Options for where to chow down in the Wenatchee Valley have expanded dramatically since the beginning of the year. New restaurants have opened — including (you guessed it) a couple of Mexican eateries — and established ones have expanded or changed their menus.
All of a sudden, you have a choice of Irish Nachos (potato chips, corned beef, green chiles), Mexican corundas (green corn husk tamales in season) and hot-rod-themed burgers (the Road Runner, the Blown Hemi).
So let’s pull up a chair, loosen our belts and dig in to a sampling of what’s new in the valley’s restaurant scene:
Wenatchee: Almas Mexican Kitchen
It was a natural move for Alma Cuevas to get into the restaurant business. For years, she’d provided her Michoacan-based recipes for tacos and burritos at the annual Fiesta Mexicana in south Wenatchee’s Lincoln Park. Eaters’ eager responses to her cooking pointed, she said, to having a place of her own.
On Feb. 15, she opened Almas Mexican Kitchen at the former location of Hart’s British Fish & Chips and, more recently, Chuck’s Seafood Grotto. Alma’s son, Luis Ramirez, said “it all came together — a vacant restaurant space in a great location — so we decided to make the leap.”
The informal, taqueria-style eatery specializes in high-flavor tacos, burritos, enchiladas and tamales. It’s one of the few Mexican restaurants in the region to offer uchepos, a no-meat tamale, and corundas, a green husk corn tamale that’s a rare treat during the corn harvest. “Green husks give the tamale a whole different taste,” said Ramirez.
Details: Almas Mexican Kitchen, 609 N. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee. Phone: 470-9371. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Cashmere: Blom’s American Grill and Irish Pub
No blarney. Owners Karin and Lee Blomquist were encouraged to open their new Irish-themed restaurant by none other than Shawn O’Donnell, the (some say) legendary owner of the downtown Seattle hangout that carries his name.
“He said, ‘either you do it or I come over and do it myself’,” laughed Karin. “So here we are — opening an Irish restaurant right before St. Patrick’s Day.”
The menu sports lots of American comfort foods (burgers, chicken, steaks), but specializes in Irish delights such as the previously mentioned Irish Nachos and bangers and mash with corned beef. You might want to also try the deep-fried Oreos. “Oh my, they’re good,” said Karin.
Details: Blom’s American Grill and Irish Pub, 112 Elberta Ave., Cashmere (in the former location of Barney’s Tavern). Phone: 782-5667. Web: blomsirish.com and on Facebook. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Monitor: The Hot Rod Cafe
Ron and Heidi Sprugasci, both car buffs AND burger fans, found the perfect outlet for their combined interests in the Hot Rod Cafe. The couple opened the auto-themed burger-and-shakes diner Feb. 1 in the former location of Tom, Dick and Harry’s Fabulous Burgers at the corner of Highway 2/97 and Easy Street.
“It’s a family owned, family operated restaurant,” said Heidi. “And cars? Did we mention we like cars?”
Auto logos and memorabilia line the walls, and the burgers have vroom-vroom names: the Blown Hemi (double patties, double cheese, ham and bacon), the Burn Out (single patty, jalapeños, chipotle mayo and pepper jack cheese) and the Prius (deluxe veggie burger, of course).
The Hot Rod is also open early for breakfast and is a favorite hangout for local car clubs.
Details: The Monitor Hot Rod Cafe, 2960 Easy St., Monitor. Phone: 470-8345. Web: see their Facebook page. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
East Wenatchee: Fonda Oaxaqueña
Owners Anna Patricia Alvarez and Paul Lopez, along with chef Rosa Olguin, deliver the flavors of Oaxaca in banana-leaf wrapped tamales, chile rellenos, four kinds of made-from-scratch mole sauce, tacos, enchiladas, soups and — special on weekends — goat tacos and menudo. 136 Eastmont Ave. 888-7317.
Wenatchee: Bella Bistro
This popular coffee and lunch spot has expanded into dinners on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 4 to 9 p.m. Two yummy specialties: slow-roasted pork shoulder with apple chutney and meat loaf with roasted mushroom sauce and crispy kale chips. Also salads, deserts and an interesting wine and beer list. 317 Orondo Ave. 293-5518.
East Wenatchee: Upper Eastside Coffee Company
Big plans for one the area’s most popular coffeehouses include (coming soon) a 750-square-foot expansion into the adjacent office space. That’ll give owner Kristen Kennedy more room for evening activities — addition of wine and beer, a new menu of small-plate items and a stage area for expanded live music. If you can’t wait for an Upper Eastside fix, try now the Empire State sandwich stacked high with salami, ham, cheddar, apple-smoke sauce and fixings). 1610 Grant Road. 470-7812.
East Wenatchee: Blue Flame Asian Bistro
Tasty Asian-fusion dishes beautifully prepared and served are the specialties of Blue Flame’s second location (the original is in Cashmere). For starters try the calamari with sweet chili sauce veggie springs rolls. And don’t miss the Singapore Street Noodles (curry, egg, scallions with choice of beef, chicken, shrimp or tofu). 307 Valley Mall Parkway. 470-8899.
This weekly column is compiled from “Everyday Business,” a blog by World reporter Mike Irwin. You can reach him at 665-1179 or firstname.lastname@example.org.