Before opening Taco Del Mar's startup location in Seattle in 1992, its founders spent years surfing California's coastline and devouring fish tacos and stuffed burritos. During this time, they developed a bottomless appetite for the local specialty?a taco with fried fish, shredded cabbage, lime juice, salsa, and a mystery white sauce?and decided to make it their signature menu item. Since then, the chain has opened locations in more than 20 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces.
The restaurant's Spokane location gives locals a taste of California-surfer cuisine and mission-style eats inspired by the Latino restaurants of San Francisco's bay area. Fresh guacamole dresses tortilla chips, and proteins such as seasoned pork and fried Alaskan cod fill tacos. Cooks roll meats such as braised chicken or ground beef into burritos or edible origami. The foodsmiths also whip up vegetarian and vegan options.
Don't be fooled my Frisco's quaint exterior?inside, the chefs are making culinary magic happen in the kitchen. On the menu, some of the kitchen favorites include wild-boar and bison sausages plated with walnut chutney and yukon-potato mash, as well as the lobster- or shrimp-topped mushroom fettuccine with truffle oil, kale, tomatoes, and mushrooms in a sherry-cream sauce. Of course, classic steak-house dishes like bacon-wrapped filet mignon, roast prime rib, and boneless rib eye are highlights here, though they can be elevated by the addition of seafood or a rich sauce, such as the sun-dried tomato and mushroom pinot grigio cream.
Instead hefting flatware-laden platters, servers at Ekko de Brasil emerge from the kitchen with skewers of flame-kissed meats straight from the kitchen's grill tops. They slice these succulent cuts, which include bacon-wrapped chicken breast, top sirloin, and leg of lamb, directly onto diners plates, continuing until the guests either signal them to stop by flipping a color-coded coaster or stump them with a riddle. A veggie-filled salad bar of hot and cold sides incorporates as many fresh, seasonal ingredients as possible. The spacious dining room brightens up its dark-wood ambience with cherry-red curtains along the windows and lively Brazilian dance performances on Friday and Saturday evenings. Bartenders also help to keep morale high by uncorking Brazilian-vinted wines and mixing cocktails with cachaça, the favoured spirit of Brazil.
Thai Express fuses the familiar flavours of Thailand's eateries with the convenience of the New World's quick-service restaurants, presenting patrons with a vibrant dining alternative. The cooks add personalized amounts of spice to most of the entrees, complementing the aromatic combinations of lemongrass, coriander, and thai basil without overwhelming them. These ingredients, among others, can lend their distinctive flavours to everything from tom yum soup and stir-fries to pad thai and red, green, or yellow curries.
Chefs Dominic and Mohamed draw their culinary inspiration from the Old World, crafting a menu of predominantly French cuisine with occasional Italian influences. Garlic-cream sauce lends a flavourful richness to orders of escargot, and tender filet mignon emerges from the kitchen decorated with sauce aux poivres and a latticework of freshly tattooed grill marks. The chefs embrace Mediterranean flavours by baking rustic pizzas and glazing penne and linguini pasta with bolognese or carbonara sauces. On Friday and Saturday evening, the dining room echoes with the live piano performances of Yvon Farmer, who effortlessly transitions between iconic standards and contemporary compositions.
Morello Ristorante's cuisine can't be confined to one region of the map. Instead, its chefs wholeheartedly embrace the spirit of refined Mediterranean cooking, accented with continental flavours and a touch of New-World flair. Escargot and gorgonzola in puff pastry and mussels in a fragrant broth nod to France, while entrees such as linguini carbonara and veal marsala represent its deep Italian roots. However, filet mignon, New York strip, and flank steaks—all of which are cut and aged in-house—display a classically North American sensibility.
The understated elegance of the dishes is echoed in the restaurant's decor. Earth tones and decorative masks warm the walls, and pendant lamps illuminate tables draped in crisp white linens like especially elegant ghosts. Tall windows at the front of the space offer views of the neighbourhood and ample chances to toast passersby.