Daddy’s Belly Deli, Spokane, Wash.
As I write this post, my Seattle Sounders have recently made my night an excellent one with a 3-0 thumping of our archrivals, the Portland Timbers. While watching the Rave Green celebrate a dominating performance, I realized that I don’t have a single post on here yet from the Evergreen State. Part of that is because despite my love for my soccer team, I’ve yet to make it out to Seattle. But there’s more to Washington than the Emerald City, and Spokane, Washington’s second-largest city, has some good places to eat in its own right.
One of those happens to be the ultimate hole in the wall, a place called Daddy’s Belly Deli. If you’re not looking for it, you would never find it. It’s on a street corner near the campus of Gonzaga University, and there are no signs whatsoever to indicate that this is a restaurant at all. The only sign available that gave it away was a sandwich board that said “Pulled Pork” on the sidewalk. I’m not sure how they attract customers, other than word of mouth.
But if you are able to find it, you’ll find it’s well worth the search. This is a tiny deli that offers large sandwiches, sometimes very large. Two of their specialty subs, the Little Mama and the Pot Belly Pig, come in 12-inch and 16-inch. As someone who once took down a two-foot sub in one sitting (and won a T-shirt doing so in Provo, Utah at Sensuous Sandwich, unfortunately without pictures), I can tell you that’s quite a lot of food. Toppings available include exactly what you’d expect from a good deli, offering several meats, cheeses, vegetables and sauces.
However, good delis can be found across the country. You need something to set you apart from the rest, and that leads us to the aforementioned pulled pork. Washington, like Richmond and Nashville, isn’t exactly known for its barbecue most of the time, but as we’ve seen before, exceptions definitely occur, and this is one of them. The thing to order here is the pulled pork sandwich, which initially doesn’t appear to have anything special about it. As you can see above, it looks like a regular barbecue sandwich on a loaf of Italian. Nothing out of the ordinary there.
The secret is in the sauce, which is easily the most unique barbecue sauce I’ve ever tried, and that’s after visiting Jethro’s. Daddy’s uses a huckleberry barbecue sauce, taking advantage of the delicious berries that grow best in Washington, Oregon and northern California. As a result, the sauce is pure Pacific Northwest, as much a part of the culture of that corner of the country as seafood, soccer and creative doughnuts.
It’s also incredible. The sauce adds a perfect mixture of smoky and sweet flavor to the meat, allowing your taste buds to get a great mix of sensations. When you finish a bite, the sweetness of the huckleberries comes in right at the end, making for one of the best sandwich experiences possible. The meat is cooked to perfection, and the sauce is ladled in the perfect amount, not overwhelming but not dominated. It’s amazing how your mouth enjoys sweet and savory at the same time, and this is one of the perfect marriages of those tastes.
It might be tiny even compared to some gas stations. It might be impossible to find without a good atlas. But inside the cramped space, the reward is incredible. Should you find yourself in the Lilac City, a trip off the beaten path to what even Spokane writers call the middle of nowhere is totally worth the effort.
Time to go: Mainly lunch or dinner. I’m honestly not sure when the hours are, but that seems to be the general rule.
Wait during my visit: I was the only one there. Waits will never be long at a hard-to-find treasure, which makes them even more precious.
Location: Easily the most important part of the post. Daddy’s Belly Deli is located at 3818 N Nevada Street in Spokane, a little bit north of the Gonzaga baseball stadium.
Parking: Not much, but not much is needed.
Cost: Most sandwiches cost around $10 for a whole one, which is probably about 12 inches. The pulled pork, however, is a little smaller and goes for $6. Great value.
Seating arrangement: Stools. It’s mostly bar seating.
Specialty items: Huckleberry barbecue