One of my favorite things about moving to a new area is exploring the local restaurants and watering holes. As much as I don’t want to disparage the places that I have lived in the past, I don’t think I’m exactly telling tales out of school when I say that the Tri-Cities of Washington is not really known as a mecca for local restaurants. Given the food environment that we arrived from, Spokane has been a breath of deliciously fresh air. It never takes me very long to find the best places in town to grab a tasty beer when I arrive, and one of the first places that I discovered here in Spokane was the Manito Tap House.
The thing that originally brought me to visit Manito was the beautiful 50 tap handles that they boast, all dispensing delicious craft brews. What I wasn’t expecting was the delicious menu that accompanied the wonderful beer list. But let’s just talk about the beers for a minute before I get into that.
The Beer List
The tap list at Manito is exactly what you want to see at a quality tap house. The beers on offer here cover a wide range of styles, not merely the usual suspect IPAs, stouts and ales. If I’m feeling like something a little less common, I know that I will always find something at Manito Tap House. I mean, there might be another place in town where you will find sour ales from Oregon on tap, but I don’t know what they are (feel free to let me know if you know a place.) Not only do the beers on tap range in styles, but you will find beers from a wide range of places as well, including an awesome selection of local beers.
If you are planning on frequenting Manito, they even offer some club options that will get you access to some club exclusive taps, as well as getting you some cool perks and discounts throughout the year.
Not Your Standard Bar Food
Okay, so now to talk a little bit about the food at Manito Tap House. I generally have an entirely separate standard for judging food at bars and tap houses from what I would usually use for a restaurant. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve uttered the words, “It’s pretty good for bar food” about one of these places. To be honest, I knew absolutely nothing about the food at Manito when I first visited. It didn’t take me too long to realize that the menu was a little different from what you see at a lot of beer-focused restaurants. There is a surprisingly gourmet spin to many of the items on the menu. Had I looked beforehand, I would have realized that Manito is branded as a “gastropub,” which definitely translates into more imaginative takes on standard pub fare.
In addition to their standard menu of appetizers and entrees, there is also a rotating “fresh sheet” menu. On my most recent trip to Manito I decided to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day a little early by ordering the Drunken Clams from the fresh sheet. The delicious Manilla clams were served in a broth of cottage bacon, spinach, garlic, onions, and ale (naturally), and were completed by the side of soda bread.
A True Neighborhood Pub
As important as the consumable product is for a place like this, the atmosphere is probably even more important. There is a community vibe that is involved in the perfect pub. This definitely starts with the friendliness of the staff, but there is also an underappreciated art to the layout of a great bar. I like to drink in a place where I might randomly start up a conversation with the person next to me. Some places seem to encourage these kinds of interactions. To me, this is the spirit of the community pub. Manito definitely has that kind of atmosphere. The staff has always been great when I have visited, and the place has that intangible something that seems to encourage interaction between patrons.
Having been here in Spokane since May, my wife and I have visited Manito Tap House several times, and it remains one of our favorite “go-to” places in town. The combination of atmosphere, good food and great beer selection check all the boxes for a great pub.