While you’re enjoying the lake in Coeur d’Alene this summer, there’s no need to put up with a sand-filled picnic. This season is the perfect time to check out some of the city’s interesting eateries.
Here are a few of my favorite spots:
Slide into a seat at the expanded sushi bar at Takara. The fish is flown in from Seattle regularly, so it’s fresh. Maybe it’s a boring choice, but I liked their California roll. Still, sushi is just a portion of the restaurant’s Japanese menu.
At a recent lunch, I was impressed with the light, crispy tempura. I only wish there were a few more slices of sweet potato in my order.
A messy pile of fried noodles was flavorful and loaded with tiny cocktail shrimp and crunchy veggies.
The affordable lunches include miso soup and a refreshing sweet-tart cucumber salad.
In addition to the open dining room, there are some private rooms available. For reservations, call (208) 765-8014.
The Blue Moon Bakery and Cafe smells heavenly.
Check out this funky, comfy cafe’s vegetarian offerings made with mostly organically grown ingredients including muffalettas made with grilled tofu or hummus or both, black bean burritos or the house quesadilla with sauteed veggies and melted cheese folded into a tortilla. There are also daily lunch specials, a number of salads and a juice bar.
It’s located at 211 Lakeside. Call (208) 664-5001 for take-out orders or to check on what bread was baked fresh that day.
Moontime Pub serves a winning selection of sandwiches and entrees including a wickedly hot gumbo. But you can cool it off with the ever-changing assortment of brew in this lively spot. Be aware, this is a pub, so smoking is allowed.
Happily, the road construction is done, so Moontime is accessible once again. It’s located at 1602 Sherman Ave.
Finally, the new Hunters Bar and Grill doesn’t have road kill on the menu, but the walls are decorated with all sorts of trophy animals.
The menu at this clubby place includes burgers, sandwiches and salads. Entrees include a beef-based Hunter’s Stew, vegetarian lasagna and smoked pork ribs. Prices range from $4.95 for a burger with hand-cut fries to $10.95 for a rib dinner.
The one thing I noticed about this place was that there was an abundance of ashtrays. They throw cigar dinners there, too.
Hunters is located at 2108 Fourth Ave., just off I-90.
Fast food, Asian-style
The owners of The Mustard Seed are partners in a tasty new venture in the Spokane Valley.
The Noodle Express takes fast food to a new level with its flavorful teriyaki bowls, rice topped with either chicken, beef, pork or shrimp and a small, tangy salad.
The menu also features pot stickers, noodle soup, salads and, of course, noodles. The noodles - yakisoba - were fine, but needed a healthy dose of soy sauce. I liked the rice bowls better.
What’s remarkable about this no-frills place is the price. Nothing is over $5 and many items ring in at under $4. Lots of folks have discovered that, as it was packed on a recent lunch hour.
The Noodle Express is located at 707 N. Sullivan. Call 927-4117 for take-out orders.
Cutting through the crust
If I hear one more commercial for Pizza Hut’s “new” style toppings, I’m going to scream.
Here’s a flash: Serving fresh vegetables on a pizza is not exactly a revolutionary idea. The ads make a big point of saying red onions are now an option. Big deal.
To be fair, I tried one of these newfangled pies. The sauce was mild, the cheese rubbery, the crust was bland. Not the kind of thing that strikes me as something “totally new.”
If you want a pie with personality, check out David’s, Bennidito’s, Little Italy, Pizza Rita or Rock City.
Anaconda Grille is no more
A fond farewell to Gina Lanza and Kevin Gilmore, the creative team at the Anaconda Grille.
After a couple of eventful years at this East Central neighborhood location, the pair has decided to try something completely different. (Meaning, they’re getting out of the highly competitive, stressful restaurant biz.)
The Anaconda’s last supper is being served Saturday, but many loyal regulars have booked ahead, so it might be impossible to get a table.
In one of those it’s-a-small-world-after-all turns, Lanza’s former compatriot at her old Amore is taking over the spot.
Michael Waliser will revamp the menu and renovate the interior for his Cafe 5 Ten, which he hopes to open on July 9.
Waliser, a talented chef whose credentials include Seattle restaurants, Fugazzi, Bountiful Foods and, most recently, Huckleberrys, plans on a seasonal menu with daily specials. He will also extend hours of operation, opening Monday through Saturday for dinner and Monday through Friday for lunch.
Watch for additional details in an upcoming column.
Lake place follow-up
I’ve heard from a couple of readers about places unintentionally omitted from the roundup of lake resort restaurants.
One woman called in to rave about The Beachhouse on the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene.
Nan Waters sent a postcard with cute kittens on it to let me know about a place at Loon Lake called The Dinner Bell. She said that this family restaurant has “good plain food, well-cooked and not too expensive.”
Also, at Waits Lake, there’s a full-service restaurant called Picnic Pines.
On the eastern shore, in Harrison, One Shot Charlies serves a variety of dishes for lunch and dinner ranging from burgers to filet mignon. With a day’s notice, you can even order a 24-ounce lobster tail.
There’s also a lengthy list of appetizers including shrimp-stuffed mushrooms, “miracle” meatballs, nachos and seafood chowder.
Prices range from $5 to $17 for the steak.
For directions, call (208) 689-3826.
Park yourself at the Bench
The Park Bench in Manito Park is open for the season.
In the shade of those towering trees, you can munch on a number of specialty sandwiches, salads and made-from-scratch soups. There’s a box lunch available.
In the morning, there are pastries available and a full line of espresso drinks. And it’s undoubtedly the only restaurant in the world that sells doggie biscuits.
The Park Bench is open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily until in September.
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