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by Inlander Staff & r & La Luna -- If you're in the mood for Mexican, you could go to one of those places with overblown murals and waiters in serapes. Or you could try La Luna. It's nothing if not authentic. The menu's got all your standard Mexican fare: chimichangas, tostadas, chiles rellenos, fajitas, carne asada -- all between $7 and $13. I reveled in my arroz con pollo -- a dish that is kind of my litmus test for Mexican restaurants. It was divine. 923 E. Hoffman, 489-2023 (Reviewed 9/22/05, JS)





Thai Bamboo -- If you're looking for an escape, there's hardly a better option than a foray to one of Thai Bamboo's three Spokane locations. The menu is enormous, with some items helpfully labeled "popular Thai dish." The Thai Bamboo style fried rice ($10) was easily the best fried rice I've had in Spokane, with big chunks of tender pork, crisp cabbage and other vegetables all fried up with jasmine rice. Swimming rama ($9) is a mysteriously named dish that is really quite simple and delicious. Sauteed chicken is served on a bed of fresh spinach and topped with a rich peanut sauce. Thai Bamboo uses high-quality fresh ingredients and keeps prices reasonable. Call: 232-THAI (South), 444-THAI (Valley) or 777-THAI (North). (Reviewed 9/15/05, LM)





Ferrante's -- Ferrante's is one of the South Hill's most urbane yet casual stops for lunch and dinner, especially for families. The caf & eacute; is designed to create the illusion of sitting outside in the evening on the patio of an Italian caf & eacute;. Lunch selections include Italian favorites like thin-crust pizza ($9.50-$14.25), calzones ($10.25-$11.75) and paninis (with house greens for $7.95). Our enormous spinach calzone ($10.25) -- the biggest we've encountered in Spokane -- glistened as it beckoned us to explore its warm, fragrant depths. The Mediterranean salad ($9.25 for a whole) was also huge and definitely made for sharing. Ferrante's is also one of the few places around town where you can get real Italian gelato in about 10 different flavors ($2.60 for a single scoop). 4516 S. Regal, 443-6304. (Reviewed 8/11/05, MC)





Max at Mirabeau -- Fine dining shows up even in a hotel restaurant located next to the Sullivan Road/I-90 on-ramp. And you know the Mirabeau Park Hotel is dedicated to total service, because the more than 100 items on the menu here are available all the way from 6 am (every day) to 2 am (on the weekends). Try the basil crab cakes ($12), the hot spinach salad ($6), the caprese salad ($7, with mozzarella, basil and tomato), the New Zealand rack of lamb ($28, with pankoo peanut crust and passion fruit demiglace) or the seared sesame-crusted ahi tuna with yakisoba noodles ($24). Call 922-6252. (Reviewed 7/14/05, LM)





Empyrean Coffee Shop and Caf & eacute; -- Featuring Shop coffee, Fery's food and Sweetwater breads Empyrean (in the old Luminaria space) serves quick foods and beverages in a sophisticated yet warm and inviting atmosphere. The sandwiches are $5.50, salads, $3.95. There are mini pizza bagels (with pepperoni, sausage or veggie) for $2.50 and a selection of amazing-looking desserts. The sausage-and-cheese-stuffed bagel pocket was heated panini-style and served with Fery's famous chicken and spinach pasta salad. 154 S. Madison St. Call: 456-3676 (Reviewed 6/23/05, MC)





Fiesta Charra -- This place offers great service and authentic, tasty Mexican food in an unpretentious, out-of-the-way location (on top of the Sunset Hill next to the Motel 6). The lunch menu is good until 3 pm and features a variety of dishes from the main menu at bargain prices. The large chicken enchilada is filled with a generous amount of very high-quality shredded chicken breast. 1520 S. Rustle Rd. Call 835-5606. Also at 505 Second Ave in Cheney. Call 235-5679 (Reviewed 5/26/05, MC)





HuHot Mongolian Grill -- HuHot takes the Mongolian Grill concept to new heights, putting diners in charge of selecting ingredients. The centerpiece of the dining room is a big circular grill where white-toqued grillmasters await your orders. Dinners ($11) include soup or salad and as many trips through the grill line as you care to make. Fill up a colorful bowl with uncooked ingredients (meats, vegetables and noodles) and a myriad of sauces, and the chefs-in-waiting will cook up your creations. Service is pleasant but inexper-ienced and there are a few cleanliness issues to address. 11703 E. Sprague. Call: 891-871. (Reviewed 5/19/05, LM)





Latah Bistro -- Just south of town along Hwy 95 is where you'll find the Latah Bistro, a new neighborhood restaurant located in a strip mall across from a Tidyman's. The interior is surprisingly comfortable and chic. And the appetizers, salads, pizzas and pastas are anything but ordinary. The entrees include salmon and a pork tenderloin grilled brochettes over lemon-oregano risotto, feta cheese and spinach ($19). The pan-roasted duck breast with roasted cabbage, mashed potatoes and pomegranate puree ($21) was delightful. 4241 S. Cheney-Spokane Road Call: 838-8338. (Reviewed 4/28/05, LM)





El Gallo Giro -- El Gallo Giro is fast food in the only way you want food to be fast -- that is, rapidly prepared. You sacrifice nothing in terms of quality or authenticity. Lots of choices and cheerful service, too. The Gallo Giro tacos (in a rice and beans combo for $6.50) are terrific: tender seasoned meat (your choice) in delicate white corn tortillas with a squirt of lime and a drizzle of freshly made hot sauce. The carne asada burrito ($4.50) is big, dusted with cheese and bathed in a rich red enchilada sauce. 305 S. Thor St. 535-0142 (Reviewed 4/21/05, MC)





The Globe Bar and Grill -- The Globe's pub grub is a cut above with a menu featuring French, Jamaican, Greek, American, Spanish and Italian dishes along with a good selection of good ol' Northwest microbrews. It's dark inside with a long wooden bar, a scattering of tables and a row of booths. The menu has seven salads, from Caesar to Ginger Peach Shrimp. Four creamy pasta dishes. A page and a half of sandwiches (the French Dip, the Jamaican Jerk Pork) and burgers (the Whiskey Pepper Demi, the Black & amp; Bleu). The muffuletta sandwich ($9.25) was big, stacked thick with ham and spicy salami along with a little tomato and lettuce to wet the palate and slathered all over with an exquisite olive tapenade on thick, lightly toasted foccaccia. Divine. 204 N. Division. Call: 744-0438 (reviewed 4/14/05, JS)





Coeur d'Alene Brew Pub -- The dozen (or more) Coeur d'Alene Brewing Company ales are distinctive and clean tasting. To go along with all those cool pints, the comfortable CdA brewpub has a diverse menu featuring salads, soups, sandwiches, wraps, pasta, even fish tacos. The $8.50 Alehouse Sandwich -- made with quality ingredients like sliced turkey breast, bacon, provolone, lettuce, red onion and roasted pepper aioli on sourdough -- is hefty and satisfying. The $11 fish and chips (coated in Lakeside Ale batter), however, are so-so. A pleasant atmosphere and good service come standard. Corner of Second Street and Lakeside Avenue, Coeur d'Alene. Call (208) 664-2739 (Reviewed 4/7/05, MC)





Maggie's Grill -- Maggie's seat-yourself, order-at-the-counter style of dining adds a new twist to South Hill neighborhood dining. The menu includes a little bit of everything: sandwiches, wraps, salads and hot entrees like lasagna, chicken pot pie, flat iron steak, roasted honey ginger chicken and broiled lemon shrimp skewers. The Thai chicken noodle ($11) was quite pleasant and spicy with a rich, tangy peanut sauce, thick noodles, grilled chicken and crispy cabbage slaw that added texture and coolness. The pan-seared ahi tuna ($15) -- encrusted with black sesame seeds and served with wasabi aioli -- was also very tasty. The timing between salad and main entr & eacute;e course was off, but the owner made up for it with complimentary desserts. 2808 E. 29th Ave. Call 536-4745. (Reviewed 3/31/05, LM)

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