Hands On

Ethiopian food now being served in the Flour Mill. Plus, lunch at El Que and three cheers for muscat.

A communal dinner at Queen of Sheba - TAMMY MARSHALL
Tammy Marshall
A communal dinner at Queen of Sheba

Hands On

Walk into the tiny Queen of Sheba restaurant in the heart of the Flour Mill, and it might take you a moment to register that something is missing from the tables: silverware. If you are a fan of Ethiopian food, this will come as no surprise. If Ethiopian food is new to you, relax. You can request a fork if you want, but Ethiopian food traditionally is eaten using one of your hands and a piece of injera — the spongy, slightly sour bread that functions both as your edible plate and a utensil. Not that you would be expected to know this: The Queen of Sheba is the first Ethiopian restaurant to open in the Inland Northwest. But take one bite of Doro We’t (chicken simmered in a thick sauce pungent with garlic, ginger, cardamom, onions and served with a hard-boiled egg) and you’ll be rejoicing that one of the world’s oldest cuisines finally has a foothold in Spokane.

Most likely you will be greeted by the person responsible: Almaz Ainuu. After years as a teacher, she decided to open the Queen of Sheba, and for the last year, she has been developing the business plan behind the restaurant that opened its doors for the first time on Bloomsday (May 2). You can go online to plan your order, or else simply show up and ask Almaz to talk you through the highlights of a menu packed with spicy vegetarian dishes as well as platters featuring beef, chicken and lamb. Her delight is evident and yours will soon to follow: Just roll up your sleeves, break out the provided towelette, and eat with your hands. (KEVIN FINCH)

Queen of Sheba Ethopian Cuisine, 621 W. Mallon Ave., is open Tues-Sat from 11:30 am-10 pm and Sun from 1-9 pm. Visit queenofshebaspokane.com or call 509-328-3958.

Freshly Laundered

If you’re anything like us — and we hope you are — spring is a time for sloughing off a great many winter routines and cleansing the psychological palate in preparation to begin anew the cycle of rebirth and growth or just … you know … barbecue season.

And what better way to do so than by switching from deep red wines to refreshing whites?

While certain staffers have a soft spot for Caterina’s Viognier and certain others opt for Carlo Rossi Rhine, I think I can speak for everyone at The Inlander when I say we often feel a longing for a varietal that betrays the unmistakable scent of walking up to a clothes hamper and taking a deep breath of line-dried bed sheets.

If you too have had this yen, there’s LATAH CREEK’S MUSCAT CANELLI 2008 ($11). Recently, it was named Wine Press Northwest’s “Wine of the Week.” Editors took time especially to praise the scent which, among other things, “produced aromas … of freshly laundered linen.” The thing tasted pretty good, too, apparently. Editors scored it “outstanding” and called the 2008 “a fun, clean and refreshing drink of more Ruby Red grapefruit, peaches, pears and jasmine.” (LUKE BAUMGARTEN)

Latah Creek Muscat Canelli 2008 is available at most grocery stores and the tasting room, 13030 E. Indiana Ave, Spokane Valley. Visit latahcreek.com or call 926-0164.

When Is the What

EL QUE, the taco-and-tequila venture opened by proprietors of the Elk behind their august Browne’s Addition pub, wants you to start hitting the sauce a little earlier.

Though experiment into noon-time tequila shots and fusion guacamole began in early April — try the Vietnamese guac, $4, for God’s sake! — Manager Marshall Powell says that it hasn’t been particularly busy during lunch yet. That’s a shame.

We personally think the dark, cozy space and sur de la frontera comfort food would be an ideal locale for treatment of a good many hangovers, and also for getting an early jump on the production of your next. (LUKE BAUMGARTEN)

El Que, 141 S. Cannon St., is now open daily from 11 am to close. Visit wedonthaveone.com or call 624-5421.

Gingerbread Build-off @ Northern Quest Resort & Casino

Through Dec. 23 and Sun., Dec. 5, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
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About The Authors

Luke Baumgarten

Luke Baumgarten is commentary contributor and former culture editor of the Inlander. He is a creative strategist at Seven2 and co-founder of Terrain.