The Sandpoint Eater

Waterfront dining via the Sea Squirrel

By Marcia Pilgeram

Reader Food Columnist

We’ve got some noteworthy waterfront eateries and watering holes around these parts.You can arrive at most by car or bike, but there’s nothing like arriving by boat, even if your old Sea Swirl has assumed the dubious title of Sea Squirrel and your departure requires that everyone is seated and secure—except the guy in charge of executing the notoriously difficult maneuver known as “shove off and hop on”—while the captain courageously attempts to start the boat.If all goes as planned, the boat is halfway launched when (by some miracle) it starts, and we lurch off in a cloud of exhaust. It’s best if all the passengers have had a few cocktails to deal with the humiliation of traveling by Sea Squirrel—and the captain has a full belly to steel his nerves.

Set your own sail for summer dining alfresco by lake, river or creek waterfront and go enjoy these local favorites! Check out their respective websites for additional fun in the sun information regarding reservations, operating hours, live music and happy hours.
Bottle Bay Bar and Grill

Bottle Bay Bar and Grill.

Bottle Bay Bar and Grill.

Who hasn’t “tubed” their way to Bottle Bay for a burger? It’s a lively little marina nestled in a small, protected bay where campers and boaters alike line up for a frosty mug of beer and the best darn burger around, topped with bacon, cheddar and Major Grey’s Chutney. Their fish tacos also deserve an honorable mention and pair up nicely with a signature Huckleberry Daiquiri. Show up for lunch or dinner and enjoy the fun of laidback outdoor dining.
Right across the Long Bridge, the sister-restaurant to 41 South provides a magnificent setting to unwind and enjoy sushi, sashimi, and nigari, combined with a perfect sunset to wrap up your day.And speaking of sisters, my favorite sibling servers, Kalika and Jenni, are quick to serve a chilled cocktail or a warm sake and happy to recommend the evening specials (unless like me, you already have personal favorites, such as the Volcano or Tarantula Rolls).

The view from Shoga.

The view from Shoga.

Dish at Dover Bay
There’s not a bad seat on the deck, and if your boat is a still a dream (or is in the proverbial shop), peddle on down the bike trail to Dover where you can sit back, enjoy a libation, and take in the fabulous river view setting. Some great signature cocktails (and an outstanding wine list) await you, and waterfront or otherwise, their Grilled Prawns with Sweet Chili Glaze entrée is worth the trip alone. Open all summer for lunch or dinner. Family reunion or wedding reception? Talk about a party: their new event tent can seat 80 guests!
Trinity at City Beach

Trinity at City Beach's fabulous dining deck.

Trinity at City Beach’s fabulous dining deck.

On the shores of City Beach, this picturesque gathering spot shouts “summer is here!” It’s hard to beat the drinks with a view and an expansive seasonal menu that includes fresh seafood and lots of local ingredients. My summer favorite is the classic Grilled Caesar Salad followed by the Cedar-planked Salmon.Justin and his seasoned summer crew deliver a great experience with fantastic food. You’ll want to make this hopping lakeside locale a destination for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Sweet Lou’s in Hope
With seating on the deck or the lawn, Sweet Lou’s offers plenty of options for lunch or dinner. People rave about their beef, but I rarely make it past their appetizer menu: salt and pepper chicken wings, calamari, and an icy cold beer make a great meal.Though, with this heat, the Mahi salad with a tasty mango/pineapple salsa is a cool alternative.Sweet Lou’s has one of the best kids’ menus around and is bound to be a hit for families given that it’s named after the owners’ young son. Their tableside s’mores are a nice bribe for keeping pint-sized diners behaving while you enjoy dinner.
Spuds Waterfront Grill

The dining deck at Spuds Waterfront Grill.

The dining deck at Spuds Waterfront Grill.

New owners Kelli West and Peter McDaniel have expanded their hours and offerings and now you can dine dockside for breakfast, lunch and dinner.What they haven’t changed is the recipe for their coveted Caesar salad dressing. The charming deck that overlooks the boardwalk and the marina is a perfect place for a pleasant lunch, and it’s a longtime local favorite (especially with both my daughters. In fact, it’s Casey’s go-to spot for all things vegetarian and delicious). We’re a family of traditionalists, and my favorite is still the classic ¼ dark chicken with Caesar. Besides beer and wine, they have a fun selection of bottled soda beverages.
Floating Restaurant

The Floating Restaurant in Hope.

The Floating Restaurant in Hope.

Completely rebuilt, with many new menu offerings for lunch or dinner, this popular spot is a true “on the water” experience. Besides all the regional cuisine featuring fresh seafood, local beef and homemade breads, chef/owner Elissa Robbins is famous for her Sunday brunch specialties that include an outstanding selection of eggs Benedict, like classic, Florentine, and crab cake. Pair up brunch with a Bloody Mary and a few friends for a lazy Sunday get-together.

Ivano’s del Lago
Jim Lippi and staff have the perfect place for convivial beachside dining. The food is fantastic, but you should find a friend to share a full pound of the bucket of “peel and eat” shrimp because otherwise you won’t have room for the braised baby back ribs. Whether you’re there for lunch or dinner, their beach is perfect for a quick dip before you leave. Now, here’s my dirty little secret; if you’re camping at Sam Owen, you can sneak away from the gang for a cocktail and maybe even a quick bite that isn’t cooked over a smoky camp fire.

Ivano's del Lago beyond Hope.

Ivano’s del Lago beyond Hope.

Here’s to an epic summer. Sit back and soak up some sun then watch it set with a cocktail or two and a meal at water’s edge.Whether I’m solo, with friends or have a few of the adorables tagging along, chances are you’ll catch me at one or more of these spots. If you’re a brave soul, maybe you can even hitch a ride on the one-and-only Sea Squirrel.

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