Lakeside Dining in North Idaho

Waterfront dining is a great way to take in the dazzling views of nature, even if you sometimes pay a premium for the added panorama. Here are my top picks for lakeside dining spots around the area, both fine dining and casual. These selections come out of experience, trusted recommendations, and prominent public opinion.


Lake Coeur d’Alene

Tony’s on the Lake: Tony’s has been a staple in Coeur d’Alene for a long time. It is well known for its Tuscan Italian food, extensive wine selection, and quality service. Pasta is the heart and soul of the menu, but it also makes fantastic arancini and gnocchi. Its docks are now easily accessible to all boaters, and the lake views are spectacular.


The Lodge at Carlin Bay: After being haunted by years of scandal, Carlin Bay has been cleaned up, and the Lodge is under new ownership. Their menu has been simplified and includes some unique combinations of flavors. The tuna poke appetizer is topped with crisped rice and pickled watermelon rind. Their spicy Carlin burger comes with jalapeno bacon chutney and honey cream cheese spread. Bar drinks draw from summer and local flavors, including huckleberry, of course. You can even eat or lounge with a drink on the dock.


Hayden Lake

The Boathouse Bar and Grill: The Boathouse is on the southern side of Hayden Lake with a patio that hangs over the water at the marina. Their menu has the usual beach front bar food and seafood, but locals recommend trying the cocktails.


Hauser Lake

Embers by the Lake: The Hammons family opened Embers in June 2014 with a focus on handcrafted wood fired pizza and have slowly gained a reputation for good food with a lovely view. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, they offer a variety of salads and some fun simple and small plates, like hot corn & cheese dip, PB&J, and Embers cheesy mac, which is baked in the wood fire oven and topped with hickory smoked bacon. They also keep six beers on tap and serve an array of wines by the bottle and glass.


Lake Pend Oreille

Forty-One South and Shoga Sushi, Sagle: These sister restaurants are located inside the Lodge at Sandpoint on the Sagle side of the lake. Forty-One is a fine dining experience with plenty of seafood and steak on the menu. Shoga serves some of the best sushi and Japanese cuisine in the Inland Northwest. Reservations are recommended any night at both establishments.


DISH, Dover Bay: Executive chef Eddie Sneva and general manager Gary Peitz recently released new menus filled with fresh ingredients and mouth-watering twists on traditional foods. They put havarti cheese on their Dover burger, chimichurri on their grilled ahi, coconut milk in their beet bisque, and toss their edamame in truffle oil, red chili oil, and black and white sesame seeds. Try the DISH’s famous bloody mary, complete with three spiced prawns.


Photo of the Lake House with the lake and mountains in the background.
The Lake House: Bayview // Photo: Natasha Meidinger


The Lake House Bar and Grill, Bayview: Formerly the Floating Patio, the Lake House opened last summer under the management of new owner Natasha Meidinger. The blue restaurant floats right next to the public dock and boat launch and offers a full menu and bar. Their most popular menu items are the fish tacos, cheese curds, steak salad, half-pound burger, and cheesecake. Sip a draft beer while enjoying the gentle rock of the bay, or try one of their innovative cocktails, like the spiked huckleberry lemonade or Arnold Palmer made with peach pecan whiskey. The floating grill even has a patio where they feature live music on Saturdays. Dogs and kids welcome.


Priest Lake

Elkins and Hills Resorts: The entire shoreline of Upper Priest Lake is either owned by the State of Idaho or is federal land. Development is focused around Lower Priest Lake, where two resorts on the northwest end of the lake dominate food, recreation, and tourism: Elkins Resort and Hills Resort. Both rate neck to neck in public reviews for both food and accommodations. Hills gets plenty of shout outs for the culinary skill of local chef William Webster. When you eat at Elkins, there are plenty of rave-worthy items to explore on their Pacific Rim-inspired menu. Be sure to try the huckleberry martini too.


Cavanaugh’s: Under new ownership, Cavanaugh’s has simplified its menu and improved its service. Try the poutine and make sure dessert includes their huckleberry offering—a white chocolate macadamia cookie huckleberry ice cream sandwich.


[Feature photo: The Lodge at Carlin Bay // S. Michal Bennett]

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