On The Tracks

That big orange train sitting on Sprague Avenue is now a pizza place

You can sit in the bright orange engineer's seat right next to all the doodads and shiny levers. You're up high, overlooking Sprague Avenue and, seemingly, the yonder hills. You can even blow the train's horn.

That's one reason Carlos Fuentes decided to open Choo-Choo Pizza in a train he found on Craigslist — he thought kids would like it. They can explore the front of the engine and families can sit at tables in the room below the engineer's chairs. There's a big TV, basketball hoop and other toys for kids to play with.

Fuentes says the engine room can be used for parties any day and the whole train can be reserved for parties on Sundays.

The train, labeled "Spokane International Railroad," sits on tracks facing the road and has been at that spot in Spokane Valley for more than 25 years. The three orange rail cars previously served as a dentist's office, then sat empty for a few years until Fuentes opened Choo-Choo in September.

In the main dining room, vintage-looking railroad signs — "Seaboard Railroad," "L & N," "Western Pacific" — line the wall above the series of red-framed windows. The tables take up only one wall, so there's plenty of walking room.

The menu lists seven pizzas: Hawaiian, vegetarian, garlic chicken, barbeque chicken, meat lovers, cheese and pepperoni (large 18-inch, $12-$16; medium 12-inch, $10-$14). Of course, you can build your own pizza too, Fuentes says.

We tried the garlic chicken, a not-too-thin, not-too-thick pie spread with butter garlic sauce and ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, sprinkled with modest toppings of cubed chicken and tomato basil bruschetta.

You can also order a calzone ($9) or sides such as cheesy bread ($5), hot wings ($3.50), garden salad ($5), onion rings ($3) or has browns ($1). Wash it down with a $1 soda or a Corona, Budweiser or Bud Light ($2.50). For the kids, there's a plate-size pizza and drink for $2.50.

That's the menu Choo-Choo is starting out with, but Fuentes says he plans to eventually expand the menu to include hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries. ♦

Choo-Choo Pizza • 11027 E. Sprague Ave. • Open Mon-Fri, 11 am-9 pm; Saturday, 10 am-9 pm • 868-5067

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