Dining Destination: Liberty Lake

Rhonda Entner and Patrick Fechser at Hay J's Bistro
Rhonda Entner and Patrick Fechser at Hay J's Bistro

Though it lies outside the area's main urban core, Liberty Lake is much more than housing developments, especially evidenced by its small cadre of locally owned restaurants. Several of these eateries are participating in the Great Dine Out; here's who and what tasty specials they're offering.

Longtime sports bar and family-friendly hangout TRUE LEGENDS GRILL is offering a variety of dining options during the 16-day event, including takeout, delivery, curbside pickup, limited dine-in and outdoor seating under its heated patio tent. Catch the Zags playing in the NCAA tourney while munching on True Legends' affectionately named Zag burger ($16), an Angus patty with peppercorn dressing, roast beef, roasted garlic, fresh mozzarella, lettuce, tomato and some aus jus on the side so you, too, can "dunk." Other highlights are the kitchen's Guinness-braised Rueben, a local favorite and perfect snack for St. Paddy's Day. Heading out with the fam or the crew? True Legends also has a special $40 deal that includes four signature burgers and enough steak fries for the table to share.

Located nearby, just across Mission Avenue, is destination eatery HAY J'S BISTRO, where chef Patrick Fechser and a crew of mostly family, including his mother, Rhonda Entner, have been serving up creative New American eats since 2006. While first looks may be deceiving, as Hay J's is tucked in near a gas station, don't skip this local culinary gem. Among the offerings on special for the Great Dine Out is its popular Parmesan-crusted halibut ($34), topped with a lemon-thyme butter creme and served with basmati rice and veggies. Or try the shrimp Cobb salad ($17) dressed in a Gorgonzola vinaigrette.

Located next door to Hay J's is sister restaurant PICCOLO ARTISAN PIZZA KITCHEN. Its name, Piccolo, literally means "small," a fitting description of the cozy eatery serving up Italian-inspired pies and craft cocktails. Try the signature Ladieu ($18), a creative concoction of ricotta cream, herbed chicken, shallot, spinach, red grapes, goat cheese and a port wine reduction. Piccolo is also highlighting its Americana pizza ($17) with pepperoni, black olive, mushroom and mozzarella, alongside its golden beet salad ($9) with pesto sauce, balsamic vinaigrette and port wine reduction.

Over on the other side of I-90 from the aforementioned trio of eateries is the fourth and final Liberty Lake participant in the Great Dine Out, DING HOW. The local spot has been serving authentic cuisine from around Asia — Thailand, China, Japan, Korea and more — to locals for 16 years. Among its many customer favorites is the honey pepper garlic beef tenderloin ($18), served with a garlic honey sauce. Another Ding How must-try is the crispy shrimp ($18) with a sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce. And who can go wrong with pad Thai, a classic noodle dish with peanut sauce, and choice of protein?

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