Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
A&E >  Food

Bulldog adds some new bites

A pound of smoked ribs and a pile of coleslaw are on the relatively new barbecue menu at The Bulldog Tavern near Gonzaga University, courtesy of cook Chris Luce, a veteran barbecue pit boss. He now cooks at the Bulldog and smokes various meats, as well as cheese and onions, for the new barbecue menu. (Jesse Tinsley)
A pound of smoked ribs and a pile of coleslaw are on the relatively new barbecue menu at The Bulldog Tavern near Gonzaga University, courtesy of cook Chris Luce, a veteran barbecue pit boss. He now cooks at the Bulldog and smokes various meats, as well as cheese and onions, for the new barbecue menu. (Jesse Tinsley)

It was once the Bulldog Tavern and Burger Emporium, so naturally the burgers and hand-cut fries are still there, but the folks down at The Bulldog have added some smoke to the menu.

Owner Trish Mullarkey says they were just kicking around the idea of barbecue at The Bulldog when a mutual friend told her the smoker from the short-lived Lazy Bones Barbecue was for sale. Turns out, the former pit boss Chris Luce was still looking for work, too.

“What got us rolling on barbecue is, honestly, there is nothing like that being offered anywhere in the neighborhood,” Mullarkey says.

The Dog, as the 60-year-old bar is known to regulars, is now serving up smoked pulled pork sandwiches ($7.45), smoked ribs ($8.45 per half pound/$12.45 per pound) and pit beef sandwiches ($8.95) among the more traditional barbecue fare. Pick hand-cut fries, sweet potato fries or coleslaw on the side. Or substitute the mac and cheese for an extra 75 cents.

He doesn’t stop there. Luce smokes turkey and provolone for the Smoked Turkey Bacon Club ($7.45). He smokes the cheddar and caramelized onions for the Bulldog Pit Beef Sandwich ($8.95) and even smokes pastrami for the Bulldog Reuben ($8.95).

Luce makes everything from scratch, including his own Big C’s BBQ sauce.

He didn’t grow up on Southern barbecue, but bought his first smoker some 15 years ago and has been obsessed ever since – tweaking and perfecting his technique. He’s working on plans to bottle his barbecue sauce and sell it.

Luce fires up the smoker early each day. The tavern opens for lunch at 11 a.m. and the kitchen closes at 8 p.m. Reach The Bulldog at (509) 487-6735.

More to Love

Esther Thomason didn’t set out to open a cupcake bakery. She was just nesting and waiting for the arrival of her baby.

“I used to be a flight attendant and then I got pregnant and couldn’t fly anymore. So, when I was bored I started baking,” Thomason says.

She would haul her cupcake confections everywhere she went – Christmas parties and baby showers – and ask people what they thought.

“They’ve kind of been just a work in progress,” Thomason says. “It’s just been a lot of trial and error.”

Now it’s paying off. Thomason has perfected eight flavors: chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, gluten-free carrot cake, strawberry, lemon, German chocolate and coconut. She’s launching her wholesale business Love Cupcakes by Esther with a party Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Monterey Café, 9 N. Washington St. There will be plenty of tasty samples for everyone.

Love Cupcakes by Esther are sold at several locations in Spokane, including the Monterey Café. Find them at Chairs Coffee, 113 W. Indiana Ave.; Soulful Soups and Spirits, 117 N. Howard St; the Garland Drinkery, 828 W. Garland St.; Grind Central Station, 8015 E. Trent Ave.; and Deb’s Espresso, 1127 W. Northwest Boulevard and 921 E. Houston Ave., just off North Nevada Street across from Albertson’s.

Thomason says she’s renting space in a commercial kitchen, but is working on plans for a retail location soon.

Find more information about Love Cupcakes by Esther on Facebook or reach Thomason at (509) 475-5952.

Say Ciao Mambo to lunch

The new Ciao Mambo in downtown Spokane is now open for lunch.

The Whitefish, Mont.-based Italian restaurant chain opens daily at 11:30 a.m. to serve up its popular plates of pasta ($6.75 to $11.25), brick-oven pizzas ($9.25 to $15.75) and other “immigrant-style Italian” fare.

Panini options include the vegetarian Belladona, with mozzarella, ricotta, basil and balsamic vinegar ($8.75), and the meateaters’ Maschio, with mortadella, prosciutto, sopressata salami and fontina cheese ($9.75).

Reach the restaurant at (509) 315-4447. Check out the menu online at Click on locations and click on lunch at the Spokane location for details.

Small Bites

• The Hop Shop is still hopping.

There was some speculation this week that the pub at 3803 S. Grand Blvd. had closed because the sign was down.

Owner Andy Gardner says they’re working on some sign modifications, spring cleaning and cruising into their second year. And they’ll be open regular hours – Tuesday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to close – while Grand Boulevard is resurfaced between 29th Avenue and High Drive.

Reach the Hop Shop at (509) 474-9700.

• Ambrosia Bistro has a new, new chef.

The Spokane Valley bistro welcomed John Minichino in January, but he left the restaurant for personal reasons, owners announced. Now, chef Bryan McDirmid is in the house.

McDirmid is a Spokane native and French Culinary Institute graduate. He has worked in kitchens in Seattle, Portland and New York. He was the opening manager for the deli at Main Market Co-op.

Find McDirmid’s new menu for Ambrosia Bistro at

• Bluberry Frozen Yogurt is now open on the South Hill.

Jennifer and Jim Heggenstaller opened the frozen yogurt shop in Suite 3 of the shopping plaza at 3007 E. 57th Ave., in the former Taco Del Mar location.

Ten flavors of YoCream frozen yogurt are available, including lactose-free, sugar-free and sorbet selections.

It will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reach Bluberry Frozen Yogurt at (509) 443-6588. The business website is

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter

Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.