Valley Cafe - Family Dining at its Best!

Family restaurants have become fewer over the years, replaced by fast-food drive-throughs and chain restaurants that serve the same food coast-to-coast.

Valley, Washington, is home to one of the remaining family restaurants, the eponymous Valley Cafe. It has been an institution in Valley for about thirty years, with ownership transferred to Traci and Damon Hatch in February 2009.

Valley Cafe, located in the center of Valley at 3709 Highway 231, serves up home-style breakfasts and lunches seven days a week, and adds dinners on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The in-house bakery provides a variety of delicious breads - white, cracked wheat, whole wheat, 7-grain, and cinnamon swirl bread. There are also muffins, biscuits, English muffins, and cinnamon rolls. Many of these bakery items are served with the meals. Customers who want the same breads at home can buy what they need here.

Breakfast is served daily from 6:00 to 2:00, though on Sundays it runs an hour later, from 7:00 to 3:00. The breakfast menu is varied, ranging from eggs cooked in any style and served with bacon, sausage, or steak, to two- and three-egg omelets, to biscuits and gravy, to oversized pancakes and French toast made with their own cinnamon swirl bread.

Be sure to check out the daily specials. One special, biscuits stuffed with sausage, cheese, and green onions, is so popular it will soon be added to the menu.

"We firmly believe in serving large portions for the hungry person," Traci said. The portions normally are generous, but those with smaller appetites can order smaller amounts, or request a second plate to split a meal at no extra cost.

Lunch starts at 11:00 and is served until closing. At first glance the menu looks pretty standard: burgers, sandwiches, and salads. But look closer. The burgers are huge, incredibly tasty, and come in variations that are not found on a standard menu. For instance, the Ranchhand is a hamburger patty, egg, bacon, and cheese served on a toasted bun. The Brick House combines two hamburger patties, Cheddar and Swiss cheese, bacon, and ham.

Sandwiches include the Haliburger - lightly breaded halibut with homemade tartar sauce, hot Roast Beef & Cheddar served on grilled sourdough, and the triple-decker Club House with ham, turkey, bacon, tomatoes and lettuce.

Every sandwich is accompanied by a choice of French fries, homemade soup, salad, coleslaw, or the unique and delectable homemade potato chips.

Salads are fresh and include more than one would expect. Even the House Salad is topped with fresh mushrooms, tomato, and cheese. Salad specialties are the Spinach & Strawberry with feta cheese and slivered almonds and the Crispy Chicken Salad with bacon bits, cheese, tomatoes, and shredded carrot.

Dinners are served only on Friday and Saturday, from 2:00 to closing at 8:00 p.m. Entrees range from the familiar, such as the Chicken Fried Steak, to the gourmet, exemplified by the Cast Iron Seared Top Sirloin Steak, Smothered with Burgundy Onions on Thick Cut Garlic Bread. Friday specials change weekly, Saturday evenings Prime Rib takes center stage.

Dinners can start with nibbles from the Appetizer list, such as hot wings or onion rings, nachos or clams in garlic butter sauce. It would be a good idea to share the clams; there is a whole pound of them!

Dessert - if anyone has room for it - changes daily. Soft serve ice cream is also available.

Good food is, of course, the reason for any restaurant's existence, but it is the people who set the tone.

Traci Hatch spent her early years in Valley and, even after her family moved to Spokane, she returned every summer. Many of her relatives live in and around Valley. Traci worked in restaurants for over twenty-one years. Traci had long planned on owning her own restaurant. When the opportunity came to buy Valley Cafe in her old hometown, she jumped at it.

Three of the eight Hatch children, JJ, Trevor, and Myles, work alongside their parents doing a bit of everything. Another is in collage and the two youngest, at the tender ages of three and four, are too young to help.

Valley Cafe has the ambiance of a small town diner, scrumptious food, reasonable prices, and a professional and friendly cadre of employees.

Traci welcomes local artists and crafters and displays their work on the walls and in a corner cupboard. She also sells organic fruit spreads and seasoning mixes.

Before it became a restaurant, the Valley Cafe building housed a service station. The only relic of those days is the restroom and part of the kitchen. Traci has plans to modernize it and make it more handicap accessible. In the meantime, she suggests that new customers call ahead to make sure they can be accommodated. The phone number is 509-937-2111. She can also be reached by e-mail at valleycafe@gmail.com.

The Valley Cafe is just three miles from Highway 395 and the same distance from Waitts Lake. Summer visitors to the Lake don't have far to go for a home-cooked meal.

The Hound adds her own voice (howl?) to the Hatch's invitation to everyone to "come on down" and taste what Valley Cafe has to offer. The Hound can personally recommend the Hula Burger, the All American, the homemade potato chips, and the heavenly banana bread!

Brandy Rancourt
5/21/2010

This place has become our Friday night date nite place. Also good for anytime we are hungry. The very best place in Steven's County. Their buttermilk syrup for the humumgous pancakes is divine.
Everything is sooooo good.

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