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Texas roadhouse dining. Plus, Victor Azar's hummus is now at Rosauer's.

click to enlarge Beef, broccoli, beans and peanuts. Perfect. - CARRIE SCOZZARO
  • Carrie Scozzaro
  • Beef, broccoli, beans and peanuts. Perfect.

We've never lived in Texas but we've been to our fair share of honky-tonks and steakhouses. Add to that a bit of Coyote Ugly, and you have the fixin’s for Coeur d’Alene’s newest fun-themed restaurant, Texas Roadhouse.

The menu is essentially American food: steaks, ribs, chicken, and seafood, a few salads, wittily punctuated by things like Rattlesnake Bites, fried rounds of jalapeño and Jack cheese with Cajun horseradish dipping sauce ($4). The food was plentiful, all from scratch (except some of the children’s menu items),

With most dinners including two “sides” like the hearty baked beans, zesty rice or sweet potato ($1 up-charge to load it with marshmallows). Try pulled pork with ribs ($13), a 12-ounce Fort Worth rib-eye ($15.49) or fried catfish with Creole Mustard sauce ($10). Our grilled pork chop with peppercorn sauce ($9) reheated well, too.

Picture rustic pine, a prominent U-shaped bar with buckets of peanuts you’re encouraged to shell and toss onto the floor, and a maze of wooden booths, all bustling to a country-music soundtrack — “Redneck Woman” prompted the mostly female serving staff (all cute, friendly, young, perky) to scoot their booties in a line across the restaurant. Special occasions cause hootin,’ handclappin’ and a hearty staff “Yee-haw” (we counted five in an hour-and-a-half), which is part of the appeal of Texas Roadhouse; it’s a festive environment of people-watching while you wait.

And wait you will. Even after calling ahead (they don’t take reservations), we spent half an hour each bar-side and again table-side waiting for our food. Some of that we attribute to advance buzz about this nationally popular chain restaurant, which a former Midwestern Kentucky Fried Chicken manager founded in 1993. They now have stores in nearly every state (four in Idaho, with Coeur d’Alene’s being the newest — but none in Washington, dang it). With reasonably priced food, plan on investing some time and be rewarded with a fun little outing that’s more than finger-lickin’ good. — CARRIE SCOZZARO

Texas Roadhouse, 402 W. Neider Ave., Coeur d’Alene, is open Mon-Thu 4-10 pm, Fri 4-11 pm, Sat 11 am-11 pm, Sun 11 am-10 pm. Visit www. texasroadhouse.com or call (208) 667-3065. Call ahead for placement on waiting list.

Hummus Focus Group

A couple of months ago, we walked up to Victor Azar at his delectable Café MAC (2316 W. First Ave.) and asked for a pound of his hummus, straight up. “You just want the hummus?” he asked. We said, Yes, just the hummus.

There were two reasons behind this request: 1) We’re hummus junkies who are really tired of national brands (and too lazy to make it ourselves), and 2) We’d been eating and enjoying his Lebanese Burrito ($7) anytime we were in Browne’s, largely because of the paradoxically airy, earthy deliciousness of the hummus contained within.

We thought we might have caught him off guard with our request. He told us later that it was quite the contrary. Azar had been secretly tinkering with his formula, trying to create a line of fresh, deli-case hummuses (hummii?) for sale locally.

He’d been using his customers as a “very large focus group” for trying out various flavors. People would go in and he’d say (we’re paraphrasing), Oh I’ve been playing around with adding sesame — or garlic, or lemon zest, or jalapeño — like it wasn’t no thang. We’d been his guinea pigs.

Azar told us this grand plan for Victor’s Hummus as we paid for our pound of jalapeño. Then told us he wouldn’t be launching for a few months. This was in January. It’s been a hard secret to keep.

Victor’s Hummus is finally in stores, and we’re glad to let the cat out of the bag.

Azar tries to source everything locally, and mostly succeeds. He also wants Victor’s Hummus to be organic, though, and to find organic garbanzos (the main ingredient in hummus), he had to go to Colorado. Not exactly close, but it ain’t the Midwest either.

Azar has about a half-dozen flavors in the can, but he’s launching with only two: Toasted Sesame and Jalapeño. The rest will be rolled out intermittently. He wants to keep people hungry for it. — LUKE BAUMGARTEN

Victor’s Hummus is available now at the Rosauers in Browne’s Addition (1808 W. Third Ave.), the lower South Hill Huckleberry’s (926 S. Monroe St.), Main Market Coop (44 W. Main Ave.), Fresh Abundance (2015 N. Division) and Café MAC. Ten percent of proceeds benefit the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. Visit victorshummus.com.

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