When it warms up and stays lighter out later, restaurants around the Inland Northwest add a favorite seasonal menu item: fresh air.
It’s still fairly early in the outdoor dining season. Many restaurants in this region wait until May to open their patios. But customers have been inquiring about sitting outside since the spring equinox.
“If the sun’s out, they’re asking,” said Ku’ulei Kane-Salboro, manager at Anthony’s at Spokane Falls, where tables overlooking Spokane River’s Upper Falls were put out two weeks ago.
“We were a little ambitious this year,” Kane-Salboro said, noting, “You wait all winter for this.”
Soon, spring’s cool evenings will morph into sultry summer nights, and more and more people will want to dine outdoors.
The allure of eating and drinking in the open air extends to all meals. But lingering over menus somehow seems even more magical under the gentle glow from strings of patio lights.
Views enhance the experience, which sometimes calls for suncreen and insect repellent. Mosquitoes, bees and flies are unwelcome but not unexpected guests when dining outdoors.
Still, sunshine-filled lunchtimes and warm evenings are something to be savored. Like the seasons that bring them to us, they are fleeting.
Here, categorized by location – but otherwise in no particular order and by no means comprehensive – are some favorite spots for eating and drinking outdoors in the Inland Northwest.
Seating is first-come, first-served on the two-tiered patio at Clinkerdagger, where it’s a long drop to the Spokane River. Sit in shade created by a canvas canopy on the top tier, enclosed with glass, or take five steps down to the sun-soaked lower patio, home to what shift supervisor Sean Tracy calls the best seats in the house: the two tables at the tail end. “You get a nice cool breeze from the river,” he said, recommending customers arrive early. Seats fill up fast, especially for happy hour. 621 W. Mallon Ave., Suite 404. Visit clinkerdagger.com or call (509) 328-5965.
Watch the rushing Spokane River spill around Canada Island from one of the 23 tables on the patio at Anthony’s at Spokane Falls, where fish is flown in daily, the four-course $21.95 Sunset Menu is popular, and the view is “beautiful, just beautiful,” said Kane-Salboro. “Just the sound of the river is wonderful.” And, she said, “It’s very peaceful at night.” 510 N. Lincoln St. Visit www.anthonys.com or call (509) 328-9009.
Sit back and relax in Adirondack chairs along the banks of the Spokane River at No-Li Brewhouse, where you can enjoy pub grub and Spokane-style ales like Born & Raised IPA, Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout and Spin Cycle Red. 1003 E. Trent Ave., No. 170. Visit www.nolibrewhouse.com or call (509) 242-2739.
High on a bluff on the north side of the Spokane River, the orange umbrella-ed patio at Central Food overlooks the Centennial Trail and offers a spectacular view of the downtown Spokane skyline. 1335 W. Summitview Parkway in Kendall Yards. Visit eatcentralfood.com or call (509) 315-8036.
To catch the river near its headwaters, head to Le Peep in Coeur d’Alene. This breakfast and lunch spot offers an expansive deck with great river views. 1884 W. Bellerive Lane, Suite 101, southwest of Riverstone Park. (208) 664-0404.
Order sandwiches, soft-serve, wraps, burgers, beer and more at the walk-up counter at Fountain Café, a seasonal, casual concession stand near the water sculpture in Riverfront Park. 610 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. Call (509) 625-6656.
Picnic tables wait for customers at the seasonally open, dog-friendly Manito Park Bench Café, tucked between Mirror Pond and Duncan Garden in Manito Park. The quaint stone stand sells sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads, smoothies, ice cream and espresso, and hosts a free music series in summer. 1928 S. Tekoa St. Call (509) 456-8066.
Sidewalk/ urban patio
The small but inviting wooden patio in front of Boots holds five tables, which welcome guests into the gluten-free vegan bakery, bar, eatery and coffee shop. 24 W. Main Ave. Visit bootsbakery.com or call (509)703-7223.
Next door, nosh on Kobe beef sliders, mac and cheese, or skewers at Zola, known for its live music and martinis. Outside seating features six intimate tables, where customers can cool off with a Cucumber Press or Huckleberry Lemonade. 22 W. Main Ave. Visit www.zolainspokane.com or call (509) 624-2416.
A wrought-iron fence separates passers-by from diners at Saranac Public House, an American bistro where striped umbrellas and strings of patio lights add to the ambiance. 21 W. Main Ave. Visit www.saranacpublichouse.com or call (509) 473-9455.
Anchored by a 12-foot-long, custom-made fire sculpture, the patio at Borracho Tacos & Tequileria is accessible through a roll-up, garagelike door. A walk-up, full-service bar offers outdoor TV viewing in addition to drinks made from some 75 tequilas. 211 N. Division St. Call (509) 822-7789.
The brick-lined alleyway adjacent to Mizuna in downtown Spokane evokes a sense of sitting at cafés in pedestrian-only streets in the historic cores of European cities. Look for seasonal specialties, vegetarian and vegan options, eclectic fare and a notable wine list. 214 N. Howard St. Visit www.mizuna.com or call (509) 747-2004.
Outdoor seating at Santé, reminiscent of a café in France, hugs the historic Liberty Building in downtown Spokane. The ever-changing menu features charcuterie and cheese boards, artisanal sandwiches, pâté and a crêpe of the day. 404 W. Main Ave. Visit santespokane.com or call (509) 315-4613.
Located across from Riverfront Park, O’Doherty’s offers a shady place to cool off, people watch, and enjoy a Black and Tan (dark Guinness stout atop Harp Lager). The menu features Irish fare, burgers, sandwiches and plenty of other pub grub. 525 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. Visit www.odohertyspub.com or call (509) 747-0322.
Gather some friends for weekend brunch at Andy’s, a small downtown bar and eatery where you can order mimosas by the pitcher and get to know the tight-knit group of regulars. The sidewalk seating, enclosed by a tall wrought-iron fence, mirrors the interior: long and narrow. 1401 W. First Ave. Call (509) 747-0304.
Enjoy espresso, sandwiches, quiches and baked treats in the enclosed sidewalk seating area at Rocket Bakery, on the western edge of downtown Spokane. Blossoms and shrubs in planters break up the asphalt-lined cityscape. 1325 W. First Ave. Visit www.rocketspokane.com or (509) 747-1834.
Lattices and vines shelter the patio from the busy boulevard at Lindaman’s, where customers can sip espresso while waiting for gourmet to-go orders. 1235 S. Grand Blvd. Visit www.lindamans.com or call (509) 838-3000.
The sidewalk seating at The Mason Jar accommodates 27 people, nearly doubling the capacity of the hip little coffee shop that opened a year and a half ago. The menu offers breakfast, paninis and a variety of baked goods. Strings of patio lights – and, sometimes, live music – add to the evening atmosphere. 101 F St. in Cheney. Visit themasonjar101.com or call (509) 359-8052.
Get the date-, gorgonzola- and mozzarella-topped Gordy at Fire Artisan Pizza and go outside to enjoy it – and some people-watching – in downtown Coeur d’Alene. 517 Sherman Ave. Visit firecda.com or call (208) 676-1743.
Iron Horse Bar and Grill serves up steak, seafood and other American fare, along with downtown Coeur d’Alene sidewalk seating. 407 E. Sherman Ave. Visit ironhorsebargrill.com and or call (208) 667-7314.
The roundabout at the heart of this historic neighborhood west of downtown is hemmed with a variety of outdoor dining options.
With its wrought-iron tables and chairs and brightly colored umbrellas, the patio at Italia Trattoria evokes the warmth of Italy. If it’s full, don’t fear; a wall of roll-up windows lets the outside in. The menu offers modern takes on Italian classics as well as a popular brunch selection. 144 S. Cannon St. Visit italiatrattoriaspokane.com or call (509) 459-6000.
Soak up some rays, down some suds and beware of the bees on the patio at The Elk, where creative and eclectic pub grub and a good variety of beers reign. 1931 W. Pacific Ave. Visit wedonthaveone.com/the-elk or call (509) 363-1973.
Tucked behind The Elk is the tiny El Que, which offers tacos, tamales and hand-crafted and house-infused tequilas, like beet and ghost pepper. Sip different drink specials each night of the week from a handful of sidewalk seats, which fill up fast in warm weather. 141 S. Cannon St. Visit wedonthaveone.com/el_que or call (509) 624-5412.
Share a pizza and a pitcher at Pacific Avenue Pizz a, a casual neighborhood joint where comic books hold menus and decks of cards from old games of Trivial Pursuit provide conversation starters. 2001 W. Pacific Ave. Call (509) 624-0236.
The al fresco options keep growing in this vibrant neighborhood at the base of the South Hill.
The newest is Perry Street Brewing, a family-friendly brewery that opened in March. Food trucks regularly park here, nearby South Perry Pizza delivers, and guests can also also bring in things to eat. Sip a crisp Czech pilsner, farmhouse-style Biere de Garde or milk stout on the patio, accessible by an oversize, roll-up, garagelike door. 1025 S. Perry St. Call (509) 279-2820.
Garage-style doors also open onto the patio at the popular South Perry Pizza, a casual eatery that specializes in artisan pizzas. 1011 S. Perry St. Visit www.southperrypizzaspokane.com or call (509) 290-6047.
There are 10 rotating taps at the Lantern Tap House, which provides cozy sidewalk seating as well as an array of pub grub. 1004 S. Perry St. Visit www.lanterntaphouse.com or call (509) 315-9531.
Sip handcrafted cocktails and dine on hearty Southern classics – like fried chicken, roast chicken with cornbread stuffing, and shrimp and grits – on Casper Fry’s long and narrow patio, which overlooks the parking lot of The Shop. 928 S. Perry St. Visit www.casperfry.com or call (509) 535-0536.
Garage doors roll up at The Shop, a fun and funky old gas-station-turned-coffee-shop that serves espresso, beer, wine, baked goods, ice cream, salads and sandwiches. Saturday nights in summer, watch a movie projected on the building next door from couches and chairs in the parking lot. 924 S. Perry St. Visit theshoponsouthperry.com or call (509) 534-1647.
More neighborhood favorites
The lovely, secret gardenlike patio at Luna makes it one of the most romantic evening outdoor dining venues in Spokane. Climbing plants and fragrant flowers help hide the traffic on 57th Avenue. 5620 S. Perry St. Visit www.lunaspokane.com or call (509) 448-2383.
Sit in the side yard of a charmingly renovated 1909 bungalow at Clover, recently named one of the best new bars in America by Food & Wine magazine and known for its locally sourced ingredients and house-made breads and dressings. 913 E. Sharpe Ave. Visit cloverspokane.com or call (509) 487-2937.
Nibble on buttery croissants, scones or cookies on the light-dappled patio at Rockwood Bakery or take an espresso to go, enjoying it during a walk in nearby Manito Park. 315 E. 18th Ave. Call (509) 747-8691.
Camp out around the fire at The Flying Goat, which offers a variety of gourmet pizza, like the Italian sausage-, arugula- and egg-covered Kiernan. 3318 W. Northwest Blvd. Visit www.theflyinggoat.com or call (509) 327-8277.
Garage-style doors roll up at The Boiler Room, a new wood-fired, artisan pizza place with a patio overlooking green space in the Five Mile neighborhood. 6501 N. Cedar Road. Call (509) 863-9213.
Sip a martini on the expansive patio at Twigs Wandermere, which sits on the edge of a pond anchored by a waterfall feature. 401 E. Farwell Road. Visit www.twigsbistro.com or call (509) 466-4800.
Sun-soaked patio seating at a trio of establishments on the South Hill overlooks a pond and offers a variety of dining experiences. Laguna Café serves American classics, including its popular chocolate cake. 4304 S. Regal St. Visit www.restaurantsspokanewa.com or call (509) 448-0887. Beer and burgers reign at Waddell’s. 4318 S. Regal St. Visit waddellspubandgrill.com or call (509) 443-6500. Twigs on South Regal specializes in martinis and bistro fare. 4320 S. Regal St. Visit www.twigsbistro.com or call (509) 443-8000.
Hanging baskets of blooms adorn the patio at Max at Mirabeau Park Hotel and Convention Center, where casual but elegant and eclectic entrées abound. 1100 N. Sullivan Road in Spokane Valley. Visit www.maxatmirabeau.com or call (509) 922-6252.
Sip on house-made spirits in the outdoor seating area at Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery, overlooking the pond in the Village at Riverstone. 1710 W. Riverstone Drive in Coeur d’Alene. Visit bardenay.com or call (208) 765-1540.
Nosh on corn pasta on the porch at The Porch, which overlooks the adjacent golf course and is a sister restaurant to The Elk in Browne’s Addition. 1658 E. Miles Ave. in Hayden Lake. Visit wedonthaveone.com/the-porch/ or call (208) 772-7711.
Located at lake’s edge, The Beachouse serves steak and seafood on its deck overlooking Silver Beach Marina. 4316 E. Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive in Coeur d’Alene. Visit www.beachousecda.com or call (208) 664-6464.
It isn’t difficult to pretend the patio at Tony’s on the Lake – with its strings of lights, rows of umbrellas and Italian-inspired cuisine – lies on the edge of Italy’s Lake Como. 6823 Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive in Coeur d’Alene. Visit www.tonysonthelake.com or call (208) 667-9885.
Feel the wind off the water at The Cedars Floating Restaurant, located at the mouth of the Spokane River on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Watch diners arrive by boat from a seat under the shade structure or en plein air. 1514 N. Marina Drive in Coeur d’Alene. Visit cedarsfloatingrestaurant.com or call (208) 664-2922.
Watch the sun set over picturesque Cavanaugh Bay on Priest Lake from deck and patio seating at Cavanaugh’s, which serves burgers, tacos, salads, pizza, cocktails and more. 4024 Cavanaugh Bay Road in Coolin. Visit www.cavbay.com or call (208) 443-2095.
The Floating Restaurant, or The Floater – as regulars affectionately call it – specializes in steak, seafood, buffalo burgers and Sunday brunch. Arrive by land or lake, then enjoy the gentle waves of Ellisport Bay in Hope Marina on Lake Pend Oreille from one of two dining decks. 47392 Highway 200 in Hope. Visit www.hopefloatingrestaurant.com or call (208) 264-5311.
There’s shady deck seating at The Bistro at Williams Lake at Klink’s Resort, which offers casual Pacific Northwest cuisine. 18617 W. Williams Lake Road in Cheney. Visit klinksresort.com or call (509) 235-2391.