Pullman may have a radiant reputation for its optimal location in eastern Washington, its downtown district that flourishes with stunning architecture, and its sweeping vistas of rolling hills and verdant pastures, but the home of Washington State University also boasts an impressive collection of outstanding restaurants.
Whether you’re exploring the city for possible relocation or merely in town for the weekend, read on for a list of the top nine restaurants in Pullman, WA to indulge in this winter.
The Black Cypress
Seasonal ingredients shape the exquisite, Italian-inspired menu at The Black Cypress, a favorite with Pullman locals that frequently ranks as one of the leading restaurants in the Palouse region. Situated on Main Street, this chic eatery boasts dishes ranging from fresh steamed clams with white wine, kale, and garlic to grilled portobello mushrooms with truffle oil, mashed potatoes, and cooked-to-perfection vegetables. Dessert at this spot is just as enticing. Dive into a slice of bread pudding with huckleberry ice cream for evidence, and top it all off with a cup of Doma decaf “The Chronic” coffee.
A Pullman mainstay for over a century, Rico’s occupies prime real estate close to the corner of S. Grand Ave. and E. Main St. The establishment began across town as a men’s tobacco and gambling lounge. Owner E.W. Thorpe successfully navigated Prohibition, moved the joint to its current location, and rechristened it “Rico’s.” Today, the owner Tawney Higgins continues to blaze a trail through various promotions, like offering 21% off for women on Wednesdays (to compensate for the wage disparity) and creating drinks like the Ukrainian Flag to donate proceeds to the people of Ukraine. The appetizer menu features fried favorites, while standouts like the fish tacos and five-alarm burger round out their offerings. There’s plenty to drink — rotating taps keep fresh brews on the menu, and you can order one of several candy drinks to cleanse your palate. Rico’s has regular events, like live jazz & blues, Pullman’s longest running Open Mic, and Pullman’s longest running trivia for a cause! Check their calendar to get involved in one of the intermittent events at Rico’s, like Paint & Sip or Punk Prom.
Serving the best Bangladeshi cuisine in town, Mela recently opened to much critical acclaim. The owners got their start in local farmers markets, and by 2018, they had opened their first brick-and-mortar location. You can find Mela on Main St. next to Pine Street Plaza, the commercial nexus of Pullman. Inspired by family recipes, the food is cooked from scratch and free from preservatives and artificial ingredients; those with gluten-free or vegetarian diets will find plenty of delicious options. Lamb and salmon curry highlight the entrees available at Mela. Step in between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Foundry Kitchen & Cocktails
Whether you’re honoring a special occasion or intent on indulging the sweetheart in your life, Foundry Kitchen & Cocktails is an optimal spot for a culinary celebration. A modern, sleek interior serves as the perfect backdrop for handcrafted libations created by veritable master mixologists and elevated bar bites. Start with a charcuterie board with delectable, housemade spreads and rustic crackers, split a Ceasar salad enhanced with salty parmesan, and dive into a plate of basil pesto tortellini with roasted pine nuts and sundried tomatoes. Ensure you leave room to satisfy your sweet tooth. Their vegan chocolate mousse is delectably delicious. Bonus tip: on lovelier evenings, aim to dine al fresco on their inviting patio.
Paradise Creek Brewery
The Pacific Northwest abounds with superb craft breweries, and Paradise Creek Brewery–Downtown Restaurant is as fantastic of a tavern as you’ll find in Portland or Seattle. Located inside a historic post office — which immediately ramps up its cool, hipster vibe — this local fave exclusively features beers brewed in Pullman. The brewers had just as much fun creating their beers as naming them. Here, you’ll find a Pokerface blonde with a sweet, malty finish, an “over-the-hop” IPA with a strong body and hints of citrus, and a nitro, “moojoe” coffee milk stout.
Porch Light Pizza
Delicate and delicious fast-fired crusts are the core of the inventive artisanal pizzas offered by the ever-lively Porch Light Pizza, a Pullman mainstay that attracts crowds of residents and leaves them thoroughly satisfied. All of their pies are marvelous, from their spinach, garlic, mozzarella, and balsamic Popeye to their pesto, chicken, and green pepper Geno. The friendly chefs at this popular spot are also happy to craft pizzas to suit your preferences, whether you want to start with a white or garlic and olive oil base, add a touch of protein like prosciutto or chicken to the mix, or include a host of fresh vegetables and herbs like kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, basil, arugula, and jalapenos.
South Fork Public House
South Fork Public House is another fantastic Pullman institution. A warm and welcoming setting is at the heart of this bar and restaurant, where you can linger over a Mac & Jack’s African amber or a glass of pinot gris by Townshend — a winery in nearby Spokane — at their elegant, inviting bar. Savor dinner in their dining room, where you’ll be treated to dishes ranging from seared Atlantic salmon with dill cream sauce to a rival rubs-sauced pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and tomatoes.
Birch and Barley
Spice up your night with an evening out at Birch and Barley, a large, vibrant space that’s perfect for gatherings with your friends and family. The hotspot specializes in authentic Cajun fare and features dishes that run the gamut from tantalizing to unforgettable. Pan-seared crab cakes with Creole remoulade and fresh lemon, poutine with Guinness beer gravy and Cougar Gold cheese, and barrel-aged burgers with thick-cut bacon and sauteed cremini mushrooms are just three of the hearty dishes on their sumptuous menu.
In the mood for a true taste of the South? Consider their ultra-creamy crawfish etouffee, their take on the traditional po’boy, or their “ragin’ Cajun pasta” with andouille sausage, chicken, and shrimp with a savory Cajun sauce, fresh parmesan, and green onions.
All that said, Birch and Barley isn’t just a place to sate your hunger; it’s an equally enjoyable spot to savor dynamite craft cocktails. Part of the restaurant’s charm is that its cocktail menu is divvied up by “rank,” ranging from “beginner” cocktails like cowboy lemonade with bourbon and mint to “advanced” libations, such as a spin on the classic Sazerac, which features Peychaud's bitters and an Absinthe “wash.” The camaraderie of this excellent restaurant is enough to make you want to return time and again.
Zoe Coffee and Kitchen
Are you searching for the dreamiest eatery in town for a leisurely brunch? Head nowhere else than Zoe Coffee and Kitchen. This self-described “urban diner” serves the most robust and luscious coffee around, in addition to a menu teeming with the likes of classic eggs Benedict, a Baja benny with tomato and avocado, and traditional buttermilk pancakes crowned with maple syrup and creamy butter.
Are you intrigued by these stellar restaurants in Pullman, WA? This is just one aspect of the city’s overall magic. From its proximity to glorious Idaho to its energetic spirit, Pullman offers a serene but exciting lifestyle. Krista Gross is the dedicated and enthusiastic realtor you want to enlist for all your Pullman real estate needs in the area. Schedule a consultation with her today to explore all that Pullman has to offer.
*Header photo courtesy of Unsplash