Find a vibe to fit any mood at nine of Spokane's tiniest drinking establishments

click to enlarge Night Owl on North Division is one of Spokane's newest "tiny bars." - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Night Owl on North Division is one of Spokane's newest "tiny bars."

Whether you want to drink alone, cozy up with a date, find a great happy hour or throw back a shot after a long day, there are plenty of places across town to fit all these needs. Yet often the best atmosphere and company can be found in close quarters, like these nine "tiny bars" of Spokane — bars that mostly hit the 500-square-feet and under mark, and feel more like an intimate living room gathering than a wild party. Many are familiar mainstays, others are newer, and all are waiting to become your next favorite haunt.

Night Owl
223 N. Division St.
800 square feet; capacity: 49

In the middle of the craziness that is the "Bromuda Triangle," there's a small oasis waiting for those who want a quality drink in a hipster hideaway. Tucked between Boombox Pizza and Fast Eddie's in the old Revolver spot, the Night Owl beckons visitors in with its small white neon sign and Southwestern backsplash. The friendly staff are willing to mix you a delicious cocktail based on your mood that day (who needs a menu?) and they must be doing something right because they've become a favorite haunt for other bartenders in the area. (SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL)

Pocket Bar
1017 W. First Ave.
495 square feet; capacity: 18+

Pocket Bar might not stay small for long — there are plans to expand when parent company Eat Good Group adds its bakery to the Montvale Hotel complex Pocket Bar calls home. But for now, the diminutive snack-and-beer spot that opened this summer is a nice place to enjoy a pint of regional craft beer, a glass of Washington wine, and an array of stuffed pastries, or "pockets," that give the place its name. They're $5 each or $9 for two, and feature flavors ranging from curry to pizza to cheeseburger (and then some). Salads, dessert pockets and pretzels are available as well, and while there is typically seating for 18, manager Tyll Rodgers is happy to put out more chairs when it gets crowded. (DAN NAILEN)

Bon Bon
926 W. Garland Ave.
~325 square feet; capacity: 40 (seats 26)

Attached to the historic Garland Theater, Bon Bon is a must for moviegoers and happy hour seekers alike, with an innovative craft cocktail menu and killer deals, plus complimentary popcorn at the bar. During happy hour (Mon-Thu from 4-7 pm; Fri-Sat from 10 pm-2 am and Sun from 4 pm-12 am), choose from a rotating list of $5 craft cocktails concocted by Bon Bon's experienced bar team. Hungry? Enjoy the Garland's elevated movie concessions menu — we highly recommend the mac and cheese, black bean sliders and pulled pork sandwich. If you plan to hit up a movie, too, don't forget that beer and wine ordered in the bar can also be taken into the theater. Bon Bon also hosts weekly trivia, bingo and other special events. (CHEY SCOTT)

Baby Bar
827 W. First Ave.
288 square feet; capacity: 25

No matter the hour, no matter the season, it always seems to be the same time inside Baby Bar. You could argue it's the definitive tiny Spokane bar, a windowless hole in the wall that began slinging drinks when it first opened as a motel bar in the early 1970s. Since 2007, the business has been under the ownership of Patty Tully, and she's often the smiling face you'll see behind the bar. The ambience is what draws you in — the Twin Peaks-esque red curtains, the rotating local art, the playful hand-written signs on the wall — but it's the dollar PBRs on Wednesday nights and its famous greyhounds with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice that keep you coming back. Even better: Neato Burrito, which offers some of the best tortilla-wrapped goodness in town, is right down the hallway. (NATHAN WEINBENDER)

Whisk
17 W. Main Ave.
420 square feet; capacity: 36

A calmer night spot than its brethren around the corner on North Division's busy bar block, Whisk is laid back and also quite beloved by industry folk. Specializing in whiskey, naturally, the little bar tucked between Chosen Vintage and Merlyn's comic book shop also stocks plenty of tall cans, which are $2 during happy hour (Tue-Sat from 4-6 pm), along with $4 wells. While inside seats just under 40, a newly installed awning out front makes the bar's patio usable yearround. While the bar's ownership and name is about to change, its whiskey focus and friendly, familiar bartending staff don't plan to, meaning Whisk will remain a reliable, easygoing hangout. (CHEY SCOTT)

El Que
141 S. Cannon St.
~500 square feet; capacity: 49

Browne's Addition has its share of terrific bars, and El Que is one of the best. The tiny taqueria, owned by the same folks as neighboring public house the Elk, is decked out with votive candles and a back wall stocked with just about any kind of tequila you can think of — a truly cozy hangout. Imbibe with one of their daily specials, from $2 Modelos on Mondays to a $6 tequila shot-Tecate combo on Thursdays. In the summertime, El Que's patio is one of Browne's primo spots, the ideal place to enjoy an ice cold cerveza — made all the better with a squeeze of lime — or one of the bar's refreshing on-the-rocks cocktails made with one of their fruit-infused tequilas. (NATHAN WEINBENDER)

The Riff
215 W. Main Ave.
283 square feet; capacity: 21

Cheap beer and hard rock. That's what you get when you wander into the Riff. If you're looking for cleanliness or extra elbow room between yourself and the next barfly, well, the door is never too far away. Don't be put off by its rough appearances. It's the inside that counts. "I love that I can come and sit down here and feel comfortable and not feel like I have to leave," says bartender Kelsie Reynolds. "It's like a friend's house." Happy hour is 5-8 pm on weekdays: $1.50 for Bud Light and $2.50 for a well shot. Shoot the shit with the regulars and be sure to pet Po the pup if he's hanging around. (QUINN WELSCH)

click to enlarge Escape the hustle at the Tiny Tiki, downtown on West Second Avenue. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Escape the hustle at the Tiny Tiki, downtown on West Second Avenue.

The Tiny Tiki
307 W. Second Ave.
490 square feet; capacity: 30 (seats 15)

An almost-hidden oasis on a mostly bland commercial stretch of Second Avenue, the Tiny Tiki rolled out its tropical, rum-centric cocktail menu last summer. Owner and longtime local bartender Claire Fieberg has the cozy space decked out in warm wicker, faux palm fronds and flowers, vintage tiki-style decor, cool and colorful lights and other authentic touches that make guests feel like they're on a tropical vacation, and not really in downtown Spokane. Appropriately, the drinks at the Tiny Tiki feature plenty of fruity (but not overly so) flavors, and new specials are offered on the regular. Mai tais are made in batches and served on a nitro tap — a classic choice to sip while lounging to the bar's oldies surf rock playlists. (CHEY SCOTT)

Scofflaw's Book Club
108 N. Washington St., Suite 100
1,187 square feet; capacity: 51

Opening soon, Scofflaws Book Club is a Prohibition fanatic's dream. Following the style of a 1920s speakeasy, the bar entrance is a bookshelf that requires a tug on the right title to enter. Literary patrons can choose from green library-style booths or a row of seats at the bar as they order from a selection of cocktails and whiskeys crafted with authors like Hemingway and Bukowski in mind. Though its square footage is a little higher than the other tiny bars featured here, what you see is what you get — there's no extra room in back or downstairs for storage, which is why owner Bryan Harkey says, "It's gonna be very cozy." (SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL) ♦

Coffee Cupping @ DOMA Coffee

Fri., Nov. 22, 2 p.m.
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