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.
Rated the best Indian restaurant in the area by Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living, Top of India lives up to its name with tandoori staples culled from different regions of India. These include chicken tikka and lamb shish kebab. Beyond those meaty mainstays, the eatery cooks up more than 15 vegetarian options. Dishes like mushroom korma and chicken chili lend credence to the restaurant’s award-winning stature, and the full bar offers house specialities such as a hard mango lassi with a flare of coconut, a Royale Salute martini, and a margarita based on the classic Indian nimbu pani.
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).