Off concentrates $20 or more PREROLL THURSDAY $1 off packs of 4 or less, 20% off 5 or more FEATURED VENDOR FRIDAY 20% off featured vendor SELFCARE SATURDAY 20% Off CBD & Wellness SNACK SUNDAY 20% Off Edibles & Drinkables WARNING: This product has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming. Cannabis can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product. For use only by adults 21 and older. Keep out of the reach of children.
The German parliament approved recreational use in February.

ROSSWORDConesin’ J

familiarly

57. Focus of a Royal Canadian centennial on April 1, 2024

58. Apres-ski setting

59. Gets comfy

60. Squirrel away DOWN

1. “Mr. ___ Passes By” (A.A. Milne play)

2. Env. stuffer

3. Wild-caught octopus, in a sushi bar

4. Awards in the ad biz

5. Historic building in Baton Rouge, LA or Springfield, IL

6. 1994 Eurodance hit based on an old American folk song

7. Los Juegos Olimpicos prize

8. TikTok offerings involving pencils, maybe

9. Couturier Cassini

10. Vehicle

11. Unpleasant obligation

12. Back-to-school mo.

14. Series with a short-lived “Cyber” offshoot

16. Manga featuring high school student Light Yagami and a mysterious black book

19. What Project Gutenberg offers, in e-book formats

23. When hands are up and down

24. Gargamel’s prey

25. What extreme Dutch sportspeople try to jump with a pole

26. 1967 Stevie Wonder title lyric that’s followed by “If you leave me sad and blue”

29. Places that may have a lot of kicks and trainers

30. ___-garde

31. Current events-related

33. Letter after ka in Spanish

34. Kraken org.

35. 3-D screening

44. What Balatro’s “arcana packs” are themed around

45. “I’m not ___”

46. “Sweet,” in Jamaica

47. Shared mine?

48. Shoe insert

50. ___-Chee All Season Portfolio (retro school folder)

51. “___ and the Swan” (Yeats poem)

52. Root beer dispensers

54. Positional start?

56. “I’ve seen better”

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Aykroyd of “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” 32. Played in turn 36. Advice to one holding tension 37. Library archives that may be in storage 38. Trout fishing lure 39. ___ loss 40. Super Bowl LIV halftime performer 41. “Animal Farm” structure 42. Gym classes, briefly 43. Dutch astronomer with a namesake “cloud” 45. Sauce for crab cakes, maybe 49. Cereal brand with a High Protein version 53. Hostess offering 55. Skyhook Foundation founder,
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