Running Tab: TT’s turns 2, Soul Lounge offers soul food, Spokane marks Pride Month and spelling banh mi correctly

It has been an eventful two years for TT’s Old Iron Brewery and BBQ, which celebrated its second anniversary on Sunday, and its owners, Travis Thosath and chef Chad White.

In its first two weeks of operation, the business nearly burned down while smoking some of the restaurant’s meat offerings for the menu, White and head pitmaster Colin Barker recalled on Sunday. The duo has since upgraded their equipment.

“It wasn’t a great start, but, fortunately, we’re still here two years later,” Barker said. “And we’re so thankful and appreciative that the community has been there for us.”

TT’s, at 4110 S. Bowdish Road in Spokane Valley, weathered that fire, the pandemic and more to toast to two years. The celebration on Sunday included three specialty tacos – pork belly, barbacoa brisket and salmon zarandeado (the same salmon White served at From the Ashes Idaho the previous weekend) – cold beer and beer mug club signups.

A team from Spiceology was on hand outdoors (under a tent, of course, to shelter from the heat wave) to sell spice rubs created by White for the Spokane-based company. White uses one of his rubs and a mayonnaise mixture for his salmon zarandeado.

Outdoor tent seating and misters were set up for customers. Along with Barker, Thosath and White, Sunday’s celebration also included general manager Necole Flerchinger, head brewer Rachel Nalley and assistant pitmaster Scott Randall. TT’s gets my vote for one of the best barbecue places in town, hands down.

The Soul Lounge Bar and Grill

I love soul food – it’s truly good for the soul, right? – and fried chicken, so it’s surprising that it took me this long to finally make it into the Soul Lounge Bar and Grill, 2401 E. Sprague Ave., which opened in the former Flame on Sprague at Altamont in January.

We devoured the soul food menu, and our server Lisa was the best (friendly and funny): fried chicken wings, fried drumettes, catfish, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, cooked cabbage, candied yams, fries and cornbread. The fried chicken and catfish are especially top-notch, and the sides did not disappoint.

Add Soul Lounge to the top of my takeout list (I like to pig out in private), and check out the calendar for weekly theme nights for entertainment. Soul Lounge’s neighbors include a nursery, Asian market and the Vanessa Behan Crisis center.

Gay Pride in Spokane

As a gay Asian journalist and man who’s been out for more than 25 years, I absolutely love the Gay Pride visibility in Spokane this month: financiers at Ricky Webster’s Rind and Wheat, glasses at No-Li Brewhouse (thank you, John Bryant, Cindy Gracio Bryant and family) and cake offered by Gage Lang’s Breaüxdoo Bakery.

Pro tip: On Tuesdays at No-Li, if you buy one of two featured beers, the pint glass is free to take home. Otherwise, they’re $5 each, and they’ll continue to be sold until they’ve sold out. Juneteenth glasses were also offered this month, and No-Li typically offers specialty glasses other months of the year (I have St. Patrick’s Day glasses from No-Li, as well).

There is a big difference between tolerance and acceptance, so big kudos to these three businesses, and others, for their rainbow of acceptance in the Lilac City.

It’s spelled banh mi

In a final note, a number of restaurants are now offering their iterations of banh mi, the delicious Vietnamese sandwiches made with baguettes and filled with meats and vegetables, usually pickled.

Here’s the deal: I keep seeing banh mi misspelled as bahn mi. It’s spelled banh mi, plain and simple. Banh, not bahn. We all make mistakes; I certainly make my fair share. But if it’s an online menu, fix the misspelling. It’s so easy. For print menus, fix the misspelling in the next update. And now it’s time to eat my banh mi sandwich.