As you travel from town to town across North Idaho, you run into classic hometown restaurants that have served up big portions of home cooking for decades. Many were built around feeding the appetites of our miners, loggers, mill workers and other hard-working locals. As the tourism industry and influx of non-Idaho residents moving here continues to grow, so do the choices of where to find an excellent meal.
If you are tired of the same delivery pizza, try something a little different at FLAME AND CORK in Hayden. The family run pizza joint serves up its wood-fired pizzas square shaped and with plenty of non-traditional toppings and cheeses. If you find a wine you enjoy, ask your server about joining the monthly wine club which provides you access to special events and tastings.
After many successful years in Ponderay, SWEET LOU’S now has a second location in the Parkside Towers in Downtown
Coeur d’Alene. You’ll find 23 beers on tap, plenty of screens, a killer happy hour and a very similar menu to its Ponderay location.
Popular Northwest seafood staple ANTHONY'S RESTAURANT has opened its 30th restaurant along the waterfront in the Riverstone Shopping District in Coeur d’Alene. Well known for its fresh seafood, this Anthony’s offers fine dining in a casual environment. Serving only wild-caught seafood from sustainable sources, the menu rotates weekly to offer the freshest in-season offerings. Enjoy happy hour specials on drinks and appetizers and special four-course dinner prices available before 6pm. The aroma around the Prairie Shopping Center in Hayden is now filled with delicious barbecue as JUNIOR’S BARBECUE is dishing out traditional pit barbecue for lunch and dinner. Pulled pork, ribs and hearty sandwiches can be paired with traditional Southern sides like hush puppies and fried okra.
Coeur d’Alene. An easy drinking golden ale or bolder imperial stout can be paired with appetizers, salads and sandwiches
As with much of the west, the craft beer scene is continuing to explode and locals are digging DAFT BADGER BREWING in Midtownmadein house. Watch for celebrations throughout the year and meet the brewers at various community brew fests. Start your day with a heaping breakfast at CHOMPER CAFE in Hayden. Open from 7am to 3pm, you can get breakfast no matter what time you roll out of bed. Lunch is served as well as full catering service for your office party or wedding.
Perhaps some of the most unique offerings you will find in North Idaho are at THE BLUEBIRD in Coeur d’Alene’s midtown. A new endeavor by the owners of the incredibly popular Syringa, you’ll find rotating specialties, but don’t be surprised to see octopus, duck and anchovy on the menu.
The palate of the North Idaho diner is becoming more refined. Those who have tried opening a new restaurant with basic foods, cheap ingredients and minimal atmosphere are finding themselves quickly out of business. As new businesses continue to open, it’s fun to see the time that is put into design, layout and atmosphere. Menus contain many North Idaho standards, but most also feature a few items that might make you look twice. What was once a few taps from the big three (now two—Budweiser and Miller/Coors) domestic brewers, you’ll now walk into most bars and see at least a half dozen North Idaho craft beers available by the pint or pitcher. With so many great menu offerings at local restaurants, diners are now excited to explore the new flavors being offered, rather than sticking with the same three places they’ve visited for years. As the population continues to grow and diversify, so will the cuisine.
As with the rest of the country, our attention span continues to shrink as we are always looking for the newest, latest and greatest. Restaurants are adapting by continually rotating food and drink specials, hosting trivia nights, brewer’s dinners, live music and more to keep guests coming back again and again. Social media blasts offering spur-of-the-moment specials allow owners to connect with their most loyal foodies. While it is nice to dine out often, the reality of life in North Idaho is that most of us can’t afford five meals out each week. Local businesses are stepping up to teach people how to make their own gourmet meals at home for a fraction of the price of a three-course meal out. Demonstration kitchens at Weekends and Company in Sandpoint, The Culinary Stone in Coeur d’Alene and Gourmet Way in Hayden offer classes that fill up quickly. Head chef and owner Angelo Brunson of Angelo’s in Coeur d’Alene also teaches private classes to folks looking to up their skills in the kitchen.
What’s New & Exciting:
The variety of foods available in North Idaho continues to improve as more adventurous entrepreneurs introduce us to cuisine not typically found in this neck of the woods. Despite being landlocked, sushi continues to increase in popularity with continued community support of places like Shoga in Sandpoint, and Syringa Japanese Cafe and Sushi Bar and Bonsai Bistro in Coeur d’Alene. Fisherman’s Market offers a small sushi bar, as well as fresh fish and supplies to roll your own at home! With the recent addition of Kaiju and Sushi I, there’s no shortage of fresh sushi right here in North Idaho! Despite a few skirmishes with the city of Coeur d’Alene, more food trucks are opening up to cater to folks wanting a good meal fast and at a reasonable price. Best Avenue in Coeur d’Alene has become a food-truck haven worth the stop. You’ll also find more of these trucks at community events, parades, races and brew fests. While not the most exciting news for business owners, just about every restaurant around is looking for help from servers or kitchen workers, meaning jobs are plentiful and it’s a great opportunity for young people looking to get into the restaurant industry and learn from the ground up.