October 9, 2018 By Stephanie Hammett and Adriana Janovich The Spokesman-Review
Cheney, a rural college town about 16 miles southwest of Spokane, is pretty small. But, there are still options when it comes to off-campus dining. And, many of Cheney’s eateries are located just blocks from the Eastern Washington University campus. Lots of them show support for the Eagles with red-and-white EWU memorabilia throughout their eateries as well as homages on the menu. Here’s where to go for grub around EWU.
Cheap Eats: Rokkos Teriyaki and BBQ
Combination platters range from $8.15 to $9.25 and are served in to-go containers with three compartments – for teriyaki or barbecue with rice, plus dressed greens and wasabi macaroni salad. Teriyaki comes in regular or spicy. Barbecue comes in spicy. Choose from chicken, drumsticks, tofu, beef or meatballs. Portions are generous enough to share or save leftovers for later. Bigger appetites or those hoping to stretch a dollar – read: college students – might want to “sumo size” their meal for another $3.50 and get maybe three meals out of it. Order at the walk-up counter, then have a seat in the eclectic, super-casual dining area with a concrete floor, plywood chipboard walls, patio furniture and a roll-top, garage-style door that opens onto First Avenue when the weather’s warm. 506 First St., Cheney. (509) 359-8010. www.facebook.com/RokkosTeriyaki/.
Coffee and Sweet Treats: The Mason Jar
This cozy bake shop and bistro – with tin ceiling tiles, robin’s-egg blue walls and Mason jar light fixtures – couldn’t get any cuter. Chairs are metal. Woods are dark. Ceilings are high. And there’s plenty of natural light from a wall of windows overlooking the town’s main drag. The look is modern, rustic and vintage. The vibe is casual, relaxed and welcoming. It’s a perfect spot to meet for a coffee or study date or just hang out. A couple of years ago, the café expanded, taking down a wall and spreading into the adjacent space. It’s typically bustling with students, camped out with laptops, notebooks and backpacks. Opened in late 2012, the Mason Jar not only serves espresso drinks but breakfast, sandwiches, seasonal baked goods, soup, quiche and savory pies. It’s particularly known for its oversized cinnamon rolls. During warm weather, opt for outdoor seating along F street. Thursday nights, there’s live music. Recently, the Mason Jar has also been hosting sip and paint nights and yoga on weekend mornings. Check its Facebook page for specials and event info. 101 F St., Cheney. (509) 359-8052. www.facebook.com/themasonjar101/.
Date Night: Latah Bistro and Chaps Diner and Bakery
Cheney has its charms, and cheap eats and moderately priced restaurants are among them. College bars and pub grub are great, but for something a bit more romantic head 12 miles northeast of Cheney to the Latah Shopping Plaza, home to Latah Bistro and Chaps.
The cozy and dimly lighted Latah Bistro offers contemporary American cuisine with an emphasis on locally sourced, sustainable, farm-to-fable fare. Its motto is: “Our food is fancy but you don’t have to be.” Expect gourmet pizza, small plates, salads and specialties such as wild mushroom ravioli, herbed gnocchi and pork tenderloin. Dishes are carefully plated. The wine list is well curated. 4241 S. Cheney-Spokane Road, Spokane. (509) 838-8338. www.latahbistro.com.
Chaps Diner and Bakery, popular for brunch on weekends, offers dinner service Wednesday through Saturday nights in an intimate and whimsical setting. Proprietor Celeste Shaw has a talent for décor. Think cozy and eclectic farmhouse chic with a modern-vintage vibe, sparkly chandeliers, antique cake stands, chalkboards and Mason jars. Food is modern American. Portions are ample. 4237 Cheney-Spokane Road, Spokane. (509) 624-4182. www.chapsgirl.com.
This newer breakfast spot in Cheney specializes in eggs Benedict. There are 11 varieties on the menu. Besides the classic – two eggs, thinly sliced ham and Hollandaise sauce over a grilled English muffin – there’s the California version with turkey, avocado and sun-dried tomato Hollandaise sauce. The chorizo Benedict has sausage, onions, avocado, tomato and avocado cream Hollandaise with a hint of lime over a fried tortilla. The Fireman’s Benedict features sausage, roasted pepper, jalapeños and Sriracha Hollandaise sauce. And the pulled-pork Benedict with slaw and barbecue Hollandaise over a biscuit. Look, also, for breakfast sandwiches, bacon and eggs, steak and eggs, chicken-fried steak and eggs, waffles and a scramble called The Eagle with home fries, peppers, onions, toast and your choice of meat. 24 W. First St., Cheney. (509) 951-5207. www.benesamfix.com.
Burgers: Zip’s Drive-In
Southern California has In-N-Out. The Inland Northwest has Zip’s. Its tartar sauce is so legendary around these parts that some customers buy it by the tub to take home. Zip’s predates McDonald’s and has about 40 locations, including one in Cheney. The Papa Joe comes with a slice of ham. The Buster has both ham and bacon. The Big Zipper has three patties. You can make it a Boss by adding ham and bacon. The Wrangler has two patties, bacon and barbecue sauce. And the barbecue sauce varies from store to store. So do other accoutrements, such as ranch or jalapeño ranch. There are other variables, too. Some Zip’s stores offer breakfast. Some season their patties with a “secret” blend of spices. Hours vary store to store and, sometimes, season to season. It’s all part of the Zip’s charm. Most stores are owned and operated by former store managers or relatives – including children and grandchildren – of the three early owners. This one is open 24 hours and offers breakfast. 911 First St., Cheney. (509) 235-8405. zipsdrivein.com/.
Beer: Wild Bill’s Longbar
This watering hole – popular with camo-, Carhartt- and cowboy hat-wearing locals and college students alike – offers a hip, Wild West vibe. All kinds of animal heads line the walls, along with a series of black-and-white, old-fashioned and artful portraits of nude women. Light fixtures are Tiffany-style. Sit in vintage wooden booths along the wall opposite the bar, where 10 beers are on tap. Plus, there’s an extensive collection of beer and cider in cans – most of which comes from the Pacific Northwest. Salty snacks – a bar mix of peanuts, mini pretzels and more – are served in ramekins. There are pool tables in the back area of the bar as well as a back deck that overlooks the train tracks. 405 S. First St., Cheney. (509) 235-4758. www.facebook.com/Wild-Bills-Longbar-116226021775605/.
Pub grub: Monterey Pub & Grub
There’s a Californian-Hawaiian ambiance running throughout this casual restaurant and bar, which makes for a fun place to grab lunch, dinner or a drink. Monterey Pub & Grub specializes in pizza, barbecue and, surprisingly, sushi . Look for assorted rolls – the Anthony features tempura veggies, cream cheese, avocado, eel sauce and spicy mayo – as well as sashimi, tuna and tako poke, gyoza, edamame, miso soup and more. Good news for barbecue fans: owner, Anthony Aguilar, said he prepares and smokes all of the meats the restaurant uses in its pizzas and sandwiches, such as the Blvd BBQ pizza and Billy Bob sandwich with barbecue brisket, cheddar, green peppers, onions and mushrooms. There are 15 specialty pizzas, plus the opportunity to build your own. Rounding out the menu are salads, wings, wraps, loaded bread sticks and nachos. Consider the Screaming Eagle nachos with Sriracha chicken, bacon, sweet chili sauce, cilantro, chives and cheese. 321 First St., Cheney. (509) 235-2640. www.facebook.com/MonteteyPubNGrub/.
Pizza: Barrelhouse Pub and Pizza
There are specials every day of the week at the Barrelhouse Pub and Pizza, where “Go Eagles” is written in big white lettering high up on a back wall. This casual and spacious bar and eatery features exposed red brick walls, a red painted ceiling, and a mix of booth, table and counter seating. Start with cheesy, carby Barrel Bites, or dough covered in garlic, Parmesan and butter. (They go great with beer.) Also on the menu: cheese bread, chicken wings, pork “wings,” salads and hot sandwiches. But pizza and its half-moon-shaped cousin, the calzone, are the highlights here. There are 14 specialty pizzas on the menu as well as the chance to build your own. They come in two sizes: 12 inches or 16 inches. Calzones come in one size with five fillings. First, choose a sauce: pesto, tomato or garlic. Then, choose from meat, cheese and veggies. They’re big enough to split with two, maybe even three, people. Or, plan for leftovers. 122 College Ave., Cheney. (509) 235-4338. www.facebook.com/BarrelHousePubAndPizza/.
Game day: Eagle’s Pub
Eagle’s Pub is a classic game-day sports bar. Pool tables, bar games and TVs are set up all over the spacious space, and there’s still plenty of room for celebrating when the score goes your way. Eagle’s Pub is great for groups, especially Eastern fans and alumni. This EWU-themed pub features an extensive beer selection, burgers, broasted chicken and wings. The food can take a few extra minutes but the fries alone are well worth the wait. Be sure to look up; the ceiling is covered with coasters and credit cards. 414 First St. (509) 235-6294. www.facebook.com/Eagles-Pub-42459560129/.
Arturo’s Mexican Restaurant offers all the usual dishes you’d expect, but you can also find burgers and fries on the menu. (Note: the Molcajete Mexicano soup was delicious, just a perfect rainy day or any day soup. It’s spicy but not too spicy.) 1810 Second St., Cheney. (509) 559-5220.
The brightly colored Gerardo’s Authentic Mexican Food offers Mexican fare at prices that won’t empty the pocketbook. 723 First St., Cheney. (509) 235-1192.
El Rodeo Mexican Restaurant is a longtime local favorite with generous portions and friendly service. 505 Second St., Cheney. (509) 235-5679.