DINNER Western Sunset & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & e do love our Western heritage and down-home hospitality here. When CHAPS first opened nearly two years ago in the Latah Creek Plaza in southwest Spokane, people from the neighborhood came by for coffee and weekend breakfasts. Word began to spread about the cowgirl d & eacute;cor and the welcoming friendliness of the staff -- not to mention the baked oatmeal -- and soon there were lines out the door.

Earlier this summer, Chaps ventured into new territory with the addition of a full dinner menu -- and once again, word has spread quickly. On any given evening (Wed.-Sat.), the tables outside on the lawn are filled with regulars relaxing over wine and newcomers discovering the place for the first time.

Dinner begins with rolls -- served up with butter and home-style jam and delivered to the table inside a metal cowboy lunchbox. Among appetizers, the bruschetta ($8.50) is a winner -- thin, tightly wound spirals of puff pastry topped with chopped tomatoes, feta and basil, then drizzled with a sweet and tangy balsamic reduction. The Mediterranean grilled chicken salad ($9) features a thin chicken cutlet grilled then served over either a cucumber-based salad or a bed of fresh spinach. The pepper steak ($17) is my favorite entr & eacute;e: a black pepper-encrusted Flat Iron steak, topped with a savory merlot-butter sauce and served with roasted red potatoes and tender steamed vegetables. Other savory favorites include the lamb burger, served on a ciabatta roll with marinated red onions and tzatziki sauce, and the flank steak, a rich roll-up stuffed with bacon, spinach, diced eggs and Swiss cheese.

Bring plenty of appetite along, because dessert is delicious -- especially the Happiness in a Cup ($6.50), a huge bowl of scratch-baked fruit cobbler (raspberries, blueberries -- whatever's in season) topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a home-style biscuit.

Chefs Eric Banville and Andrew Chambers fill out the menu with weekly specials, and continue to expand their repertoire. And starting next week, Chef Tim Ferguson (formerly of the Safari Room) comes on board as the caf & eacute; manager. Reasonably priced wines are available by the glass ($6-$7) or bottle ($18-$20), along with a selection of beers -- and the same array of coffee drinks available earlier in the day.


Chaps, at 4235 S. Cheney-Spokane Rd., is open for dinner Wed-Sat from 5-9 pm. The caf & eacute; is also open Tue-Thu 8 am-3 pm for pastries and lunch, and Fri-Sun 7 am-3 pm for full breakfast and lunch. Call 624-4182.


& lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he family-owned restaurant Mangia moved from the Spokane Valley Mall to Post Falls in May 2007. Just about a year later, owner/chef Tim Mitchell, along with his brother Josh, decided to hold the first annual Post Falls Food Fest in August. The event takes place this weekend.

Back in the winter, Josh says, "we started to get a brain tickle" about holding a community event where local vendors could showcase their wares and where everyone in the community could get together to have fun. With vacation over and no rain in sight, they decided, the end of summer would be a perfect time for a family-friendly outdoor event.

Says Josh: "There was absolutely nothing going on this weekend" -- an important point, since "we didn't want the community to be pulled" between venues. Adds Tim: "We want to include everyone.... The community supports us and is very accepting."

There is a sense of hometown pride in talking with the two brothers. Josh graduated from Post Falls High School in 2001, while Tim graduated in 2003. Josh is quick to point out that they're not making a profit with the food fest. "All the funds went back into it," says Josh, "for banners and advertising."

Advertised as a gathering of Post Falls eating establishments, businesses and entertainment, the festival offers the public a wide range of food choices, live music (previewed to be sure it's family-friendly), a beer and wine garden and even a spaghetti-eating contest broken down into age groups.

In keeping with the family-friendly theme, kids will enjoy face-painting courtesy of the Boys and Girls Club, and they will have "one of those jumping bouncy things" plus a reptile petting zoo, and a "goldfish toss" that offers the irresistible chance of winning a live goldfish. (Josh feels confident that a ping-pong ball will be tossed, rather than an actual fish.)

Vendors open at 11 am on Saturday and festivities go on until 9 pm. On Sunday, the hours will be shortened -- 11 am until dusk -- but, as Josh says, "As long as people are there, we'll keep running." With any luck, they'll be running for many years to come.

-- M.C. PAUL

The Post Falls Food Fest runs Saturday, Aug. 16, from 11 am-9 pm and Sunday, Aug. 17, from 11 am-dusk, in the Mangia parking lot at the corner of Seltice Way and Catherine Street. Visit www.postfallsfoodfest.wordpress.com.

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