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by Inlander Staff & r & & r & PRAGO, AN ARGENTINE CAF & Eacute;

"Eat, drink and be merry" describes Prago, though not necessarily in that order. Some menu items might not be available if the chef didn't get to them before leaving for the day, but no matter: This is a place where spending time and conversing are the most important things. From the tapas menu, we chose bruschette with roma tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic and extra virgin olive oil; but the tomato wasn't ripe, the garlic tasted slightly bitter, and no fresh basil was visible. Still, we dipped our bread in the green pesto-like sauce that came with our empanadas and called it good. The chicken empanadas -- three small meat pies filled with ground chicken, chiles, olives, corn and raisins -- were warm and savory, accompanied by a spring greens salad. The veggie panino -- diagonally cut bread with sliced tomato, red onion, mushroom, melted provolone cheese, mayo and sprouts -- was soft and gooey, really a treat washed down with a glass of sweet iced peppermint tea. If you're looking for a place where food is the centerpiece, try someplace else. If food is just part of the experience for you, this might be your place. 201 W. Riverside Ave., 443-0404 (DN)


Owner Lauren Izenberg and her staff take pride in knowing their customers and giving them great service and scrumptious food. With daily specials like chicken pesto panini, a tuna melt and a meatball sandwich, you have to come back again to try regular lunch items. Soup selections rotate, and salads run the gamut from house to Greek to the fully loaded Hopped-Up. Choose from panini and deli sandwiches -- like the perfectly executed BLT on sourdough, and the comforting combo of turkey with cranberries on focaccia. Freshly baked scones are Izenberg's trademark, so don't leave without dessert. 120 W. Riverside Ave., 448-1281 (SH)


Peering through the floor-to-ceiling windows onto Sherman Ave. is like watching television with the sound turned down. The potato hummus and grilled pita ($5) is dense with garlic and a lemony bite, and the lightly crispy jalape & ntilde;o-cream cheese wontons had just the right amount of pepper heat ($7.50). Eight draft beers and 22 bottled choices gave a casual beer consumer like me plenty of options. The moist and flaky beer-battered fish and chips is easily the most affordable in North Idaho -- $8 for three and a half large chunks of fish -- and the tartar was sweet and bold with a hint of capers. Service was excellent, and the ambiance equally pleasant, making the Beacon a hip locale for tasty pub grub that's reasonably priced. 325 Sherman Ave., Coeur d'Alene, (208) 665-7407 (CS)


The minimalist vibe at Twigs is soothing, earthy and pleasingly inviting, like the Moroccan beef ($13), little chunks of beef nicely seasoned with a hint of cinnamon among other spices, served with a Gorgonzola fondue. Pesto-crusted chicken ($17) was pretty with a bright, fresh taste, and the Under the Sun pizza ($13) contained nearly every meat under the sun. Steak penne ($16) -- a m & eacute;lange of beef tenderloin morsels with crisp broccolini, garlic, shallots and bacon in a "white truffle scented parmesan cream" -- was another rich dish. The sticky cookie ($6), a hot chocolate chip cookie with three scoops of vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream, is a simple dessert that makes you happy. Some of the menu items at Twigs may need a bit of pruning, but their unexpected taste combinations are often quite successful -- and lots of fun. 4320 S. Regal, 443-8000; River Park Square, 232-3376; 9820 N. Nevada, 465-8794 (LM)

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