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Kitchen is as authentic as you’ll find. They were recently placed on the “Best of the Best” list, which honors the top 17 Italian restaurants in the nation. 113 N Bernard. Lunch Mon-Fri 11-3:30, Dinner Mon- Thur 3:30-9, Fri 3:30-10, Sat 4:30-10, Sun 4:30-9. (509) 363-1210. $$


Rock City Grill. Italian/American. Located in River Park Square, Rock City is a long time favorite of downtown shoppers and entertainment fans. Oven- fired pizzas are the big draw. Try the peanut-sauced Thai as well as generous pastas and items from the broiler. 808 W Main (in Riverpark Square). Sun-Thurs 11-9:30 (bar until 11), Fri-Sat 11-10:30 (bar until 11:30). (509) 455-4400. $$-$$$


MEDITERRANEAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN


Azar’s. A former drive-in is an unexpected spot for Greek and Middle-Eastern cuisine, but the gyros are deliciously fresh and the lunch buffet – served Monday-Saturday – is a compelling invitation to eat far too much. Belly dancing Friday nights. 2501 N Monroe. Mon-Thur 11-8, Fri-Sat 11-9, Closed Sundays. (509) 326-7171. $


Marrakesh. Moroccan. Recently moved from Northwest Blvd to Division, Marrakesh transcends the normal dish-by-dish approach and becomes a journey accompanied by Mamdouh, a steaming glass of mint tea, and a bath-sized towel in your lap. The feast is set in five courses including the tea, a simple saffron lentil soup, salad, Bastela Royale (a cross between a pot pie and a puff pastry stuffed with chicken, almonds, and egg) and an entrée. Expect an North African experience with the price of an appetizer at a high-end restaurant. 1227 North Division in Spokane. Open seven days 5-10. (509)328-9733. $$


MEXICAN


Azteca. Azteca’s recipes are those of the owners’ mother from the village of Cuautla in the state of Jalisco in central Mexico. Now a chain with over 35 locations, Azteca started as a small 24-seat restaurant in Burien in 1974. On the menu you can find classics such as Arroz con Pollo (chicken and rice) and Pollo “Fundido” (a distinctly non-authentic combination of chicken, jalapeno cream cheese, and—steady on—American cheese in a flour tortilla). Sun-Thurs 11-10, Fri & Sat 11-11. 200 W. Spokane Falls Blvd, (509) 456-0350. 9738 N Newport Highway, (509) 465-9101. Spokane Valley Mall, (509) 228-9661. $$


Fiesta Mexicana. One of many such places to pronounce themselves “authentic”


, Fiesta Mexican


actually deserves the moniker, the owners having studied the recipes and menus of other restaurateurs in their family for several years prior to opening. We’re drawn to the classic Arroz con Pollo and Pollo en Mole. And where else in town can one assuage a hankering for Huevos Rancheros or Menudo on a Sunday morning? Sun-Thurs 11-9, Fri-Sat 11-10. 1227 South Grand Blvd. (509) 455-7117. $-$$


Hacienda Los Flores. A bright reincarnation of the space at the bottom of the Freya hill formerly occupied by La Katrina Taco. Owners Jorge and Adriana Hernandez pull out all the stops with a possibly the best mole sauce in town. Try the Pollo en Mole ($12.25) and plan on multiple dips with your standard basket of chips rather than just a single salsa. Several of the soups on the menu also get rave reviews: the Sopa de Camaron and the Sopa de Tortilla. Kids eat for $0.99 on Sundays. Open daily from 11-9. 510 South Freya in Spokane. (509) 315- 8853. $-$$


Rancho Viejo. Jose Rodriguez and his staff offer up traditional and familiar Mexican fare with some of the amplest portions and most caring family-friendly service in Spokane. 14201 E Sprague. Sun-Thurs 11-10, Fri & Sat 11-11. (509) 927-8428. $$


www.spokanecda.com 191


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