Manito Tap House, located in the South Hill, just celebrated their sixth anniversary this fall. Opened by owners Patrick McPherson and Denise Hanson, this 4 Star Certified Green Restaurant has been treating patrons to the best beers paired with a food menu featuring elevated pub fare to meet the quality and standard of the beer, all while aiming to maintain an eco-friendly gastropub.
Guests will find 50 tap handles of which 80 percent are rotating, more than 70 bottles of rare beer, an entire serving staff of Certified Beer Servers and a Certified Cicerone. Beer is taken seriously at Manito Tap House. In 2017 CraftBeer.com (the Brewers Association’s website) named Manito Tap House the Best Beer Bar in Washington State. Manito offers patrons a relaxed neighborhood vibe while serving upscale pub food, made from scratch, utilizing local and regional purveyors whenever possible. The menu changes seasonally, with a new fresh sheet offered every two weeks.
With the success of Manito Tap House, Patrick and Denise decided to open a second restaurant, The Blackbird Tavern + Kitchen, which offers a more upscale feel, in summer of 2015. Like its sister restaurant, The Blackbird is a Certified Green Restaurant with a 4 Star rating. Everything on the menu is from scratch using local and regional ingredients as much as possible. The food is primarily based on Chef Molly Patrick’s Southern-Georgian roots, with traditional Southern food menu items and Southern-fusion creations. To complement the food, guests can choose from more than 150 rare and imported bottled beers, with the same standards for beer service as Manito.
“We get people from Portland, Seattle and farther away who can't believe the selection of bottled beers we carry,” Patrick says.
Beers are cellared at both locations as well as an off-site temperature-controlled cellar. According to Patrick, “The offsite cellar has about $15,000 of beer in it. The Blackbird has a dedicated cellar that's as large as our keg cooler. We have about another $15,000 of beer in it as well. At Manito Tap House we cellar kegs in the keg cooler and we have about $7,000 worth of beer.”
Patrick, who is a certified cicerone and publican, is in charge of the cellar as well as writing the beer menus at both locations. Beers are thoughtfully selected for the cellar and are chosen first and foremost on their “cellarability.” And while some wild ales can get away with lower ABV (alcohol by volume), most beers require a higher ABV to cellar well, according to Patrick.
To complement the beer, The Blackbird has a NorCal Ovenworks Santa Maria Grill and Cookshack wood pellet smoker. Close to 80 percent of The Blackbird’s menu items include something that is cooked with wood! Depending on the dish, you’ll be treated to the flavors of mesquite, cherry, Applewood or pecan, with “a rich smokiness the most pervasive flavor,” Patrick says.
There’s a lot that sets Manito Tap House and The Blackbird apart from other area restaurants—besides the great beer, food and being the only 4 Star Certified Green Restaurants in Spokane. “Our knowledgeable staff and our beer selection certainly sets the Manito Tap House apart. At both locations, we require all of our servers and bartenders to be Cicerone ®Certified Beer Servers. At the Blackbird, some of the things that help differentiate us are our cocktail program and our wood-fired cuisine. Our bartenders infuse about 20 different liquors, anything from strawberries to cardamom.” He adds, “We're most proud of the fact that we try to not cut corners, whether it's with food or beer. Integrity is paramount to everything we do.”
When it comes to what Patrick is most proud of when it comes to his beer cellars, he says, “We're most proud of the quality of beers we have. We have so many great beers—some of which we had to drive to the breweries to pick up. We also are cellaring a firkin (cask beer) from Great Britain that will be 10 years old on Manito Tap House's 10th birthday. We can't wait to crack that in four years!”
What are you waiting for? Head to Manito Tap House or The Blackbird Tavern + Kitchen for the best beer—and food—in town.
Manito Tap House
South Hill - 3011 S. Grand Blvd.
The Blackbird Tavern + Kitchen
Downtown - 905 N. Washington St.