Hours: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. 7 days
Happy Hour: Daily 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. and again 9 p.m. until 10 p.m.
Price: $ (out of $$$$)
Rating: B+ for food, A+ for value and cheesy ambiance
Location: 928 NW Olsen St., Pullman, Wash.
The Hilltop Inn and Restaurant is an often-overlooked option for dining in Pullman. Its heyday as the best fancy restaurant in Pullman may have passed, but its quirky charm and amazing value should entice you to trek up the hill. In fact, the homey and unpretentious charm of this restaurant is what really makes it awesome.
My first word of advice is to eschew the regular dining room and head straight to the “Cliff Room” — the bar. While the food in the restaurant is great, the best value is the bar's happy hour.
There are three menus at the Hilltop: happy hour, bar and restaurant.
Happy hour is every day from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and again from 9 to 10 p.m. in the bar. All food and drinks on the happy hour menu are $3. Menu items include lasagna, nachos and fried shrimp poppers, among many others. The portions of these are large and, while it may not be the best lasagna I've ever had, it’s tasty.
For beverages, all well-drinks, beer and house wine are $3. If you’re on a budget, lasagna and a beer will make you full and happy.
The non-happy hour menu items in the bar are very good, although range up to $10. My favorite item on this menu is the “oysters and bake,” but their burgers are fantastic, too.
If you venture to the regular dinner menu you will not be disappointed even though the prices are significantly higher than the $3 happy hour. The regular restaurant is a good place to take your parents when they come to visit; the menu is large with something for everyone.
The ambiance of the restaurant is best described as “quirky.” The dining room has lovely picture windows and comfortable seats, but reminds me of places I ate with my parents in the mid-'80s.
The bar, however, is comfortable and heartwarmingly '70s. You almost expect to see John Travolta from “Saturday Night Fever” sitting in the corner drinking a gin and tonic. Hilltop, if you’re reading this, please do not renovate. The bar is wonderfully comfortable, and the seats by the window provide some of the best sunset views over the WSU campus in all of Pullman.
Another word of advice: come with friends. The Hilltop is never busy and is often empty. I find the emptiness of it puzzling considering the prices, quality of food and friendly staff.
I love the Hilltop for what it offers: an incredibly inexpensive night out in Pullman. I can only assume that others do not know about the happy hour here, for if they did it would be packed. I only fear that now when I go to the quiet bar for a drink and lasagna, I will be fighting for my usual table in the corner.