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Eclectic eight: Local menus include crickets, fried olives, Kool-Aid pickles and a sherry luge bone marrow

Now that people are getting vaccinated and restaurants are opening again cleaner than ever, restaurant-goers are ready to venture out and eat. How about venturing out to an adventure in dining?

Tired of takeout and the same old, same old – we’re looking at you, burgers, salads, pizzas and pastas. Here is a list of eight of the more unusual food items on menus across town. Crickets and Kool-Aid pickles, anyone?

Crickets

Chad White’s James Beard-nominated Zona Blanca has a new home and executive chef in Jeana Pecha, but one staple from the previous menu is intact: the spicy and delicious guacamole topped with ground crickets and served with chips. Your mouth will be burning, and you’ll love it.

New on the menu: a choice of mezcal (there are quite a few options) with a side of small orange wedges flavored with meal worm spice (White’s recipe) and crickets (Acheta domesticus) for snacking. Snack pack whole-roasted crickets, from Chomper Cricket Farm in Spokane, are available for purchase in taco seasoning and honey cinnamon flavors.

Verdict: More, please. Think salty, tasty snacks. And they’ll be useful to freak out my 10-year-old nephew.

If you go: Zona Blanca, 157 S. Howard St., (509) 241-3385 and limefishsalt.com

Dorilocos

Also a transplant from the former location, Dorilocos, per the menu, is “a secret Mexico City street snack like a high-five in the mouth!” The snack includes Doritos, of course, seafood, spice, cracker nuts and … gummy bears.

Verdict: White says customers either love ’em or hate ’em. I love ’em; they’re fun.

If you go: Zona Blanca, 157 S. Howard St., (509) 241-3385 and limefishsalt.com

Fried chicken skins

The late celebrity chef Kerry Simon’s Carson Kitchen in downtown Las Vegas serves crispy chicken skins with smoked honey, and they’re fantastic because I enjoy the fat, unhealthy part of the bird paired with sweet, flavored honey.

Stockwell’s Chill n Grill’s fried chicken skins are more accurately deep-fried teriyaki chicken with bits of fried chicken skins. They’re tasty – I ate an entire order by myself.

Verdict: I would return for the fried chicken skins and to order other menu items while seated on the outdoor patio. Bonus: friendly and attentive service from bartender Ryan.

If you go: Stockwell’s Chill n Grill, 3319 N. Argonne Road, (509) 474-9074 and stockwellschillngrill.com

Fried olives

There are many reasons to like Adam Hegsted’s Baba, his new Mediterranean restaurant in Kendall Yards in his former Wandering Table, and the fried olives are one of them. I love olives, and the coating is light – this is a win-win situation.

Verdict: Order the fried olives to complement the fried chicken and excellent cocktails during daily Happy Hour from 3-5 p.m.

If you go: Baba, 1242 W. Summit Parkway, (509) 443-4410 and babaspokane.com

Kool-Aid pickles

Ken Dupree’s 509 Dine food truck is a family affair with his wife, Marjie, daughter Jocelyn and others, and one of their eyebrow-raising offerings is Kool-Aid pickles. Judging by the taste and color, the flavor is cherry, and it’s a sweet and savory pickled concoction.

Verdict: I love pickled everything. While not my favorite, I can eat a few Kool-Aid pickles, and this gets an A for effort. Also another food item to freak out my nephew.

If you go: 509 Dine food truck, (509) 220-1681, 509dine@gmail.com and 509dine.com

Pineapple and jalapeno fritters

When I arrived at Donut Parade on Saturday morning, I panicked because the bottom sheet of pineapple and jalapeno fritters was empty, but with my head nearly on the ground, I saw that two fritters remained in the far back. Who would’ve guessed this flavor combo would be so popular?

Verdict: Is there such a thing as a bad doughnut? I love pineapple, I love jalapenos, and I love fritters. This trio works well – just arrive early.

If you go: Donut Parade, 2152 N. Hamilton St., (509) 473-9870 and facebook.com/donutparadespokane

Sherry luge bone marrow

I ordered a sherry luge bone marrow for the first time while dining at Barry’s Downtown Prime steakhouse at the new Circa Las Vegas downtown just this last December. So, I was shocked that this had made its way to Wooden City downtown.

Order bone marrow with toast, enjoy the sweet, nutty and delicate butter-like goodness, then pour sherry down the length of the bone marrow. It’s a sweet, savory and messy luge shot for someone uncoordinated like yours truly.

The verdict: Owner and executive chef Jon Green said he wanted to offer something fun on the menu, something memorable and that people would want to order. Mission accomplished.

If you go: Wooden City, 821 W. Riverside Ave., (509) 822-7194 and woodencityspokane.com

Whipped wasabi aioli

I’ve ordered ahi poke tuna as an appetizer dozens of times over the years, but I had never had it served with a whipped wasabi aioli until I went to Happy Hour at 1898 Public House shortly after moving here in 2019.

It’s a beautifully presented and spicy accompaniment, and you definitely don’t want to mistake it for usually sweet whipped cream.

The verdict: Kudos to 1898 Public House – and Spokane – for its culinary creativity.

If you go: 1898 Public House, 2010 W. Waikiki Road, (509) 481-4514 and kalispelgolf.com/dining

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