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Noodle Express I Cole's I Little Euro I Tortilla Union I The Melting Pot
Road trips to the "big city" for dining and entertainment
Spokane is "big city" in my corner of the Pacific Northwest - located 90 miles north of Moscow with shopping malls, restaurants, an international airport, minor league sports teams, and plenty of venues for concerts and shows. It's also home to the Lilac Bloomsday Run, Spokane Hoopfest 3-on-3 basketball tournament, and Riverfront Park.
We make trips to Spokane several times a year and I have compiled a list of my favorite places to find a gluten-free meal.
GOOD TO KNOW: https://www.noodleexpress.net/
Locations: Spokane Valley, Airway Heights, Division Street in Spokane
Specialties: Fast, casual Asian made with fresh veggies and sauces
Gluten-free: Rice bowls and salads
Other: Dine in or take out.
Note: Locations is Washington, Idaho and Montana
Noodle Express is a must -stop whenever I am in Spokane. The Osaka chicken bowl with brown rice is my current craving. The staff is knowledgeable about the menu and readily offer suggestions for gluten-free and vegetarian option. The food is cooked when ordered and the sauces are made are on site. The rice bowl is served with the protein of choice, brown rice and a pile of Asian cucumber slaw. Aside from the river of gluten-free Osaka sauce I pour over my bowl, the meal it fairly clean burning and a lot less guilt-inducing than a burger and fries. Bonus: The extra cups of sauce are clearly marked as GF and the cooks aren't shy about sharing a couple extras free of charge.
Cole's Gluten-Free Bakery and Café
GOOD TO KNOW:
Address: 521 E Holland Ave, Spokane, WA 99218
Specialties: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Gluten-free: 100% gluten- and peanut-free; dairy-free, vegan and keto options available
Other: Dine in or call ahead for drive thru pick up.
Note: Bakery and deli case in addition to full service meals
Cole's is a gluten-free girl's nirvana because IT'S ALL GLUTEN-FREE - burgers and pizza, lasagne, pulled pork, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and more. As with most gluten-free foods, the prices are higher since the ingredients cost more but the assurance that there is no cross-contamination is worth it. Downside, the location is a tough hustle. Located in North Spokane, it's not a "pop in and grab a scone" distance from the hotels I usually stay at and I am rarely in that area for shopping, baseball games, etc. When I plan a visit to Spokane, Cole's is always at the top of my list but schedules get tight and traffic gets annoying and I end up compromising for something more convenient.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Address: 517 N Pines Rd, Spokane Valley
Specialties: European inspired breakfast and lunch
Gluten-free: Waffles, hotcakes, Hungarian goulash
Other: Dine in, outdoor seating when weather allows
Note: Try a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice!
Little Euro fills up fast on a Sunday morning so plan to get there early to avoid a wait. I also recommend sitting outside under one of the colored umbrellas (weather permitting) for a more peaceful dining experience. In addition to GF waffles and hotcakes, the menu includes an interesting selection of omelettes, Hungarian goulash, and home style breakfast plates. For those not avoiding gluten, Little Euro's specialties are Danish aebelskivers and the Scandanavian cake plate. The menu specifies "gluten-friendly" not gluten-free so be aware that there could be cross-contamination. If you have Celiac or are super sensitive, Little Euro might not be for you.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Address: River Park Square, 808 W Main Ave, Spokane
Specialties: Southwest grill open for lunch, dinner and late night
Gluten-free: Items are clearly marked on the menu
Other: Full bar and Uber Eats delivery available
Note: Social hour is 2-6 pm daily with $2 street tacos and $5 margaritas
Tortilla Union is located in River Park Square in the heart of downtown Spokane. A perfect location for lunch on a shopping day or dinner before a show at the Knitting Factory or Spokane Comedy Club. Parking and driving downtown can be tough on busy days so keep that in mind if you aren't already spending time in the area. In general, southwest/Mexican restaurants are good options for a hearty gluten-free meal and Tortilla Union is no exception. The menu has a lot of variety (tacos, handhelds, greens and meal plates) with interesting spins on common items. There are many gluten-free options to choose from including barbacoa tacos and mango jalapeno margaritas.
The Melting Pot
GOOD TO KNOW:
Address: 707 W Main Ave, Spokane
Specialties: Fondue and special occasions
Gluten-free: Nearly all items can be prepared gluten-free and are clearly marked on the menu
Other: Vegan options are also readily available.
Note: Multiple locations in the U.S. plus Canada and Mexico
The Melting Pot is best reserved for special occasions - the food is fantastic, the service impeccable, and the interactive dining experience is fun and memorable. The 4-course fondue meals are a production, starting with cheese fondue (vegan and gluten-free available) followed by salad, protein choice (seafood, chicken, beef, pork and, veg options) with four cooking style options and finishing with decadent chocolate fondue for dessert. With each course, gluten-free and vegan dippers are available. Set aside at least 3 hours to allow for a leisurely pace and plan to make reservations for dining during peak hours. A full meal at The Melting Pot will set you back upwards of $50/person without beverages or add-ons. In other words, don't plan on popping in for a quick bite on a budget. Also to note, the fondue pots are shared within the dinner party and our waitress took the time to point out the gluten-containing items that could not be dipped in my gluten-free fondue. The Melting Pot feels extravagant because in my world it is but once in a while it's nice to dine out at a restaurant that approaches high maintenance menus as if they are the norm and not an afterthought and enjoy the company of family and friends around steaming pots of cheese and chocolate.
Visiting Seattle soon? Read about Capitol Cider on Capitol Hill.
A note to readers:
I am gluten sensitive/intolerant so I am not overly concerned with possible cross contamination. If you have severe reactions, I recommend taking additional precautions.