The population density might drop a little on the North Idaho side of State Line, but you'd hardly know it by the looks of all the excellent restaurants over here. And in the microbrewing department, North Idaho is more than holding its own. The Coeur d'Alene Brewing Co. was the favorite among North Idaho responses and fourth overall. President Gage Stromberg, brewmaster Laurie Kraus and their crew have made it their singular goal to be not just a great regional brewery, but to be recognized nationally. Well, it's already happening. At the recent United States Beer Tasting Championship competition in Chester, N.H., two out of three Coeur d'Alene Brewery entries (Polar Bear Stout and Frozen Lake Ale) received honorable mention awards. Not bad for their first time in a competition that judges product from 136 different breweries including Northwest faves Deschutes, Rogue and Pike.
"They only give an honorable mention where the voting was extremely close," says Stromberg. "They don't give one automatically in each category. We were also the unofficial rookie brewery of the year because we were the only first-time entrant that had two honorable mentions. It's nice. It says we know what we're doing, and we're serious about what we're doing."
And contrary to public opinion, the Coeur d'Alene Brewing Co. isn't just a North Idaho business anymore. While it still maintains its brewing operation in Coeur d'Alene, it also has one at the Steam Plant in downtown Spokane.
Other top North Idaho vote-getters include:
Best Fine Dining: Beverly's
Best Burger: Hudson's
Best Burrito: The Mexican Food Factory
Best Pizza: Tito Macaroni's/2nd Ave. Pizza (tie)
Best Patio Dining: Tanglewood/The White House (tie)
Best Chocolates: Rocky Mountain Candy Company
Best Donuts: David's Donuts
Best Bakery: Coeur d'Grain Bakery
Best Drive-thru Espresso: Java the Hut
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)