Eat Your Heart Out in Coeur d'Alene
by Allen Cox
The scenic resort town of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, offers an eclectic food scene from street-side burgers to top-floor gourmet to ethnic food, with downtown farmers markets and food festivals adding further spice. Award-winning chefs use the freshest fare, paired creatively with local ingredients from the wild and from nearby organic farms. Here are the best spots to grab a meal in Coeur d’Alene. For more information about vacationing in Coeur d’Alene, go to coeurdalene.org.
Best Beer Selection: Crafted Tap House + Kitchen
This newest addition to the Coeur d’Alene food scene hums with excitement. Don’t be overwhelmed by the 50 rotating taps, with local and international beers served by Cicerone-certified servers (they are the sommeliers of beer). For something to wash down, order one of their generous gourmet burgers made with local beef and house-baked buns. craftedtaphouse.com
Best Ethnic Cuisine: Syringa Japanese Café & Sushi Bar
Named after Idaho’s state flower, this tiny midtown restaurant delivers a whopping experience. Owners Viljo and Autumn Basso have worked in fine restaurants together for 20 years – and it shows. Viljo may be the one behind the bar making your sushi, and you’ll beg for more. Reserve early. syringasushi.com
Best Pizza: Fire Artisan Pizza
More than a few visitors have come in for a quick bite and ended up staying for hours indulging in wood-fired pizza (try the Gordy with gorgonzola, dates and balsamic reduction), and maybe a sea salt chocolate chip cookie for dessert. To add to the ambiance, old silent movies sometimes play on the back wall. fireartisanpizza.com
Best Booze with your Food: Bardenay
As America’s first restaurant distillery, this Coeur d’Alene favorite distills its own gin, vodka and rum. Sit beside Riverstone Pond and try the Ginger Rum Cocktail with Bardenay Ginger Spiced Rum, a dash of vanilla, triple sec and fresh-pressed sweet and sour, or the Heavy Smokey Martini using Bardenay Gin, Lagavulin 16-year-old scotch, Lillet Blanc and a lemon twist. bardenay.com
Best Scratch Comfort Food: Moontime
This is a Coeur d’Alene original (English public house-style) and a must-visit location for the lamb burger with roasted corn pasta salad, or one of their original soups made from local ingredients. The staff serves up Northwest brews on tap and lots of local lore and travel tips.wedonthaveone.com
Best Gourmet Experience: Beverly’s
Consistently ranked as one of America’s top restaurants, Beverly’s has incredible views from The Coeur d’Alene Resort’s 7th floor. The 5-star cuisine of Chef Tyler Schwenk includes distinctive Northwest flavors (succulent Snake River Farms beef, anyone?), innovative signature dishes with artful presentations and an award-winning wine cellar. beverlyscda.com
Best Burger: Hudson’s
Travelers make the pilgrimage for what may just be America’s best basic burger. Harley Hudson opened his hamburger shack in 1907, and since then the “Huddy Burger” has been a local favorite. Harley’s grandsons still run the counter-only diner. While you wait for your burger, handmade from scratch, (double or single patty, cheese, pickle & onion are your choices), check out the black-and-white historic photos on the wall. And don’t make the rookie mistake of ordering fries—they don’t serve them. No website; located at 207 E. Sherman Ave.
Best Farm to Fork: The Garnet Cafe
Named after Idaho’s gemstone, The Garnet Café is owned by a couple with a small family farm, bringing a true farm food experience to their customers. They use their own farm-raised pork, beef, lamb and eggs, and recently added goat cheese from their dairy. No website; located at 315 East Walnut Ave.
Best Tapas: 315 Martinis and Tapas
Begin your experience at this charming spot inside the historic Greenbriar Inn with a selection from the martini bar. Then move on to some shared bites from their tapas menu (try the Idaho-inspired huckleberry meatballs) or one of their delicious entrees. You can also spice up your vacation with an on-site cooking class featuring local ingredients. 315martinisandtapas.com