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Northern Delights: Exploring Idaho’s Premier Restaurants and Bistros

Picture this: a gorgeous, quiet afternoon at a quaint neighborhood bistro, or the breathtaking sunset views over a lakeside patio. The aroma of freshly prepared dishes lingering through the air, and the laughter and chit-chat of locals in the background. That’s the magic of Northern Idaho’s culinary scene—a place where food isn’t just a necessity, but one big party.

If you’re as much a fan as I am of northern Idaho gastronomy, get ready because we’re about to embark on a mouth-watering journey through this part of Idaho. 

In this guide, we’re not just sharing the best restaurants; we’re inviting you to join us on a personal exploration of the delightful eateries that make Northern Idaho a haven for food lovers. 

Looking for some of the best restaurants in Spokane, Washington? Take a look at our guide here: The Best Restaurants in Spokane, Washington

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The Best Restaurants in North Idaho

Vine and Olive in Coeur d’Alene

Vine and Olive is an upscale, delightful venue right in the middle of bustling Coeur d’Alene. The passion Naomi, the owner of Vine and Olive, has for her craft and menu is evident as soon as you step inside. 

Delicious food from Vine and Olive, a North Idaho restaurant
Vine and Olive meals, photo by author

It’s always hard for me to pick just one dish as the best, but I think the signature favorite here is the decadent oysters and wide selection of local wines on display throughout the establishment. The menu here reads like a love letter to culinary innovation. Each dish is a carefully crafted masterpiece, bursting with vibrant flavors that reflect the essence of our region. Vine and Olive seamlessly blends the sophistication of fine dining with an ambiance that invites you to unwind and savor every moment.

Oysters at Vine and Olive
Oysters at Vine and Olive, photo by author

Bardenay in Coeur d’Alene

No best restaurants in Northern Idaho list would be complete without Bardenay. Are you looking for beautiful lake views, delicious local crafted cocktails, and prices that match your budget, with pristine and tasteful vibes? Bardenay is it. 

I recently discovered Bardenay has its own distillery, where whiskey, vodka, and various flavored liquors exist. Not to mention, their craft cocktail list is massive, with so many different options to choose from depending on what you’re in the mood for. 

What truly sets Bardenay apart is not just the views and impressive drink selection but the quality of their cuisine at surprisingly affordable prices. At Bardenay, everything is made with the best quality ingredients, and the flavors are out of this world, from their hand-battered fish to their steak sandwiches. The food is worth every bite, the drinks are delicious, and you’ll leave satisfied.  

Terraza Waterfront in Coeur d’Alene

Terraza takes a spot on this list for its patio views, incredible views of the lake, perfect sunset opportunities, and boat launches to park your boat while you’re out on the water and grabbing a snack, or cooling off with a drink. Terraza brings Latin-inspired cuisine to the table along with delicious yet sophisticated cocktails, a combination of experiences that will boost your serotonin levels. 

Burger at Terraza
Burger at Terraza Waterfront, photo by author

Terraza’s unique menu showcases a wide range of colorful dishes, from Cuban-style ribs, to dazzling elote cakes, to their most popular dish, Moqueca, which consists of Chilean sea bass, mussels, and clams all swimming in a delicious tomato coconut stew served over cilantro lime rice. 

Be sure to keep an eye out for Terraza’s specialty wine and tequila dinners, and their brunch menu on weekends from 9 am to 12 pm! 

Izzys Comfort Kitchen in Coeur d’Alene

I fell in love with Izzy’s Comfort Kitchen the moment I set foot inside their restaurant. If you’re looking for the perfect brunch spot, I promise this is it. I am even inclined to call it the best brunch I’ve had in Northern Idaho! 

best restaurants in northern idaho, Izzy's Comfort Kitchen
Drinks at Izzy’s Comfort Kitchen, photo by author

Izzy’s Comfort Kitchen offers and specializes in a gluten-free menu. Its owner, Reannan Keene, is gluten-free herself and has made it her mission to serve our community and show her guests that gluten-free can be just as delightful as anything else. 

Start your day with a Bloody Mary and an order of their shrimp and “grits,” or give their peach bourbon burger a try. Whether it be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Izzy’s Comfort Kitchen will always have you falling in love with food, and have you leaving happy.

Capone’s in Post Falls

What Capone’s may lack in size, they more than make up for in fantastic dining options. Don’t just take my word for it – Capone’s is a local favorite, too! 

Whether you’re in the mood for a laid-back evening cheering on your favorite sports team or just grabbing a beer with friends, Capone’s has that perfect, relaxed vibe. Capone’s menu is so expansive, and choosing a favorite is a challenge, but I can vouch for the “4th Street” sandwich, the mouthwatering “Firecracker” burger, and the kick of the spicy Thai chicken pizza. 

And here’s a little secret: don’t miss out on their monthly wing specials, where each month, they have discounts on different flavors of your favorite wings. Oh, and the signature garlic cheese fries? Out of this world. Put this on your north Idaho list today!

Fainting Goat in Wallace

For all my wine-loving fanatics out there, this is a must-visit when passing through the beautiful historic town of Wallace, Idaho. Known for its self-pour wine dispenser systems and local wine selection, Fainting Goat creates a warm atmosphere that will make you want to stay all night. 

Wine at Fainting Goat, one of the best Northern Idaho restaurants
Enjoy a glass of wine at the Fainting Goat! Photo by author.

The excitement of the wine stations and variety of delightful flavors pair so well with the menu Fainting Goat has to offer. Warm up with a bowl of rich and savory French onion soup or their creamy house-made chicken noodle. With a modernized Italian menu, there is so much to choose from on this menu, which combines sophisticated cooking with cozy comfort. 

Nadine’s in Rathdrum

Nadine’s is the perfect stop when you’re out on your next adventure through Idaho, where the flavors are bold, imaginative, and tasty. The wet burritos are nothing short of perfection, delivering a taste that’s so fire, it’s practically an explosion in your mouth. 

At Nadine’s, there is a perfect combination of Mexican authenticity and American comfort food, creating a menu that invites you to close your eyes, point, and still end up with a plate full of deliciousness every time. 

Some highlights of this intricate menu are the pork belly tacos, which are nothing short of taco perfection. Nadine’s isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a flavor-packed journey where each dish tells a story of creativity and an unshakable commitment to delivering unforgettable dining.

Candle in the Woods in Athol

For those seeking a departure from an ordinary night out on the town, Candle in the Woods offers a one-of-a-kind adventure for their guests. Tucked back in the heart of Athol, Idaho, Candle in the Woods offers a private dining experience like no other, with an intimate average of 25 guests each night.

A photo of a long wooden table, where diners all eat together, at Candle in the Woods. One of the best restaurants in Northern Idaho
Sup with your fellow diners at Candle in the Woods, photo by author

Over four hours, friends are treated to conversation, wine pairings, and a remarkable 14-course menu featuring intriguing cuisine. The best part? This menu is always rotating seasonally and is expertly crafted by a team of young, local aspiring chefs, adding a refreshing and dynamic element to the evening. 

Witnessing the dedication and investment Candle in the Woods puts into the culinary industry is impressive and a highlight of the overall experience. This dining experience is a touch of luxury meets family-style dining, and the adventurous flavors combined with the thrill of trying new foods make this experience a perfect fit for those with an open and daring palate. Brace yourself for the culinary adventure of a lifetime at Candle in the Woods.

Wolf Lodge in Coeur d’Alene

If you’re a steak connoissuer, you won’t want to miss Wolf Lodge in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Wolf Lodge is the steakhouse you’ve been dreaming of, with over eight mouthwatering cuts of steak and a wild selection of six seafood versions. 

Stepping into Wolf Lodge is like taking a journey back in time, with its old-western traditional feel that submerges you in a charming ambiance. The magic happens in the kitchen, where locally sourced meat from a trusted rancher meets the open firewood grill, filling the air with a delicious aroma that you can smell right as you walk in the door. Indulge in a symphony of meaty goodness, where every cut is a masterpiece and every moment at Wolf Lodge is treated like a celebration. 

Pack River Store in Sandpoint

The Pack River Store is a true golden staple in the heart of Sandpoint since 1976, and stands as a testament to timeless quality and community connection. Known for its cured, smoked, and roasted meats, alongside an array of deli salads, sandwiches, pasta, ribs, jams, baked goods, and desserts, this place is a foodie haven for locals and visitors alike. 

Beyond the delectable deli options, Pack River Store caters to the hustle and bustle of busy weeknights with a selection of take-and-bake dinners and a curated wide variety of beers and wines. Pack River is committed to using locally sourced meats, dairy, and produce coming from friends across the Northern Idaho valley. 

It’s an intriguing fusion of a gas station and a restaurant, a combination that might raise eyebrows, but trust me, this hidden gem is a pit stop you won’t want to miss. The Pack River Store isn’t just a place to fuel up; it’s a culinary journey that enfolds the core of community, flavor, and the overall charm of Sandpoint, Idaho.

As we wrap up this exploration of Northern Idaho’s culinary landscape, it’s clear that this region has much to offer for all food enthusiasts alike. From the unexpected delights of Coeur d’Alene to the quiet charm of Rathdrum, each of these places adds a unique flavor to the culinary scene. 

Whether you’re drawn to the comforting warmth of local dives or the sophisticated blend of flavors in quiet luxury, Northern Idaho provides diverse options to satisfy every person’s palette. 

Shaye Hubbard

Shaye Hubbard is the Content Strategist for Trending Northwest, and is a 2022 Spokane Falls graduate with a degree in Digital Marketing and Social Media Design. She dedicates her efforts to creating compelling content and producing written narratives that can extend beyond mere entertainment, diving into stories that truly matter. Shaye is a major foodie, is passionate about stepping out of her comfort zone, and loves to get crafty. When she is not busy being a mom to her three children, she likes to spend her free time exploring everything our region has to offer, and has an exciting taste for any new adventure.

read all of shaye’s articles here.

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