Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIII, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

The New Face of Walla Walla Eating

It’s no secret that the restaurant scene in Walla Walla has changed dramatically in the last few years. The economic recession that began in late 2008 forced local favorites like 26 Brix, Luscious and Destination Grill out of business. Fortunately, downtown has recently seen an explosion of new restaurants springing up to fill this void. This is particularly good news for penny-pinching college students who can’t afford to dine at Walla Walla’s upper echelon of eateries: many of these new places are much more moderately-priced than some of downtown’s now-defunct dining establishments.

Even though many graduating seniors will have parents and other relatives in town this weekend, and thus the opportunity to experience restaurants that are normally out of reach, The Pioneer wants to highlight several of Walla Walla’s new, lower-cost options spanning a wide range of genres: from bar/lounge to café/marketplace to high-end soup/sandwich place.

Olive Marketplace and Café

Credit: Cornelius

When local restaurant owners Tom Maccarone and Jake Chenshaw decided earlier this year to expand their upscale establishment, T. Maccarone’s, which opened in 2005, one of their main goals may have been to break into the middle tier of the restaurant market. With a dinner menu that hovers in the $20-$30 range, T. Maccarone’s provides top-notch food, but isn’t always accessible to locals, who often can’t afford the prices that out-of-town wine tourists are willing to pay.
Their solution was Olive Marketplace and Café, which opened in January of 2010, offering a selection of excellent lunch and dinner items like their falafel sandwich ($9), their slow roasted pork sandwich ($10) and their vegetarian lasagna. The new lunch and dinner spot took the place of Merchant’s Ltd., a French eatery which Maccarone and Crenshaw purchased to make their expansion, and that offered comparable prices.
While I could get lunch for $5 at a taco truck, Olive offers an attractive step up: both in quality of food and ambiance: for only a slight step up in price.
For a more complete review by The Pioneer’s restaurant reviewer, Bécquer Medak-Seguín, see whitmanpioneer.com/arts/reviews.

21 East Main Street
Open 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday & Saturday


Credit: Cornelius

The perfect lunch spot. With tasty and relatively inexpensive specialty sandwiches like the portabella mushroom panini with aged cheddar, béchamel and provolone, Graze has carved itself a distinct niche in the downtown lunch scene. In addition to their solid line-up of sandwiches: most of which are under $10: they offer variety of salads and daily soup. As an added bonus, it’s located just down the way from the Colville Street Patisserie, which makes an attractive option for dessert.
The premises are tiny but cozy, and regularly fill to capacity during peak lunch hours. The atmosphere may not feel as refined as that of places like Brasserie Four or even Olive, but that’s not what I’m looking for when I go to Graze. This relatively informal sandwich shop really doesn’t pretend to be anything more or less than it is: as the sign out front says, it’s simply “A Place to Eat.”

5 South Colville Street
Open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Red Monkey Downtown Lounge

The first question that springs to mind when I think about Red Monkey is, “What exactly is this place?” Is it a bar? Is it a lounge? Is it a “club?” While it doesn’t fit any of these labels exactly, Red Monkey definitely offers something unique to Walla Walla. My first experience there came during the senior class’s 25 days to graduation celebration, when Whitman seniors were offered no cover charge and special deals on drinks. Given these incentives, I had a great time, but without them, I’m sometimes left wondering whether Walla Walla really needs a club. From a Whitman student’s perspective, at least, on-campus parties can offer just about anything a place like Red Monkey can, and for only a fraction of the cost.
When they opened earlier this school year, Red Monkey had to overcome these sentiments exactly: Many perceived it as overly-expensive and impractical. Even Whitman students, who were most likely one of the main demographics it sought to target, largely stayed away from the place because of its five-dollar cover charge and overall expensive-sounding nature. Yet the longer it’s been around, the more it seems to be attracting patrons. With a variety of moderately-priced menu items: mostly burgers and the like: Red Monkey is building a solid reputation not only for its atmosphere, but for its food as well.

25 West Alder Street
Open daily 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

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