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!
If you're looking for delectable Japanese cuisine, Sushi.com is your place. It's menu is ripe with authentic cuisine such as soba and yakisoba noodle soups with exquisite umami-flavored broth, and a vast array of sushi and rolls to name a few. During the several years that my family has frequented, we've always sauntered away feeling enriched from a good meal. During our last visit, I ordered the 8-piece Dragon Roll, with shrimp tempura, and cucumber on the inside, and eel, avocado and unagi sauce decorating the exterior. For appetizers we ordered miso soup, and edamame. The atmosphere of Sushi.com is relaxed, comfortable, with a hint of Zen. There's a large parking lot nearby, with plenty of parking around the block too. I'm already looking forward to our next meal at Sushi.com.
Being in a busy ski and boarding shop is fun, and there was a zingy buzz of excitement in WinterSport this evening. People were bringing in skis for sharpening and waxing, trying on boots, and renting seasonal gear for growing kids. While we handed off our skis for tuning, we were invited to pick out "as many donuts as we wanted" from two large boxes. The colorful array of donuts were from a new shop called Casual Friday Donuts, owned by Joe and Amber Owens. The unexpected combination of the giddiness of Black Friday meeting up with Casual Friday donuts in a ski shop was an endorphin boost. So why of all things am I, a nutritionist, blogging about donuts?Shouldn't I be wagging my index finger, making disapproving tense sounds and skulking away? The answer is "I love donuts, and I love skiing". And the giant-sized donuts "were good for ski appetites" as my daughter mentioned. I can go home and eat tofu and vegetables anytime, but for now, I stand tall, proud, and donut in hand , pray for snow!
I love it when fate steps in and redirects where I "think" I should be. For example, this morning I was to meet my bro-in-law, Vic, at Batch BakeShop in the Spokane's West-Central neighborhood. It turns out that Batch isn't open on Mondays, so we headed to the next closest option, a cafe called Indaba. While entering Indaba's door we noticed a small sign featuring Batch baked goodies. Double tall lattes, chocolate scones, and a ham and cheese croissant decorated our wood slab table. While the friendly baristas at Indaba informed us about the coffee options, the owner of Batch, Mika Maloney made her delivery of cookies, scones, muffins, and other heavenly treats. Batch BakeShop uses Northwest grown flours, real butter, and nothing artificial. Batch's website is a visual treat. I finished my breakfast with a Guatamalan double espresso, making this mornings foray an amazing way to begin the week. Batch BakeShop also sends out tweets such as: Batch Bakeshop @BATCHbakeshop. Nov 21 Brown butter sage & white cheddar biscuits about to go into the oven! Get here.
2023 W Dean. Open Tuesday-Friday 7am to 4pm. With Batch and Indaba in the same neighborhood, it's good food adventuring. Here is Indaba's FaceBook.
The Cottage Cafe in the Spokane Valley had caught my eye for months, with its' English country-side design standing out among car dealerships, beckoning you to slow down and stop in for some chow. My brother-in-law, Vic, and I entered The Cottage last week and found the environment cozy and well lit. The service was friendly and efficient, and soon enough we turned our attention from the trendy No-Li beer sign to our food. I ordered a veggie omelet, filled with tomato, spinach and mushrooms. But what really stood out were the sliced and fried "cottage fries". The light seasoning, and crispy texture was a pleasing departure from hash browns - which I also enjoy. Vic's BTA (bacon, tomato, avocado) was equally well prepared. The Cottage also got it right using Doma, a local coffee roaster, which explains the many smooth refills. I'd recommend visiting The Cottage when it's not busy, so you can take your time and soak in the pleasant atmosphere. FaceBook link here.
Dolly's Cafe, breakfast and brunch restaurant is a quaint, 10-table cafe perched on a the busy corner of Washington and Indiana. My brother-in-law and I sat at a corner table and perused the menu, settling on a 'Jalapeno and Hollandaise Sauce Omelet', with home fries and a biscuit for Vic, while I ordered the 'Hearty Breakfast' with buckwheat pancakes, plated with 2 over-easy eggs, hash-browns, lean ham, 2 thick slices bacon, whole wheat toast and strawberry jam. The coffee was refilled several times, while we discussed food anthropology, and how being "for" something carries more potential for change than being "against" something: Good food, brings out good conversation. The service at Dolly's was welcoming, and attentive. Dolly's also had that extra intangible ingredient of "soul" in their food. Dolly's is the type of place that anyone can enjoy.
There's a little known food gem on Eastern Washington University's campus. For the past 30 years, Aladdin's Egyptian Food has been serving an array of scrumptuous gyros, falafel, baklava, and freshly cooked vegetables like cauliflower, and zucchini. The man behind the counter is Alaaeldin Aamer, whom I met in 1986 when I was an EWU student. Alaaeldin dishes up more than amazingly tasty food, he also gently hands you just what you need to hear, a philosopher of sorts, with an uncanny way of listening to you, and then offering a bit of sage advice. You might call him an unofficial academic food guidance counselor. Twenty years after graduating from EWU, I returned to teach, and was delighted to see Alaaeldin again. EWU has many Middle-Eastern students attending classes, eating lunch in the PUB (Public Union Building) where Aladdin's is located. Particularly to these students, Alaaeldin serves as father-figure, friend, and confidant, who are sometimes homesick for familiar food and language. Over the years, Alaaeldin's hair has grayed a bit, but his food and friendly disposition are enduring.