Although it now has more than 430 locations in 28 countries, Hooters wasn’t always welcomed by the public. In fact, when it opened in October 1983 in Clearwater, Florida, the founders of the restaurant were “quickly detained for impersonating restaurateurs,” according to the company's website. But the restaurant was able to prove it was more than just a pretty face—that it was serious about serving tasty American food and frosty brews—and its popularity exploded in the decades to follow.
Amid its beach-themed vibe and flat-screen TVs, Hooters still fuels appetites with original chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and fresh salads. Of course, nobody carries those casual eats and icy pitchers better than the Hooters girls. To complement their friendly smiles, their uniforms harken back to the ones the original waitresses wore in 1983: orange hot shorts and white tank tops with the emblematic owl on the front—though that owl has lost its Lionel Richie perm.
If they can't make it to the game, sports fans find The Ref Sports Bar a good substitute for the live action. Flat screens flicker on all four sides of a jumbotron-style feature hanging above the bar. Friends gather around creatively named pizzas, such as the Classic Homerun Margherita and the The Man Cave, with buffalo sauce, crispy chicken, jalapeño bacon, and ranch dressing forming the image of the buttons on a remote control. They can also share a plate of chicken wings doused in various sauces, including six buffalo sauces in varying levels of heat. Ambitious eaters who complete the Unnecessary Roughness Challenge—devouring five total pounds of burger, toppings, and fries—get their meal for free plus a pallet in the corner to sleep off the food coma.
What was once the boiler room at the historical Montvale Hotel has turned into the Catacombs Pub, a European-style pub situated inside the building's cellar. The hotel, which is listed on the Spokane and National Registers of Historic Places, has served as everything from a hardware store to a bordello.
Today in this underground pub, a brick oven fires up made-from-scratch pizzas in the spot where coal was once shoved into the boiler. The original coal chute has been transformed into a cave-like seating area where servers deliver irish stew, bratwursts, European beers, and specialty cocktails. The pub's brick hearth and exposed stone walls, modeled after German and Viennese pubs, contribute to the its Old-World feel, along with 2,800-pound solid oak beams, which weigh as much as King Midas's cell phone.
Slinging spirits for nearly 80 years, the historic Checkerboard Tavern tackles appetites with a menu of gourmet hot dogs and slays thirsts with local brews. Toting the oldest liquor license in the state above its well-stocked bar, the Check sports a wide selection of domestics ($2.25), microbrews ($3.50), and regional suds ($3.50) from Golden Hills, Laughing Dog, and Iron Horse, as well as an old-timey jukebox that coughs up five spins for each greenback fed into its golden gullet. Get cozy in a fire-engine-red booth and anchor incisors into an assembly of encased meats, such as the Sonnenberg Dog, which tops a classic italian sausage with onions, ketchup, mustard, and relish, or the old-fashioned PB&J Dog, which arrives with crusts cut off in a He-Man lunchbox ($4). All dogs can be substituted for vegan tofurkey sausage, and assorted snacks and house fries are available for noshing ($5–$6).
While seemingly unorthodox, the melding of authentic Irish fare and Southern-style smoked barbecue creates a mouthwatering mix as tempting as the pub’s black and tans. Sink teeth into authentically appointed slow-cooked corned beef and cabbage served with irish stew, a dinner salad, and house-made horseradish sauce for dipping ($13.95). Freshly caught and covered in a Guinness beer batter, the fish and chips pairs deep-fried Alaskan white fish with steak fries and a house-made tartar sauce ($14.95 for two fillets). The smoked barbecue pulled pork spends more than 10 hours in an apple-wood burning barbecue pit before it’s partnered plateside with barbecue sauce, green salad, baked beans, and cornbread ($14.95 for a platter). Choose from an array of salads and sandwiches, including the ultimate chicken, a grilled chicken breast buried beneath smoked bacon, mushrooms, and swiss cheese ($10.95). O'Doherty's also serves a hearty breakfast Saturday and Sunday, with favorites like corned beef hash and eggs and "smoked pit" ham and eggs benedict on the menu.
Open late every night, The Blue Spark sops patrons with 26 tasty on-tap beers, a collection of cocktails, and delicious bar fare. Stop in for happy hour from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and enjoy $3 pints of Spaten Optimator, Samuel Adams, New Castle, and more (pints are normally $3.50–$5). Cheer up your melancholy stomach by snacking on tri-color tortilla chips and salsa (regularly $4.50, $2.50 during happy hour) or untangle a web of lies about your baseball career over a soft stadium pretzel ($3). For cheesier choosers, The Blue Spark offers a double cheese calzone with extra-extra cheese ($8), as well as a pizza stuffed with Italian sausage, pepperoni, onions, and jalapeños ($11). Wine by the glass ($6–$6.50) is available for unparching palates; gargle Red Diamond merlot or Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling for a mouthful of fruity fun.