Profiled in Pacific Northwest Inlander for his hardworking enthusiasm and fine-tuned recipes, Fraiche Contemporary French's executive chef, Jason Rex, presides over a sizable kitchen that pulls double duty for two different eateries. Rex and a staff of more than 40 employees and sous-chefs simultaneously dole out dishes for both Fraiche and the neighboring Rex’s Burgers & Brew. Chef Rex joined foodie forces with Fraiche’s coowner Connie Naccarato to delight Francophiles with seasonally rotating entrees that showcase methodically prepared, locally sourced ingredients and gourmet morsels such as foie gras, truffle, and duck confit. During the inviting Tuesday–Saturday dinner service, candles rest on white tablecloths as the knowledgeable wait staff offers wine recommendations to help American diners conquer the French menu like Napoleon conquered his fear of fast-food drive-thrus.
When people walk into Little Euro or Old European Breakfast House for the first time, most of them couldn’t tell you what aebelskivers are. Unlike buttermilk pancakes, croissants, and other imported specialties, they haven’t become a common part of American breakfasts. But once diners sample the ball-shaped pancakes—served with toppings such as blackberry syrup or stuffed with sausage and havarti cheese—they most likely add them to their breakfast lexicons. Beyond their deliciousness, aebelskivers are significant to the restaurants’ staff for another reason. Tami and Dave Sevier own both Little Euro and Old European Breakfast House’s Spokane location. When Tami’s grandmother, Marie Mekkelsen, was 18 years old in 1906, she moved away from her poor family in Denmark to join her brother in America. Before leaving her homeland, Marie’s mother made one last dish for her—her favorite Danish aebelskivers. Marie carried the memory of these unique pastries with her, passing it down through the family. To this day, the chefs use the same recipe Tami’s great-grandmother used in Denmark, crafting them from scratch alongside crepes, belgian waffles, and hungarian goulash with red potatoes. To heighten the authenticity, they squeeze their orange juice in-house rather than buying it from the store. Lunchtime diners also have their pick of sandwiches and housemade soups. Little Euro also has an espresso drive-thru for drivers to grab an on-the-go pick-me-up before sitting through a business meeting or Wagner’s entire Ring Cycle.
The first IHOP—the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin—opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the International House of Pancakes. Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.
Laguna Cafe's owners, Dan and Debbie, are avid travelers?and were inspired to create a menu that reflected the cuisine in their travels across the country. At the restaurant, patrons will find a large selection of local craft brews and wines, met with delectable entrees such as veal and beef meatloaf, burgers topped with cheese, bacon, and barbecue sauce, and overflowing cobb salads. While dining, they'll also be met with outdoor seating that overlooks a fountain, and live music weekly.
Demonstrating a passion for culinary exploration, fine wines, and clever intoxicants, Vin Rouge appeals to foodies with an ever-changing menu and vibrant, neighborhood charm. The dinner menu encourages eaters to mix sipping and sharing with an international list of small plates. Entrees such as a roasted half-duck ($21.95), a plank of sea bass ($22.95), or a top-sirloin steak ($22.95) invite solo salivators to poke a new notch in their belts. A crack-team of specialized eats for social hour (2 p.m.–5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close), weekend brunch, and weekday lunch helps patrons combat the metallic aftertaste of daily nutrient capsules with fresh salads, gourmet paninis, omelets, and more. House-made lemonades and artisan cocktails top off the experience, flooding bio-aqueducts with rivers of live-sustaining, judgment-clouding nectar.
9th Street Bistro's skilled flavor experts wield natural and organic ingredients to sate cravings for fresh salads, soups, and made-to-order entrees. Their menu changes with the season, offering picks from the finest sandwich trees and soup from the heartiest broth bearing cows. Stacked fare—including the Portobello panini ($6.99), where marinated Portobello mushrooms laze beneath bubbling buffalo mozzarella, organic, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil pesto on herbed foccacia—is balanced on locally crafted artisan bread, baked with organic flour. For a bright and beaming start to the day, eschew regular routines of Greco-Roman snowman wrestling for a double shot of espresso ($1.65) paired with a multi-grain waffle and fresh blueberries ($6.49). Signature drinks from the juice bar harness sweet nectars from the fruits of Mother Nature's living room décor. Try a 16-ounce Jump Start, with grapefruit, apple, ginger, and spirulina ($4.25) or a 20-ounce Concerto, featuring a hot brew of grapes, pear, cloves, and apple ($5).