Last year while traveling in Kansas City, I arrived about an hour early to a meeting and had some time to kill. As a connoisseur of all things delectable, it didn’t take long to decide I had to venture across the street to the sign of a pig holding a pitchfork blinking above the neon-lit word BBQ. Upon following my nose, I found two things. 1. Traffic doesn’t stop for hungry fat kids and 2. The best feeling in the world is accidentally wandering into a phenomenal restaurant that has a happy hour that leaves your wallet as happy as your stomach.
The earliest origins of the term “Happy Hour” came from the United States Navy. In 1913, a group of homemakers organized semi-weekly smokers as a social club aboard the USS Arkansas, eventually adapting the term “The Happy Hours.” The engagements eventually spread throughout the entire Navy. One hundred years later there isn’t much room for a city-centered restaurant or bar that doesn’t offer some sort of penny pinching provisions to the early dinner crowd or city workers sticking around for a bite to avoid the heavy traffic. I set off across the Inland Northwest to bring you a handful of the happiest spots in town.
First on my list (as always) is pizza. You start loading mozzarella, mushrooms and peppers on anything and I’ll be first in line. David’s Pizza takes it to a whole different level. Pick up a fresh pie loaded with every crunchy flavorful topping you can imagine. I drooled over their Fresh Veggie Pizza that was piled high with onion, olive, peppers, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. If something different is more up your alley, it’s perfectly fine, their entire menu, from sandwiches to beer is 50 percent off. Happy Scale:
If you like the sound of 50 percent off but you’re looking for something not as heavy, check out Max at Mirabeau. Sporting a long list of gourmet appetizers, you can sample some of Spokane Valley’s finest dining for a fraction of the cost. I had their beautiful plated Ahi Tuna Seared Rare with Indian spice, wasabi soy aïoli and a ponzu glaze. Perfect for a quick patio retreat in the summer, you can snack on clams, skewers or sliders. You’ll have to hit the gym way before you have to hit the ATM. Happy Scale:
If you work downtown you are probably already keen on the mouth-watering entries inside the Davenport Hotel’s Peacock Room. What everyone doesn’t know is they have happy hour Dungeness Crab Cakes with a balsamic reduction and chive oil that will have you staring at the iconic stained glass celling in pure delight. A seared crunch with soft warm core of crustacean is only one of a scrolling list of small plates you can snack on with some of Spokane’s most prominent business crowds. Happy Scale:
Let’s say you’re not so suit and tie and looking for a spot to kick back and let your hair down. Hugo’s on the Hill has gone through some heavy changes since the last time you’ve been in. There’s a lot more than bowling happening on the hill. I took my girlfriend’s kid, and ate some chicken nachos covered in cheese, tomato, olive, green onion with a sour cream drizzle. He beat me at our “who can stack the most toppings on a chip” contest but he was no match for me at Ms. Pacman. I can eat ghosts with the best of them. Happy Scale:
Leave your kiddo at home for the next one, unless you have one of the ultra rare ones who love raw fish. The Wave Island Sports Grill and Sushi Bar is the only place doing happy hour rolls that I know of. If there are others, someone cast me a line, because eating a Firecracker (Tuna, salmon, cream cheese, scallions and avocado topped with eel sauce, sriracha and spicy powder) for the price of a California Roll is as exciting as it gets for a sushi freak like me. Now if they would just start discounting the sake. Happy Scale:
If we’re going to talk seafood, I’m about to send your mouth on an underwater adventure. 1898 Public House has hit the foodie scene running and Chef Tyler has no plan to stop. The most obscure thing on his menu is a Lobster Corndog drizzled with a Tobiko aïoli and a zesty cocktail sauce. There are some things you have to try without thinking too much. The fried corn breading wrapped around a skewer of buttery lobster is atop that list. Especially when you can order them for all your friends and still have a single-digit bill. Happy Scale:
While I have your taste-buds wired to weird: what if I told you that you could eat a James Beard Nominee’s most iconic dishes for less than a burger at your favorite fast food place? I’m not bluffing. Chef Adam offers $3 happy hour small plates at all of his restaurants but The Wandering Table in foodie district Kendall Yards is the only one to have Popcorn Cauliflower. A perfect take on chicken wings with lightly fried cauliflower tossed with barrel aged hot sauce, crumbled blue cheese with a pickled celery and carrot slaw. Happy Scale:
Maybe spice is your thing. Don’t get heated from rush hour traffic, get heated from the Red Pepper Three-Cheese Ravioli at Europa downtown. Pasta can get pricey, but this happy hour is smoking hot. Hard to believe you can get a bowl full of handmade pasta pockets covered in garlic, chive and red pepper flakes for next to nothing. Make sure to order something to drink though this dish is as rich as it is spicy. A whole meal more than an appetizer.
That covers all of Spokane right? I have a few gems for the North Idaho crowd, as well. Anyone who has spent time in Post Falls knows about The White House Grill. Not as many know that their sister restaurant The Oval Office has one of the best happy hours around. I don’t even look at the menu, I know I want their Happy Mushrooms and Gorgonzola Lamb Burgers. Lamb is one of the most under-utilized meats in our region. White House and Oval Office have it mastered. Happy Scale:
While you’re out there, nothing says summer like having a quick bite and hitting the lake. Just make sure you listen to your mom and wait 30 minutes. North Idaho has an encyclopedia of happy hours, but my go to spot is Seasons of Coeur d’Alene. You have choices between tacos and sliders or many of other treats. Just promise to pick up their Pulled Pork Polenta Tart. A perfectly seared bite of polenta hiding a treasure of molé pork. Someone must have leaked to them that I have two weaknesses: pork and Mexican food. If you happen to be around on a Tuesday they even have extra special deals on any shellfish dishes. Happy Scale: