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Donna’s Diner in Spokane Valley…

Posted by on August 11, 2014

Donna’s Diner is ho-hum on the outside but inside it’s “the real deal.”

AUGUST 11, 2014.

IT WOULDN’T BE RIGHT not to mention this little place. I’ve avoided making this blog more about breakfast, lunch and dinner than anything else. Too many people, when writing about their travels, make that mistake…”Today we made tuna sandwiches for lunch. We used dill rye toast and Best Foods mayonnaise with shredded iceberg lettuce. Bob had a slice of beefsteak tomato on his. I didn’t.  Here’s a photo…look at the yellow paper napkins we’re using this week.” Gimme a break! This is a travel blog. This is about our Adventure. I’ve not subjected you week after week to pictures of every sandwich and strip of bacon that comes my way. But as I say, it wouldn’t be right not to tell you about the little diner we found this morning in Spokane Valley. Nothing fancy, but noteworthy. The kind of place you want to know about when you’re in town. The kind of place that you can “trust.” The real deal.

HOW WE FOUND IT. As we drive across America we’re more often than not in a place for the first time. We don’t know our way around or what restaurants are good.  If I can’t find some locals to ask about restaurants, I often get suggestions from Siri on my iPhone. This morning she had two suggestions for breakfast: Sheri’s Restaurant and Donna’s Diner. Sheri’s is predictably acceptable but certainly not new, different or very interesting. I’m glad I made the choice to visit Donna’s. I had a chance to meet another interesting restauranteur and have a good, home-cooked meal.


Standard diner-fare on the plastic coated menu.

IT LOOKS LIKE THIS: The cafe is located in a nondescript section of a semi-busy street in a commercial district in Spokane Valley. The windows weren’t real clean and there was dust on the sills…but I had a notion I’d be pleased if we gave the place a chance. It felt legitimate. It was. The decor is unremarkable…an electric wall clock with the power cord straining to reach the outlet on the counter by the toaster. Christmas wreaths left on the walls all ready for next year, hanging next to a taxidermically preserved sailfish and an American flag. Reading glasses at each table, for help with the menu if needed. Americana. Paper place-mats on cheap laminated tabletops. Mismatched flatware. A jar of saltwater taffy at the cash register, next to the toothpick dispenser. The “regulars” discussing local politics and Donna chatting around the “front of the house” like a mother hen. She told me she’d been a waitress at Denny’s for 12 years before buying the diner. She’s open 7 days a week from dark o’clock in the morning ’til about 3 in the afternoon. No wi-fi. Unpretentious. No dinner and no booze. “The bartender will pour away all your profits unless you’re right there every minute of the day,” she told me.


Can you see the reading glasses in the cup? There’s a pair on each table.

KINDA LIKE MAYBERRY. Her meals are like Aunt Bee served to Andy and Barney in Mayberry. The breakfast special was scrambled eggs with diced ham and pancakes. Gobs of butter… and hot maple syrup in a paper ramekin. Lots of weak Farmer Brothers coffee. All this for $5.99. A bargain! The waitress was friendly and attentive…happy to bring us more napkins and ice water.

I’D RETURN. If we’re in town long enough to visit Donna’s again, I’m going to have the homemade tomato and macaroni soup. One of the guys at the counter told me, “Some soups taste good. This soup feels good.” Donna overheard him. And she just smiled.

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