Manito Tap House – 3011 S. Grand Blvd. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday-Saturday. (509) 279-2671. Dinner entrees $10-$19.
Manito Tap House uses better ingredients than the average pub and prepares them with more care, under the guidance of executive chef Branden Moreau. The atmosphere is, indeed, as close as you can get to Portland and Fremont. The kegs themselves are part of the decor, displayed through windows behind the bar. Don’t miss: the Yam Chips, the Green Chile Mac & Cheese, the Carne Adovada. (March 2013)
Geno’s – 1414 N. Hamilton St., Open 11 a.m. to close Monday-Friday, noon to close Saturday-Sunday. (509) 368-9087. Dinner entrees: $7-$16.
The old Geno’s, beloved as it may have been to its regulars, was a one-trick pony: a traditional Italian restaurant with heaping plates of pasta, checkered tablecloths, wood-paneled walls, well-seasoned waitresses and Frank and Dean on the jukebox. While there’s still plenty of pasta, it shares the regular menu with the likes of chicken nachos; strawberry salmon, huckleberry steak and tofu salads; and a hummus sub sandwich. The creativity gets kicked up another notch with the rotating list of fresh sheet specials, served with one thing that hasn’t changed since the old days: extremely reasonable prices. Don’t miss: Seafood Alfredo, Meat Lasagna, Cheesy Bread Sticks. (February 2013)
The Cellar at 317 Sherman – 317 Sherman Ave., Coeur d’Alene. Open 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to close Tuesday-Saturday, and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday. (208) 664-9463. Dinner entrees $12-$25.
Longtime fans of the Wine Cellar can passionately debate whether The Cellar is an improvement over the cozy, garlic-scented Wine Cellar. Yet several recent visits confirm that it remains one of the most convivial places in our region to listen to live music over wine and a good (often great) dinner. Don’t miss: the Bouillabaisse, Brick Oven Roasted Chicken, Spinach Salad. (November 2012)
Casper Fry – 928 S. Perry St. Open 11:30 a.m. to close Wednesday-Monday. (509) 535-0536. Dinner entrees $9-$24.
For a true taste of the South, you don’t have to go any farther than South Perry. Since June 2012, Casper Fry has been serving up the likes of grits, greens, gumbo and more on the lower South Hill. Through the kitchen door, you can get a glimpse of the heart of his operation: a high-performance Josper oven, fired by a combination of oak lump charcoal and apple/alder wood chips, which grills, smokes and broils to temperatures approaching 1,000 degrees. Don’t miss: Jama’s Fried Chicken, Low Country Shrimp & Grits, Pork Belly. (October 2012)
Fire Artisan Pizza – 517 Sherman Ave., Coeur d’Alene/816 W. Sprague Ave., Spokane. (208) 676-1743/(509) 413-1856. Open in Couer d’Alene 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and in Spokane 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Dinner entrees $13-$16.
Fire Artisan Pizza has been hand-tossing its way into the hearts and stomachs of pizza fans. With its housemade crusts, creative toppings and industrial-cool vibe, it quickly became a favorite lunch and dinner spot in the Lake City. The pizza oven dominates the open kitchen in the back corner, so you can watch the pizza chefs shape your pie, add toppings and slide it into the blistering hot fire. Don’t miss: the Gordy, Spinach and Gorgonzola Salad, the Parma. (September 2012)