You know what's better than cheap, tasty grub? Free, tasty grub. And while it's not common to stumble across a place that's dying to give away food — not exactly a sound business model when done to excess — a few in the Inland Northwest have found that throwing in a little something extra when customers belly up for a drink leads to bigger crowds, and most likely more drinking.
This is not exactly a new phenomenon. There's a reason that bars — from the divey to the pricey — have bowls of salty treats at the ready to prime their customers' thirst. You can find some quality free snacks around here for sure.
Pop in to Bon Bon (924 W. Garland, 327-2509, garlandtheater.com/bon-bon) adjacent to the Garland Theater and you get movie-theater-quality popcorn to munch on with your craft cocktails. Coeur d'Alene's Slate Creek Brewery (1710 N. Fourth St., Suite 115, 208-664-7727) offers up peanuts and an environment that invites throwing the shells right on the floor. And up north, Laughing Dog Brewery (1109 Fontaine Dr., Ponderay, Idaho, 208-263-9222) brings its customers a bowl of "kibble" full of cheese puffs, pretzels, chips and the like. Bring your dog along and they get their own treat, too. Even upscale spots are in on the free snacks; The Lounge at Masselow's at Northern Quest Resort & Casino (100 N. Hayford Rd., 481-6000) offers free smokey almonds, made from Chef Bob Rogers' own special recipe, to accompany a drink before dinner or a little gaming.
Snacking is all well and good, but man cannot exist on salty, crunchy bites alone. If you have, say, five bucks with which to dine and drink for the evening, you're going to want to stretch that cash as far as possible.
Thankfully, a few places in the area offer free pizza to customers to go along with their drinks. Each has a welcoming vibe where you might actually want to hang for a while — and as long as free pizza is coming, why would you leave?
Whisk (17 W. Main) is a diminutive spot in one of Spokane's coolest downtown neighborhoods, a mellow, friendly place where any time they're open, you can get a slice of pizza with every drink you buy. This isn't any microwave garbage, but tasty slices from Pacific Ave Pizza (2001 W. Pacific, 624-0236). It might be a crapshoot as to what kind of slices are available at any given time, but hey, free is free.
On Mondays, 12 String Brewing Co.'s tasting room (11616 E. Montgomery Dr., Suite 26, Spokane Valley, 241-3697) turns into a bustling gathering of beer lovers eager to sip on some tasty craft-beer creations and munch down on free pizza from Pizza Rita (multiple locations, pizzarita.net).
Wednesdays from 4 to 7 pm at Press (909 S. Grand, 747-7737), the pizzas come out fast and furious from next-door Lalo's Pizza and Calzone (909 S. Grand, 533-5256), roughly one every 10 minutes in a variety of styles. Buy a drink, and you're in on the busy nights that can sometimes see Press customers mow through upward of 25 pies. ♦