The H-O-T Life

Feature story by SIP and Blythe Thimsen

Summer is here, but it is more than just the temperatures that are hot. From hot cars to hot bars, hot faces to hot places, and hot summer nights, we’ve gathered some of Spokane’s hottest offerings, as a reminder of just how great life is in Spokane.

Hot Cars

When James Dean set out with a need for speed on that fateful morning in 1955, he and his beloved Porsche 550 Spyder were already viewed by many as iconic. In years to come, that icon status has stuck for both Dean and Porsche, which is still considered today as the quintessential sports-car manufacturer.

Porsche of Spokane (George Gee) is anticipating the arrival of a 2011 Boxster Spyder that arguably may just be the hottest and sexiest car on the market. It’s good looking, powerful and slimmed down from the previous model. This hottest Boxster—which will be a regular series-production model, and not limited—went on sale in February of 2010 as a 2011 model at a base price of $61,200. This lighter and more hardcore version includes 10 extra horsepower and 176 less pounds when compared to the previous already fast model. The end result is a saving of 0.2 seconds off the Boxster S’ 0-62 mph time, with the Boxster Spyder doing it in just 4.8 seconds when equipped with Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch gearbox and Sport Chrono Plus package. What that car talk really means is it’s lighter, faster and has even more giddy-up. What remains the same is the dream driving experience that backs up the unique roadster look.

What has recently arrived on the Porsche of Spokane showroom floor is the hottest local car, the speed racer style 2010 911 GT3RS Porsche. It is aqua blue metallic with full black leather interior. This attention commanding vehicle features 3.8 liters, 450 HP and 317 lb ft torque. This more than fast enough roadster is a stunning site to covet, carrying a heavy MSRP of $145,670.00. Whether you are in the market for a car with a home mortgage price tag or just imagining owning an icon, Porsche of Spokane may just be the place where your car dreams can come true.

Save (The environment)
Welcome to the future. The trend of electric cars is heating up. Spokane commuter carmaker, Rick Woodbury has made 12 plug-in cars, to date, and is currently a finalist in X Prize, an international commuter car competition in which Woodbury’s vehicle, the Tango, is a serious contender.

The Tango is an ultra-narrow car designed for commuting. It is no surprise that the inspiration for such a car came to Woodbury in 1980 as he was stuck in Los Angeles traffic. This revolutionary automobile combines the speed and agility of a motorcycle with the high performance you’d expect from a sports car going from 0-60mph in less than four seconds. Imagine being able to maneuver through traffic and having the ability to park perpendicular to the curb. Safety need not be a concern as this small but mighty car has 2,000 lbs under the floor (mostly batteries) which are designed to achieve the roll over threshold of a sports car. The Tango certainly gets double-takes, gawks and even questions hurled from other drivers when on the road. The battery operated car received instant celebrity status with the first sale going to actor George Clooney in 2005. Since then Google founder, Sergey Brin has purchased three. Convincing the consumer doesn’t seem nearly as tough as getting an automaker to mass produce the Tango.

Today the Tango is a custom made vehicle costing more than $100,000, but the Spokane company hopes to mass produce the vehicles and lower the price to under $20,000. Winning the X Prize contest with its $2.5 million prize and the notoriety of being the best in class would definitely help in Woodbury‘s quest. Until that time, wherever there is a Tango expect a crowd of curious onlookers wondering if they are seeing the future of the auto industry.

Hot Bars
Though there are a lot of great haunts in our region, these come to mind as particularly hot, but for very different reasons.

Whispers at The Coeur d’Alene Resort
Within the resort there is the excitement of the Shore Lounge for dancing, the decadence of the fine dining at Beverly’s and the casual elegance of Dockside. And then there’s Whispers, nestled off the resort lobby, where you can enjoy a quiet cocktail in comfort with a front-row view of the lake. It’s like a secret bar off the beaten track of the resort foot traffic patterns. At Whispers, you’ll see business deals being made, friends gathering and hot dates by the fireplace. Best known for putting a new twist on a classic drink, you can also choose from a unique list of local and regional wines and beers, traditional liqueurs and a wide selection of premium scotches and bourbons. They have a newly revised bar menu or you can order from Dockside or Beverly’s while remaining at Whispers. The Resort is planning an expansion to include outdoor seating to take full advantage of the sunsets. (

Originally there was Niko’s Restaurant & Wine Bar, Mizuna Restaurant & Wine Bar, and the Wine Cellar in Coeur d’Alene which paved the way for Ambrosia Bistro & Wine bar, Vin Rouge Wine Bar & Bistro, and Left Bank Wine Bar. And that’s just the places with wine officially in their name. Area restaurants are proudly pouring local with extensive wine lists, hosting winemakers’ dinners and tasting events. Rumors abound of more wine bars to come, based on a liquor license application for Corks, located in Urbanna Spa.

Bistango, Downtown Spokane
It’s not just being a Martini Lounge that makes Bistango hot, but the lure of the swanky décor and urban ambience that it oozes with the casual sophistication worthy of a larger city. As you step in this city escape, one feels instantly more metropolitan. If you partake in liquid libations you’ll be drawn to the soft glow of the bar holding 200-plus premium liquors, wines, bottled beers and ales. Weekly live music and fine cuisine will have you lingering in this lounge cut off from the daily grind. This small space, big on style lounge has a built-in waterfall and gently twinkling fiber optics in the ceiling giving it a starry night feel. Escape to Bistango where every detail is upscale, inviting and undeniably delicious. (

Hot Faces
People who are Making a Difference

Amy Nathan and Teri Dykeman, the Ghetto Gourmand Girls
A little mystery makes life spicier, and that is exactly what Teri Dykeman and Amy Nathan are doing with their Ghetto Gourmand culinary experiences: spicing up the local culinary scene. These Ghetto Gourmand girls are making underground dining, something popular in bigger cities, one of Spokane’s hottest new activities.

Ghetto Gourmand dinners are all about the experience, from the sometimes top-secret location, to the rotating chefs, the unique themes, the sampling of new foods, the chance to dress up, and the opportunity to meet new people.

It breaks down like this: a limited number of tickets are available for each dining experience, all of which take place in non-traditional venues (think warehouses and historic mansions) that are transformed into themed events. It is an underground dining project created to bring people, ideas and entertainment together in a shared culinary adventure.

Each evening has unknown twists to it. Often, that unknown is the location; two days before the event, guests receive an email with the location and a password to be used to gain entrance to the event. “Not all events will have a top-secret location,” says Dykeman, “but every event will have secret elements, something that surprises guests and catches them off guard, creating a memorable experience.”

The plan is to have a different guest chef at each event, allowing local chefs the chance to exercise extreme creativity they may not have in their restaurants. Chef Dan Gonzales, who recently moved back to Spokane after years as a personal chef in Seattle, put together a French feast for the inaugural Ghetto Gourmand event in June. “We wanted to push the food envelope,” says Dykeman. “I love Olive Garden, but this has been a bit of a franchise town, and there are so many great food places, and chefs, for people to discover.”

Before moving back to Spokane this year, Nathan previously lived in both Chicago and Miami, where she was involved with putting on similar underground dining events. “I had been wanting to do something different from my day job,” says Dykeman of what got her involved. When she and Nathan met at their salon this year, they struck up a friendship and realized they both had a passion for creating. “She has all the skills I don’t have, and I have all the skills she doesn’t have,” says Dykeman of the pairing. “She’s traveled the country and the world. I saw this as my way to learn from her. What she needed was that local connection, which I provided.”

Future events may be BYOB, with participants bringing a bottle of wine to share with new friends at the event. Upcoming dinners include Old Hollywood Night, Hot Summer Nights, Latin Salsa evening, and the upcoming Eat, Pray, Love event which will take place at Grassroots Spa (one of the non-secret locations).

“It is the experience,” says Dykeman summing up the goal for a Ghetto Gourmand evening. “You don’t have to leave Spokane to get this experience. It doesn’t have to be a date event. We call this a social culinary experience. I think people are reacting to the idea that it is secret and they like getting dressed up.”

Ninety-five guests and 14 staff did just that, dressing in roaring twenties style for the launch event, June 12th at the Muzzy Mansion. For those who are ready to sign up, tickets for future events cost between $80 and $100 per person, and the size of each dinner will be determined by the size of the unique venue selected for each meal. Tickets are available through the website ( or through the Ghetto Gourmand Facebook page.

Hot Places

Arbor Crest Hot Summer Nights.
At Arbor Crest Wine Cellars anytime is “Wine Time” but there’s something special about summer nights at one of Spokane’s oldest wineries. The setting for the hot summer night is at the historic Cliff house, perched high atop cliffs overlooking the Spokane River 450 feet below and providing outstanding views of the Valley. Sunday evenings at the winery are special and those who attend know it’s the perfect way to wrap up the weekend.

An average of 1,000 people meet every Sunday in the summer on the awe-inspiring grounds at 5:30 p.m. to listen to live music until dusk. You can bring your own picnic or purchase one there to accompany the Arbor Crest wine available by the glass or bottle in the bustling tasting room. A newly erected super-sized event tent in the vineyard means questionable weather shouldn’t be a concern. Based on attendance, a little rain isn’t scaring anyone away. The best part is your admittance for this almost perfect summer evening is only $5.00. As if it couldn’t get much better than that, Arbor Crest has added Thursdays on the Patio with no cover charge and live music from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. just outside the tasting room.

Arbor Crest’s Cliff House, a National Historic Landmark, was built in the Florentine-style in 1924 and makes for a picturesque winery. Arbor Crest boasts one of the most spectacular settings of any winery in the state and is worth visiting for this reason alone. The tranquil 75-acre estate with breathtaking gardens, which surrounded the estate landmarks, including a gazebo, croquet court and famed life-size checkerboard. The current on-site tasting room blends in well though it was built in 2003. An unfortunate 2009 fire damaged the Cliff House, but the owners assured the heartbroken public, it can be restored and the work has begun this summer.

The Spokesman-Review Building Patio
Stop the presses! One of the hottest new places to party is the top of the Spokesman-Review building. Technically, it is the top of the Spokane Chronicle building, built in 1927 to house the Spokane Chronicle, Spokane’s former evening paper.

Portions of the historic building are now available for private gatherings, such as wedding parties, receptions, meetings, business presentations or other special events. The hottest spot in the building is rooftop patio. According to Spokesman-Review Employee Activities Coordinator, Elizabeth Henderson, the patio is “a one-of-a-kind spacious, brick, rooftop space with a beautiful vantage point of the downtown Spokane skyline lined with the gothic-style gargoyles that are said to protect the printing presses at night! For the last 25 years, this space has only been available for Cowles Company functions, but just last January, this beautiful venue was opened to the public for private gatherings such as weddings, reunions and anniversary parties.” Hot and newsworthy!

(Photo Credits: Porche and Cover Seth Barlow)


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