Americans just can't seem to get enough of sports, and the Inland Northwest is no different. From the Zags to the Indians, from Bloomsday to Hoopfest, we love watching and participating in sports. A newly-opened sports bar downtown, Heroes & amp; Legends, happens to celebrate local sports figures.
"The owners [Vern Hare and Tom Griffiths] love sports," explains bar manager Ed Eschenbacher. "Heroes & amp; Legends is different because it celebrates local sports guys."
He's right. Covering the walls of the bar and restaurant are photos and blow-ups of football, basketball, baseball and other sports figures from Gonzaga, Whitworth, EWU and WSU, as well as from State B tournaments. A lineup of the 1942 Washington Redskins (who came to this area for training camp) covers most of a side wall.
"People come in and recognize family members in photos on the walls," Eschenbacher adds. The owners' families are also given wall space, celebrating their Gonzaga football tradition.
No sports bar worth its beer would be complete without TVs. Heroes & amp; Legends has all the channels covered, with more than 30 TVs mounted throughout the establishment, including two in each bathroom "so you won't miss a moment." With speaker boxes on each table, patrons can dial in their channel of choice.
So how's the food at Heroes & amp; Legends? It definitely measures up. The Santa Monica chicken sandwich I sampled featured a moist and tender morsel of grilled teriyaki chicken breast. Melted Swiss cheese and crispy bacon added tasty, contrasting textures. What I appreciated most was the generous amount of fresh avocado. The chicken soup is nicely flavorful.
H & amp;L is big on appetizers. Besides the usual wings, nachos, onion rings and chicken fingers, the sports bar offers potato skins, a fresh veggie plate, jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, and quesadillas. Sandwiches include the Bulldog (a filling Italian sub), a Philly with Cheez Whiz, stromboli with homemade Italian meat sauce and Wisconsin beer-broiled bratwurst with sauerkraut. Of course there are burgers -- from cheesy to teriyaki. Specialty salads are featured as well, like the Rio Grande, Cobb and salmon. Entrees -- four versions of steak, barbecue ribs and chicken, pasta and salmon -- round out the menu. And don't miss the deep-fried Twinkie dessert.
Eschenbacher says H & amp;L is the only place in the Inland Northwest with beer encrusted in ice. There are 18 beers on tap, many of them Northwest microbrews. The wine list includes a good portion of Northwest selections as well.
Heroes & amp; Legends, at 825 W. Riverside Ave., is open daily from 11am-2 am. Call: 747-4956
Out in the Valley, Sidelines Sports Restaurant has moved into the space formerly occupied by Dewey's East. Owners Ron Kyhl and Russ Fenner have opened up the restaurant, added lots of color and sports memorabilia and, of course, lots of TVs. The bar area also appears larger after removing Dewey's bricks and awning. And there's a patio with umbrellas for outdoor dining and watching the world go by on Sprague.
"We have the best of casual dining and casual food," Fenner says.
So what's popular to eat at Sidelines? The flat-top chicken quesadilla is quite a mouthful, with its grilled chicken, fresh mushrooms, diced tomato, crunchy bacon, nacho cheese and diced onions. A spinach-dip bread bowl is also a winner, with creamy Parmesan, warm spinach and fresh artichokes baked and served with tortilla chips. The Idaho potato skins have become a favorite, smothered in cheddar cheese and topped with bacon, green onions and sour cream.
Sidelines offers nine pizzas -- from fresh tomato basil to Baton Rouge barbecue chicken. The BL2T sandwich is a popular version of the American staple, with the addition of turkey, served on a croissant. A barbecue shredded pork sandwich offers a Southern tradition. Six different burgers are on the menu as well as several salads, including a chicken fajita. Entrees (Maui coconut shrimp and rack of ribs), soups (white bean-chicken chili and shrimp-corn chowder) and desserts (cookies 'n' cream pie and hot fudge sundae) are also menu items.
Along with a good selection of beer and wine, Sidelines also features specialty cocktails and mocktails.
Sidelines, at 12909 E. Sprague (east of Pines), is open Monday-Thursday from 11 am-midnight, Friday-Saturday from 11-1:30 am, and Sunday from 11 am-10 pm. Call: 921-9385
Covering the North Side, Instant Replay Sports Bar recently celebrated its grand opening. The former Spaghetti Station has been remodeled with more seating and the requisite TVs, as well as room for pool tables, electronic games and video equipment.
Instant Replay may have the toniest chef around for a sports bar. Dan Whitman, former head chef at Hill's Resort, is cookin' up a storm at I.R. Whitman is using a special rotisserie grill for prime rib, making handmade pizzas with everything from scratch and whipping up "the best clam chowder." He's also offering barbecued pork ribs on the weekends.
Instant Replay has a full selection of beer, including microbrews (some from the Northwest), wine (again, with a good Northwest selection) and cocktails.
Instant Replay, at 718 E. Francis Ave., is open daily from 11-2 am. Call: 484-9922
Healthy Eats -- If you want to eat healthy and fresh, there's a new spot in the Lake City that fits the bill. The Market Caf & eacute; is a cute, corner eatery that's open for breakfast and lunch. It features fresh, organic-type foods, juices and smoothies.
"It's a combination of what you can get at Rocket, Mizuna and Huckleberry's," says owner Joe Hamilton, who also owns nearby Pilgrim's Nutrition.
Breakfast offerings include a Greek scramble (range-free eggs, spinach, olives, onions, tomatoes, feta cheese and cilantro, served with hash browns and fresh fruit) and chef's quiche (choose from Greek roasted-veggie or traditional Lorraine and a side of fresh fruit). Lunch features spinach lasagna, grilled pastrami sandwich, a medley of cold sandwiches and wraps (from roast beef or turkey to hummus and herb cream cheese), soup (gazpacho is on the menu now) and salads (the grilled huckleberry cashew chicken salad sounds yummy). Market Cafe also offers items for people with special dietary needs.
There's indoor and outdoor dining at the cozy caf & eacute;. Plans are in the works to serve dinner beginning August 1.
The Market Caf & eacute;, at 1404 N. Fourth St., Coeur d'Alene, is open Monday-Saturday from 7 am-3 pm. Call: (208) 665-1682
Fresh Mex -- Speaking of fresh, Qdoba Mexican grill (known for its fresh ingredients) has just opened a third location in the Inland Northwest. The North Side eatery features its signature burritos (with cilantro lime rice and choice of beans, cheese and salsa), tacos and salads made with fresh ingredients from scratch. I'm partial to the poblano pesto burrito with its roasted poblano sauce, kick of cilantro and earthy pine nuts and almonds. You can also try the new grilled chicken, steak or cheese quesadillas with homemade guacamole, sour cream and one of five fresh salsas.
The newest Qdoba has a slightly different atmosphere -- more casual and modern, with additional seating at bar stools and booths.
Qdoba, at 7115 N. Division (near Costco), is open Sunday-Thursday from 10:30 am-9 pm and on Friday-Saturday from 10:30 am.-10 pm. Call: 468-8500
Culture Infusion -- Thai Bamboo, the only Inland Northwest Thai restaurant with two locations, is hosting a special event this weekend. Owner Tom Burgess has imported Asian dancers for fetes at both locations. From graceful and intricate Thai dancing to fast-paced Filipino Tinikling festive dancing, diners can experience Asian culture first-hand.
Chef Matavee Burgess will prepare special foods as well, including Gai Hou (a Thai dish of herb-marinated chicken mixed with corn and wrapped in corn husks) and lumpia (Philippine-style eggrolls).
The Asian Culture and Dancing Party will be held at Thai Bamboo North Division (5204 N. Division) on Saturday, July 19, from 7:30-9 pm and at Thai Bamboo in the Valley (12722 E. Sprague) on Sunday, July 20, from 7:30-9 pm. Call: 777-8424 or 444-8424
Happy 21st! -- Latah Creek Wine Cellars is celebrating its 21st anniversary this weekend with a wine tasting and food-pairing. Owner Mike Conway will release the winery's new 2001 cabernet merlot. Wine, gourmet food products and gifts will be available for purchase. Conway will be on hand to answer questions as well.
Latah Creek 21st Anniversary Celebration, July 19-20, from 10 am-5 pm at 13030 E. Indiana Ave. Call: 926-0164