Coeur d'Alene Casino -- Skipping the casino's conventional, full-service fare, we headed straight to the buffet line ($9.99), helping ourselves to mini-burritos, taquitos, rice, chicken and even cod. There were a few misses but almost everything was fresh-tasting and well-prepared. The cod was moist and flaky in a sour-cream sauce, and the taquitos walked the fine line between crisp and oily with perfection. The fajitas tasted more like teriyaki than Mexican food, but the fresh strips of multicolored peppers and the warm flour tortillas made them delicious in any case. The salad bar was smaller than the word "buffet" might suggest, but the options were impressive. Hwy 95 at Worley, Idaho Call: 1-800-523-2464 (MD)
Thrifty Scotsman -- Man, saving coin never tasted so good. The Thrifty Scotsman gets most everything exactly right in terms of quality, price and friendly service. And that includes big, juicy burgers. The $2.59 Super Bacon is essentially a bacon double cheeseburger with the works (mayo, lettuce, tomato) spread out over the expanse of a six-inch Poor Boy bun. It's definitely a two-fister. The $5.49 double fish and fries contains eight crispy and tender fish portions stacked on a bed of big, fresh, hand-cut fries. The drive-in's new smoke-free dining environment is a much-appreciated addition. 12024 E. Sprague. Call: 927-2214. (MC)
Lindaman's -- Lindaman's offers sophisticated-but-comforting caf & eacute; fare. A glass display case contains all the salads, entrees and desserts. Salads and pasta dishes are sold by the pound and vary in price. Lindaman's specialties are the casseroles like the King Ranch Chicken and the chicken and spinach enchilada ($4.95) which was a spicy and flavorful little number. The stuffed roasted pork tenderloin ($12) filled with a medley of dried cranberries, onions, mushrooms and apples, had a pleasant flavor, though the meat suffered a bit from the re-heating. Desserts here are terrific. 1235 S. Grand Blvd. Call: 838-3000. (LM)
Mike's Pit -- Featuring real barbecue you can rope up cheap and herd back to the office in minutes, this family-run operation features all your smoky favorites: pulled pork and sliced beef sandwiches ($4.80-$5.80), pork spare ribs (three bones for $5.70), corn bread, cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans and chili. Everything here is made from scratch and the meat is all slow-cooked over an apple wood fire. The house barbecue sauce is on the sweet side of spicy. 307 S. Washington. Call: 458-6094 (MC)
The Shack -- The Shack is an early 1960s time warp but its history stretches all the way back to the '20s. While the prices have changed over the years, the great, friendly service, big portions and extensive menu (featuring simple, old-fashioned favorites) has not. Here you can get it all -- breakfasts, burgers, liver and onions and more. The $7.49 Shack Breakfast Special (nicknamed "The Awesome Two's"), comes with two eggs, two pancakes, two bacon strips and two sausage links. Delicious -- and guaranteed to stick with you well past lunch. The hash browns in the $6.99 two egg-sausage-browns-toast combo were simply outstanding. 1301 W. Third. Call: 747-2713. (SB)
Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM) and Mike Corrigan (MC), unless otherwise noted.