The Unofficial Veg*n Guide to Sasquan

With Sasquan now at more than four thousand attending memberships, I figure there’s likely a nonzero number of vegetarian or vegan attendees coming to Spokane. I’m not much of a con person myself – I’m planning to stream the awards from the comfort of my own couch, maybe get a day pass for the one day I’m not working – but I do eat in downtown Spokane with some frequency, so for the two or three of you for whom this is applicable, here’s my guide to vegetarian- and vegan-friendly dining in downtown Spokane:

That One Block of Main at the East End of Downtown
So, yeah, what’s been called the hippest block in downtown Spokane doesn’t really have a name, nor can we agree on what to call it. Suggestions have included the bewildering moniker “East West Main” and the groanworthy “Little Portland,” but nothing has really stuck. But just head vaguely southeast from the conference center and look for the Main Market Co-op at the corner of Main and Browne, and you’re there.

Next door, you’ll find Boots Bakery & Lounge, one of the more popular brunch spots in Spokane. All of the food at Boots is vegan, much of it also gluten free. The food is served deli style from the case, but for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, they often have waffles prepared to order. Across the street, the Saranac Public House is one of my favorite places for casual dining, with a number of local brews on tap and ample vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. I go there nearly every week for the Thai flatbread with tofu and smoky vegan cheese.

Mediterrano at the Saranac Commons
Mediterrano at the Saranac Commons

Near the Saranac Public House, you may want to check out the recently opened indoor market, Saranac Commons. Inside, the lunch spot Mediterrano has falafel and other options, and Caffe Affogato, just across the aisle, had vegan ice cream options last time I was by. And while you’re in the Commons, keep an eye out for the magical side exit that will take you straight into Merlyn’s, downtown’s biggest location for comics and tabletop games.

Elsewhere in Downtown
For more upscale dining, you may want to make a reservation at Mizuna Restaurant and Wine Bar, about two and a half blocks west of the convention center. The menu at Mizuna rotates seasonally, but they have always have a separate vegetarian menu, much of which can be prepared vegan on request. Mizuna is also conveniently located near Spokane’s largest independent bookstore Auntie’s, tabletop game shop Uncle’s, and novelty shop Boo Radley’s, in case you want to do a little shopping.

Further west in downtown, Method Juice Cafe, just across from the STA Plaza, serves up freshly blended juices and healthy fare. The brown rice and quinoa bowl with peanut sauce is perfect for a quick lunch. And if you’re staying at the Davenport Hotel, you can hop across the street to grab a beer and a burrito at Neato Burrito, the dimly lit hipster eatery attached to Spokane’s tiny but popular Baby Bar.

North of the River
If you happen to take a stroll through Riverfront Park to gaze upon the nation’s second largest urban waterfall (and you should), it’s not much further to the Ethiopian restaurant Queen of Sheba and the gourmet sandwich shop Stella’s Cafe, both of which have vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options. While you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to check out the collections of eclectic second-hand books at Giant Nerd Books and vintage toys at Time Bomb Collectibles.

Finally, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, I strongly recommend finding a taxi, bus, or car north up Nevada Street to Allie’s Vegan Pizzeria & Cafe. Allie’s pizzas feature fresh veggies and house-made vegan cheeses on delicately thin, hand-tossed crusts. Well worth the side trip out of downtown.