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FROM THE LEFT: Shrimp and Oatmeal from Vieux Carré, Patty Tully at Baby Bar and Asian-inspired dishes from Little Noodle.

WYesterday the upheavals caused by the 2020 pandemic hospitality industry remains unprecedented – and with lasting fallout – this second full year of COVID-19 is also leaving lasting marks: staff issues, supply chain issues, new virus variants, unruly customers, hotel closures. permanent businesses and more.

Yet even among these difficulties, and as restaurants continue to recover, there were some bright spots as well. In the spring, diners could once again eat inside without major limitations. Ordering takeout is getting easier and easier. Fortunately, many small local restaurants have also rebounded quite quickly after the lockdown rules were lifted. Some have even grown!

There certainly hasn’t been a dearth of food-related news to cover this year, so let’s recap some of what we ate, drank and wrote in the inside food aisle throughout 2021.

Click to enlarge New Arrivals The Bad Seed at Hillyard - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

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New arrivals The Bad Seed at Hillyard

ohone of the first restaurants of 2021 was that of Adam Hegsted BABA at Kendall Yards, the Mediterranean-inspired spot that replaced Wandering Table. Other new arrivals in the neighborhood are TEA bar boba and, more recently, MOLÉ RESTAURANT where Central Food was located. Nearby is another of the hottest new dining spots of the year, OLD SQUARE KITCHEN NOLA, serving Cajun and New Orleans style dishes.

Several places that have closed for long periods of time due to the pandemic have also seen welcome returns. The city center hosts the BABY BAR and NEATO BURRITO reopened in May and the South Perry South cuisine restaurant CASPER FRY returned in March. Chef Chad White’s ceviche ZONA BLANCA celebrated its move to a larger, fully renovated space in the city center after several months of closure. NORTH HILL ON GARLAND reopened under new ownership, while the former seasonal ramen and pho spot LITTLE NOODLE this fall moved permanently in the space that it initially took to test its concept. The beloved bar of the neighborhood CANDY, part of the historic Garland Theater, has also reopened after more than 18 months of closure.

The Garland district also got its very first brewery when Garland brewing workshops open in August. And just down the hill, Spokane’s first pop-up beer trailer, CAMP TAP, housed seasonally in the North Monroe business district at the vintage 1889 Salvage Co.

At the end of summer, DRY FLY DISTILLATION opened its new state-of-the-art distillery in the heart of downtown Spokane.

Mid-year also saw the downtown debut of Seattle’s Ethan Stowell restaurants. TAVOLATA across from Riverfront Park, where homemade pasta, super affordable happy hour, and a laid back vibe have since stood out. Stowell’s Pasta and Panini Counter BOSCO also open inside the historic Wonder Building.

Waffles, coffee and craft cocktails come together in two new connected places where the Observatory bar once stood, PEOPLE’S WAFFLE and EMMA RUE’S. Everything on both menus is gluten free.

While the previous owners closed it earlier this year, a new owner has since renamed it and brought the SOUTH PERRY LANTERN back with a refreshed look and menu in midsummer. Located in a historic train car, KNIGHT’S DINNER in the Hillyard area of ​​East Spokane has also reopened with new owners after a recent closure.

Hillyard, meanwhile, is quickly becoming a hot new foodie destination, with the fall debut of KISMET, serving a menu with Latin influences, and THE BAD SEED, where Tex-Mex is served in a historic old library. (A few other ongoing catering outlets in the neighborhood aim to open in 2022.)

Also in the fall, diners and fans of Chef Tony Brown’s restaurants were delighted to learn that RUINS wasn’t shutting down for good, he just moved and replaced the short-lived Eyvind in Riverside. Brown also moved STELLA’S COFFEE and McRUINS, the latter his take on fast food.

While our own INTERIOR RESTAURANTS WEEK in 2020 ended just weeks before COVID-19 reached the United States, the 2021 version was pushed back to the summer when al fresco dining was possible, and transmission of the virus was somewhat weaker. (In 2022, the event returns from February 24 to March 5.) Earlier in the year, however, THE BIG DINNER encouraged locals to support local restaurants through take-out while many dining restrictions were still in place. While the 85th GREEK GASTRONOMY FESTIVAL stuck in a take-out race only between the peaks of COVID cases of the summer, PIG IN THE PARK just before this was again postponed.

Click to enlarge Terazza waterfront café in Coeur d'Alene - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

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Terazza Waterfront Café in Coeur d’Alene

Tthere were more openings than closings in northern Idaho over the past year, including a few Washington originals now operating on both sides of the state border. STUPID COW COFFEE open to Hayden and STORMIN ‘NORMAN’S SHIPFACE SALOON open in Coeur d’Alene.

The handshake also welcomed several startups. Athol has two new pizzerias: IRON PIZZA and HOUSE TAP PIZZA BEACON. In Pointe-de-Sable, BREAD + BONE started offering handmade sourdough and broth in select markets and online. MAISON TETON RESTAURANT open to Post Falls and TAYSTY RESTORATION replaced Sandpoint’s Cedar Street Bistro by following a similar menu.

The Riverstone complex in Coeur d’Alene has been very busy this year. CRANBERRY ROAD Vineyard brought its unique wines from western Washington to a prominent corner spot, yet close by TERRAZA WATERFRONT COFFEE started serving Latin American cuisine in style in May 2021. ROKKOS TERIYAKI moved to Sherman Avenue, and PHO LE have taken their place at Riverstone. Vine & Olive tree open PIZZA VICINO.

Many companies have moved to permanent locations or have modernized their locations. END OF TRAILS BREWERY moved to a brick and mortar location in late 2020, while OLIVE PASTRY AT THE PIE BARN moved into the building next to Curley’s Junction after functioning primarily as a pop-up. FLAME & CORK moved their wood-fired pizza oven to a newly built location in Hayden and closed their old location.

Several Idaho favorites have grown up with new locations. Serve wood-fired pizzas, BROKEN BY GREEN at Highlands Golf Course is the second location for owners of Embers by the Lake in Hauser. CNE AND COFFEE, originally in Sandpoint and Moscow, added a place to Coeur d’Alene, while BIRDIE’S PIE SHOP extended to Hayden. Serving Mexican cuisine since 2015, LA CABAÑA added a second Post Falls location in the Riverbend Commerce Park.

Sandpoint, meanwhile, has seen several long-standing restaurants close, including THE RISTORANTE D’IVANO, which had occupied several places since 1984. FORTY-ONE SOUTH at the Long Bridge and adjacent restaurant SHOGA SUSHI also both closed.

In Moscow, FLOWERING recently closed shop while SANGRIA GRID, which closed its Palouse Mall location in the spring, is moving forward with big plans for its downtown location (look for news in late 2022).

Finally, Post Falls’ acclaimed FLOWER OF SALT say goodbye to your guests in 2021. ♦

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