Archive for the ‘Breakfast in Spokane Valley’ Category


This is the October cover of Spokane Valley's Current monthly news magazine which the following story I wrote.

This is the October cover of Spokane Valley’s Current monthly news magazine which the following story I wrote.


When I was asked to write a story on the state of breakfast affairs in the Spokane Valley, I knew I was the man for the job. It is a story I have been dining to write since I was about four years old when I decided nothing was cooler than hotcakes.

Considering that I am very Fifty-something now, that was a long time ago. There were few franchises,  fast or slow, serving breakfast or any other meal. I remember only one restaurant in the Valley from those earliest-memory days. There were others but Smitty’s Pancake House was the only one I cared about. When I had the occasional good luck to be an eager participant in an after-church family meal there, it was the most sacred and blessed moment of that Sabbath day.

Not old enough to understand what our pastor was selling in the Lord’s House, I certainly understood what Smitty was selling at his Pancake House. If it had been up to me, I would have put Smitty before the Lord and gone there prior to church for breakfast and then headed back for lunch.

Maybe it was that deprivation of my early inner callings for more pancakes that has made me a lifelong breakfast believer, and now, after weeks of intense and rapturous research, something of an expert on the meal or at least on how it is offered to us here in the Spokane Valley.

If you think about it, there are two ways to buy a hot, made-to-order breakfast. One way it is wrapped in paper and handed over the counter at a fast food place and the other it is delivered on a plate by a server in a restaurant. I have always preferred both.

I was there eating breakfast at the University McDonald’s when your choice for a breakfast sandwich was an Egg McMuffin . Back then in the early 70’s, it was your only fast food choice for breakfast. Talk about a revolutionary idea. The humble, eternally popular Egg McMuffin was the match that lit America’s fast food breakfast explosion.

According to a report on, breakfast is the only growing segment in both fast-food and casual dining with a 5% increase last year. Leave it to the highly competitive players in the fast food industry to notice that.

Subway is now open for breakfast. You can get a waffle taco at Taco Bell or a breakfast burrito at Taco Time. Schlotsky’s is offering their breakfast sandwich, the Eggsky on their patented bread. Carl’s Jr. has a massive new ad campaign attempting to put their new cinnamon pull-aparts into the minds and mouths of breakfast lovers across America

.eggsky'staco bell waffle

Amongst the national franchises, my loyalty remains with McDonald’s. I did, however, do a sandwich switch from the Egg McMuffin to their egg, bacon and cheese biscuit as soon as they invented it. For me, eating that blissfully stuffed biscuit dipped in syrup is like having a little bite of the Kingdom here on earth . No other new concoction has lured me away, try as I have most of them.

I did come upon an undiscovered fast food gem here in the Valley. A while back I had noticed that Zip’s had entered the fast service breakfast fray and so in doing my due diligence for this story I stopped in twice and that is why I know it is undiscovered.

Zip’s is going for a hybrid between fast food and casual dining. At the counter I ordered French toast and not long after sitting down, they were delivered on a real ceramic plate that also carried a little pitcher of syrup. I appreciate that this local enterprise is boldly Zipping while everyone else is zagging.

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The second breakfast-in-the-field category, casual dining, is where I spent most of my mornings for this story. I group these breakfast purveyors into three catagories: national pancake powerhouses,local weekend wonders and local full time breakfast joints, which I list in order of personal favor.

There are only three national breakfast restaurants doing business in the Valley, Denny’s, IHOP and Shari’s. I love them equally and have spent many glutinous mornings at them all. I still mourn the passing of Perkins and fondly remember Sambos, which became the second memorable restaurant of my youth when it opened in the Sixties selling breakfast 24 hours a day right there just east of Sprague and Bowdish in the heart of the Spokane Valley.

The three active national players are a far cry from the Sambo’s of my youth. Back then it was straight forward All-American breakfast meals, but now days their menus are packed with gooey and rich concoctions described in mouth-watering euphemisms and pictured in too-good-to-be-true close-up photos.

Shari’s has invented something they call Cinnama-sation french toast that is half cinnamon roll and half french toast. Alert to the same cinna-trend, IHOP recently came out with what they call cinnamon swirl brioche french toast. Denny’s came up with a new cinnamon pancake and then upped the sweet ante with a “peanut butter cup pancake” which is two pancakes filled with white chocolate chips,smothered in hot fudge and topped with peanut butter sauce.

I think the nationals pursue these new breakfast inventions because it separates them from the local independents who can’t waste their time in the laboratory to keep coming up with this crazy stuff. In Spokane Valley, and I would guess everywhere, breakfast is where the locals battle the nationals the hardest. There are a lot of big, national players like Applebee’s and Red Lobster serving lunch and dinner but that is not the case for breakfast.

I would not take the time to mention establishments that only serve breakfast on Saturday and Sunday except that there are a lot of them and one of them, Charlie P’s, is probably my favorite place to have breakfast in the entire Valley. I love Seafood omelettes and have tried them where ever they are attempted locally as well as when I travel. Charlie P’s is the best local seafood omellete and as good as any I have eaten even in coastal  restaurants so close to the sea that the crab tasted like they had just pulled it out of the ocean.

Elaine, my best buddy for 32 years, has never one time joined me for an early morning breakfast out because of a serious conflict in interest between getting up or sleeping in. But in a wonderful twist of fate, she loves Charlie’s Eggs Benedict and they serve breakfast all day. So while she is having her benedict with a glass of milk and a happy hour beer for her breakfast, I am having a heavenly omelette for my late afternoon lunch.

Breakfast Elaine stylecharlie p's omellet

Three other family-friendly bars that have built up a weekend following are The Iron Horse, O’Dohrtery’s and Bolo’s. They all do a good job but I think some of their appeal is they serve Bloody Mary’s and other drinks that many of their customers sometimes begin drinking quite early on weekends.

For the clean livers with big appetites, there is no place like the weekend breakfast buffet at Timber Creek. The crowd there is over the top and lined out the door.

But these weekenders are not the main contenders in the breakfast battle. There are actually 10 locals that serve breakfast everyday. Most just serve breakfast and lunch but some serve dinner as well. I think that during the week most of them do better at lunch or dinner but on the weekends they all do big breakfast biz. I was amazed how many people go out for breakfast on the weekends.

Having been solidly converted to breakfastism by St. Smitty long before the age of accountability, I reverently observe the day’s first supper at any place that will serve it to me, but I did come up with a Letterman’s list. And so here are my top ten reasons to go out for breakfast in the Spokane Valley.

Reason #10- Black Pearl Casino. The reason the Pearl holds the ten spot is because they are a casino first and restaurant second. They do have great decor and really good food. If you are dating and have found someone who is the opposite of Elaine and wants to go out for breakfast, this would be the Valley’s best early date spot.

Reason #9- Skyway Cafe. My only problem with Skyway Cafe is that I don’t like crowded places and this place is crowded, especially for weekend breakfast. I love a comfortable, private and well-lit booth like at Shari’s on Sullivan or the old ones at my beloved Perkins. The Skyway Cafe has no such getaways but that does not hurt them one bit. I would tell visitors to the Valley that this is a local favorite for a reason. Located at Spokane’s original international airport, this place has the best setting and unique feel on the list.

Reason #8- Dave’s Bar and Grill. The reason Dave’s is at 8 is because I think they only do breakfast because the Valley can’t get enough of Dave’s food. He does his famous specials at dinner, not breakfast. There are no great bargains for breakfast but like the other two meals he serves, the breakfast there is all great food served in porpportions built for two.

Reason #7-Conley’s. This is the last member of the Valley’s trilogy of local breakfast-serving icons. In an industry with a high mortallity rate and short life expectancy, Conlely’s has been around longer than almost anyone. Conley’s is a creative and tastey example of something that is nice to see: local independent operators that have built a hospitallity treasure that has been Opportunity’s opportunity to have been enjoying all these years.

Reason #6-Egg It On. This is the Valley’s newest restaurant located in the west half of the old Hooter’s building. I think they got off to a rocky start but I have been there 5 times since they opened and always go with a group and I can tell you that they are worth a try. Their Salmon Benedict is, as Elaine says, fricking fracking good and if you like a bloody good Bloody Mary, they have her.

Reason #5-Little Euro. Living these past 20 years near the corner of Bowdish and Alki, me and the kids were hit hard when The Old European closed many years ago just down Bowdish on Sprague in the house that Sambo’s built. The kids had grown up on their crepe’s and I had a love affair with their stuffed french toast. Imagine my delight when they recently re-opened as The Little Euro just down Alki on Pines.

Reason #4-Cottage Cafe. Though they have been around 5 years, I group the Cottage with Euro and the Egg in so far as being the new places. The Cottage opened as successfully as anyone I have ever seen. They pretty much did everything right. Elaine and I went in there at one o’clock on a Wednesday and sat at the bar to avoid waiting, which is amazing considering they close at 2 oclock.

Reason #3 Terry’s Breakfast and Lunch. Having owned and worked a place for four years with Elaine, I most admire the owner that puts in shifts on the front lines of their place. If you want a lot of good grub and want to watch the owner cook it for you, go to Terry’s. The only reason Terry is not higher on the list is because he is not nearly as good looking as the top two.

Reason #2 Jenny’s Cafe. The first Saturday I went into Jenny’s she had her hair down and was waitressing as only a natural can and then the next Saturday she had her hair tied back as she cooked in the kitchen just as naturally. Jenny started there when was 16 when it was Waffles and More and bought it 14 years ago. The main reason Jenny is at number two on the list is because at 24 years in the business she does not yet have half the years in as my monarch of the morning.


Reason #1 Donna’s Diner. Donna starting waiting tables 50 years ago in Troy, Montana after school when she was 12. If you want to see Donna, don’t go on the weekends because she takes off Friday through Sunday. Donna’s is the only breakfast and lunch place open from 5 to 3. All the rest are 6 to 2. Donna is there for all 10 hours Monday through Thursday waiting on her customers.

Donna jpg

Donna does a great job serving a great breakfast, as do the Valley’s other nine great reasons to dine out in the morning. I didn’t bring up price because they are all within a buck on any given meal and I didn’t bring up quallity because breakfast is a pretty easy meal to get right as they all have accomplished.

Judging by the numbers I saw crowding into all of these places on the weekends, I would say that I am not the only one who did not get enough pancakes when I was a kid. And while I love them all from Ronald to Donna, I will always remain most smitten by Smitty.








Family Meal at Denny’s




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One Thursday last August  Elaine’s brother and sister-in-law and niece, Craig, Beth  and  Kelsey Clark ( first three in selfie) , were passing through and wanted to get everybody together for dinner on the fly. After a bulletin text was sent out and attendance was confirmed or declined, a group conversation began about where to eat. I did not get into the discussion as I was withholding my final decision concerning my own attendance  since I had a lot of work to do and had just seen these particular out-of-towners just day or two before and so had had enough  hugs from these lovable and quite publicly demonstrative family members for the season, at least from one of them.

Then final decision to make it Denny’s it on Argonne came buzzing in on my phone .  One of the things on my ongoing to-do list was researching the story above and so doing Denny’s with a group was a great opportunity. I texted back that  I was in, resigning myself to one last round of heartfelt farewells. I had work to do at Denny’s and besides, my old childhood buddy-turned-brother-in-law, Craig, isn’t bad company once I get past his initial mandatory man hug.

As I drove there I pondered why Denny’s was the group concensus. I wouldn’t have thought of it and I was further intrigued upon arrival to see two large family groups besides ours. After  conversing and dining with the family and analyzing the menu and the selections made from it, I came up with an hypothesis.

First of all Denny’s prices are reasonable and secondly the menu’s range goes from dawn to dusk and back again. I found it telling that out of 10 of us, only one person went past the breakfast pages and ordered a dinner entre. I would guess that ratio was a little unusual, but I can see where Denny’s anytime and all kinds of breakfast offerings makes it a family favorite especially ones with children.

The children within our adult family ordered across the breakfast board that day. I discovered that Faun,Elaine’s mom ( fifth back in the selfie),  often eats at Denny’s and usually orders the breakfast sandwich in the second photo above. She said she most often has coffee and breakfast at the Hi-Co Subway. Of all fast food breakfast  choices she thinks Subway is the most tasty, healthy and affordable, furthermore my mother-in-law who is a woman of many opinions is of the opinion that Subway on Argonne serves the best food out of all the local Subways.

My little inside guy  had to try the Strawberry Pancake Puppies with cream cheese and so I ordered them as an appetizer to share though after tasting the first one I did not share as many as I had intended. Elaine went for one of those flashy but tempting menu items called the Red,White and Blue Slam pictured in the fourth photo. For $7.99 she got two blueberry pancakes topped with cream cheese and strawberries along with two eggs, hash browns and  sausage . Elaine’s Slam did not land on the table with the normal two links as I had devoured one of them whole after deftly snatching it away while she talked in the other direction.

The R,W & B Slam that Elaine had is yet another version in a long and creative line of Slams. The original Grand Slam is still on the menu and remains the Slam I go back to time and again. As a hungry teenager, I mentally and emotionally consummated my relationship with her midway through our first encounter.

Though not as old , The Grand Slam is the Egg McMuffin of casual dining. Denny’s keeps pumping 0ut and glossily photographing one new invention after another such as what I have always thought was the cleverly named  ” Moons Over My Hammy” . But I love it in name only having never been tempted to cheat on my Grand Slam by its alluring picture and personal information on the menu.

The selfie above was taken outside the front door after we had all indulged in our personal pleasures and great family visiting. It is a picture of a group of well fed family members happy to have had another opportunity get together break bread and waffles and pancakes. What I was mostly thinking about in that shot was I knew I was only minutes away from having that mug in the front approaching me as he comes in for his obligatory  farewell embrace.

I believe most eateries are like people in that most have hidden gems to offer the world if only the world can find them. The Black Pearl certainly has a lot of great food and drinks to offer in plain on the menu, but one has to get up at least kind of early in the morning to find what I found because it is only on the breakfast menu.
Their seafood omelet is the black pearl among the ivory pearls of plates their worthy kitchen offers. Every time I eat breakfast at a new place, I always look for a seafood omelet. It is seldom that my effort is rewarded and so when on occasion my dispirited search is rewarded with a genuine seafood omelet on the menu it is my unfailing selection. Normally I get so excited when I find it that I begin waving frantically to the waitress to quickly return and take my ecstatic order so that no time is wasted in getting that thing in front of me.
What finally showed up after perhaps 10 minutes that seemed like ten hours was pure pleasure on a plate. I rarely see food like that seafood omelet and I did not see it for long as it quickly disappeared beneath my nose as one fork-full followed another down my throat with such speed that that little hot-dog-eating Oriental dude would not have dared challenge me to a seafood omelet eating contest. At least not if it was the Black Pearl’s omelet.

This photograph is a show of willpower as every atom in my body screamed out to have the atoms in that omelet join them. But I had to pause for the pic but to heck with a prayer. No sooner had the light from the camera’s flash subsided and this beautiful masterpiece and I were one.

Like a ravenous lion ripping the quivering red meat from the steaming body of a twitching, barely-dead Gazelle, I could hear my animal subconscious growl menacingly at my nerdy, blogger side that had to interrupt my feeding frenzy to take this picture. But I had to take it. Who would ever believe the chef’s generosity with the fresh and very real crabmeat. And I knew a thousand words gushing on and on from my pen could not capture the rapture of this gift from God like one quick picture.

I must confess that recently I have been committing deadly sin after deadly sin at The Owl Casino on Indiana . It is not the games of chance that lure me helplessly back again and again but rather the plates of rapture carried out from the kitchen and placed before me. Gluttony, not gambling nor girls, has been my personal heavenly hell since I chanced upon a wonderful secret a month or so ago.
It all started when I read an article in the paper that our local Hooters closed  after a ten-year run. Since Elaine found their theme a turn off we never would have gone there except that they offer the cheapest well drinks in town.  Despite the affordable libations and the  fact that the place always produced fond mammories, the food was far from titillating  and so I was ambivalent about Hooter’s closing. What caught my eye in the article was that Hootwinc, the corporation that owned the Spokane franchise as well as the other  nineteen West Coast Hooters, decided to open a new breakfast restaurant in the building while keeping the casino running. I found it unusual that they would take another run at it .
Normally, a place goes out of business and the next guy comes along and says to himself, ” I can do better than the guy who didn’t make it here. My idea is better and I am a smarter operator.” In this case, Hootwinc  is apparently saying that they have a better idea than the one they had before. I admire their buoyant spirit and would agree that nearly anyone could come up with a better idea in the way of good food than their last effort.
As I continued  reading the story, it was hard to keep my eyes looking downward  as they kept rolling around and around in my head. A Hooter spokesperson waxed on about how the new place was going to serve fresh “farm-to-table ingredients” in what they called urban fusion. Apparently, this type of cutting edge cuisine is trending across California and West Coast Hooters top bras, I mean brass, has decided the Valley will support this new place even though we did not support our Hooters. Egg It On is what they have named it, which is about as clever as their old name.
Between the hype,  the name and the slim chances I gave them, I probably never would have gone in there again but those affordable libations beckoned me back to the casino a month or so ago. That is when I learned the Secret and  have been drawn back again and again by the most powerful law of attraction.
Apparently whoever is in charge of this Egg It On is good in the kitchen and has been experimenting back there, putting his creations on the menu for hungry gamblers to approve. While I am not a gambler, I am an approver.
The first thing I ordered was the recommended Meatloaf Monster Hash, which looked as ugly and menacing as a monster when it showed up in front of me. Luckily I was hungry and so did not judge by appearances.
Even though my hungry stomach opened my mind, this was the most flavorful skillet type dish I had ever had and it stood the test of two more reheats at home.I know something is good when I reheat a portion for breakfast and then polish the last of it off for lunch and find it tasty each time.
The next thing I indulged myself with there was the Sage Chicken Eggs Benedict. I thought maybe a Sage Chicken was a pheasant but after a few bites I figured out that the Sage was about the flavor. It was not long before I was full of Sage Chicken and so I boxed up the uneaten half for Elaine to try when she got off work. The dish passed another foolproof taste test when she took a trial bite of it cold and found it so good she had a few more before getting it into the microwave.
The next time I slipped into the casino I tried the Heath Bar Pancake. It was about the size of a medium pizza and could easily have fed all four of my kids when they were little. Unlike them, I never order souped-up pancakes or waffles but after the Monster and the Chicken, I had to see what this great creator was going to do with a pancake. I indulged more of it than I care to divulge.
Within days I was back again for the Aspargus Salmon Benedict which more than took care of the fix my body and mind craved for whatever was  next on the menu. Elaine and I split it and still took enough home for Eli, our young-adult-still-firmly-at-home son. He devoured it in a flash but that is certainly no test of good taste. The only thing it told me for sure was that he had not eaten in at least an hour.
I hate to admit it, but I have been back twice more since then and have even slicked my entire plate clean of a generous portion of Fruity Pebbles French Toast. That is when I knew I needed to get myself together. I am doing better now but now I hear that “Egg It On” has opened.  I see a relapse in my future since I need to study the new place to see if it is possible for them to create an eating establishment that lives up to the creations that have so easily led me astray.

While this Monster Mash vaguely resembled a pile of something I see in my back yard when my dog has a tummy ache, it tasted as good as it did not look.

While this Monster Mash vaguely resembled a pile of something I see in my back yard when my dog has a tummy ache, it tasted as good as it did not look.


There were four over-sized english muffins at the foundation of this Sage Chicken wonder. It was like no other eggs benedict my eyes had seen before.

There were four over-sized english muffins at the foundation of this Sage Chicken wonder. It was like no other eggs benedict my eyes had seen before.

I hate confess that I was guilty of eating most of this pleasure.

I hate confess that I was guilty of eating most of this pleasure.

Believe it or not, there is a heavenly slamon eggs benedict buried in there. And it is a three- or four-manner

Believe it or not, there is a heavenly slamon eggs benedict buried in there. And it is three- or four-manner


Egg it On on Urbanspoon

Back in the distant days of my childhood when I first converted to N.F.L.ism at the tender age of ten, the congregation was much smaller than it is today. Since time immemorial, games were only observed on the Sabbath, but then in the early Seventies we were given a latter day night game on Monday evenings. For me, it was always a bad way to start out the week as far as school was concerned since even the lamest match ups were always more interesting than homework assignments.
Unbeknownst to me as I sat in the living room watching Monday Night Football by myself throughout my youth, there were millions of adult followers faithfully attending M.N.F. parties in bars across the land. Local watering holes would try to build their football flock with cheap food and drink specials and giveaways. It was a competitive game but back then Monday nights were well attended.
In the past few years, however, Monday nights have become less special as the powers on high have chosen to give America more of what it craves with Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football. So now we have S.N.F. on NBC., M.N.F. on ESPN, and T.N.F. on N.F.L., all of which can be watched from the safety of your living room with just the basic cable package.
The odd thing is that while the fans stay home for the most part to watch the night games, they come out in mass on Sundays. At the risk of ruffling the same sort of feathers that John Lennon did, I have to say that the N.F.L. seems to rival the Lord in popularity at least for a few hours on Sundays during the football season. There is neither hyperbole nor hypocrisy in my hypothesis as I have been have been dropping in at several different local bars to get a grip on the Sunday gridiron gatherings.
Two weeks ago when the Seahawks played at 10, all the good seats at Goodtymes were filled by kickoff. Owner Debi Smith has added two mega screens that occupy a huge portion of the southern wall. At both ends a trained parrot roots just for the Seahawks. On top of all that, the kitchen puts out a great breakfast buffet for $12.
The 1# ranked Seahawks are a huge boon to the Sunday bar business and while the wily veteran at Goodtymes has built a large patronage with her deft plays, sophomore sports bar, The Ref, seems to have scored most of the remaining Valley Seahawk fans. Somehow last year in its rookie season The Ref came out of nowhere and became Seahawk Central. That same morning that Goodtymes was packed, the Ref was a sea of Hawk fans from the banquet room across the large bar area and into the family dining room. As far as the eye could see, there was nothing but blue jerseys being stretched a bit further with beer, pizza and chicken wings.
You would have thought that everyone was at these two places but just around the corner from the Ref, Bolo’s had a good crowd of their own. For years Bolo’s has been serving a breakfast buffet at just $10. Like the Ref, they have the Season Ticket which lets the bar play any game on any big screen. Debi at Goodtymes, on the other hand, has given up on it because she thinks the $200 weekly price is not worth it.
While I can commiserate with her, as a true believer in the power of the game, I see no reason to just watch the Seahawk game when I can watch all the others out of the corner of my eye on several nearby screens at the same time. The Season Ticket is probably the reason the flock ventures from their living rooms on Sunday only.
The Season Ticket helps me relate to today’s youth lost in front of their computers playing games. I am thankful that I was not exposed to it as a kid because it would have been a sensory overload that surely would have zapped all of my desire to live in the real world. It is bad enough that as a middle-aged guy it zaps my desire to live in the real world on Sundays from the season opener though the final minute of the Super Bowl.
Two more great venues in the Valley to catch all the games are the Sullivan Scoreboard and True Legends. The Scoreboard is more of a blue collar, baseball cap kind of a bar, but that can be a good thing when watching football. True Legends draws a whiter collered crowd, though no less enthusiastic of one. Both True Legends and The Scoreboard put out great breakfast fare for Sunday football and are actually neck and neck when it comes to their Eggs Benedict, (which is the only thing Elaine likes or understands about Sunday football). True Legends, however, has the Scoreboard and everyone else whupped when it comes to size of their big screenie weenie and when it comes to football, size matters.
While I highly commend and recommend all of these N.F.L. tabarnacles, there is one that I deem the best place to observe the N.F.L. on Sundays and that would be the Black Diamond. They are really on their game with breakfast served all day as well as a great normal menu. I have been attending there for the past two years and have seen their flock grow. The Black Diamond is a Valley gem that is gaining in popularity each year and deservedly so.
If you are a nonbeliever and would like to see what the fuss and fun is all about, go to the Black Diamond next Sunday. You’ll see scenes like I did last Sunday where grown men in Raider jerseys cheered for their teem in front of one big screen while across the pool hall a group in Chief jerseys watched the same game and erupeted with cheers and boos at the exact opposite times as their counterparts.
Then when all the games are ending you might be lucky enough to catch a cliffhanger like last Sunday’s game between the Saints and Patriots where Drew Brees threw a last-minute miracle touchdown only to be answered by an even more miraculous last-second touchdown bomb by Tom Brady. If you are lucky enough to see that and still don’t believe then I don’t know what to tell you, because I’m thinking that is what the original Miracle Man had in mind when he instructed us to find heaven on earth.

This was a tastey bratwurst sandwich with carmelized onions that I got at the Black Diamond. I also love their garlic fries. With N.F.L. on every screen, and dozens of pool tables and shuffleboard, there is a lot going  on at The Diamond on Sundays

This was a tastey bratwurst sandwich with carmelized onions that I got at the Black Diamond. I also love their garlic fries. With N.F.L. on every screen, and dozens of pool tables and shuffleboard, there is a lot going on at The Diamond on Sundays

Debi Smith at Goodtymes is for the birds. Beyond the Seahawks on Sunday, she and her daughter raise 42 birds at home.

Debi Smith at Goodtymes is for the birds. Beyond the Seahawks on Sunday, she and her daughter raise 42 birds at home.

The Black Diamond at Farr and Vista is serving espresso and breakfast right out of their Nite Club during the early light of day.
It makes more sense than it sounds, luckily. In the first place, it is a very comfortable room with raised, leather booths, elegent light fixtures and a great sound system. In the second place, it is an interestingly lit room in regards to the windows. During the night, the windows are not a factor while during the day it becomes clear the place has a nice window pattern that ushers in the sun.
So the room is like the sanctuary in most modern open-bible churches these days that are designed to multi-task, accommodating the night time parishioners as well as the day time parishioners.
But most importantly, Kenna the Cook, who owns the place with her husband Steve, is a foodie and it shows in the menu.
Well, I knows it showed in the breakfast I had which was a called a Monte Cristo Egg Sandwich. I love all the sinful egg, and naughty meat, and useless pancake/biscuit/french toast/whatever sandwiches that everyone sells us.
I also love a Monte Cristo sandwich whenever I can find a place brave enough to put out a rendition of this slightly exotic sandwich. Kenna took my two guilty pleasures – the Cristo and the Count of Calories breakfast sandwiches- and went one beyond anything I had ever had.
Out of nowhere there appeared on the plate a homemade honey mustard that mustard come from heaven. I never would have thought to dip a Monte Cristo sammy in honey mustard but then again I never knew there was such a good recipe for honey mustard here on Earth.It is Kenna’s own recipe and it is spot on.
They are open at 7 seven days a week so I have ample opportunity to give Kenna’s equally intriguing Green and Ham a try very soon.

The mustard is must have.

The mustard is must have.

I believe most hospitality establishments are like people in that nearly all have something incredible to offer the world if only the world can find that often hidden, in fact often buried treasure even the crustiest curmudgeon has to offer. The Black Pearl in the Spokane Valley is certainly no curmudgeon and it has a lot of great food and drinks to offer in plain sight on the menu, but one has to get up at least kind of early in the morning to find what I found because it is only on the breakfast menu.
Their seafood omelet is the rare, sought-after black pearl among the ivory pearls their worthy kitchen offers. Every time I eat breakfast at a new place, I always peruse the menu with gaurded optimism as I seek my favorite type of omelet. Seldom is my seafood search successful and so when on occasion my dispirited, almost desperate quest is rewarded with a genuine seafood omelet on the menu it is my selection without fail. Normally I get so excited when I find it that I begin waving frantically to the waitress to quickly return and take my ecstatic order so that no time is wasted in getting that thing in front of me.
What finally showed up after perhaps 10 minutes that seemed like ten hours was pure pleasure on a plate. I nearly never see food like that and I did not see this precious pearl of an omelet for long as it quickly disappeared beneath my nose as one forkful forcefully followed another down my throat with such speed that that little hot-dog-eating Oriental dude would not have dared challenge me that morning to a seafood omelet eating contest. At least not if it was the Black Pearl’s omelet.

This photograph is a show of sheer unimaginable willpower as every atom in my body screamed out to have the atoms in that omelet join them. While I had to pause for a pic, I said to hell with a prayer. Almost faster than the light from my Droid’s flash could subside, this beautiful masterpiece and I were one.

Like a ravenous lion ripping the hot, bloody meat from the quivering, still-twiching body of a barely-dead Zebra with hungry hienas hovering nearby, I could hear my animal subconscious growl menacingly at my nerdy, blogger side that had to interrupt my feeding frenzy to take this picture. But I had to take it. Who would ever believe the chef’s generosity with the fresh and very real crabmeat. And I knew a thousand words gushing on and on from my pen could not capture the rapture of this gift from God like one quick picture. After I had devoured the entire omelet and a spotless plate stared back at my eyes so bulging I could barely blink, I forced them to shut as I took a moment to offer up a slightly belated but all the more heartfelt prayer of thanks for the bounty that had been set before me.

Black Pearl Restaurant and Card Room on Urbanspoon

Sunday football is the new Monday Night Football. It used to be that bars competed for the Monday Night Football crowd with drink specials and taco bars and $2 foot-long coney dogs.  These days  Monday Night Football business for the bars  is only a wisp of its former self, with patrons having shot their wads on Sunday  sitting with fellow fans in front of their team’s designated plasma, swigging beers and hurling jeers as all around fans of other teams do the same thing. The NFL’s Season Ticket, which costs approximately $3400 a season or $180 a Sunday, has changed the rules for the bar owners and the how American football fans spend there Sundays.

The hot bed of coals that the NFL is building its fire of popularity on  is the die-hard American adult male fan who latched onto a team during childhood when they became aware of pro football. Often the team they bonded with was going through a dynasty period and had a brilliant leader like Staubach and his Cowboys or Montana and his 49’ers. America’s young boys loved football before they discovered girls and most remain loyal to their first love. Like  geese, most men mated for life with their childhood teams though seldom having the same luck with women.

For me it was the Baltimore Colts who dominated the 1968 season, the year I turned ten. Football had not exsisted for me before then. But in the fall of my fourth grade I got caught up in the drama of Bubba Smith and Tom Matte and John Mackey  and the rest of that mighty team as they barrelled through all foes. I followed their classic season in Sports Illustrated, Sport and Life magazines, only occassionally getting to see them play because we only got one game per Sunday back then. But I watched them each game through the playoffs and though that year’s Super Bowl III with the Jets cruelly upsetting my new gridiron heroes was my first and worst, I have never missed a Super Bowl since and I remain a Colts fan more than 4 decades later.

Each Sunday at the Spokane Valley sports bars that carry the NFL Season Ticket, grown men who have been wearing their favorite team’s jersey since Santa brought them their first one back in grade school gather to watch their team.  Unlike the frustrating days of their youth, it does not matter if their game is being broadcast locally or not. The Season Ticket bars have their game. It is a life-long dream come true.

The Sullivan Scoreboard was the first place I saw this miracle three or four years ago. Since that first year I have watched it go from a light crowd to standing room only with owners Scott and Dianna Reckord rubbing their hands together with delight whenever the Cowboys and the Vikings and the Steelers play at the same time. These are the kinds of teams that go way back in the lives of the Amercan male.  Winning Super Bowls and producing dynasties starring legendary heroes, teams like the 49’ers and Packers have fans loyal to them and them only which adds to the fun as one group watching their team has no compassion on the next table watching their own favorite team getting whupped.

The Sullivan Scoreboard has perfected this game on Sundays, serving a hearty breakfast menu until 2 and offering a Bloody Mary the size of a lineman’s left butt cheek. The place is  mid-sized, blue-collared and ball capped with a neighborhoodly feel which helps The Scoreboard attain the most intimate and rowdy feel of  the Season Ticket bars. Only an out-of-towner would sit down at the large round table on the south end before a Dallas game if it happened to be empty even an hour before the 10 oclock game which it probably wouldn’t be. The Cowboy fans own that table, while the guys in the purple and yellow jerseys or the black and yellow guys have their favorite places as well. They root enthusiastically when their teams make a big play and sit sullenly when the opposing team does well, usually having to endure a few taunts from nearby tables who take pleasure in their misery.

Bolo’s is another sports bar in the Spokane Valley that has bought the Ticket for years. They also do well and have their share of team tables. One major difference between them and the Scoreboard is that families are welcome at Bolo’s while no one under 21 is allowed at the Scoreboard.  They have a large projection TV that is capable of showing 4 games at once, which reminds me of the bingo player who is able to pay attention to 10 cards at one time. My mind does not work that way but I wished that it did so I could visually snort that much more football into my system . Another difference is that Bolo’s has a breakfast buffet for around $8.

I suppose this screen would be perfect for those with more than one favorite. NFL fans are like college students in that they tend to have only one major with a couple of minors .

True Legends out at Liberty Lake is a newcomer but like with everything else, owner Perry Vinson catches on very quick and he bought the Season Ticket last year, his first year in business. He also bought an $8,000 high-def TV projector  to go wth the huge screen that came with the building.  While it is not quite as big as the jumbo-trons at NFL stadiums, True Legends is the next best thing to being there.

Being a restaurant, True Legends serves a killer breakfast and is a great place for die hard fans to suggest when the whole family wants to gather for a special occassion like some kid’s untimely birthday party. If you can’t deter them away from celebrating during game time on a Sunday, you can at least try to get them to go out to True Legend’s, where the  dining room,  unlike Chucky Cheese, always has your favorite game on.

Another thing that adds to experience out at True Legends is the ticker tape feed that runs below the screen and keeps updating the latest developements on all the other games.

In the past, fathers went to church and spent the day with their families since the only place they could watch their team would be on local broadcast which everyone had right at home. The Season Ticket which has every team every Sunday has made it much harder for family’s to stay together as Dad is tempted by Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and the other preachers of pro football. Luckily, The Black Diamond is another Valley newcomer where families can attempt to make Sunday a family day again.

The Black Diamond has 20-some pool tables and an arcade area which can serve as the nursery for the kids while Dad and Mom (more women are being convert to NFLism each year) watch the game. Naturally, the folks are praying the kids will soon understand the meaning of football and accept it as their savior as soon as possible and join the congregation in front of the plasmas. There is no better place for the devout family to worship together than The Black Diamond which also  has a great buffet so the family can also break bread together on the Sabbath.

Praise be ! The Diamond is there for Dad and his delimma. Bring Mom and the kids to the Diamond and keep the Sabbath wholly .... football.

For my kids, the A & W east of Sullivan on Sprague has been there the better part of their lives as well as a part of their better memories. They were stunned when I told them on Saturday that I had just driven by and saw all new signage for an interloper called “Wraps.” What had happened to our old family friend? I told them I was buying lunch on Monday and we’d find out what in the blazes was going on around there.
So five of us headed down yesterday and discovered that while there was no trace of the old A & W from the outside, it is still pretty much there minus all the franchise branding and advertising. Turns out that the people who own the franchise here in Spokane decided to try something new. While their other three A & W’s in town are remaining as A & W’s, they decided to create a new kind of fast food joint called “Wraps” at the Valley location.
Though there are plenty of wraps, the name is a little misleading because there is a lot more on the menu. They seem to have everything that A & W had including the 21 piece shrimp that I often ate, the chilli cheese hot dogs and fries that were standards there and even the good old root beer floats though I would be surprised if it were A & W root beer since they had Mug rootbeer on the pop machine. Beyond the items you would expect at a fast food place that sold wraps and burgers (which is a combination you might not expect), they also have lots of chicken, salads, Mexican and five different kinds of fries – regular, juicy, gravy, chilli cheese and cheesy gravy. On top of all that have a big breakfast menu.
We all thought the food was fine and the portions and prices were quite fair and so I’m thinking these guys may be onto something at their new fast food joint with everything.
BTW- they are open for breakfast.

Wraps did not make it long. It closed recently.

I am becoming a bit of an expert when it comes to fastfood breakfast in the Spokane Valley because I have recently developed the habit of going out for a cup of coffee, a bite to eat and to read the morning paper. I’ve done the King, the Box, the Sub and of course all four Macs in Spokane Valley. After a couple of months of breakfast hopping, I have landed upon a dominant personal favorite. In the process, I learned a few things about Spokane Valley’s early morning mobil eating habits that you could only learn, as I did,  by frequenting the ffbf places which I  can assure you not many people do. At least they do not unless they are in their cars.

That was the first thing I discovered as I became familiar with ffbf scene here in Spokane Valley. Nobody comes in and has a bite to eat for breakfast. I have sat and ate my breakfast,drank my coffee and read the paper many times and not had one other person do the same the entire time I was there. I was the only person in the joint.

So what keeps them open for breakfast?  They all do a bang up drive-thru business.  That was the second interesting  thing of little value that I learned in the early hours  in the fast food breakfast scene in our corner of the world. A lot of people eat their breakfast on the fly by way of the drive thru. Think about all of the places you can dash thru and get breakfast or at the very least get a latte. It amazed me at first how empty the restaurants were as I sat and watched a steady stream of drive thruers go by just outside the window.

The most interesting thing I discovered as I open-mindedly tried nearly all the ffbf joints  was that McDonald’s pretty much kicks everybody else’s butt every which way. Jack, the King and Carl all have a surprising steady trickle going through their “thrus.” McDonald’s literally has them waiting in line.

On top of that, McDonald’s is the only one that gets a few people inside to eat. The McDonalds are never heaving but they are never empty which is the only way all the other places ever are. I really am not sure why beyond free coffee refills and new remodelling at two of them. I know I go to them loyally now because they are the only fast food breakfast place that offer Wi-Fi. I find that goofy. But maybe they are onto something because in all the times I have been to McDonald’s, I have never seen anyone on their laptop but myself.

The last thing I’ll mention concerning breakfast lessons I have learned has to do with the food these places are putting out. McDonald’s invented the genre and they remain the team to beat with their biscuits like my granny made and their hotcakes that every one of my kids ate like, well, hotcakes.

But the truth is that they all put out a lot of tasty if not healthy selections for breakfast. I love the french toast sticks at the King and the breakfast bowls at the Box.  I kind of gather that they all understand that  the consumer just wants something reasonably tasty to toss down the tummy as they drive to work or read the paper.

Conley’s Place is one of those rare Spokane Valley restaurants: it is an independent and it has been around for more than 20 years if my guess is correct. Anyway, it seems like at least 20 years  since it was Pioneers Pies, which was a relatively short-lived endeavor compared to Conley’s which came after it  and the A&W Rootbeer stand which went before it.

That is where my sister got her first job running out burgers and root beer on those old trays that hooked on the windows of the driver’s door of the cars parked under the awning like they do now at Sonics for nostalgia. That was back around 1974 and the place was a bit of a relic back then. Between Conley’s tenure and the history of the building, when you eat at this setting, you are eating at a place that Valley diners have been going to for decades.

Conley’s was long established before the power house chains like Applebee’s and Marie Calender arrived in the Valley to instant success. Conley’s has years on the slew of Valley Mall eateries like the Red Robin and Boston’s and Outback Jack’s. Time and heritage is one thing Conley’s has on these high-profile, big name restaurants. Family operated is  another advantage none of the big boys can ever match Conley’s on.

Breakfast is perhaps Conley’s biggest leg up on the corporate competition. Partly because most of them do not serve breakfast, but mostly because those places that do cannot come close to Conley’s cozy comfort cuisine. They have a menu with such a wide array of choices that Denny’s, IHOP and Shari’s would have to join forces to come up with half of the original dishes that Conley’s offers.

I took my daughter there a few weeks ago, (breakfast is every kid’s favorite meal out) and the choices were so vast that we took nearly till lunch to decide what we wanted for breakfast. I finally decided to try their interesting dish that sounded like a  delectable version of biscuits and gravy where they put eggs and bacon on top of the biscuits and under the gravy. My daughter had to try their stuffed croissants even though all my kids always go with French Toast.

I have a feeling that we could have gone with anything on the menu and we would have been happy as clams, it all sounded so good. I know for sure that our choices turned out to be as good as they sounded on the menu. You got to love a place where the food is as good or better than the menu promises. The corporate breakfast places not only have overly enthusiastic descriptions of their selections on the menu, they also employ magical photographers to illustrate them.  I would encourage everyone to be independent minded and try breakfast at Conley’s where their menu actually under promises and their cooks over deliver.

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Conley's Place Restaurant on Urbanspoon