A visit to Spokane, WA: Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle, Republic Pi, Brain Freeze

Last week Jake and I left on a jet plane to visit the Northwest to see his younger kids, A and S, who moved up to Spokane with their mom last summer.


We had to ride on a small propeller plane for part of our journey to Spokane! It was cool, too, since they boarded from the front AND the back of the plane! We sat in the back so we got to use the rear entrance of the plane. The overhead bins on this plane are super tiny so if you had a larger carry-on it had to go on this luggage rack.


Here we are on the small plane, thankful that we made the flight after a fog delay in San Diego. The ride from Seattle to Spokane is really short – a mere 39 minutes in the air.


On our way to pick up the kids, we drove by the “Short Bus Bistro” which amused me. We weren’t able to try it out but Jake was gracious enough to go back around the block so I could snap a photo of it.

Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle

I always like to look for unique things in the area when we visit a new place and Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle surely fit the bill. The spot is known as the “Garland Milk Bottle” and was originally created as a retail outlet for local dairies. It was a retail dairy for 40 years until it went out of business in 1974. The next owners turned the building into a second hand retail shop and then in 1986 it was converted into an ice cream and dessert parlour. The place had a bad fire which burned down the milk bottle in 2011 but it’s been fully restored. Hooray! Source: Spokane Historical


I love the look of this building! 



Right next door to the milk bottle was an old time looking restaurant called Ferguson’s Fountain Cafe (which also had damage from that fire). I love these neon signs. I wish we had thought to swing by at night to see them lit up. 


Here’s the inside of Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle. There’s an ice cream dispenser at the front. To the right of this is where the grill is. 


They have so many different kinds of milkshakes! And they’ll even had a shot of espresso to it for you for an extra caffeine boost. We visited on a Tuesday and were a little bummed we couldn’t get the baked potato soup. We asked the waitress why they didn’t offer the soup in the summer and she said, “It just doesn’t sell in the summer.” 


The menu is mostly a mix of burgers and sandwiches.


No messing around with this dessert menu, my friends. Lots of ice cream options!


And a little history from the back of the menu.


[huckleberry and vanilla milkshakes / $4.97]

Jake ordered a huckleberry shake and A got a vanilla milkshake. The huckleberry shake was DELICIOUS. We loved the flavor of it and that it had bits of real huckleberry within the milkshake. A huckleberry – if you haven’t tried one before – is sort of a cross between a blueberry and a blackberry. They look like a darker blueberry but have a little more tart flavor. Huckleberry products seemed to be readily available all over this region of Washington and into Idaho. The huckleberry is Idaho’s state fruit so it wasn’t surprising to see huckleberry so close to the Idaho border.


[bbq burger / $5.15]

All four of us got our own burger. We all agreed though that S got the best tasting burger of the bunch which was a BBQ Burger with freshly grilled onions, BBQ sauce, and swiss cheese. The burgers are all served on homemade French buns. The buns reminded me a little bit of a potato roll since they were quite soft and fluffy – but with a crunchier top. 


[cherry pie and huckleberry cobbler / $2.25 each]

Instead of more ice cream, I opted to try out the cherry pie and the huckleberry cobbler. The cobbler is the item I picked while Jake opted for the cherry pie. The cherry pie was a little tart but it tasted good enough. The huckleberry cobbler on the other hand was amazing! This is NOT what I pictured in my head when I asked for some cobbler – this was more like a firm pie. Usually I think of cobblers as having wet fruit on the bottom topped with a crumble or crust mixture. Instead this was a firm slice. It was buttery rich cobbler – it looked like a cornbread but a lot more buttery with bits of huckleberry on top. Really delicious!

Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle (FB)
802 W Garland Ave
Spokane, WA 99205

Bowl and Pitcher in Riverside State Park

After dinner, we headed out to check out some scenery. Nearby there is Riverside State Park with hiking trails and campgrounds and an area called “Bowl and Pitcher”. Why is it called Bowl and Pitcher? Basically it was thought that the rocks in this area formed what looked like a bowl and a pitcher:

“Large blocks of basaltic rock lie in and above the Spokane River. It has been said that some of these rocks have the likeness of mounds of sugar poured throughout the river. Located to the west of the swinging bridge below, is a small, low-lying cave. Rushing waters of the Spokane River go through and around the cave. The cave looks like a bowl placed on the side of it brim surrounded by other rocks. This is believed to be the “bowl” of Riverside State Park. On the west side of the river, south of the bowl is a mass of basaltic rock that is shaped like a pitcher. This mass of rock is known as the pitcher of the park.” Source: http://users.scc.spokane.edu/abuddington/G210proj/2005g3/?p=6


There’s a $10 fee (per car) for a day use permit to enter the park. We headed over to the suspension bridge which was why I wanted to check it out. This suspension bridge crosses the Spokane River and was stunningly beautiful. 


The thing about crossing the bridge though is that the whole thing MOVES. It’s a little bouncy when you’re walking across the boards of the bridge and a few times I yelped out when the boards moved a little too much for my liking. There are gaps in between the boards, too, so you can see right down to the river. Luckily it had nice solid railings otherwise I doubt I would have wanted to cross this bridge.


It was worth it to cross though since you’re rewarded with this stunning scenery. You can see a little bit of the rapids here under the bridge. The bridge leads to some nature trails on the other side.


Pretty trails through the forest.


Jake and S took off around a scary looking bend which I refused to go on and they ended up high above us!


We all got back together and walked down the trail for a bit and came upon this pretty view overlooking the river. Gorgeous! 


In the distance you can see the bridge!

After our forest adventure we headed over to check in to the hotel for a little rest before dinner. Jake wanted pizza so I ended up having to do a tiny bit of extra research to find a spot.

Republic Pi


We ended up going to Republic Pi for dinner.


They had some really interesting looking wood fired pizza options.


And plenty of beverages.


[pi bites / $7]

The four of us shared a couple of appetizers, a pizza, and a salad. The first item we got was the Pi Bites which are baked and fried pieces of pizza dough. The dough is then sprinkled with sea salt and served with a beer cheese sauce and fresh green onions. I loved this! The bits of pizza dough almost tasted like pretzels. The outside was crispy while the inside stayed nice and fluffy. The cheese sauce was also delicious – it wasn’t too rich or overpowering and complimented the bread really nicely. I loved that sprinkle of flaky sea salt as well which gave the bread a nice boost of flavor. 


[regal meatballs / $9]

We also got an order of the meatballs which looked wonderful with the bit of pesto and shaved slices of pecorino romano cheese. This dish was not served hot though which kind of confused me. It was lukewarm at best and I probably should have asked for it to be heated more but… oh well. I didn’t. The meatballs had an okay flavor. The tomato sauce had a good flavor I just really wanted it to be HOT. 


[the district – rossa sauce, sopressata, fresh basil, cremini mushrooms, smoked fresh mozzarella / $13]

We shared the “District” pie between the four of us with mushrooms on only half of the pizza (for A and I who actually love mushrooms). The flavors of the pizza were really nice and the sauce was quite tasty. I didn’t really like the sopressata on the pizza though – I thought it was just a tad too salty but everyone else seemed to really like it. I really enjoyed the golden almost buttery crust as well. 


[qualchan caesar / full size – $7.50]

We also shared a good sized Caesar salad. I loved that they put a charred lemon on the side! The dressing on this was really nice – a good tart and creamy dressing which made the salad extra tasty.

Republic Pi
611 E. 30th Ave.
Spokane, WA 99203


We had time to do one for thing before bedtime – get ice cream! 


We went to a spot called Brain Freeze Ice Cream. This photo was taken at about 10PM. See how it’s not TOTALLY dark out yet? Crazy pants. 


We tried a few flavors and got two cones of the same thing: the Caramel Cashew.

The Caramel Cashew was a vanilla bean ice cream with bruttles soft cashew brittle and caramel bits. I didn’t realize it at the time but this is made with Bruttles candy (which I bought the next day in Downtown). 


The ice cream had a sweet creamy flavor and the bruttles candy (which is a softer version of the harder brittle candy) tasted perfect together. The candy and caramel gave some texture to the ice cream and a little touch of saltiness that I loved. Funny that the kids picked the same flavor that Jake and I did for sharing!

We went back to the hotel to relax and rest for the evening before we explored more of Spokane.

6 thoughts on “A visit to Spokane, WA: Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle, Republic Pi, Brain Freeze

    1. Hi Soo – Thanks! I specifically picked the milk bottle to visit just because of the shape of the building. The shakes were a bonus!

  1. Wow, what a fun trip this was. Great pix too, especially the neon sign with the clouds. The nature shots are so lovely. I like that you were so brave to walk on that suspension bridge! The milk bottle restaurant looks bigger inside than it does from the front. The Bruttles candy was also quite delicious (thank you!) – it does taste like a Butterfinger but softer and better!

    1. Hi CC – Luckily the suspension bridge had high sides/railings overwise I’m not sure I would have crossed it, haha! I wish I had bought the cashew bruttles, too, but oh well. I can always order more from their website! Glad you enjoy the treat!!

  2. I was revisiting your Spokane posts as research for a future trip…I saw a vlogger’s post that the Ferguson’s place was used in the film, “Benny and Joon” (1993), not one of my fave films, but that soda fountain/cafe sure looks cool and nostalgic.

    1. Ohhhh I didn’t know that – how cool! It’s been years since I saw that movie and really the only thing I remember is the scene where they make grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron. Heh.

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