A hotel restaurant has to negotiate some difficult territory -- people with tastes ranging from nouveau cuisine to meat-and-potatoes need to be able to get a satisfying meal. As a result, the Davenport Hotel's Palm Court Grill exhibits a bit of a split personality. The entrees are on the safe side, but the mushroom strudel appetizer ($10) was something different -- and a winner. There are options for even modest budgets, making a trip to the grand old Davenport relatively affordable. It's high-class comfort food. 10 S. Post St., 789-6848 (LM)
A recent remodel spruced the place up, but the top-notch diner food hasn't changed. My Joe's Special omelet ($8) -- filled with ground beef, red onions, spinach and parmesan -- came with a generous serving of hash browns that were crusty and browned on the outside, potatoey and tender inside. Marty loved his cinnamon-swirl French toast ($5), and the steak-and-egg special ($5) made a beef snob talk about his meal for the rest of the day. Lunch is a treat, too, with diner classics like a BLT or burger and soups made onsite. Service is confident, efficient and friendly without veering into perky. 425 W. Sprague, 624-3952 (AC)
Lunch at this sleekly modern yet comfortable space features a strong selection of sandwiches, wraps, burgers and salads plus favorite dinner entrees. Dinner ramps up to black-napkin elegance and the menu shifts toward entr & eacute;es and small plates. The Ladieu salad showcases pecans, grapes, red onions and feta cheese on a generous plate of baby greens, in a lightly sweet huckleberry vinaigrette dressing. The black bean and chicken soup of the day was a highlight, served with warm crusty asiago sourdough bread. My parmesan-crusted halibut -- a healthy cut of mild fish in a thin coating of crumbs and cheese that added crunch without overwhelming the subtle flavor of the fish -- came with a delicately roasted medley of summer squashes, a delightful treat in midwinter and a feast for the senses. 21706 E. Mission Ave., Liberty Lake, Wash., 926-2310 (AC)
Like the Baja California town and beer it's named for, Tecate Grill offers a tropical-themed ambience and fun atmosphere. The food is a cut above most Mexican restaurants. You won't find refried beans, ground beef or iceberg lettuce here. Perfectly cooked shrimp appetizers or the Botanero sampler platter are featured starters. Tecate's entrees are big enough to share or take home for another meal. My family and I enjoyed the chicken canyon fajitas ($13), adovo chicken pasta ($12) and veggie burrito ($10). South-of-the-border beverages (cervezas and margaritas) and desserts, like the deep-fried ice cream, round out the Southwestern experience. 2503 W. Wellesley Ave. #C, 327-7817 (SH)
CAF & Eacute; CARAMBOLA
Caf & eacute; Carambola's salads, soups, specialty sandwiches, quesadillas and wraps all have a sizzling Latin flair. Salads are made with fresh, local produce and are bursting with flavor. Soups are both comforting and adventurous. The Carambola club sandwich ($5 half; $7.50 whole) features moist chicken and veggies spiced with chipotle drizzle and pickled jalapenos. Quesadillas ($4-$6) are soft and cheesy, with a kick of salsa and additions of salad, chipotle cream and meat. 610 W. Hubbard St. #110, Coeur d'Alene (208) 676-8784 (SH).