I began to suspect that I'd taken a wrong turn on my way to the Porch in Hayden. Rolling down heavily residential East Miles Avenue, just off of Highway 95, I wondered aloud, "There's a bar down here?" And yet, half a mile west of Hayden Lake, there it was, just on the outskirts of Hayden Country Club and surrounded by private homes.
But if the Porch's surroundings felt strange and out of place, nothing else did. Owned by the same folks who run the Elk in Spokane and Moon Time in Coeur d'Alene (both with great grub, too), the Porch feels very familiar. Similar menu, same motif of pub photos on the walls, same casual vibe.
Not that that should be a deterrent. After all, there's a reason for their success. The ever-rotating beer selection is drool-worthy, and the diverse menu would take weeks to exhaust. The French dip, chipotle chicken, taco salad, steak, pasta and their famous 74th Street Gumbo provide an entr & eacute;e for whatever mood you're in, whether it's "rainy day curmudgeon" (gumbo and porter) or "summer afternoon golf afterglow" (turkey sandwich and hefeweizen). Just remember to wait half an hour before hitting the lake.
Far West Billiards
1001 W. First Ave. * 455-3429
Centrally located in the increasingly hopping arts district, Far West serves up everything from falafel sandwiches to steak and fries to penne Bolognese. But maybe you're just there for snacks and some eight-ball before heading to the Met for the night. Try the tempura veggies with one of their well-selected local draughts, or a 7 & amp;7 from the full bar. Rack 'em up.
525 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. * 747-0322
This place oozes Irish-ness on Tuesday nights, when local pickers and fiddlers descend on the bar to hammer out their bouncy tuddle-dee-dee jigs and reels. Best to show up some other day and enjoy O'Doherty's delectable Irish treats as well as their scrumptious burgers and sandwiches.
Unfortunately, no green beer to wash it down.
333 W. Spokane Falls Blvd * 455-7826
The only thing missing at Boulder Barbecue, the Southern kitchen inside the Blvd., is a shower. Because their pulled pork, beef brisket and sloppy rib sandwich don't just end up in your stomach -- they end up on your chin, your fingers, your chest, your lap, in your eyebrows and, mysteriously, on the back of your head. But then, that's how you know it's good barbecue.
212 W. Cedar St., Sandpoint * (208) 263-4005
With plenty of Ye Olde English Pub atmosphere, Eichardt's in Sandpoint is a restaurant, a pub, a live music venue and a late night coffeehouse all rolled into one. The morel and artichoke appetizer is proof of a loving God; acts like Kelly Joe Phelps and Andy Friedman are worth even a trip up our favorite deathtrap, Hwy. 95.