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Fresh & amp;amp; Tasty 

CASUAL Bean There & r & & r & Downtown burrito lovers, rejoice -- former Slick Rock manager Tim Lannigan and partner Patti Tully (owner of the attached and newly renovated Baby Bar) are celebrating the successful grand opening of NEATO BURRITO in the former Slick Rock space. Slick Rock had a loyal clientele, and regulars have returned en masse to keep the lunchtime tradition alive. With new, longer hours -- till 2 am most days -- Neato Burrito might give the Satellite Diner a run for its money in the late-night market. (Who hasn't had a midnight burrito craving?)

Many old favorites from the menu remain (like the Thai burrito, a sizeable portion filled with meat, rice, beans, cheese, peanut sauce, sour cream and cabbage), joined by new combos like the BBQ Burrito -- brisket, beans, potatoes, cheese, sour cream and cabbage, topped with Tim's BBQ sauce and a homemade corn salsa.

The day I visited, it seemed everyone in the room was raving about the BBQ. In fact, it's so widely popular that the brisket is proving a little difficult to keep in stock. Try the chicken, too -- it's grilled, marinated, and then grilled again.

Burritos run $6 to $7 while the quesadillas and nachos are only $5 (all prices include tax). There aren't extra costs for guacamole or fajita veggies -- if they offer it, it's included in the price. Each ingredient can be switched up: There are tortilla options, bean varieties, sour cream choices (try the chipotle), variations on heated salsa, and tasty sauces. Guests can even choose between rice and potatoes.

Decor is minimal yet inviting with a few pieces of local art adorning the walls and even filling a few chairs. The burrito bar has been moved, but frequent guests will still feel right at home. In this onset of dreary weather, the summery smells are enough to lull the most depressed of SAD victims into the daylight. Each bite is as fulfilling as the next, plenty of each ingredient in each bite with pops of flavor and a mouthful of texture.


Neato Burrito, at 827 W. First Ave., is open Mon-Fri 11 am-2 am (unless business is slow), Sat 5 pm-2 am. Call 847-1234.


The Children's Home Society of Washington, one the oldest nonprofits in the state (founded in 1895), joins forces this week with Chef Jonathon Sweatt of Downriver Grill and all 10 Spokane wineries for the SWEETHEARTS FOR KIDS wine tasting and auction to benefit CHSW programs.

"This is a community that knows each other and steps up to help," says event organizer Patrice Pendell. "Everyone's very supportive."

The organization held a smaller event at Downriver Grill for two years running but soon outgrew the space. After a year's break, they're back bigger than ever at the Barrister Winery, tucked in an expansive red brick historic warehouse just south of the railroad viaduct off Jefferson St. downtown.

Each guest will receive a Riedel Cab/Merlot wine glass with a one-of-a-kind charm made by children in the CHSW programs. And Sweatt has created a menu to complement the wine being poured by local winemakers.

Auction packages include travel and entertainment deals, special wines (of course), jewelry from Dodson's and plenty of original art from local artists including Harold Balazs, Melissa Cole, Don Clegg, Louise Kodis, Mel McCudden, Ken Spiering and Ruben Trejo. Save Lefty will be on hand with live music.

On Friday, the Hispanic Business and Professional Association is offering a little cultural diversity at this year's VIVA VINO benefit wine tasting and silent auction, thanks to the culinary contributions of Chef Gonzo Carrillo from Cuisine NW and the Latin jazz of Silvia Lazo and Paul Grove. Chef Carrillo has prepared a tapas menu with offerings from both Spanish and South American cuisines, paired with wines from the same regions.

Each spring, the HBPA presents a recognition ceremony for Hispanic graduates of local schools, and the association's foundation gives scholarships to deserving local students attending college. All proceeds from the event go to these programs.


Sweethearts for Kids Wine Tasting and Auction Benefit at Barrister Winery, 1213 W. Railroad Ave., is Monday, Feb. 11, from 6-9 pm. Tickets are $100 per person or $175 per pair, available at Downriver Grill, 3315 W. Northwest Blvd. (323-1600); Barrister Winery, 1213 W. Railroad Ave. (465-3591); and Children's Home Society of Washington, 2323 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley (747-4174).

Viva Vino, a wine tasting and silent auction to benefit the Hispanic Business and Professional Association Foundation, is Friday, Feb. 8, at 7 pm at the Ridpath Hotel, 515 W. Sprague. Tickets are $50. Call 879-2232.

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