Chaps Cafe and Bakery. Spokane, Washington. High-ceiling chapel for food and gathering. Welcomed before you set foot in the door. Food soul is evident. Arrive early. Food is well crafted. waitstaff pleasant. Unlimited fill-your-own coffee. Family friendly. Looking forward to returning with my family.
Kalico is word most often associated with cats, but Spokane's Kalico Kitchen is a different breed of restaurant. The building is fairly non-descript, but the roadside sign displaying "Where Old Friends Vist & New Friends Meet" says it all. My bro-in-law, Vic, and I visited Kalico and enjoyed breakfast. Vic ordered a breakfast burrito with eggs, sausage, onions, and green peppers. When eating he used words like "excellent and subtle flavors", and "this is really good". I ordered: two hot cakes, 2 strips bacon, and one over-easy egg. Because I like to mix the flavors of my food, I piled the bacon and eggs atop the pancakes, poured on a bit of syrup, and enjoyed the blend. The coffee was refilled without asking. Vic noticed a shelf with patron's names on the cups, a testament to the down-home kalico vibe, complete with Gonzaga University sports homages decorating the walls and waiting room. Some restaurants are known for their craft food, but Kalico definitely has its own niche of "craft gathering". Don't go to Kalico if you're a coffee snob (as I sometimes am), or need gluten free and organic. It's organic and healthy in a much different and far more important way - connecting people to people. Kalico's FaceBook. After Vic and I left Kalico, we drove to a nearby park for quick walk. We've been doing this for several weeks and I've neglected to mention that our meal is always paired with walking afterwards. Corbin Historic District and Park was just a few blocks from Kalico. In the late 1800's Corbin Park was a renouned horse race track and served as the Washignton Idaho's fairgrounds. The park is replete with historic homes, a kid's play area, and plenty of old trees. And you could almost hear the horses thundering around the track.
Eating a meal in a train car is unique. In Spokane, Frank's Diner is a first-class train car restaurant that's been pouring coffee and serving plates of gastronimica since 1978. The rail car was in operation in 1906 as an observation (cigar and lounge) car for the railroad president. It's 4-person booths are surprisingly roomy, and our breakfast order was quickly taken. The short-order cooks prepare the food within 2 feet of the bar-stool patrons, and within eye shot of everybody else. Vic, my bro-in-law, recogized the waitress while eating at Frank's at least 15 years ago; and her credo was "I'm here to help make you happy". Vic ordered 'Fried Green Tomatoes and Eggs', and I opted for 'Bistro Veggie Benedict' with spinach, portobellow mushrooms, and tomatoes. Vic also had a coupon for free biscuits and gravy for each of us. The gravy tasted freshly made, well balanced, and not too salty. In fact all of our food and sauces tasted exquisitely fresh (not gooey or lumpy). Our coffee was refilled at least 4 times, while 1940's style-Christmas tunes filled the happy little train car. Eating at Frank's will transport you back in time, and holds you for a little while in that spot. FaceBook.
Secret beaches, enticing hammocks, pink flamingoes, and secret hideaways appear on Sunset magazine covers. Once the article appears, it's no longer a secret. I feel that way writing about Le's Teriyaki Grill-Noodle House in Spokane. It's my family's secret getaway. A place where I've cried because the Pho is so damn good, and now that I've discovered the #3 combo, cashews mixed with a tender variety of vegetables, a side of chow mein, and a small serving of orange chicken - I cry once again. I guess I cry easily, and sometimes when using too much Sriracha. At Le's Teriyaki we've become a family. From the 2007 adoption of first 9-year old daughter from Yiyang, China; to a second adoption in 2010, of our 12-year old Beijing daughter. The owners of Le's are Vietnamese, and they've taken us in like family. Their smiles have lifted us when we've had few common words with our children, speaking little Mandarin. Sometimes pre-meal fluffy bubble tea drinks would lift a much needed blood sugar, quickly followed by heavenly Pho. Le's is demure, with richly-steeped worldly soul in their food. Thank you Le's for being there for us, as we've forged our family within your restaurant's walls.
There are few snacks that have grabbed my attention like Epic's handcrafted Hunter-Gatherer meat and berry mix. Sure, words like 100% grass-fed organic beef, goji, cacao, and mulberries help too. But this dynamic duo of jerky and trail mix has a serious snack feel. Something you'd put in your parka on a ski adventure, or a pinch-hitter meal replacement. The goji revved trail mix was tender and easy to chew, in contrast to the mandibular-required jerky. If you've never eaten cacao nibs, you've in for a mother-nature surprise with its nutty-chocolaty flavor - without any sweetness. The goji and mulberries provide a welcome sweetness. This hand-crafted snack isn't cheap, but doesn't cost anymore than your double-tall, mocha. If you visit Epic's webite, you'll see plenty more nutritional info on the product such as: omega 3, CLA, vitamin B12, niacin, and low glycemic. The meat and berry mix contains only 160 calories, but it's all extremely nutrient dense. So far, I've only seen this snack duo in Huckleberry's Fresh Market in Spokane, so keep your eye's and salivary glands on the look out for this one!
Boots Bakery & Lounge. The name begins with boots, not carpet slippers. It's a metaphor and a business name. In a place like Perkins Restaurant, it's the customer that sets the tone, but at Boots, you have to relax into the vibe. It doesn't grab you with: "It's an excellent day"; more like: "We are walking our talk here, the food is local, mostly organic, hand crafted, so if you will chill and settle into our vibe, you will benefit". During a breakfast visit with my bro-in law, Vic, that's exactly what happened to me. I had to soak in the vibe of Boots. The hanging lights made of used blenders, the repurposed seating, and food case that held hand-crafted food made "that morning" from fresh from a local sources - hence no menu. The barista, and food server, Matt, took our order, and within moments had our warmed food on the table. The lattes arrived quickly, and I noted Northwest roasters, Doma, Indaba and Evans Brothers. One of the cooks, Chris, came out and talked to us about Boot's philosophy, and how the Booze bar also brings in poetry slams, and scrabble events. All our of food had a Boot's strongly-flavored signature. The benefit of strong flavors is that it takes less food to feel sated, and both Vic and I felt entirely sated, and pumped with good vibes by meal's end. The Booze bar looks entirely welcoming and old fashioned, and has planted a seed to come back to try a signature drink. All of Boot's food is vegan, and many are gluten free. My recommendation is to be adventurous, try something new, and let Boot's atmosphere and food work its magic on you. Boot's FaceBook. Pictured are Chris and Matt, and some of the food we ordered. Not pictured was a delicious pumpkin waffle with real maple syrup!