We’ve all asked or been asked the same question when it comes time to dine in unfamiliar surroundings: Where’s a good place to eat?
Most answers are a question: What do you want? Italian, seafood, steak or a sandwich? Fancy or casual?
Those general categories, along with a couple other ethnic options – Mexican, Greek, Chinese – seem to cover most bases, or at least get a sense of what the inquisitor wants.
Our restaurateur got this question a lot. The category he always included – and which nearly always topped the list – was view.
With this idea percolating, we took our wives to what is simply the best water experience in the area: We settled onto the patio at Anthony’s on a late spring afternoon for a glass of wine, an appetizer, a lovely view of the Spokane Falls complete with the soundtrack of roiling water and, what we do best, a debate.
Anthony’s is the best, but there must be other local dining experiences that offer great water views.
We decided to start at the head of the Spokane River, where The Cedars Floating Restaurant gives you the river and the lake and a good meal.
But after that …
It’s a full day for Lewis and Clark to get through the (dining on water) wasteland of the Valley before you get to the NoLi Brewhouse, where you can sit by the lazy river and enjoy tempting bar food, or step next door for a meal from Bangkok Thai.
The water picks up character by the time you get to the next stop, Clinkerdagger. Known more as a cozy, special-occasion place from back in the day when it was Clinkerdagger, Bickerstaff and Petts, the river only comes into play if the weather cooperates and you can sit outside.
To check on the river view from the patio, we popped in for lunch recently. We were seated on the upper level of the deck, overlooking the river on the north side of Havermale and Canada Islands. The lower level is even more scenic and loud.
Our table had the half sandwich (tasting all three, open-faced crab, overstuffed pastrami and turkey club) and soup or salad, which also came with a helping of fries, for $13.95. All diners were pleased, but on this day at least, our order took way too long. The company and conversation were great and the service was fine, although there was never an explanation why we had to wait so long to get a menu staple.
Anthony’s is the next stop before our knowledge of riverside dining runs out at Central Food, which we enjoyed and reviewed last month. The new restaurant on the north side of the river sits high on the bluff, which takes away those wonderful water sounds but includes a spectacular view of downtown.
But the go-to spot on the river is Anthony’s.
View, as much as any of the other aspect of a restaurant’s ambiance, contributes as much to removing us from our kitchens as the not-wanting-to-do-dishes excuse we always use.
Anthony’s, with outside seating for 75 as well as a view from each of their 200 inside seats, is a sure winner for out of town guests.
The proverbial “view to die for” almost takes a backseat to the best happy hour we’ve ever come across: from 3-6:30 p.m. daily, $5 house wines and appetizers, all with a hostess, linen napkins and a professional wait staff.
We could go into detail about our choices of appetizers (tempura asparagus, baked crab and calamari) on a recent visit, but suffice to say they were awesome, with the appropriate wine.
Added to that is the four-course Sunset Dinner served Monday through Friday until 6 p.m. for $19.95. Do we need to mention the view?
Anthony’s ended up being a long, leisurely evening for the four of us. It was an experience we urge lifelong residents as well as newcomers to enjoy.