Pullman, tucked into the rolling hills of the Palouse, is a quintessential college town.
In fact, Sunset magazine ranked it among its 10 Best College Towns in the West last year for its low crime and general livability, including a vibrant food scene.
Pullman is not only home to Washington State University but a number of great spots to grab some grub – from burgers and beers at the iconic Coug to the casually elegant Black Cypress, which offers some of the region’s best fine dining.
This is where to eat and drink in Pullman.
Cheap Eats: Cougar Country Drive-In
This no-frills burger joint has been around for 45 years and is a long-time Coug favorite. It offers an array of burgers, fries, onion rings, sandwiches, hot dogs, corn dogs, chicken strips, slushies and Cyclones, similar to Dairy Queen Blizzards. The Cougar Super Basket features two 1/4-pound patties with special sauce, mayo, lettuce, onions, toasted sesame seed bun and fries. The Cougar Special features 1/4-pound patty with ham and cheese, special sauce, mayo, lettuce, onions and toasted sesame seed bun. Look, also, for a bacon burger, cheeseburger, hot ham-and-cheese sandwich, hoagie dip and chicken, fish, halibut, shrimp, clam and steak-bite baskets. 760 N. Grand Ave. (509) 332-7829. https://thecougarcountry.com/
Sweet Treats: Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe
It can become crazy busy at this on-campus ice cream shop, which features separate doors for entering and exiting – and keeping traffic moving. Hours are limited. So is parking. But the ice cream and cheese are totally worth it. Ice cream is made daily using milk from WSU’s own dairy cows and proceeds help support the herd as well as WSU students. Prices won’t break a college kid’s or adjunct professor’s bank. A single scoop on a waffle cone is $2.80. Signature flavors include Apple Cup Crisp and Cougar Tracks. Milkshakes, malts, sundaes, banana splits, cake and sugar cones, and hand-packed pints, quarts and 3-gallon tubs are also available. So are espresso drinks and WSU’s signature ice cream sandwiches called Grabbers. Dairy lovers can also pick up 30-ounce cans of cheese from WSU’s own creamery, including the ever-popular Cougar Gold. That’s right: cheese and ice cream at the same shop. It doesn’t get much better than that. 2035 NE Ferdindand’s Lane in Pullman. (509) 335-2141. https://creamery.wsu.edu/ferdinands-ice-cream-shoppe.
Coffee: Roost Coffee and Market
This cozy little shop serves regionally roasted coffee in an intimate but light- and plant-filled atmosphere. The menu is written in chalk. Light bulbs are Edison. The espresso roast comes from Landgrove Coffee in nearby Troy, Idaho. And good luck walking by the pastry case without ordering anything. Look for sea salt chocolate chunk and frosted sugar cookies, orange-poppy seed scones, cream cheese and plum bread, chocolate-cranberry bars and more. Come here to study, meet a friend or a first date. If coffee goes well, head to the restaurant next door. Roost shares a building with the Foundry. 125 SE Spring St. (509) 332-8534. www.landgrovecoffee.com.
Date Night: The Foundry Kitchen and Cocktails
Start with the Cask and Iron cocktail, a wood-smoked Old-Fashioned with orange and Angostura bitters, rye, maple, vermouth and hard-carved ice. It’s rich and balanced and reminiscent of enjoying the classic rye cocktail around a campfire. There is a large fire feature on the expansive patio outside. Inside, the decor is modern but rustic with clean lines and antique touches, such as old windmill blades adorning a wall in the main dining area, vintage window panes separating that area from the bar, and an animal skull keeping watch over patrons in the bar. The floor is concrete. The wood is dark. The wine list is well curated. And the menu is contemporary American. Appetizers include Cougar Gold cheese curds served with a house dipping sauce, wild mushroom poutine and mozzarella-stuffed meat balls. Entrees include rosemary lamb lollipops with mashed potatoes and a balsamic glaze, a bone-in Washington Hills pork chop with a wild mushroom demi-glace, chicken pot pie, and basil pesto tortellini. On date night, share a slice of carrot-lentil cake. 125 SE Spring St. (509) 339-7727. www.facebook.com/foundrypullman.
Breakfast: The Old European
Start with the Danish aebelskivers, which come in original, blueberry or sausage and Havarti, or a combination, and are based on a family recipe that Grandma Marie brought to America from the Old Country in 1908. On the sweeter side, there’s coconut macademia nut French toast with bananas, whipped cream and coconut syrup. On the savory side, opt for steak and eggs, Hungarian goulash or German potato pancakes with sausage, applesauce and sour cream. Look, also, for Swedish crepes, Dutch babies and stuffed French toast or hot cakes with sausage, bacon or ham and scrambled eggs. There are also no fewer than seven kinds of eggs Benedict and 11 omelets. 455 S. Grand Ave. (509) 334-6381. https://oldeuropean-restaurant.com.
Burgers and Beer: Paradise Creek Brewery
This brewpub is located in Pullman’s old downtown post office and features a spacious tap room with pub grub and plenty of beer to sample. There’s a Greek-inspired lamb burger, curried lentil burger, spicy bleu burger and PCB burger. Add pepperjack or cheddar and peppered bacon. And get a beer sampler. Look for the Kugar Kolsch, Huckleberry Sour, Over the Hop IPA, Postal Porter, Palouse Wit and rotating seasonals. 245 SE Paradise St. (509) 338-9463. http://paradisecreekbrewery.com/. Note: PCB also has a taproom. The Trailside Taproom is at 505 SE Riverview St. Call (509) 339-6894.
Pub Grub: South Fork Public House
This modern American bar and grill offers elevated pub grub. Expect burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads and starters, such as Scorpion tails. These jalapeño poppers are stuffed with Crimson Fire cheese, wrapped with prosciutto and served with chipotle ranch and sour cream. Wings, nachos, lettuce wraps and sliders round out the appetizers. Look, also, for a pulled pork sandwich, chicken gyro, street tacos, barbecue burger, black bean burger and guacamole chicken burger. Entrees include mac and cheese, fish and chips, shrimp pasta, ribs, ribeye steak and cilantro pesto pasta. For dessert, there’s deep-fried cookie dough, creme brulee, cobbler, cheesecake and a brownie. 1680 S. Grand Ave. (509) 332-3675. www.southforkpublichouse.com.
Pizza: Porch Light Pizza
Crisp, charred crusts are a hallmark of this hip and cozy brick-lined pizza parlor in downtown Pullman. The streamlined menu features eight signature pizzas, plus salads and beer. Consider the Ben, which comes with red sauce, pepperoni, mushrooms, tomato, artichoke hearts, fresh basil and mozzarella. The Porch, another signature pie, comes with barbecue sauce, pulled pork, onions, cilantro and a blend of cheeses. Or, guests can build their own. Choose from red, white, pesto, barbecue, peanut and Buffalo sauces or olive oil. Cheese options are mozzarella, mozzarella pearls, soy, goat, blue, feta, Parmesan or a cheese blend. Proteins are pepperoni, prosciutto, Canadian bacon, sausage, pulled pork, grilled chicken, anchovies, bacon and eggs. Veggies are spinach, tomato, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black olives, jalapeños, artichoke hearts, pineapple, kalamata olives, pepperoncinis, sundried tomato, cilantro, basil and arugula. 200 NE Kamiaken St. (509) 334-7437. http://porchlightpizza.com.
Game day: The Coug
This place is a Wazzu institution. The Coug, or the Cougar Cottage, has been a WSU hangout since 1932. You can write on the walls at this iconic Greek Row landmark, and it’s perfectly acceptable. In fact, it’s tradition. Longtime ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor and “College GameDay” host Rece Davis did so when he was here in October. He signed both a wall and a table, to be precise. The Coug is a college bar so expect college students, sometimes raucous college students. It’s a no-frills kind of place, with burgers, fries, tots, onion rings and, of course, beer. 900 NE Colorado St. (509) 332-1265. https://thecougarcottage.com.
When the parents come to visit: The Black Cypress
Be sure to make reservations for this casually elegant downtown Pullman restaurant, which offers some of the best fine dining in the region. The menu is Greek and Italian influenced. Start with the signature appetizer: pork souvlakia with pita bread and tzatziki sauce. Or, consider the clams with bacon, greens, garlic, chile flakes and grilled bread. The trio of dips – tzatziki, skordalia and tirokafteri – served with pita bread is another popular starter. Mains include a streamlined selection of pastas, including the often-ordered carbonara with bacon, garlic and onion confit, cream, egg and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Lamb chops, steak, grilled portobello, a pork chop, a seasonal vegetable plate and moqueca, a traditional Brazilian seafood stew, round out the entrees. Highly recommended is the roasted chicken on a bed of mashed potatoes with bread salad, roasted kale and fresh herb pan jus. Black Cypress is also known for its craft cocktails, including its house punch with bourbon, fresh orange, clove, cinnamon and vanilla. Also highly recommended is the Surgeon General’s Warning with bourbon, smoked maple cordial, smoke bitters and orange bitters. 215 E. Main St. (509) 334-5800. www.theblackcypress.com. Note: For a night cap, consider making a stop upstairs. Etsi Bravo is a lounge and nightclub on the second floor of the same building as Black Cypress. Craft cocktails are the specialty here, but there’s a full bar, including absinthe service – a rarity for this region. The ambiance is sophisticated but relaxed. Lighting is dim. The mezzanine level can be reserved for private parties. 215 E. Main St. (509) 715-1037. www.etsibravo.com and www.facebook.com/etsibravo.