As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Spokane dating back to the late 19th century, the Perry District Neighborhood was originally named the Grant Park Addition. It was filled with residents of mainly Scandinavian descent (like my husband’s grandfather, who later built his auto shop there, now a sweet little cafe known as The Shop). It was once the home to two lumberyards, a butcher, a barber, library, bakery and several grocers. The center of the neighborhood is roughly from 11th Avenue along Perry Street and down as far as 8th Avenue, but as the area grows, its boundaries flex a little (much like the evolving dining options). Summer evenings in particular make Perry District an increasingly popular hangout, and the streets come to life as the sun begins to fade behind the beautifully mature trees planted by generations before the one that currently enjoys their shade.
The neighborhood gradually filled out over time with beautiful Craftsman-style bungalows, and the charming buildings still remain a lovely testament to those who built them—stout, but with an everlasting charm. After a rather long stint with a serious crime problem, the city invested in its revitalization, and the resultant bustling commerce has created a vibrant community that is a destination spot for locals and tourists alike.
The Shop is a particularly special place to our family, as the entrepreneurial spirit of my husband’s grandfather is still powerfully felt in the passion that its current occupants share. They have just celebrated their 20th year in business, and the spot is beloved by its patrons. It still looks just like the auto garage it once was, complete with all of the industrial bits and pieces exposed with a lovely patina. It shows its age in an endearing way. As a casual spot to grab a cup of coffee and a light meal, it’s an easy place to start your tour. They offer coffee, tea and rotating beers which you can enjoy on the outdoor patio and people watch. This is especially delightful for the Thursday night Perry Street Farmer’s Market, which runs from May 2 to October 31, and has been voted the best area farmer’s market for five years running. The market stretches from the parking lot of The Shop and down the street featuring vendors from all over Spokane and the surrounding area.
The Grain Shed is new to the scene, and it has made a huge impact on the locals already. It is never empty, and the richly knowledgeable staff can definitely teach you a thing or two about locally sourced ingredients for their beautiful selection of sourdough breads. They are a brewery as well, and they craft their beer using a variety of rare grains that are both grown and malted right here in Spokane. Their products are made using historically-proven methods to preserve nutrients, and an unmatched crumb texture. They also have a rotating menu from sandwiches, to pizza and even pastas made with a brass die extruder. These guys make everything from scratch, every time, and the commitment to quality shows.
Casper Fry is known for its southern-inspired food, and is named after Casper Fry—a Baptist minister who was the owner’s great grandfather. His church still stands across the street, and is known by his family for his kindness, humility and proud Southern roots. The family now continues his mission to bring people together, and they use their American comfort food made with local, farm-to-table ingredients. We have a soft spot for their wedge salad that has an addicting dill-ranch dressing, braised pork belly with Sweet potato mash, pickled mushroom, fried egg, and pepper jelly, and the classic butterbeans, which are a dearly loved Southern favorite. They are a delicately textured baby lima bean prepared in a similar method to red beans and rice with house made ham hocks, celery, onions, bell peppers, dark roux, and fluffy white rice. Additionally, they house one of the best collections of bourbon and whiskeys in the greater Spokane area.
Other notable stops are scattered throughout the main thoroughfare. South Perry Pizza has some truly inspired artisan pizzas (our favorite is the prosciutto) and an excellent beer and wine selection, as well as a huge patio. The Lantern Tap House shows off with some fantastic scratch-made foods like pork parmesan sandwiches; a chicken, apple and brie sandwich; Lantern fish and chips and Irish nachos. The bar was made with 150 year old repurposed wood, and serves up 10 rotating taps and a strong wine list. Perry Street Brewing completes your mini pub crawl with growler fills that you will want to take home after you enjoy a pint with your beer cheese pretzels, grilled PB&J, and braised corned beef sliders with whiskey mustard glaze and a sweet-hot slaw. As the South Hill’s first brewpub, they offer their very own legendary brew as well as Doma coffee to perk you back up after a long day in Spokane’s historic Perry District.