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Tucked away just outside downtown Mercer Island at the base of the First Hill area, resides Franky & Dom’s Cafe, a quaint bistro that serves up a freshly made and inexpensive panini sandwich.

The menu is quite simple with a variety of different panini, which mostly cost $3.99. Each sandwich isn’t huge, but enough to satisfy the palate.

Island residents Stacy and Paul Alishio own the cafe, which is named after their two sons, Francisco and Domenico.

“Life can get busy at times, and we needed a place where a meal won’t cost $50 and our thought was to keep it inexpensive,” said Stacy who prepares the food and picks each ingredient. “It is simple food, but with an importance on high-quality bread, meat and cheese.”

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People can also pre-order a “to-go” sack lunch that consists of a basic panini, pastry and bag of carrots for $5.

The menu: Choose from 11 panini like finocchiona and provolone or salame and provolone muffuletta, at $3.99 apiece. For a little more you can get a pesto, tomato and artichoke, plus a choice of Gruyere or mozzarella cheese ($6-$6.50).

Also choose a variety of baked goods including Luikse, a Belgium street waffle.

What to write home about: The Reuben Panino had a layer of thousand-island type dressing (horseradish can be added upon request) with corned beef and Swiss cheese.

The setting: There are two small round tables and chairs inside, plus more tables and chairs on the patio.

Summing up: We had the Reuben Panino ($3.99); ham & Swiss ($3.99); pepperoni pizza with marinara ($3.99); pesto, tomato and artichoke with mozzarella ($6); two Mexican Cokes ($1.50 per bottle); Luikse waffle ($2.60); apple puff pastry ($2.60); bag of granola ($6.99); a tall Café Latte ($2.75); and hot chocolate ($2.50) for $44.38 with tax and tip.

Mark Yuasa:

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