If you’ve lived around Coeur d’Alene long enough, you can still remember the days when there was only one brewery in town, and if you were craving anything exotic, a trip to Spokane was your likely destination. As the population continues to swell with residents from both coasts and the Midwest, and the ever-increasing amount of summer vacationers enjoying beautiful North Idaho summers climbs, so does the demand for quality restaurants with a variety options. The greater Coeur d’Alene area is seeing dining-out options like never before, from barbecue and mobile food trucks to sushi, specialty coffee and brews. Old favorites are still standing, and there are several new guys on the block, so if you haven’t been out to eat in awhile, there are plenty of new choices no matter what part of town you’re in.
With nearly all of the storefronts filled and new apartments and homes built within walking distance, Riverstone is a thriving gathering place for locals and visitors alike. The summer brings live music outdoors as well as mingling opportunities at the neighborhood businesses. The Culinary Stone has helped anchor the neighborhood since the early development days and continues expanding its offerings. Sandwiches are a lunchtime favorite; the adjacent bakery provides anything you need to get your morning going; and the shop’s cooking classes continue to sell out each week. Sushi I is establishing itself in Riverstone after originally opening on Spokane’s South Hill and is popular with before or after movie goers. Anthony’s brings salmon and other seafood specialties, and Bardenay continues to wow guests with their spirits made on site. Chef Angelo Martini of Angelo’s Ristorante recently expanded into Riverstone with his newest restaurant—Martino Tuscan Grill. Tuscan-inspired fine dining is what you will be treated to here, however there is also a large selection of small plates you can share with a friend over a glass of wine or martini. With easy parking and walkability as well as just about any kind of food you’re after, it’s no surprise to see this area continue to expand and flourish.
Downtown Coeur d’Alene remains the hub of it all, and it, too, has adapted with a continued increase in visitors. Those wanting a taste of North Idaho and other regional brewers can bring their growlers to the Filling Station on Fifth Street and fill up with their choice of several dozen beers and ciders. There is a daily happy hour and daily food special for those who want to stay awhile. Calypsos Coffee is still the place to relax with a friend, read a book and enjoy a great specialty blend. The Innovation Den’s coffee shop is fast becoming the gathering spot for professionals looking to expand companies and bring innovations to the city. Kaiju Sushi and Spirits does both of its namesakes well, with fresh and reasonably priced rolls and sashimi offerings as well as a full cocktail menu. The below-ground location offers a very unique feel and something you won’t find many other places. Sweet Lou’s was always a Sandpoint favorite, and its comfortable atmosphere, high-quality food and proximity to McEuen Park are making it a new Coeur d’Alene favorite. Don’t forget to continue east on Sherman for classics like Roger’s Burgers and Moon Time, and the barbecue everyone is talking about at Relic Smokehouse and Pub.
Fourth Street is the place the locals flock to, and they’re seeing more options than ever before. Angelo’s, Syringa and Capone’s continue to anchor the neighborhood as well-established Coeur d’Alene favorites. Fans of flavors not typically found in North Idaho are making return trips to Bluebird, where they find globally inspired dishes with ingredients such as octopus, duck, rabbit and mussels. The Midtown Pub is a relaxed atmosphere that features rotating local drafts, wine and full bar; a great place to catch a game or sit back with friends over a few beverages. Pilgrim’s Market continues to provide those who enjoy cooking at home with natural and organic ingredients for all their culinary needs. The deli is a great place for a quick lunch, and there are many classes, tastings and other activities going on each week. Regulars breathed a sigh of relief when Slate Creek Brewing re-opened in late March, and up the street, Daft Badger continues to pull in craft beer aficionados as well.
Best Avenue Food Trucks
While Portland might be famous for its district of food trucks, you don’t have to travel all the way to the Rose City to meander from truck to truck. Along Best Avenue, just east of Fourth Street, you will find Coeur d’Alene’s first food truck court. It will be two years this June since several mobile food vendors got together in the same place, and regulars are really enjoying the shared-space concept. Each truck brings something different to the court, and first-time visitors are often surprised at the quality and craftsmanship of the dishes. Left Coast Fusion gives you options like truffle fries and the phorrito and bánh mì sandwich while always coming up with new concepts. Rawdeadfish is sushi on the go with amazing freshness and flavorful sauces and rolls. If you want something hearty, a Philly cheesesteak from Best Sandwich Shack will fill you up, as will the barbecue offerings from The Triple B Backhills BBQ. Take your food to go or share a table space with others enjoying high-quality food in a completely casual setting.
North of I-90
As you head further from downtown, the options don’t end. The Cosmic Cowboy pleases all palates with fresh natural ingredients and specialty menu items for vegetarians, vegans, Paleo and low-carb diets. Fisherman’s Market is a great place for lunch and has everything you need for a fresh seafood dinner at home, including roll-your-own-sushi supplies and sushi-grade fish. Santorini’s makes an excellent gyro sandwich, but don’t be afraid to try out their other Greek specialty dishes. Pizza, smoothies, coffee, sandwiches, Mexican and just about anything else you are looking for is less than 10 minutes away.
As Coeur d’Alene continues to be reshaped by an influx of new out-of-state residents, so will the cuisine. With a stable economy, a demand for more choices in dining is driving new growth and fresh ideas in the area’s culinary scene. The above is just a small sample of the vast number of choices now available in North Idaho. Restaurants seeking locally sourced meats, herbs and produce are at an all-time high, as is your selection of Idaho-made craft beer. Look for even more new openings around the corner, and don’t be too shy about trying something new.