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Going Fancy on the Cheap 

Fine dining doesn’t have to be pricey

click to enlarge At the Davenport\'s Safari Room, lunch items like this savory BLT are only $6 during the middle of the day.| - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • At the Davenport\'s Safari Room, lunch items like this savory BLT are only $6 during the middle of the day.|

It’s not hard to find tasty food for cheap, but what about nice food for cheap? We love our food trucks and our dives, but the ultimate cheap-eating challenge is to dine like a prince with a pauper’s pocketbook. Fortunately, some of the region’s fanciest establishments offer deals that make the fine-dining experience affordable. Just remember to ditch your spendthrift ways when it comes to the tip — eating cheap is clever, but tipping cheap just makes you a jerk.

‘Mis-steak’ Night at Churchill’s

As a preeminent steakhouse in the region, Churchill’s can demand high prices that leave many an aspiring steak connoisseur salivating at the doorway. But every so often, about once a month, Churchill’s hosts a “Mis-steak” Night with slightly underweight USDA Prime steaks for just $17. A New York Strip steak, for example, is listed on the menu at 16 oz., and they take every ounce seriously. So if one steak accidentally gets cut a little closer to 14 oz., it goes into the box reserved for the lucky folks who hear about the next “Mis-steak” Night. The announcement is made on Churchill’s Facebook page about a week or so before the big day, and you don’t want to show up fashionably late — they sometimes run out before the end of the night.

Keep a close watch for the next “Mis-steak” Night, since the last one was Jan. 20. In the meantime, you can stop by any Wednesday for the popular $7 burger night — known as Wimpy Wednesdays — in the lounge. Ordinarily a burger will cost you $11-$12, so it’s no surprise the Wednesday night event is frequently a standing-room-only affair.

Deals at the Davenport

If you can get away for a leisurely lunch, treat yourself to a fancy one at the Davenport Hotel’s Safari Room. From 11 am to 2 pm, there are six entrees for just $6 apiece. Even with tax and tip, that’s easily less than $10 for BBQ pork sliders, a Caesar salad or a BLT sandwich.

If you miss lunch, stop by when the lobby opens for Happy Hour at 4 pm for half-off all flatbreads, which ordinarily cost $9.50 to $12.50. (Yes, that’s less than $5 for the thai chicken or the tomato basil.) Drinks are also half off during Happy Hour, which ends at 6 pm. There is no way, unfortunately, to get the famous Crab Louis salad at any time of day without forking over the full $22.

Early Dinner at Anthony’s

It’s popular to dine early at Anthony’s at Spokane Falls, and not just because of the view. From 4 to 6 pm every weekday, the “sunset dinner” — a four-course pre fixe menu — is available for just $19.95. That’s no small pile of cash, but four courses is no small meal. And it’s obvious you’re not at Zip’s anymore when the choice for your first course, the appetizer, is Chilled Bay Shrimp Cocktail or Wild Salmon Croccantini. After that you still have chowder or salad, an entree and dessert. Two specials on the entree list rotate each day.

Arrive early and grab a $3.50 beer in the lounge when Happy Hour starts at 3 pm (it ends at 6:30). With $5 appetizers, you may forget dinner altogether.

Happy Hour at Clinkerdagger

With many dinner entrees hovering near $30, Clinkerdagger is the kind of Spokane institution that most normal folks reserve for only the most special of occasions. But during the daily Happy Hour from 3 to 6 pm, most anyone can afford the view overlooking the river. When the weather gets warmer, get a patio seat and smugly sip a $4.50 cranberry mojito or basil gimlet. And you don’t need to go hungry with discounted appetizers that include sophisticated options like smoked salmon, warm brie or Oysters Rockefeller. The appetizers are under $10 and almost, but not exactly, half-off the usual price. (The cheapest item, and the steepest discount, is the French fry trio for $3.75.) For late-night diners, the Happy Hour picks up again on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 pm to close.

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