The Spokane food scene is known for its inclusiveness, care for the community and inviting atmosphere…that is, until Restaurant Wars comes to town. Restaurant Wars was founded with the goal of placing all of the best restaurants Spokane has to offer in one place for one night in order to battle it out for your taste bud’s affection. Competing in a pre-selected category Meat, Non-Meat (Vegetarian), and Gastropub, each restaurant must present a small dish to each attendee with a purchased stamp card. The dishes range from classic house favorites to new exotic test dishes. One thing is for certain – they are all delicious.

This year, I was honored to be asked to judge the meat rations category featuring dishes from Clover, Max at Mirabeau, Gilded Unicorn, Bruncheonette, Casper Fry and Chaps Diner and Bakery. (Let me tell you – hardest decision of my life!) Judging on multiple elements including taste, smell, presentation, overall booth presentation and umami, etc., all competing restaurants had high marks and made it tough to pick a clear winner! However, in the end Casper Fry came through in first place for their braised pork cheek with smoked cheddar heirloom grits, pickled local peach, nectarine puree, asparagus, radish and micro greens. It. Was. Unbelievable.

The Veggie and Gastropub categories left nothing to be desired with innovative and flavorful dishes from restaurants including Prohibition Gastropub, Manito Tap House, Palouse Bar and Grill, Timber Gastropub, Republic Kitchen + Taphouse, The Onion Bar and Grill, Durkin’s Liquor Bar, Forty-One South, Zona Blanca, Wasabi Asian Bistro, Tortilla Union and The Wandering Table. In the end, Tortilla Union took first place in the Veggie Rations category for their Smoked Watermelon with shaved jicama, cucumber ribbon, brunt scallion puree, lime gel and toasted pepita and arbol essence. Palouse Bar and Grill was the winner in the Gastropub division with their pork belly skewer with dragon fruit and edible flowers.

Restaurant Wars is an annual Spokane event that should not be missed! And juuust in case the food alone is not enough to lure you in, Restaurant Wars also features a beer garden, live entertainment, and live chef demos throughout the night. Interested in attending next year? Watch out for ticket sales and big event announcements on, or give them a follow on Facebook. And of course, you know I’ll keep you up to date on all of the exciting news as well!