Jimmy D's - Jimmy D's has a new logo and name -- Stonegrill at Jimmy D's. The innovation? Each of the special plates has an inset of volcanic granite that is heated to 750 degrees. Upon this rock is your choice of beef or seafood, just seared on the outside. As you cut your food, you cook each bite a second or two on each side. Entrees are served with fresh vegetables and the starch of the day. There are a number of beef selections, including a New York cut ($19) and a ribeye ($18), but the filet mignon is billed as the ultimate Stonegrill experience (petite $17, large $19 and super $23). The ultimate surf and turf, a petite filet with the ahi tuna steak, was among the best tuna preparations I have had. The steak was similarly perfect, the Angus beef as tender as butter. I really found no need for the sauces, although they were tasty. 320 Sherman Ave., CDA. Call: (208) 664-9774. (LM)
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)
China Best - With an enormous menu that features approximately 150 items, generosity is the key at China Best. The "Wonderful Taste Noodles" ($4.25) lived up to their name to start the meal, with a heap of warm egg noodles topped with a perfect amount of thick, spicy sesame and peanut sauce. For entrees, China Best deserves special recognition for the variety of vegetarian dishes served. The Sliced Eggplant with Brown Sauce ($8.50) was heavenly, with the crispy breaded eggplant slices covered in a sticky sauce sparkling with garlicky, fruity tartness. Chicken Shreds with Pine Nuts ($12.25) was a light, flavorful surprise from the Chekiang province that we doubt we'll find anywhere else in town. The ambience of China Best may be its weakest point. We felt a little lost in the hangar-like dining room, despite very attentive and thoughtful service. 226 W. Riverside. Call: 455-9042. (Marty Demarest)
The Shack - The Shack is an early 1960s 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)
Cannon Street Grill - The food at this dependable, breakfast-and-lunch-only Browne's Addition establishment is -- in conception and execution -- several notches above that which you would find during a more typical diner experience. Breakfasts include traditional favorites along with more creative concoctions such as the Everything Frittata for $7.50. Sandwiches and entrees are served with a cup of the soup du jour, a tossed green salad or fresh fruit. The Roy Sandwich ($6.95) with grilled chicken breast, bacon, Provolone, lettuce and tomato on grilled sourdough scored high in taste and looks. The smoked salmon sandwich ($7.95) -- smoked fillet of salmon and tomato slice perched atop a thin layer of pesto sauce open faced on French bread -- was excellent. As was the service. 114 S. Cannon. Call: 456-8660. (MC)
Chef in the Forest - The aptly named Chef in the Forest is like a big lake cabin, with all the quirks and charms that might present. The dining room has a beautiful view of Hauser Lake. The menu relies on tried-and-true classics, and entrees include a choice of soup or salad. The roast duckling ($22) was served with a brandy and fresh raspberry sauce. The duck had crispy skin, with moist tender meat underneath. The rich duck was sturdy enough to accompany the very sweet brandy sauce, and a few fresh raspberries added a delightful vibrant tanginess. The accompaniments were noteworthy both for their abundance and quality: fresh candied carrots, fresh green beans with sliced almonds, and potatoes Anna, a whole potato cooked in chicken stock, topped with Parmesan and toasted under the broiler. Service was excellent. 12008 N. Woodlawn Beach Dr. Call: (208) 773-3654. (LM)
Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM) and Mike Corrigan (MC), unless otherwise noted.