Brunch is lively, generally planned and full of conversation and catching up, something to look forward to. Hangover breakfast is a quiet struggle, a generally solitary affair and regularly, if not exclusively, unplanned.
It begins with the denial of a hangover’s severity, continues with anger over some of the previous night’s choices, loses the battle of bargaining with oneself to stay in bed, foresees the depression of realizing nothing is in the fridge and becomes fully realized with acceptance that nothing will make a day in bed watching Netflix tolerable until the belly is full.
Like every type of meal, hangover meals are varied – from quick, cheap grab-and-go options to all-day, greasy spoon, bottomless-mimosa, IV-drip affairs. Rather than focusing on favorite restaurants or Instagrammable decor, most decisions are based on what the previous night entailed and what the immediate future brings.
In this spirit, here are some of Spokane’s best hangover meals, conveniently broken down into four categories of evenings and bonus round for the ride home.
After the after-party
When confronted with a cottonmouth-ed, bleary-eyed hangover on a friend’s couch after a house party, apartment warming or a nightcap, be careful of the full-on instinct to get home as quickly as possible. On these mornings, the goal is getting home quickly and relatively discreetly to brush teeth, wash the face and spend the day in bed. But going back to bed with an empty stomach is doing your future self a major disservice. Stop at one of these spots on the way home to avoid a second self-inflicted painful wake up in a row.
Chaps has an impressive selection of ready-to-go bakery items early in the morning if want to get home quickly. If you’re feeling like you’d rather sit and eat, make sure to take advantage of help-yourself coffee while you wait in line to order. Chaps tends to draw a large Gonzaga crowd on weekends. A pillow-mussed hairdo, even a leftover costume, will fit in among the large collegiate brunch crowd. 4237 Cheney-Spokane Road. (509) 624-4182. www.chapsgirl.com.
Up north, Petit Chat offers a variety of sweet and savory bakery options. Give a savory croissant – think caramelized onion, sun-dried tomato, pesto – a chance, teamed with a smaller sweet option and a cup of coffee. Petit Chat can be busy on weekend mornings. But the pine-lined campus of Whitworth University is only a block away, if you rather have a quiet walk – or sit. 9910 N. Waikiki Road. (509) 468-2720. petitchatbakery.com.
Post ‘trap’ night
Folks who travel regularly to see friends and family are familiar with “trap nights,” those eves before a early family function. What starts out as a drink with an old friend from high school on Thanksgiving, Christmas or a wedding weekend ends up lasting about 12 hours before everyone needs to be squared away for Grandma, family pictures and the event everyone actually here traveled for.
The menu at Vien Dong offers a menu that someone with a hangover could randomly point to and be pleased with anything that comes their way. While the noodle, rice and vermicelli plates are all worth trying, the rich broth of the No. 23, pho tai gan, rare beef and tendon pho, will hydrate the body and satiate the stomach. The proteins are particularly tasty with an extra half-serving of hot sauce, and the beef balls would be described as most tender next to anything other than the tendon. Make sure to grab a banh mi for the road. It’s worth it for the loaf alone. 1730 E. Sprague Ave. (509) 536-6073. viendongspokane.com.
The street-style tacos at De Leon Taco and Bar are fresh, simple and much cheaper when bought in quantity. Individual tacos are in the $2 to $3 range, but get the sampler options for large discounts. Pro tip: any place that offers a 24-taco plate on the front page of the menu is a good place to start. Weekends before noon, De Leon offers breakfast tacos, burritos and plates. Hair of the dog tip: beer at De Leon comes in beautifully cold, frosted glasses. 10208 N. Division St. (509) 822-7907.
Whatever your bakery vice, Common Crumb’s version is worth trying. Of all breakfast bites in Spokane, the croissant sandwiches here are near the top of the heap. The combination of sweet jam and salty, pungent sausage with creamy cheese on a toasted, flaky bun is the world-traveling Francophile version of a breakfast sandwich. And if you’re planning another late night in the near future, be sure to grab a baguette to stale up to cook as French toast. 19 W. Main Ave. (509) 315-4948. commoncrumb.com.
A gentle reminder for everyone with cushy banker hours: not everyone has Memorial Day, the day after Christmas or Sundays off. And not everyone is responsible enough to get a solid eight hours of restful sleep the night before every single one of their early flights. (The last night of vacation is still considered a night of vacation, even if the morning comes quickly.) Thankfully, Spokane’s diner scene is easy to hit on the way to work or airport, full of classic breakfast options. Most offer bar seating for a single or double to squeeze in (relatively) quickly.
Dolly’s Cafe is one of Spokane’s best early morning diners. Near the front, by the bar, are seats for the early birds looking to read the newspaper in the sun. If you’re feeling a bit light sensitive, the back booths are probably best. 1825 N. Washington St. (509) 326-0386.
My three favorite seats in Spokane are on El Que’s patio on a summer night, any chair in the Mizuna/Steelhead Bar and Grille alley in the fall and a bar stool at Ferguson’s on a winter morning. Aside: the best seat in Spokane in the springtime is by the river with a beverage of choice. (That’s another column.) In the redesign of the space after the fire that consumed the diner of “Benny & Joon” fame, the flat top has been placed directly in front of the bar. Watching one person make plate after plate of breakfast food not only makes the food taste better, but is legitimately inspirational enough for me to get a couple more things checked off my to-do list. El Que: 141 S. Cannon St. (509) 624-5412. Mizuna: 214 N. Howard St. (509) 747-2004. Steelhead: 218 N. Howard St. (509) 747-1303. Ferguson’s: 804 W. Garland Ave. (509) 328-1950.
Past the formalities
The day after a wedding or other formal nights out generally begin one of two ways: refreshed, awake and excited for the day after eschewing late-night shenanigans or waking up in a wrinkled shirt and half-undone tie or mussed makeup and a little black dress. These spots will happily fill your belly and won’t mind your slightly wrinkled aesthetic.
Happiness offers a lunch special featuring a spring roll, pork fried rice, fried wonton and choice of an entree for under $10 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For most folks on most days, there’s plenty on a plate to solve the dinner problem as well. For some of us, throw in an egg and a hot pan and breakfast the next day might be squared away as well. Who says you can’t be hungover, tired and thoughtful? 3420 E. Sprague Ave. (509) 534-2525. happinesschinesespokane.com.
Wisconsinburger’s atmosphere will be a bit livelier, but you’re in luck. This neighborhood spot on Spokane’s South Hill has a permanent Miller High Life tap and both the bar and seasonal patio are underrated for hanging out for more than a beer and burger. Side note: at university in Bellingham, my extracurricular activities taught me how delicious and rejuvenating fried pickles can be after a night of drinking. Pair a side of fried pickles with the slightly-cleaner-to-eat sliders, especially when still wearing last night’s nice threads. 916 S. Hatch St. (509) 241-3083. wisconsinburger.com.
It’s closed Sundays, but Domini Sandwiches has likely filled more empty Spokane stomachs than any other establishment. Here’s a simple tip for ordering at this Spokane institution: get a whole sammy, enjoy half on site with the free popcorn, and have the second half wrapped up for halfway through the afternoon’s Netflix binge. 703 W. Sprague Ave. (509) 747-2324.
On the ride home
Of course, you might avoid all of these pound-of-cure options if you remember on the drive home to whisper either one of these ounce-of-prevention words into your Lyft driver’s ear: Satellite or Atilano’s. The Satellite Diner closes for just three or four hours per night and is known for its generous breakfasts. Atilano’s – billed as “San Diego’s Best Burritos” – has multiple location in the Inland Northwest. Like the Satellite, it’s open until the wee morning hours. The Satellite: 425 W. Sprague Ave. (509) 624-3952. satellitediner.com. Atilano’s: atilanos.com.