In the panhandle of Idaho there are two things you can almost always count on. First there is the unbridled beauty around every corner. Then there is the other not quite so positive aspect, which is the service in most restaurants. Apparently training the service staff in most cases is an after-thought.
We were at a very nice restaurant in Sandpoint Idaho called, “41 South”. Before we even got our appetizers the server had dropped two “F” bombs. The GM (a young man from Vegas) was so high, chewing on his lip with his hand shaking from side to side so violently that the wine really had no chance of ending up in the glass. He quickly disappeared while blurting out something about allergies… never to be seen again.
However, every once in a while you stumble upon a real gem with beautifully crafted food, a wonderful wine list and service to match. These are the restaurants you want to recommend and visit the next time you’re in that neck of the woods.
Terraza Waterfront Cafe is just such a restaurant, located on the beautiful lake Coeur ‘D Alene, Idaho.
The cuisine represents a montage of Latin American cuisine. From the Andean peaks, Amazonian rain forest, Patagonian glaciers, Inca ruins, and the exciting night life… welcome to Terraza Waterfront Cafe.
The menu checks the creative box with Elote Cakes made from corn, queso fresco, and cilantro. The Peruvian Ceviche (which is gluten free) is comprised of albacore tuna, shrimp, and rockfish. The Roasted Beet Salad was the best I’d ever had. The dish included tamarindo citronette and spiced pepitas, The Taco Plate which gives you a choice of three different tacos, or the same kind if you prefer, includes Crimini Cauliflower with chili spices, salsa roja, salsa carbon, and cilantro. The Carnitas is infused with salsa verde, shaved cabbage, pickled onion, and cotija. Finally, there is the Chicken Taco with salsa cruda, sweet onion, cilantro, and manchego cheese.
Rounding out the lunch menu is Grilled Fish with a chili lime spice, salsa pina, jicama slaw, and crema. The Carne Asada lights the taste buds on fire while the Aregentinian Chorizo is a sausage lovers dream. I of course have gone vegan so I have to live vicariously through others when it comes to their fish and meat culinary experiences.
As wonderful as the food, service, cocktails, and wine selection are, the location is even better. Easy to access in a very up scale neighborhood (looks like the homes on Balboa Island in California) the peaceful waterfront, boating, and general ambience is captivating. So when your in Coeur D’Alene make sure you set aside an afternoon to enjoy this very special restaurant.
The other must go-to town is Wallace, Idaho and enjoy a meal at the Blackboard Marketplace restaurant. Wallace is the only town in America where every building is listed in the historic registry. This happened because the government wanted to put a highway through the town and the miners and other locals found a way to stop them with the historical registry designation on everything. Another unique aspect to the town of Wallace is a manhole cover in the center of town which proclaims Wallace, “The Center of the Universe.”
The Blackboard Marketplace includes unique shopping, dining, and a relaxing experience which feels like the old west meets the creative new west. One wall in the restaurant has a blackboard with chalked figures of famous movie stars. Other notable conversation pieces include old mining equipment and two televisions that are playing old 50’s and 60’s black and white shows. But its really the quality of the food and the timely service that bring people back again and again.
The dinner menu includes well crafted dishes such as the Beef Tartare. This dish is filet chopped and served raw with capers, bacon aioli/egg/crostini. The Ahi Tuna has an Italian herb crust finished with a white balsamic vinaigrette/lemon aoili/capers. Unusual but equally tantalizing is the Lobster Corn Dog with a corn/saffron citrus aioli. Entrees include a beautiful hand-crafted Lasagna with bolognese, mozzarella and Parmesan. If you love Osso Bucco this is the place with the braised lamb shank served in a red wine demi’glaze accompanied with a potato puree.
On a side bar I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a side tour that was the highlight of our trip to Idaho. The Sierra Silver Mine Tour, Inc. is a must-see tour. Marty takes you inside the Sierra Silver Mine and actually fires up the old mining equipment and explains the procedures for safety and mining the ore. This was by far one of the most informative and valuable experiences in understanding an important part of Western United States history.