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Where to Find Indigenous Food in the Northwest

There’s nothing quite like the excitement of trying new food. When we think of trying something different, we consider foods from around the world and exploring flavors and combinations we never knew even existed. 

Well, for your next food venture, how about treating your tastebuds to cuisine that roots deep within the U.S. and also gives you an insight into a variety of cultures and history? I’m referring to Indigenous cuisine. If you have no idea what Indigenous food is, here are just a few of the places throughout the Northwest you can try for yourself. 

Indigenous Eats

For those living in Spokane, Washington, there is Indigenous Eats, which serves Indigenous comfort food and is owned by Jenny and Andrew Slagle. Jenny is a citizen of the Yakama Nation and she and her husband opened up their restaurant in 2022 next to Gonzaga University’s campus. 

Three delicious frybread tacos from Indigenous Eats in Spokane, Washington.
NdN Tacos from Indigenous Eats. Photo courtesy Jenny Slagle of Indigenous Eats.

Their most popular item is their frybread, which is prepared using a recipe from Jenny’s mother. They use it as a base for their NdN tacos, of which the Hunter is a customer favorite. This NdN taco consists of ground bison, house blended sage-forward seasoning, black beans, lettuce, pickled jalapeno, tomatillo salsa, and drizzled with sour cream. If you have a sweet tooth, they also serve frybread with powdered sugar and a side of housemade huckleberry sauce. 

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While this is not traditional in the sense of what pre-colonial Indigenous people may have eaten, Jenny said it is food that she grew up with and had at family gatherings and powwows.

“This makes it special, and is relatable to many other Native and and non-Native alike,” she said. 

Not only that, the staff love serving their customers and getting to see them experience their menu for the first time or maybe after not having it for several years. 

“Comfort food brings nostalgia and connection to culture, for which our customers are thankful, and in turn, our team gets to form relationships with our customers,” Jenny said. 

Since opening, the restaurant has experienced great success. The Slagles have already opened a second location in River Park Square and recently placed fourth in USA Today’s 10 Best New Restaurant Awards! How awesome is that?

Ryan’s REZ-ipes

For those on the west side of Washington state looking to try Indigenous food, there’s Ryan’s REZ-ipes food truck, which you can find around Marysville and Tulalip, Washington. Started by citizen of the Tulalip Tribes and former police officer Ryan Gobin in 2016, this food truck offers a variety of burgers, along with smoked pork tacos and totchos (tater tot nachos). 

Giant PBandJ burger from Ryan's REZ-ipes
Look at this burger! Photo from Ryan’s REZ-ipes

Like Indigenous Eats, the best-selling item on their menu is their sweet and fluffy frybread. Ryan’s frybread gives customers their choice of raspberry and strawberry jam, cinnamon and sugar, and other sauces. Gobin recently added an option where customers can order an Indigenous taco topped with any of his menu items. 

“I was handed down a recipe from my grandma, many years ago. But, I couldn’t get it perfect like hers,” Gobin said. “So, I made my own recipe and it took me over a year to perfect it. Last year, we sold over 9,600 frybreads!” 

Aside from frybread, other things that make their food stand out are their flavors, freshness, quality and portions. For their burgers, they use 6oz wagyu blend burger patties and Gobin makes all of his own sauces and seasonings. For an additional burst of flavor and crunch, they place a crusted cheese skirt under each burger patty. Also, their freshly-made pork is smoked 17 hours every day, with the smoking process starting the night before. 

Several smoked pulled pork tacos from Ryan's REZ-ipes
Smoked Pulled Pork Tacos, photo by Ryan’s REZ-ipes

“Food brings us all together and one thing I was taught from a young boy was to always cook with good intentions, happy thoughts and just have fun doing it. If you cook when you’re sad or having a horrible day, your food’s taste will reflect on that,” Gobin said.

He said the business wouldn’t be what it is today without the support of all its customers, his team and his family. His kids have all worked in the truck, his mom was the cashier, and his wife has always been his backbone and support who does a ton of behind-the-scenes work and continues to push him to thrive each day.

6 pieces of frybread, including one savory and one sweet, from Ryan's REZ-ipes
Ryan’s REZ-ipes incredible frybread, photo by Ryan’s REZ-ipes

Pow’Waw Food Truck

Washington state isn’t the only place in the Northwest that serves Indigenous food. In Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, there’s Pow’Waw Food Truck, which offers pre-colonial Native American cuisine while also using frybread and giving it a modern twist. 

Shane and Megan Clark run the food truck and opened for business in 2022. Shane is Turtle Mountain Chippewa and Megan is Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and they take pride in preparing their food from scratch. Because their food is pre-colonial, it does not use beef, chicken, dairy or cane sugar. 

Frybread topped with corn and beans from PowWaw Food Truck
Look at this frybread from PowWaw Food Truck, photo from PowWaw Food Truck

And, you probably guessed it, their most popular menu item is their frybread, particularly their Pow’Waw Frybread. This dish is topped with braised bison and cold smoked salmon, three sisters medley (consisting of corn, beans and squash), sauce flight (avocado spruce, wojapi and honey maple), and garnished with pumpkin seeds, mint and sage. 

Other items on their menu include turkey, salad, baby corn, and manoomin (wild rice). You can find Pow’Waw Food Truck at the Silver Lake Mall in Coeur d’Alene.

Frybread topped with corn, tomatoes, beans and more from PowWaw Food Truck
You won’t want to miss a visit to PowWaw Food Truck while you’re in CdA. Photo from PowWaw Food Truck

The two said they aim to bridge Native American culture with others through food. Food is a big part of any culture, but for Native Americans, they said clean, seasonal and locally-sourced food was big for them. Food is medicine in Indigenous cultures, and the less processed it is, the better it is for people’s bodies.  

The owners hope to one day have a restaurant someday and expand into other foods and beverages. Right now, they are working on a soda line!

These places not only offer you a chance to try a variety of different food, but also give you an opportunity to learn about the cultures and history of this country you may not have known about. When you eat Indigenous food, you’re not just experiencing great flavor, you’re also experiencing the history and culture of people who have been here long before the U.S. was even founded.

Matthew Kincanon

Matthew is a freelance writer from Spokane, Washington who has written for local publications for the past several years. He has lived in Spokane his whole life, owns every Best Picture winner on DVD in his expansive movie collection, and loves a good cup of coffee. When he’s not watching Disney+, diving into creative writing, or posting about Indigenous-owned small businesses on Instagram, he can be found shopping at Barnes & Nobles, Page 42, or thrift stores. He often writes about movies, Indigenous communities, religion, and art.


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