Deep-fried, dough-wrapped and fatty foods abound at Pig Out in the Park, Spokane’s end-of-summer ode to outdoor music and cheap eats.
The six-day food and music fest, a long Labor Day weekend tradition around these parts, marks the end of summer with an excuse to overindulge.
It’s in the name. The title tells you what to do: Pig out.
The 39th annual event takes over Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane from Wednesday through Monday with nearly 50 food booths and about 250 menu items. Admission is free. And organizers aim to keep food prices down. Posters for Pig Out promise “Cheap prices!” They range from $4 to $10.99.
But it’s not all bacon-wrapped corn dogs, funnel cakes and food on sticks. It’s possible to get past the gut bombs and sugary drinks.
Here are a few healthy-ish offerings that shouldn’t make you feel like you need to be rolled away from this year’s Pig Out in the Park, plus a bunch that probably will.
If you don’t care about calories – and that is kind of the point of Pig Out – there are also plenty of eats that will help you reach hog heaven.
Mind your meats: The Trophy Spice stand is offering an elk burger as well as elk breakfast sausage. A dense red meat, elk is high in protein and has less fat and cholesterol and fewer calories than beef. But, if you’re trying to be health-conscious, you might want to skip the fries.
Or, go meatless: The Taste of India booth is a go-to for vegetarians for its chana masala, a garbanzo bean dish with onions, tomatoes, spices and fresh cilantro. Azar’s has hummus, or garbanzo beans whipped with tahini, garlic and olive oil. The Doner Haus specializes in steak and chicken doner sandwiches; however, it has a veggie doner sammy, too. Greek Flame Foods has a veggies and rice pilaf dish.
Skip all or most of the fixings: The Southern Roasted Corn booth offers roasted corn on the cob and baked potatoes with all the fixings. Skip or cut back on the butter and other toppings, such as sour cream, cheese or bacon. Add flavor with black pepper and chopped green onion. Azar’s Exquisite Elotes offers grilled Mexican street corn in classic and “flamin’” versions. Same thing here: cut back on the butter and cheese or Flamin’ Hot Cheeto dust, but keep the fresh herbs.
Opt for fish or salad: Baja Babes and Oyster Bay are offering shrimp tacos. Mami’s Spicy Ceviche is offering ceviche tostadas. Ceviche, fish or shellfish marinated in fresh citrus, is generally low in calories and fat and high in protein. You just might want to skip the deep-fried corn tortilla shell. Greek Flame Foods is doing a Greek salad.
Fill up on fruit: Several booths at this year’s event feature fruit, although much of it is dipped in chocolate or covered with caramel. Those kind of toppings make these dishes healthy-ish instead of healthful. But they’re going to be better for you than funnel cakes or deep-fried candy bars and cookies. Look for a caramel apple and chocolate-covered banana from Pig Out in the Park staple Bloem Chocolates as well as Charlie’s Cheesecakes. Shishkaberry specializes in chocolate-covered bananas, banana bites, strawberries and pineapple. Berry Ka-Bob offers smoothies and fresh fruit bowls as well as chocolate-covered strawberries. And Raspados del Sur, a food stand from Pasco, offers fruit cups as well as its namesake raspados, or Mexican snow cones or shaved ice.
Wash it down: Sugary drinks are full of empty calories. Bayou Billy has an unsweetened tea.
All the rest
Fry me to the moon: If deep-fried fair food is your thing, you’ve got a bunch of options. Azar’s Deep-Fried Haven has deep-fried pizza, deep-fried Philly sandwiches, and deep-fried lasagna. Inland Empire Concessions has elephant ears, deep-fried Twinkies, deep-fried Oreos and deep-fried candy bars. Twister’s Old Fashion Funnel Cakes has, as its name suggests, funnel cakes as well as cinnamon twists, corn dogs and cheesecake-adillas.
Meat me at Pig Out: The Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs booth sells what its name suggests along with its counterpart: bacon-wrapped corn dogs. The Bibby Booth specializes New York-style Italian sausages and chicken strips along with garlic fries. Eldon’s Italian Sausage has a New York-style Italian sausage as well as a Philly cheese steak sandwich. Gourmet Soul has ribs as well as a brisket or pulled pork sandwich with dirty rice, corn bread, slaw and baked beans. The Philly Bros/Fry Guys stand has Philly sandwiches and curly fries. Piggly’s BBQ has smoked brisket, Polish sausage, hot dogs and burgers. The Montana-based Porteus BBQ, founded in 1989, has a pulled pork sandwich, brisket sandwich, smoked pork ribs, beans and coleslaw. And Unique Burgers and Buns has burgers, chicken burgers and fries.
Cheese, please: Since 2013, the Hayden-based JB’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese has made the rounds at fairs and festivals in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. JB is owner Janet Bonser, who aims to – according to her company slogan – “make happy sandwiches.” They’re served on sourdough bread with a dill pickle. Look for a grilled triple-cheese sandwich, grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich and grilled turkey-and-cheese sandwich. Baja Babes has a quesadilla. So does Your Way Burritos, which also sells rice bowls and, of course, burritos. Mac Daddy’s Gourmet Grub has bacon mac and cheese, Buffalo chicken mac and cheese, and meat lovers’ mac and cheese. Westmoreland Concessions has nachos and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos with cheese as well as a corn dog and lemonade to wash it all down.
Puff ’n’ stuff: For the second year in a row, Nitro Shack, part of the Texas-based, fourth-generation food-service company Westmoreland Concessions, is offering a novelty snack that will make consumers “breathe like a dragon.” The fruity frozen cereal balls, called Nitro Puffs, are flash frozen using liquid nitrogen. The stand also sells lemonade.
Thirst quenchers: Lemonade is a fair staple, and Giant Lemon has lemonade as well as watermelon lemonade and cherry lemonade. The Lemonade Guy has lemonade as well as iced tea and bubble tea. Piggly’s also has lemonade. Bayou Billy has sweetened and unsweetened tea. Plus, there are three adult beverage gardens.
Take a coffee break: Have Beans Will Travel is serving up espresso drinks, bagels and muffins.
Stick it to me: A couple of Pig Out booths sell corn dogs. But only one has oysters on a stick. And that’s the Oyster Bay booth, which also offers an oyster po’ boy sandwich.
Fry-yay: Terry’s Breakfast stand is the place to go if you want to indulge in a “block-o-fries.” It also offers up burritos and nachos.
Be corny: The locally based Old-Fashioned Kettle Corn Co. offers kettle corn in several flavors, including white cheddar, caramel and apple cinnamon.
Ter it up: A couple of booths have teriyaki this year. They are Kang’s Mongolian, with fried rice, white rice chow mein, barbecue chicken, egg rolls, teriyaki chicken and curry chicken; and Lylo’s Teriyaki, with noodles, fried rice and sesame, orange and sweet and sour chicken.
Local faves: The mini mobile version of Azar’s, the longtime Greek and Middle Eastern restaurant on North Monroe Street, is a Pig Out mainstay. It’s got beef and lamb or chicken gyros – and, for dessert, baklava. Mary Lou’s, a highly recognizable staple on West Garland Avenue with its milk bottle-shaped building, has its locally made ice cream as well as root beer floats, caramel apple pie and elephant ears. Local chain Pizza Rita has piping-hot pizza by the slice. And, along with its vegetarian chana masala, the North Division Street Taste of India restaurant offers chicken tikka masala, chicken korma, naan, veggie samosas and rice pudding. The small Longhorn Barbecue chain of casual barbecue eateries originated in Texas in 1945. It was founded by two brothers, who moved to Spokane after 10 years in business. Today, it has two locations in Spokane and another in Auburn. At Pig Out, it serves up a beef sandwich with potato salad, pork sandwich with barbecued beans and barbecued rib tips.
Get me to the Greek: Azar’s isn’t the only one with Greek game at Pig Out. Greek Flame Foods has two booths with lamb or chicken gyros, a sampler platter, baklava and more.
Noodle around: Island Noodles sells gluten-free noodles with chicken and veggies. A vegan version is available.
Cool off: Ben & Jerry’s is serving its ice cream in waffle cones. Dippin’ Dots has several flavors of its flash frozen mini ice cream balls. Lonnie Bill’s Tropical Snow has Hawaiian shaved ice. The Three Twenty Below booth has a J-shaped ice cream cane. And Bloem Chocolates has freshly dipped ice cream bars.
Dip it good: Bloem Chocolates also has cheesecake. So does Charlie’s Cheesecake. Both are chocolate dipped.
Oldies but goodies: Food Vendors that have participated in all 39 years are Bloem Chocolates and Azar’s.
Pig Out newbies: Vendors new to the event are Mami’s Spicy Ceviche, Azar’s Exquisite Elotes, Three Twenty Below, Giant Lemon and Bayou Billy.