CASUAL Eagles' Aeries & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & C & lt;/span & heney's a college town. Like a lot of college towns, it has its fair share of fast food and pizza joints, but you'll also find some surprising one-of-a-kind dining spots that will still work for those on modest budgets.

At the south end of town, in a tiny white clapboard house, you'll find THE ARTIST CAF & Eacute; -- Cheney's center for Filipino cuisine -- run by sisters Josie, Amor and Mila. The interior is done up in cheery tropical colors (bright blue, lime green, sunflower yellow) with surprisingly urbane glass-and-metal tables. Specialties are the lumpia (Filipino eggrolls) and pancit (stir-fried glass noodles with vegetables), but you can also get teriyaki, satay, potstickers and thoroughly American items like hamburgers and salmon (at dinner). You can also get Asian-sensation Boba tea here. Dinner entr & eacute;es run $10 to $17, but lunch ($5-$10) will fit even a student's budget.

Right in the center of town is CHENEY DELIGHTS, in a red-brick building behind the big sign announcing "BBQ." And barbecue is the headliner -- a slow-cooked pulled pork or beef sandwich with a hint of chili seasoning, served with baked beans, potato salad or coleslaw ($6) -- although the burgers ($3-$5), hot dogs ($2-$4) and pizza slices ($2) will delight those with a slim wallet. Customers also line up for the ice cream (14 flavors) and gelato (6 flavors), all made right there.

One of the best unknown gems around is CORONA VILLAGE, a tiny hole-in-the-wall in a main-drag strip mall headlined by Jarms True Value Hardware. You'll find all the usual combinations on the menu -- tacos, enchiladas, burritos, rice and beans -- but try some of the house specialties like the Taco Rancho "La Union Style" Jalisco ($6): three corn tortillas covered with finely chopped steak or chicken, plus cilantro and onion and a spritz of lime on the side. The carne asada ($10) and carne a la Plancha ($11) feature savory marinated and grilled skirt steak in combination with rice, beans and other goodies. Top it off with a Mexican Jarritos soda or a fresh horchata. And don't miss the salsa -- it's made right there and you can taste the difference.


Corona Village, 1810 Second St., Cheney, Wash., is open Mon-Sat 11 am-9 pm, Sun noon-8 pm. Call 559-5422. Artist Caf & eacute;, 28 W. First St., Cheney, Wash., is open Mon-Sat 11 am-8:30 pm. Call 235-6163. Cheney Delights, 513 First St., Cheney, Wash., is open Mon-Wed 11 am-8 pm, Thu-Sat 11 am-9 pm. Call 235-8943.

MALT SHOP '50s Memories

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & hether you remember it as the Dairy Freeze or the more recent Arny's, the little diner at the southwest corner of Hamilton Street and Sharp Avenue has offered fun and comfort to generations of Gonzaga students and area residents spanning nearly six decades.

For the freshmen arriving on campus this fall, it will always have been WOLFFY'S ROCKIN' '50s HAMBURGERS and the Davis family of Spokane will have always been the owners and operators.

What strikes me right away is how clean and tidy the place is. According Bob Davis, who took a break from cooking to visit, it took four months to scrub and recondition everything while keeping the 1950s diner theme.

There's room for only 17 barstools, so when Bob wanted to add a jukebox, he says with a chuckle, "I'd have to put it on the roof ... and the water heater's already up there." To stretch the capacity of the 900-square-foot building, the drive-up window has been put back into service and a "to-go bench" is planned, too.

Thanks to satellite radio, music of the 1950s mellows the sound of a full row of happy patrons tearing into burgers and fries, milkshakes, malts, sundaes and gorgeous Strawberry Lemonade made with fresh strawberries muddled into the lemonade ($3.50 with one refill).

In an attempt to balance out my Hot Fudge Malt -- made with hard ice cream, malt powder and real hot fudge, and big enough for two servings ($4.50) -- I opted for the grilled chicken burger ($6). The thick, formed chunk of chicken came dressed with Wolffy Sauce (a secret-recipe orangey-pink blend), tomato and pickle and was served on a bun that's also grilled ... with real butter.

For an additional $3, I added a basket of fries that was way more than I could eat, though I did give it the old college try, dipping them in a side of delicious house-made Wolffy Sauce.

By the end of the meal, there was pile of used napkins in front of me, and I was quite satisfied. Barb Davis says, "If it's not messy, it's not made right." This was made right.

-- M.C. PAUL

Wolffy's, 1229 N. Hamilton St., is open Tue-Sat 11 am-9 pm, Sun 11 am-5 pm. Call 487-1587.

  • or

About The Author