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Running Tab: Latin-inspired Kismet spices up Hillyard; plus Luna’s fall menu and Lantern’s patio dining

I am an avid fan of spicy and flavorful food, and Dan Gonzalez and Monica York have infused the Spokane culinary scene with their Latin-inspired restaurant Kismet that opened in Hillyard on Sept. 21 in the former space of Hillyard Pub and Grub.

The couple, who have been together for six years and are engaged, opened Kismet, 3020 E. Queen Ave., after years of wanting to run their own restaurant.

“As a couple, we think of things auspiciously, and kismet has been our go-to word when everything works out eventually. It’s fate. It’s meant to be,” Gonzalez said. “The name of the restaurant is Kismet, but our social media names have Comida in them because of the Latin inspiration of our menu.

“We wanted the name to associate with food as other kismet forms have different ideologies.”

York is owner and proprietor of Kismet, and Gonzalez is owner and executive chef. York has worked in several places in Spokane as a server, bartender and manager, including Steelhead Bar & Grille, Park Inn and Elliotts an Urban Kitchen, and Gonzalez was with Adam Hegsted’s Eat Good Group for the past five years.

“Kismet has been in the back of our minds since we first worked together, and the actual development of Kismet as an entity started in April,” York said. “Hillyard has a great community and a very eclectic business style, and we felt that our restaurant would be a good fit for us and the family community that is Hillyard.”

Why Latin cuisine? “We chose Latin cuisine because of both heritage and childhood backgrounds,” Gonzalez said. “Latin food is vast and in parts has a very strong influence of European food. It keeps it open to have fun and change the menu and not be tied down to a specific cuisine.”

The couple’s favorite menu item is the arepa con credo (braised pork cheeks), as it is the essence of what they are trying to do, they said, and the margarita was developed to be flexible with all the menu items.

Future plans include serving brunch and calling it Desaymerzo, as it will have Latin-inspired plays on classic brunch menu items, and opening the patio.

I dined at Kismet on the third night of service. Our delicious and very filling meal: ceviche, duck confit carnitas tacos, posole, chickpea cakes, braised pork cheeks with arepas, tres leches cake and margaritas.

The standouts: the duck confit carnitas tacos, ceviche, chickpea cakes, posole and margaritas. My guest and I thought the arepas were very salty, but perhaps it’s a taste preference.

Yours truly at Kismet for its spicy and flavorful menu? It was kismet.

Luna’s autumn menu

I recently moved from downtown to the Perry District, and, let’s be honest, two factors in selecting restaurants are convenience and location. I also am lazy and a creature of habit. Translation: I’ll be happily dining a lot more at restaurants in my new neighborhood.

Perry and the South Hill are a mystery to me, the latter more so. As much as I love Luna (it opened while I was a student at Gonzaga in the 1990s), it might as well be located in Pullman because it seems so far from downtown and Wandermere, my home before downtown. Well, thankfully not anymore!

One of the sure signs of autumn is restaurants debuting their fall menus, and one of my favorites in Spokane is Aaron DeLis and Hannah DeLis’ Luna.

An exquisite dinner with my sister Saturday night at Luna: butternut squash soup with Dungeness crab, salmon charcuterie, oysters, pear and pancetta pizza, King salmon, crab pasta, peanut butter chocolate layer cake, pumpkin spice gelato, house-baked ciabatta and the cocktails Ellis Tea, Sweater Weather and “the sultry” Pressure Drop.

There was no false note, and it was wonderful to see Hannah DeLis, bar manager Cody Winfrey and executive chef Joe Morris. I love it when a restaurant and its staff feel like home, and Luna has become that for me. As Luna says, “Live deliciously.” Amen!

South Perry Lantern’s patio

Jeremy Tangen opened South Perry Lantern in June, and I dined there on its second official day of operation. Last week, I returned to the Lantern, as it is now walking distance from home, and enjoyed food and libations on the patio. I love outdoor dining in Spokane in autumn.

I’ve heard of others having mixed experiences at the Lantern, but mine have been terrific, and Monday was no different with perfect weather on the patio.

The Lantern late-afternoon, early evening feast: bruschetta, cauliflower wings (I loved them), dry rub chicken wings, smoked oysters (a favorite and must-order after two visits), bulgogi wraps (I was doubtful, but they were great), cocktails and cider.

A late-night spot in my new neighborhood? Twist my arm – and light the way to the Lantern.