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Pete's Pizza plant #2 - Pete's doesn't look like much from the outside. Or the inside either. But who cares? It's the calzones, dummy. Eat in or get 'em to go because they are huge, flaky and delicious -- possibly, the best in Spokane. The expansive selection includes fancy constructions (with ingredients like artichoke hearts, feta cheese and pesto), but it's the classic combos that really excel. The Cheeseless calzone ($5.45) was a low-cal winner with red sauce and choice of any three filling items (we chose spinach, fresh mushrooms and kalamata olives). The $5.95 lunch special (served from 11 am-4 pm) is a good deal and consists of a salad and a mini-calzone (with your choice of three regular toppings). It was delicious and just the right size for lunch. 2328 W. Northwest Blvd. Call: 326-1900. (MC)





Red Dragon - Sometimes a situation calls for fast and inexpensive Chinese food. If that's your mood, and you don't mind the smell of smoke lingering in vinyl booths, head downtown to Red Dragon. The portions are good-sized, and the food is exactly what you'd imagine when you order it. The Almond Chicken ($8.95) is a deliciously messy mixture of deep-fried coating, thick gravy and chicken breast. And while their Pork Chow Mein ($7.50) is made up primarily of celery and thick, clear sauce topped with a sprinkling of crumbled meat, the soft noodles underneath taste wonderfully like fresh eggs. But it's the Egg Rolls here ($2.25) that meet every expectation perfectly. They serve an order of six Baby Egg Rolls ($5.25), which is the perfect thing to order when you wake up late and need some quick Chinese food for one of its most famous functions -- the hangover cure. 1406 W. Third. Call: 838-6688. (Marty Demarest)





The Shack - The Shack is an early 1960's time warp (resplendent in knotty pine and pink neon), but its history stretches all the way back to the '20s. While the prices have changed over the years, the great, friendly service, big portions and extensive menu (featuring simple, old-fashioned favorites) has not. Here you can get it all -- breakfasts, burgers, liver and onions and more. Lots more. The $7.49 Shack Breakfast Special (nicknamed "The Awesome Two's"), comes with two eggs, two pancakes, two bacon strips and two sausage links. Delicious -- and guaranteed to stick with you well past lunch. The hash browns in the $6.99 two egg-sausage-browns-toast combo were simply outstanding. 1301 W. Third. Call: 747-2713. (Sheri Boggs)





Ron's Drive-In - Though it has a spacious dining area and drive-thru window, Ron's remains a classic walk-up at heart. And for almost 40 years, it's been the destination in the Valley for inexpensive, quality drive-in food. The broasted half-chicken ($4.89), perched on a mountain of shoestring fries, was very good. The crispy skin crumbled away to reveal moist, tender meat inside. The Classic burger with bacon for $2.65 (1/4-pound meat patty with bacon, cheese, ketchup, onion, mustard, pickle, lettuce and tomato) was a neatly packed and satisfying fist-sized meal. The "Seafood Delite" (shrimp, fish, fries and onion rings for $5.74) was a deep-fried feast. All the components were flavorful and light on grease. And Ron's fish is easily some of the very best in Spokane. 12502 E. Sprague. Call: 924-4660. (MC)





Hill's Someplace Else - Hill's leads a double life as a pub and has the feel of a place with lots of longtime regulars. The non-smoking dining room is done in dark green and mauve. The menu includes pub favorites but ventures into more upscale, cosmopolitan fare as well. The New York Steak and Blue ($15), a tender cut grilled and topped with a gorgonzola demi-glace and blue cheese chunks, had a very nice flavor. The mashed spuds alongside were extra-good. The Malaysian chicken satay ($13.50) was five skewers of chicken in a big puddle of rich peanut sauce, served with a scoop of white rice and a vegetable medley. The peanut sauce was flavorful and interesting for containing lots of chopped peanuts. Less interesting was the bizarre, stringy, rubbery texture of the chicken. Expect good, cheerful service. 518 W. Sprague. Call: 747-3946. (LM)





Nordstrom Caf & eacute; - The Nordstom Caf & eacute;'s tasteful, rich decor effectively obscures the fact that the restaurant is tucked inside a department store. The menu is fun and diverse yet sticks close to the basics, and the prices are quite reasonable. The Tuscan Chicken Penne ($8.25) was tossed in a Parmesan cream sauce with spinach, roasted peppers, onion, garlic and tender chicken breast morsels. Sprinkled over the top of this attractive dish were fresh basil leaves and shaved Parmesan. The sauce was light but could have been a little jazzier in the taste department. The chicken salad packed into the honey lemon chicken salad sandwich ($6.75) was excellent, with a subtle flavor and a refreshing tang. The plain, very white bread was kind of a letdown, however. Service was well above par. 828 W. Main, Third Floor. Call: 455-6111 ext.1610. (MC)





Solstice - Although the entree menu at Solstice contains only seven items, they are a diverse group. The pan-seared yellow-fin tuna with wasabi aioli and black bean essence ($18) was beautifully prepared and went nicely with the understated soy rice and vegetables. The house-smoked baby back ribs ($21) with Uncle Monty's famous barbecue sauce is a menu staple. Separated into singles and stacked with the center space occupied by cornbread, upright spears of asparagus and thin baby carrots with the tops on, the ribs proved to be tender and loaded with flavor. Service was delightful. 1332 N. Liberty Lake Rd. Call: 892-5901. (LM)





Dalcado's - Dalcado's specializes in burritos, tacos, quesadillas and salads, all made fresh to order with high-quality ingredients, featuring lean meats and a variety of salsas made daily -- all for a price that rivals fast food fare. The d & eacute;cor is cheery, and there's a great salsa bar, too. The Dalcado Burrito ($5.49) is a very substantial flour tortilla bundle containing either grilled steak or grilled chicken, two kinds of cheese, guacamole, Mexican rice, pinto beans, salsa fresca and sour cream. The steak was very tender and had a nice grilled flavor. The Fish Burrito ($5.39) with beer-battered white fish was wrapped up with shredded cabbage, salsa, cheese and white sauce that infused the mixture with a nice zip. 9327 N. Newport Highway. Call: 466-3346. (MC)





Toro Viejo - Coeur d'Alene's Toro Viejo is resplendent with bright wall murals, dark wood and rustic brick. The lunch menu offers a good selection of dinner-y entrees at very reasonable prices. The complimentary chips and salsa made a fine appetizer. While the chips were unusual (but good), the salsa was terrific -- lively and flavorful with a big fiery kick. Combinations come with generous sides of refried beans (vegetarian refried beans are available upon request) and Spanish-style rice. I selected the No. 2 combination ($5.95) -- an enchilada with choice of filling and a tamale. The dish was fresh-tasting, well made and attractively presented, but a little tame. Good service is the rule. 117 N. 2nd, Coeur d'Alene. Call: 208-667-7676. (MC)





Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM) and Mike Corrigan (MC), unless otherwise noted.

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