Hogwash Whiskey Den


I’ll tell you the one thing I don’t like about Hogwash. (Yes, there literally is only one thing I find displeasing.) I get it… I get they want to be a «speakeasy», but in 2017, with a Facebook page and an Instagram profile, I see little need in hiding your entrance. To their credit, they did do a good job at it, as multiple people in our party walked straight past it. Repeatedly.

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That aside.

We haven’t had anything but good things to say about the Santé crew’s undertakings so far, and little would suggest it will change anytime soon. When you finally do find the door, the locales have the underground vibe you (surely) had hoped for. Here you’ll find an open space that is not too loud, and well suited for socializing (at least if you can find a table). The light is suitably dim and creates a good ambiance.

I’m not personally a huge whiskey drinker, but I know what I like, and I have a good feel for what a decent Manhattan should taste like. Hogwash delivered it spot on: a simple drink with a kick; a bit of sweet with a side of burn1, where proper, high-quality ingredients did the grunt work. Go traditional or go wild and ask the bartenders for something out of the ordinary. Both worked for us, and the Krampus’ Slay delivered a good chaser (so to speak).

(And the heathen I am, I was a fan of the Negroni. The heart wants what the heart wants, even when it’s a gauche late evening apéritif.)

Not surprisingly — this is a Santé spin-off after all — the food went over well, too. For me, it was all about the Hogwash Burger, where the addition of a $3 egg is worth the splurge: the gooey result is quite delicious. Impressively, the bun didn’t soggy up either, which is always a bonus. This isn’t exactly Santé as far as the menu goes, but the food is anything but an afterthought, and seems carefully appropriated to go with the cocktails.

So yes, I will graciously forgive the door. Hogwash does everything else very, very well, and the only real excuse you would have for not going here would be that you’re underage. But hey, that’s what fake IDs are for, right?2

Update! Proprietor Jeremy Hansen called out on Facebook what now reasonably can only be called Doorgate. I’m sure a discussion could be had about both the current use of «speakeasy» and linguistic re-appropriation in general, but we’ll leave that for another time. Over to Jeremy:

Ok so! I do appreciate the fine words and the appreciation from a true and educated food enthusiast! But! Hogwash is not and was never intended to be a speak easy! And nowhere in our literature on instagrahm or FB says it is. And this is why, their is no such thing as a speakeasy in this day and age, and if I was faking it I’d have a password or a window with a light or something and no fb or insto. So no this is not a speakeasy and was never intended to be. And the only reason you can’t find the door is because, idk there’s a sign right there. Anyway, he entrance is the way it is because it’s literally the only way to get in. But thank you! And thank you for not kissing ass!

Vote for Hogwash Whiskey Den: It’s your civic duty!

Tortilla Union


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Tortilla Union does everything right. Or, as it is, Tortilla Union does everything the right way. There’s a slight, but important difference between the two.

Imagine the scenario: You’ve watched an average movie, feeling averagely hungry, and hey, what do you know, you’re in a mall. What better place to find an average meal? You’re lying to yourself and you’re lying to us if you claim this has never happened to you. We are all guilty of it. We want convenience, but we don’t entirely want to give up on our ideals. We don’t want to lower ourselves to Red Robin.

And that is why Tortilla Union exists.

This is the place you tell your friends you went to after watching Suicide Squad, in a strange daze, feeling somewhat distraught at the lack of Jared Leto1. You «wanted something quick and simple to go with a drink». And you know what? Tortilla Union does that perfectly averagely. You won’t lose face going there—as long as you present the story with a roll of the eye and a chuckle—and you will walk out having forgotten the experience pretty much as soon as you’ve paid the check.

It’s like it was created for a mall, Tortilla Union2. It’s as inoffensive as it possibly can be. Gluten free options abound, and tacos complementing the average beer selection. You can happily eat and drink and socialize, well in knowledge of the two first not getting in the way of the third.

It would be charitable to call the carne asada «gently seasoned» as opposed to «bland», and the pickled onion really doesn’t add much to the party. The tortillas themselves? Well, they hold it all together at least.

It is what it is, Tortilla Union, and what it is, is either perfectly or criminally average, depending on your point of view.

1 Words I never thought I’d say, but what the hell, right?

2 Or malls were created for it.

Vote for Tortilla Union: It’s your civic duty!


The Great Burger ChaseSpokane

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Garageland: this is quite an awesome spot. Mixing a record store and a restaurant/bar1 results in a vibe any music lover can approve of, without it feeling hipper than thou or anything. Garageland is downright classy in its rock-y-poppy type of way. If Paul Simon2 was a restaurant, this is what he would be.

The hamburger: Very close—possibly closer during your future visit—but not quite there. Garageland’s eponymous sandwich certainly has the profile the team approves of. Complex, yet restrained. Caramelized onions, aioli, and a creamy cheese—Délice de Bourgogne at that. You don’t have to write a dissertation to figure out what’s going on with this burger. Plenty of deep flavors, yet all with an overall cleanness for your enjoyment.

A burger Paul Simon would enjoy, I dare say.

The preparation of the actual patty is where it went wrong during our visit. We ordered the burger medium, which in my mind is a lot more fair than the harder-to-make-to-order medium-rare. What we got was decidedly well-done, and a bit too close to the north side of that. High quality toppings are important, certainly, but you are left with a disappointing result when the main feature is less than awesome.

Hey, you might have better luck than us. Either way, Garageland should be visited. It’s an awesome spot; the burger just wasn’t entirely there.

1 It is family friendly by the way.

2 «You Can Call Me Al» was even playing.

Vote for Garageland: It’s your civic duty!



Ruins opened its doors right after we took off from the GEG a few years back. Since then, we have heard many ravings about the spot, but then, that was also the case with Fleur de Sel. The latter didn’t impress us a whole lot, and luckily Ruins fared much, much better.

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This is the type of place that should flourish in Spokane, and it clearly has. Good fresh food at reasonable prices? Ruins is not only the type of spot Spokane needs, it’s the type it deserves.

The vibe lives up to the name, which isn’t to say it feels like a ruin or anything, but it’s becomingly casual. Homey without being home. Like an old sweater that keeps getting warmer than age (just to pull out another South Park reference).

Yet, of course it’s all about the food1 and Ruins hits it home just as well as has been advertised. My potato-fried cod came out with just the proper bite, something which can be tricky to achieve. Nothing was burnt, nothing was soggy, just exactly the texture a cod should have with a nice (dare I say) rustic crust. The added crème fraîche — conservatively used, thankfully, and an unintended South Park reference — was a well-paired accompaniment, flanking subtle dill flavors.

Simple can be complicated, and simple can be good. This dish was both. Or all three. Or whatever, math is hard. All in all, one hell of a good fish2.

With all of this, I can’t help but think Ruins is sort of anonymous, and I mean that in a good way. Describing it to an outsider might be difficult, because nothing is spectacular in the traditional sense of the word. It is, when all the pieces are added up, you get it. Ruins is Ruins, and there aren’t a whole lot of other places out there like it. Maybe it’ll just stay a local secret, then, and why not? The ravings about the place were well placed at least.

1 And the cocktails; also great.

2 That could be the whole review, but I get paid by the word. (I don’t get paid. :~()

Vote for Ruins: It’s your civic duty!