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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Where to wet your whistle as Gonzaga plays in the Final Four

The beer will be flowing and the fryers sizzling as early as 7 a.m. Saturday for those hoping to catch prime seating at one of the Inland Northwest’s watering holes to watch Gonzaga take on South Carolina.

Most bartenders and managers said they’ve been packed to standing-room-only crowds as the Bulldogs have marched their way through March. If you’re still looking for a place to wet your whistle and (hopefully) watch a “W,” here are a few options, from farthest to closest to Gonzaga’s campus.

Capone’s Pub & Grille, 315 S. Ross Point Road, Post Falls. (208) 457-8020. Number of screens: 19. Opens at 11 a.m. Saturday. Family friendly. Distance from Gonzaga: 26 miles.

The closest of three locations to the McCarthey Athletic Center in North Idaho, the Capone’s location in Post Falls reopened in 2008 after a fire. The menu features burgers, pizza and sandwiches (check out the “Grinders” section of the menu). Monthly wing and pizza specials, ask your server.

True Legends, 1803 N. Harvard Road, Liberty Lake. (509) 892-3077. Number of screens: 15, and a 230-inch big screen. Opens at 9 a.m. Saturday. (509) 892-3077. Family friendly. Distance from Gonzaga: 15 miles.

It’s been standing room only at this Liberty Lake spot north of the freeway for much of the tournament, according to staff, but that nearly 20-foot big screen will ensure you get a good view of the action. Full menu includes bar staples like wings, pizza, sandwiches, but also ribs, steaks and salads.

The Ref Sports Bar, 14208 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley. (509) 315-9637. Number of screens: 20. Opens at 11 a.m. Saturday. Family friendly. Distance from Gonzaga: 10 miles.

This Spokane Valley hangout prides itself on its 31 flavors – not of ice cream, but of chicken wings. Bring along a couple of friends to polish off “the Home Run,” a platter of 50. Maybe some wet naps, too.

Epic, 100 N. Hayford Road, Airway Heights. (509) 242-7000. Number of screens: About 17, with one 30-foot-by-10-foot big screen over the bar. Opens at 7 a.m. Saturday. Family friendly. Distance from Gonzaga: 10 miles.

If you were hoping for some premium bar or catwalk space in this Northern Quest sports hangout, you’re out of luck. Those have already been reserved. But the doors open at the bright-and-early hour of 7 a.m. if you want a spot in the restaurant, which serves burgers, steaks, fish and chips and pizza.

Poole’s Public House, North, 101 E. Hastings Road. (509) 413-1834. Number of screens: 13, with a 140-inch projection screen. Distance from Gonzaga: 8 miles.

Poole’s Public House, South Hill, 5620 S. Regal St. (509) 368-9760. Number of screens: 15. Distance from Gonzaga: 6 miles.

Both family friendly, and open at 8 a.m. Saturday.

The proprietors of Poole’s gave those who took in Gonzaga’s Elite Eight victory the first call on reserving tables for this weekend. Unsurprisingly, the place is already booked, but there’s still bar space available. Both locations have more than a dozen taps available, and when the game tips at 3 p.m., it also marks the beginning of happy hour, which lasts until 6 p.m.

Morty’s Tap and Grille, 5517 S. Regal St. (509) 443-9123. Number of screens: About 15. Opens at 7 a.m. Saturday. Family friendly. Distance from Gonzaga: 6 miles.

Get up early for some breakfast, which lasts until 1 p.m. Saturday. Flapjacks, benedicts and chicken-fried steak are all on the menu. Kids are allowed in the dining room until 9 p.m. at this South Hill hangout, which should be more than enough time to see the closing seconds of the game.

Swinging Doors, 1018 W. Francis Ave. (509) 326-6794. Screens: More than 50 screens, including a 13-foot diagonal jumbo screen. Opens at 7 a.m. Saturday. Family friendly. Distance from Gonzaga: 5 miles.

In 18 minutes Monday morning, this institution on Spokane’s North Side had booked all its tables for Saturday’s Final Four matchup, said Lisa Ruggles, who operates the bar on West Francis with her father, Bob Materne. Materne opened the bar in 1981.

“We had three phone lines, and they were going like crazy,” Ruggles said. The Swinging Doors has a policy of opening up the reservation lines at 9 a.m. Monday the day after a Gonzaga win, and fans had a full day and a half to prepare to call in last week. One customer tried multiple times to call in, and instead just walked in the front door to secure her table, Ruggles said.

If the weather’s nice, the patio will be open with a big screen. That may be the best hope folks have for catching the game, as first-come, first-served bar space will be at a premium. Longtime Spokane residents may remember the Swinging Doors as the Gazebo Pizza Parlor, which opened in 1969.

Hillyard Library Sports Bar, 2936 E. Olympic Ave., (509) 475-2500. Number of screens: 3. Opens at 11 a.m. Saturday. 21 and up. Distance from Gonzaga: 4 miles.

Bibliophile Bulldog boosters may enjoy this tucked-away sports bar, occupying the former site of the Hillyard Branch Library, constructed in 1929. The operators have ended their on-site haircut services, but you can still swing away in a virtual golf simulator, and there are liquor specials every time the Zags hit a 3-pointer. The bar closes at 10 p.m. because of its location near homes, but the game should be over well before then. Burgers and nachos are on the menu.

24 Taps, 24 N. Lincoln St. (509) 309-3103. Number of screens: 23. Opens at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Family friendly. Distance from Gonzaga: 2 miles.

Gonzaga’s tournament games have caused crowds to spill out onto 24 Taps’ heated patio at the corner of Lincoln Street and Riverside Avenue, said Josh Blair, owner and manager of the downtown pub, which opened its doors in 2014. The bar features rotating taps of at least a dozen local breweries, nine big microbrews and three domestic light beers. Look for “The Big Lebowski” characters on the wall mural outside.

Red Lion, 126 N. Division St. (509) 835-5466. Number of screens: 13. Opens at 11 a.m. Saturday. Family friendly. Distance from Gonzaga: 1 mile.

Eat where the recruits chow down, then watch them play. George Talotti, longtime owner of the barbecue joint and tavern that’s stood on Division since the 1960s and once catered to beatniks, said the nightly dinner crowd has had to mingle with Zags fans throughout the season. The old pub oozes local sports history, with memorabilia from Gonzaga, Washington State University and the Spokane Chiefs plastered all over the walls.

Fast Eddie’s, 1 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. (509) 455-8752. Number of screens: 13. Opens at 11 a.m. Saturday. 21 and up. Distance from Gonzaga: 1 mile.

Drink and food specials at this bar catering to the younger crowd begin with the tipoff at 3 p.m., and closing time doesn’t hit until 2 in the morning. If you prefer more natural light in your sports hangout, the panoramic windows open right up onto Division Street, and the crowd often spills out onto the patio. A giant plate of nachos will set you back $10 during the game, and there are specials on liquor and domestic beer.

Scotty’s Doghouse, 1305 N. Hamilton St. (509) 241-0208. Number of screens: 16 with a big screen outside. Opens at 10 a.m. Saturday. 21 and up. Distance from Gonzaga: 1/2 mile.

The previous site of Chairs Public House on Hamilton, just up the street from the McCarthey Athletic Center, has been converted into a brightly lit, industrial designed spot catering to the college crowd. As the name implies, hot dogs are on the menu, but also favorites like burgers, nachos and an invention called the “hangover cure” that has breakfast staples eggs, bacon and potatoes wrapped up into a cheese waffle cone.

Bar staff said there will be a tent outside in the parking lot, with a DJ and a taco truck also serving food throughout the day. The Lucky Pup next door, sometimes open for crowds under 21, will be reserved for those of drinking age Saturday.

Geno’s, 1414 N. Hamilton St. (509) 368-9087. Number of screens: Five. Opens at 11 a.m. Saturday. Family friendly. Distance from Gonzaga: 1/2 mile.

The former pizza and Italian pub came under ownership of the Elk, Moon Time, Porch and Two Seven family of restaurants in 2013, and you can expect similar fare in the dining room, including a fresh sheet and regular menu items that put a twist on pub classics. There are three TVs in the restaurant’s cozy bar, and two more large screens in the dining area. The kitchen stays open until 11 p.m.