If there's something this town is lacking, it's restaurants that are completely casual and laidback but still serve good food. Now, granted, some may argue that the vast amount of restaurants in Spokane are casual, which they are, but they're still on the casual side of formal. Latah Bistro, Sante, Mizuna, Luna, etc. You know what I'm talking about.
Laguna Cafe, meanwhile, is straightforward casual. It doesn't try to be fancy, and features a simple but tastefully decorated setting, with a small menu consisting of good food.
The meatloaf, for example, was presented in more of a French style than its more famous 1950s ketchup incarnation. A couple of slices over whipped mashed potatoes, a bit of gravy, and vegetables. The meat itself was nicely cooked, not the dried out charred stereotype you often would expect with the dish, and the sauce had a nice juicy consistency. The potatoes, while not bad, did benefit from the latter to spice up the flavor just a bit. Overall a very good take on a classic.
The ravioli, stuffed with cheese and served with a mushroom sauce, were also solid. Definitely hearty, perfect for a fall evening, and a surprisingly good pasta.
One could argue that none of the dishes are particularly original or mindblowing, but that is all kind of pointless. Laguna Cafe is a casual establishment in the word's truest form, and you get good food with a decent selection of wine and beer (in a bottle only, alas). Few places around town can offer that combination, making Laguna Cafe worth the trek to the South Hill. In a way it is sort of a unique restaurant here, even though it probably shouldn't be. More places should look at its casual concept; it's something that resonates with Spokanites.
The only thing that sort of kind of put a mild damper on the experience was an overzealous waiter, who I assume could have been one of the owners. An eight minute introduction to the menu is, at best, excessive, as is listing the "off the menu" items. Put it on the menu if you regularly prepare something. Leave "secret" menu items to In-n-Out Burger.
At least he was friendly, so it's hard to be too crabby about it all, but professional service does not equate to being over enthusiastically chatty.
Overall, though, I'd highly recommend Laguna Cafe. It's casual and serves good food. Can't beat that.
Vote for Laguna Cafe: It’s your civic duty!