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A&E >  Food

Running Tab: Batter up – the big cheese and comfort food at Wisconsinburger; plus Dry Fly Distilling, Elliotts an Urban Kitchen and Outlaw BBQ

UPDATED: Wed., July 21, 2021

The state of Wisconsin has been in the news for two major reasons this month. First, ahead of our Food section printing deadline here on Monday afternoon, the Milwaukee Bucks are on the cusp of their first NBA championship since 1971 as they lead the Phoenix Suns 3-2 heading into Tuesday night’s game.

Here in the features and food world, however, the big news is the introduction of a bill that would make Colby the official cheese of the Badger State. Which provides the perfect reason to finally visit Wisconsinburger a few blocks from the heart of the Perry District.

The inaugural visit on July 12 was love at first sight, bite and beverage for many reasons, the top ones being the impressively large selection of ciders and the batter-forward appetizers and desserts (this is a good thing because anything battered is delicious in my book).

And, of course, the namesake, the delicious Wisconsin burgers with equally delicious cheeses. Our Tuesday night dinner was Wisconsin Fair Bacon (in delicious, deep-fried batter), Packer Backer Brat Bites (in delicious, deep-fried batter), a spicy South Beloit Burger (with fresh jalapenos and an add-on egg), a Manitowoc Burger (with mushroom marsala sauce that was highly praised) and apple fritters with cheese curds (in delicious, deep-fried batter).

Wisconsinburger has won numerous accolades for best burger in town, and I would agree that it is definitely one of the best burgers in town. I’m already plotting what I’ll order the next time I’m at Wisconsinburger burger-wise, and, if you can’t already tell, I’m a fan of the batter-forward items, as they are the ultimate comfort food.

Burning question: Do Wisconsinburger owners Jeff Nordvall and Laura Paisley support the Colby cheese bill?

If you go: 916 S. Hatch St., (509) 241-3083,

Dry Fly Distilling

Dry Fly Distilling, after weeks, maybe months, of anticipation, opened its tasting room to the public on Thursday on Riverside Avenue across the street from The Spokesman-Review. I walk by Dry Fly to and from work, so this isn’t dangerous at all. Ha!

I popped in on opening day after work and enjoyed two flights of local whiskey, each a very reasonably priced $5, for a total of six tastings. I also ordered a Greyhound cocktail in a can from Dry Fly that I enjoyed very much. This might seem like a lot to drink, but it had been a workday. Ha (again)!

Our whiskey tastings were the Washington Wheat Whiskey, Triticale Whiskey, Port Finish Wheat Whiskey, O’Danaghers Hiberian Whiskey, Bourbon 101 and Cask Strength Wheat Whiskey. Lesson learned: Whiskey tastings are a lot, and I prefer my whiskey and bourbon in cocktail form. Old Fashioned? Yes, please. Fortunately, my companion didn’t let a drop go to waste.

A restaurant and more of the distillery space are expected to open in a month or so, and I will definitely return, as the commute is so far. Ha (again)! My understanding is that this new location will replace the Trent Avenue locale.

If you go: 1021 W. Riverside Ave., (509) 489-2112,

Outlaw BBQ & Cater Market

After Dry Fly Distilling, we drove out to the Spokane Valley for a Food Finder Spokane celebration. Having dined at Outlaw for the first time in April for my brother-in-law’s birthday, this was an opportunity to check out Outlaw’s recently opened new location.

The original location is in northwest Spokane in a large strip mall, and the new location is pretty much a standalone location on Dishman Mica Road with a large outdoor patio with performance and game spaces (the latter perfect for kids) and a bonus patio on the opposite side of the restaurant.

The menus are identical, and we feasted on brisket, chicken thighs, ribs, Sonnenberg’s sausages, cheesy corn bread, Texas chili, coleslaw, Southern macaroni and cheese and cilantro corn jalapeno pasta salad. Our beverages: a non-alcoholic Arnold Palmer and a standout Outlaw Lemonade flavored with raspberry.

The weather could not have been more perfect for Tuesday night outdoor patio dining, and paired with large, refreshing cocktails and barbecue, who could ask for anything more.

If you go: 415 S. Dishman Mica Road, Spokane Valley, (509) 290-6573,

Elliotts an Urban Kitchen

And to end this Running Tab edition of Spokane firsts, I finally made it to Elliotts an Urban Kitchen on Monroe. I had wanted to go pre-pandemic, but, well, the pandemic happened. I’m a fan of non-fussy and non-fancy breakfasts, and Elliotts served it up perfectly with my nephew Shawn, 10, with me on two visits this month.

For our first visit on July 5, Shawn and I ordered hash (pork belly, potatoes, onions and poached eggs) and coffee and a traditional breakfast of over-easy eggs, sausage, home fries and orange juice.

I got the feels when New Order’s “Temptation” played (I know it from the 1996 “Trainspotting” soundtrack), and Shawn bopped along to the beat. Shawn’s review: “This was really fun, Uncle Don!”

Our second breakfast on Saturday (which was more lunch than breakfast or brunch) was the traditional breakfast again for Shawn (he loves what he loves), and I ordered the French toast (with divine maple syrup, I asked for a second helping) and a spicy and flavorful Omelette Espanola with jalapenos. It is apparently the season of jalapenos for me. Our second visit was just as good as the first.

Shawn says Elliotts is his new favorite breakfast place in town. “I love the way they prepare their eggs and potatoes, and I wasn’t going to eat my bacon here, but I couldn’t resist,” Shawn told me. “I also love the artwork.” Note: Shawn still swears that the biscuits and gravy on the Sunday brunch menu at Prohibition Gastropub is the best biscuits and gravy … ever. But he loves Elliotts now, too.

So, Shawn and I will return to Elliotts for a third breakfast. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

If you go: 2209 N. Monroe St., (509) 866-0850,

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