121 S. Cedar
When River City Brewing opened a little less than a year ago, co-owner Gage Stromberg wanted to focus only on the beer. During his days at Coeur d'Alene Brewing Company, he'd seen how running brewpubs with a full menu becomes a completely different business, and that's not what River City was meant to be.
But as kegs started rolling out to restaurants and bars around town, people kept asking about how to taste the whole lineup. Around the same time, visitors started traveling around town with their Ale Trail maps. So, when a space opened up adjacent to the brewery's space in the Eldridge building at First Avenue and Cedar Street, it was too perfect to pass up.
The tap room keeps all the River City standards on tap, including the flagship River City Red and popular Huckleberry Ale and VB Stout from the Coeur d'Alene Brewing days. The brewery is making a seasonal higher-alcohol beer each quarter — the Winter Warmer just replaced the Midnight Marmot Imperial Stout. (An imperial pilsner is up next, come April.) The tap room also lets the brewery try new ideas in smaller quantities, like a double dry-hopped Experimental IPA. Beer is served as pints ($4), half-pints ($2) or tasters ($1), as well as growlers and kegs.
The tap room offers only pretzels as a snack, but outside food is allowed. So are kids — they can even sit at the bar since the beer taps are on the back wall — and Stromberg believes that's important for a family-owned brewery founded on the idea that craft beer is about quality, not quantity. For kids — and adults who don't feel like beer — River City makes root beer served on tap.
11027 E. Sprague
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 to choose from: 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. 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 hash browns ($1). For the kids, there's a plate-size pizza and drink for $2.50.