With soaring prices and the continued shakeout of the restaurant industry stemming from the pandemic, it’s getting more difficult to find a good, inexpensive lunch in downtown Spokane. So we sent our reporters out on a quest to find a good lunch option for $10 or less. Our only rule: no chains.
Here are a few of our favorites.
The choices for lunches under $10 at Soulful Soups seem never ending.
A filling, hearty cup of soup and a thick slice of beer bread is only $7.25. Heck, it’s so low, you can throw in a chocolate chip, coconut, macadamia nut cookie for $1.25 and still walk out paying only $9.26, including tax.
A bowl of soup and bread are only $8.50 and a cup of soup with a salad also is under $10.
Every day, there are nine house-made soup choices. In a usual work week, about 30 different recipes appear on the menu, said Lauren D’Arienzo, who has owned Soulful Soups since 2011.
She warns that her prices, which haven’t risen in about four years, are not sustainable with spiking costs.
“They’re going to change very soon,” D’Arienzo said. “They needed to change yesterday.”
In just one year, what she paid for a case of cream went from $55 to $77. She uses 10-15 cases a week for her creamy soups.
While menu items are likely to increase by a buck or two, D’Arienzo suspects the price for a cup of soup and a slice of beer bread will remain under $10.
D’Arienzo said she’s extremely grateful to have made it through the pandemic, though inflation and worker shortages continue to make running a business difficult. She often has to pull shifts at the restaurant because of the worker shortage.
“I eat soup every day still,” D’Arienzo said. “You’d think I’d get over it.”
Her favorites at the restaurant are salmon corn chowder and chicken broccoli cheddar.
Her customers’ favorites, she said, probably are tomato basil or beer cheese soup.
(And, yes, D’Arienzo said, you can order a cup split between tomato basil and beer cheese.)
Info: Soulful Soups, 117 N. Howard St., (509) 459-1190
– Jonathan Brunt
Salad from a pizza place. Sounds like a certain “Family Guy” joke, right?
Well, the spinach salad at Versalia Pizza actually hits all of the right notes, with its namesake complemented by a pile of bacon, mushroom, a sliced hard-boiled egg and sunflower seed kernels for crunch. A house-made vinaigrette – sweet, in that oily salad dressing sort of way – brings it all together. Perfect for those in a “I want pizza, but I also want to try to eat healthy” type of mood. And it’s $9.
You also can get a slice of pie from between $5 and $5.75, depending on toppings, so there are options.
Info: Versalia Pizza, 1333 W. Summit Parkway, (509) 389-0029
– Greg Mason
If you’re going to add tax, it’s fudging a bit to put a Domini’s sandwich on a list of places you can get a $10 lunch in downtown Spokane. But since the popcorn on the table is free, we’ll give the popular lunch spot that’s operated downtown for decades a pass.
Domini’s, which has operated in Spokane as a tavern since the 1930s and been slinging sandwiches to hungry downtown workers since the early ’60s, was humming on a recent Wednesday. Visitors in shirt sleeves rubbed elbows with professionals in slacks and ties, all munching on the restaurant’s signature popcorn and waiting for hand-sliced sandwiches piled high by Tom Domini and his crew.
The “Tiny,” perhaps a misnomer to anyone unfamiliar with the Domini’s one-meat, one-cheese behemoths, will set you back $9.20. Domini said the size has been around for several years, and while it’s currently under $10, he may have to revise his prices next year.
“That’s just part of the biz,” Domini, who still operates the shop at near the corner of Sprague Avenue and Wall Street the same way his dad, Al, did for years, said after a busy lunch rush last week. “It’s part of life, you have to adjust to everything.”
The signature orange and white bags that the team used to put the to-go orders in cost Domini $85 for 2,000, Domini said. The white ones he now uses cost $218 for 2,000, a markup of 156%.
Visitors have their option of ham, corned beef, pastrami, pepperoni, thuringer, tuna or turkey for the $9.20 price point (it’s $10.02 with Spokane’s 9% sales tax, and you really should tip that hardworking crew, too). Salami and pastrami cost extra. Each sandwich can come with Swiss, cheddar, provolone, cream cheese or pepper jack. I ordered ham and cheddar on wheat bread with mayo and mustard. The popcorn comes with the meal.
Just don’t ask for veggies on your lunch; the only toppers come in condiment jars on the table. Try the horseradish for an extra kick.
Domini said he believed the value of the meal has kept visitors coming back for years, noting you can’t get a hamburger at many Spokane spots today for the same price as one of his deli sandwiches.
“When they get a fair meal, at a fair price, and a fair portion, they’ll keep coming back,” Domini said.
Info: Domini Sandwiches, 703 W. Sprague Ave., (509) 747-2324
– Kip Hill
My Fresh Basket
I’m a notorious cheapskate.
Being a cheapskate, I don’t like to spend money on anything, especially food. Most of the time my lunch is a protein shake or scrambled eggs or rice and beans.
But sometimes my commitment to immaculate nutrition wavers. When weakness strikes, I usually go to My Fresh Basket and get a roughly $2.50 Protein Puck and/or the roughly $7 caramelized onion and Gruyère quiche.
Here’s the rationale for the “Daily Bliss” flavor Protein Puck, which is a puck-shaped protein bar.
It has protein (15 grams), isn’t too processed (real ingredients instead of man-made nonsense) and it’s cheap (about $2.50-ish). If you’re like me and don’t have a sweet tooth, the bar is decadent almost to a fault. It’s all oats and almond butter and pumpkin seeds and chocolate.
My rationale for the quiche is similar. Protein, check. Relatively cheap, check. Tasty, check.
You probably shouldn’t take food advice from me. I think of food as fuel.
Info: My Fresh Basket, 1030 W. Summit Parkway, (509) 558-2100
– Colin Tiernan
Satellite Diner and Lounge
For a modest half-sized lunch, Satellite Diner and Lounge’s Half & Half is not half bad. Half a deli sandwich comes with a choice of fries, salad or soup on the side for $8.95.
Co-owner Kimberly Dunham said the late-night diner used to have more menu items under $10, but that has been tough since meat prices went up so drastically during the pandemic.
The sandwich comes with your choice of meat (ham, turkey or tuna salad) with cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and pickles on the side.
Two house-made soup options rotate throughout the week. When I went last Thursday, I chose tomato bisque over the beef stew. Hearty and a little spicy, the bisque was the highlight of the meal and just right for dipping my sandwich.
“The big deal is on Friday, we make both Manhattan and New England clam chowders, which hardly anyone does,” Dunham said.
With tax, this quick, light lunch came out to $9.74.
“So many people don’t go out for lunch anymore because they stay at their office,” Dunham said. But that’s OK because several breakfast items served all day – a breakfast sandwich or biscuits and gravy – also land under $10.
Info: Satellite Diner and Lounge, 425 W. Sprague Ave., (509) 624-3952
– James Hanlon
Atticus Coffee and Gifts
Finding a fulfilling meal for under $10 in downtown Spokane proved difficult. After walking into a few restaurants and even struggling to find an appetizer under the double-digit mark, I tried the next best thing.
I strolled over to my favorite downtown coffee shop, Atticus Coffee and Gifts, and checked what goods the coffee shop had to offer.
I chose a plain baguette containing pesto spread, white cheddar and sun-dried tomatoes. I washed it down with an old-fashioned bottle of Coca-Cola.
The baguette was simple yet tasty and satisfied my hunger for at least a few hours. Plus, the sandwich and drink only cost $9.54 with tax.
Info: Atticus Coffe and Gifts, 222 N. Howard St., (509) 747-0336
– Garrett Cabeza
Madeleine’s Cafe & Patisserie
Served on a fluffy but crunchy focaccia, Madeleine’s three cheese panini is perfect all on its own.
Madeleine’s Cafe & Patisserie is a charming deli-style bakery full of delicious smells emanating from the kitchen.
Their warm sandwiches and cold salads make for the perfect quick and healthy lunch.
While there are a handful of paninis and cold sandwiches to choose from, the simple yet flavorful grilled cheese is my favorite.
Cheddar, Swiss and provolone mingle with tomato, pesto, and mayo to make the sandwich both delicious and a comfort on a fall day. At $7.50 before tax, the sandwich is also a steal. I’d recommend enjoying it with a cup of coffee or one of Madeleine’s signature madeleines, a spongey cookie best enjoyed dipped into your steaming cup of coffee.
The sandwich is also great with a cup of tomato soup, although that would put you over the $10 mark.
Info: Madeleine’s Cafe & Patisserie, 415 W. Main Ave., (509) 624-2253
– Emma Epperly
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