Cheddar Chad's Hot Dog Cart -- Eating on the cheap. Yep, we're all for it. Chad Rattray is the smiling face behind the hot dog cart on the southwest corner of Howard and Riverside (in front of the Bank of America). Every day from 11 am-3 pm, he's serving up sausages in buns. It's as simple as that. There's the popular Dollar Dog, The Jumbo and the Polish sausage ($2 each), the German ($2.50) and the smoked sausage ($3). Add a bag of chips and a can of soda to any dog for a buck more. The German sausage with sauerkraut, onions and self-applied sweet hot mustard had a satisfying bite. The Dollar Dog loaded with onions, relish and yellow mustard was pretty much what you'd expect: a standard white bread bun and a standard steamed wiener. Still, with chips and soda, it made for a tasty and incredibly inexpensive lunch. At the corner of Riverside and Howard. (MC)
Paprika -- Paprika is home to some of the most inventive dishes in the Inland Northwest. Even the appetizer list harbors intrigue. Included are fresh-roasted local porcini mushrooms with gremolata served over grilled toast ($8) and roasted artichoke stuffed with saffron-potato puree and topped with toasted bread crumbs ($7). Entrees are just as creative. The seared pepper-crusted ahi tuna ($22) was teamed up with horseradish mashed potatoes, grilled onions and a fresh tomato vinaigrette. The roasted spring chicken with morel mushrooms ($19) was moist and flavorful. 1228 S. Grand Blvd. Call: 455-7545 (LM)
Huckleberry's Bistro -- All of the menu items here are created with natural and organic ingredients whenever possible, and the variety of foods prepared fresh daily is staggering. They do breakfast, lunch and dinner. Soups are $2 a cup, hot sandwiches and entrees are $6 or less. Cold salads range from $6 to $9 a pound. The hot lemon chicken sandwich ($6 with salad) was generous, with saut & eacute;ed chicken breast topped with tomato and covered with creamy lemon-garlic pan sauce on a thick slab of asagio ciabatta bread. It was substantial, peerless in ingredient quality, delicious and messy. The curried red lentil salad has a smooth texture and a very subtle curry flavor, with sweet currants and vinaigrette for balance. 926 S. Monroe Call: 624-1349. (MC)
Delhi Palace -- "Palace" may be a stretch (it's a remodeled fast food building) but the tables are nicely appointed and covered in glass. Oversize cloth napkins add a gracious touch. The menu is expansive and helpfully divided into sections. The Tandoori surprise ($15) was a big sizzling platter of meats -- tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, boti (lamb) kebab, minced lamb kebab, tandoori shrimp -- marinated in mixtures of yogurt and spices and cooked in the tandoor (Indian clay oven). The chicken goa curry ($10) was wonderful, served over the saffron-flavored basmati rice, or scooped up on a piece of naan bread that accompanied our meal. The elegantly flavored coconut milk-based sauce left a bit of heat behind while allowing the complex flavors to shine through. 11114 E. Sprague. Call: 927-0500. (LM)
Herbal Essence Caf & eacute; -- The Herbal Essence Caf & eacute;'s understated mix of old and new results in a very open, bright and comfortable dining area. The crab cakes ($6.75) are crispy on the outside, succulent and tender on the inside. The $3.50 cup of Manhattan-style clam chowder was smashing: rich and hearty, with a mild tomato zing, and clams that were tender and not overly assertive. The thick and delicious corned beef on the Reuben ($5.95) was piled high and the grilled dark rye remained remarkably crisp under the load. The Crab-and-Artichoke sandwich ($8.25) mixed fresh snow crab with artichokes, parmesan cheese, white onions and a sour cream sauce served atop a French roll and finished with sliced tomato. Sound good? It was. 115 N. Washington. Call: 838-4600. (MC)
Brix -- There's a sophisticated new kid on the block on Coeur d'Alene's Sherman Avenue. Brix's interior has a warm cosmopolitan appearance with rich fabric and leather upholstery. Nooks in the walls showcase local glass art and original paintings. The baked ricotta with shaved prosciutto and balsamic figs appetizer ($8.25) got better and better with each bite, and the house bread was a real treat. The crispy roast duck with butternut squash, roast pears and porcini jus ($24.50) was indeed crispy on the outside, as promised, with a moist and flavorful interior. Service, however, was inconsistent, and the dessert menu could use some improvement. 317 Sherman Ave. Call: (208) 665-7407. (LM)
Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM) and Mike Corrigan (MC), unless otherwise noted.