If I didn’t know any better, I would have had to guess that my giant burger and heaping pile of fries had been engineered by someone other than the wispy young woman standing behind the counter working the grill into a frenzy.
It’s not that wispy young women aren’t able to hold their own in a busy diner kitchen, but the sheer heft and magnitude of my meal suggested it was the handiwork of a big, burly, sweaty guy with a mustache and an attitude.
Yet there she was, somewhat daintily wielding a spatula, a slip of a girl probably not long out of high school, dressed more like she was ready for a day at the shopping mall than a day spent cranking out manly man’s platters full of amazing food. This minor incongruity was one of many pleasant revelations uncovered during a recent mid-afternoon visit to MoonDollars in Post Falls.
The location itself is somewhat unexpected, sitting on the corner of Polston and Syringa Streets, the only eatery in a neighborhood consisting primarily of insurance offices and medical facilities. The atmosphere is decidedly relaxing and the modern furniture, dim, low hanging blown-glass track lights, and abstract art in earth tones and deep reds come together in a style that I’d call IKEA Asiana. A captivatingly cool floor-to-ceiling clear cylindrical gas fireplace caught our eye immediately, and we chose a spacious table right next to its warm glow.
Tucked inside the substantial menu is a somewhat boastful printout of “Great Facts to Know About MoonDollars Restaurant,” but as we would soon learn, they have every right to brag. Everything seems to be undertaken with an organic, back-to-basics approach that adds an element of personality that makes the Red Robins and Pizza Huts of the world seem like utter fakery.
The Franz Bread deliveryman doesn’t even bother to call MoonDollars as all rolls, buns, cinnamon rolls, and pizza crusts are baked on site daily with locally grown and fresh ground Rathdrum Prairie hard red spring wheat and with zero preservatives, sugar, shortening or milk products. Burgers are hand-formed with 7percent extra lean beef, and if plain old cow isn’t jazzy enough for you, they offer every specialty burger on the menu with lean ground buffalo.
The bulk of the menu consists of an entire galaxy of celestial-themed items. We were too late to get in on breakfast, which is served until 11 a.m., but our minds reeled at the existence of the humongous “Sun, Moon & Stars Specialty Breakfast,” which is listed as “four eggs, applewood smoked bacon, ham, sausage, cheddar cheese, peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns, double grilled with shredded cheddar cheese and topped with sour cream and served with golden hashbrowns and toast.”
No it doesn’t make sense, but surely something that requires listing cheddar cheese and hashbrowns twice each sounds so good it doesn’t need to. MoonDollars’ Rathdrum Prairie Wheat Crust Pizzas include the Moon Beam, the Asteroid Storm, and the Solar Eclipse, unusual combos which mate unusual flavor combinations such as creamy blue cheese sauce, chicken breast and pineapple (the Blue Moon). The Moon Landing Chicken Salad Sandwich stars cashews and dried cranberries, and the Shuttle Launch Salmon Panini takes off with grilled seasoned salmon, herb pesto sauce and provolone cheese on grilled rosembary ciabatta bread. I’ll stop the bad space related puns now, I promise.
Our patient and very cordial server had to come and go three times before we’d finally narrowed down our lunch picks. We both decided burgers were the way to go, and while we were both quite starving, we quickly killed the idea of ordering one of MoonDollars family-sized $25 two pound burgers, although the idea was quite amusing. I was leaning toward one of my old favorites, the teriyaki burger with pineapple, renamed here the Sirius Burger, but in the end the temptation of a patty layered with cream cheese, pepper jack, fried onion rings and barbecue sauce won out, so it was the “Gypsi Star” burger for me. Plus, I’m sold on any food item that sounds like it could be an old Stevie Nicks album title.
It was an incredibly memorable, perfectly done burger so huge that half is still sitting in the fridge in a Styrofoam box, waiting to be enjoyed again. I sampled a few greedy bites of my lunch partner’s Super Nova burger and the richness of flavor brought on by the inclusion of a fried egg and crispy bacon nearly brought a tear of joy to these cynical, dry eyes. What finally opened the floodgates was the ridiculous pile of steamy, parmesan-sprinkled, fresh-cut sweet potato fries. I lied earlier when I said no more puns, but we headed out full, impressed and feeling simply over-the-moon about MoonDollars.