Embrace the season at Sandpoint’s best spots to dine and drink outdoors By Abigail Thorpe
Warm weather is (finally) here, and we’re all about embracing every opportunity to head outdoors and enjoy the sun and warmth while we have it. Whether it’s jumping on the boat to head to a location across the lake, or enjoying the handful of favorite local spots closer to home, there’s plenty of opportunity to opt for outdoor dining this summer, with live music and events to keep you entertained along the way.
Take a Seat Downtown
If you’re looking for an opportunity to people-watch downtown while you enjoy a bite, there are several great patios from which to soak up the sun (and the sights). Fat Pig has a charming covered outdoor side patio and a tasty dinner menu to boot (all scratch-made), and during the summer they offer live music outside on the patio to enjoy while you dine.
Just next door, pop into the Pend d’Oreille Winery and opt for a seat outside along Cedar Street while you enjoy a glass (or two!) and some tasty bites. The flatbread pizza is a must. While dining in is an experience, you’ll also find the winery at several events around town this summer. “We will be involved in a few summer festivals including Savor Idaho, Schweitzer Wine Festival and the Taste of the Stars,” says co-owner Kylie Presta.
If you want to continue the wine trend, wander a few doors down to Baxter’s, which offers a great wine list, full lunch and dinner menu, and outdoor seating to enjoy it all—and yes, they offer beer and other drinks as well. While you’re exploring 1st Avenue shopping, stop in at the District Boutique and Bistro at I Saw Something Shiny to get your shopping fix while you sip and munch from the tasty menu. Several outdoor tables offer prime seating from which to take in the downtown bustle and scope out your next shopping destination.
On the opposite side of town, The Hydra Steakhouse on Lake Street has a large patio out back that’s ideal for enjoying a good North Idaho steak dinner, and they’ve got cocktails to boot. Just recently, the Sandpoint staple opened its doors for breakfast, so you can enjoy the space any time of day. If you’re craving Italian, just next door is Arlo’s, and word on the street is a wood-fired pizza oven is headed their way!
If you’re looking for a real casual bite, Joel’s on Church Street has long been serving up some of the favorite Mexican in town. Grab a taco or burrito and head to the outside patio. Make sure to hit it earlier in the day, however, as Joel’s isn’t open for dinner. If it’s lunch hour, be prepared for a bit of rush.
Grab a Drink!
If you’re looking to grab a drink while you soak up the sun, there’s a number of spots downtown that offer everything from an outdoor picnic table on the sidewalk to a full-on patio. Eichardt’s has long been slinging beers, wine and some of the best food in town. The outdoor space is limited, but if you can grab one of the picnic tables, it’s a great stop along the way. Just next door, MickDuff’s Brewpub offers a large grassy outdoor seating area with a fire for those chillier evenings. Grab a local brew and head outdoors—if you’re brave enough, you can even join in the cornhole games (and tournaments) that frequently take place in the adjoining parking lot. Weekends the brewpub offers live music outdoors, and if you get hungry, you can grab a bite from the food truck that pulls up for the evening, or head just a few blocks away to MickDuff’s other location in the old Sandpoint Post Office where the crew serves up a full menu of tasty fare.
Across the street, Pour Authority offers a wide variety of beers and wines from all over the country (and world), plus some light bites to munch on while you taste your way to your favorite. As an added bonus, you can head outside to the picnic tables while you imbibe.
If you’re still on the beer trail, there are several breweries around Sandpoint that offer prime outdoor patios and delicious brews, including Matchwood Brewing up in the vibrant Granary Arts District, where you can often find live music outdoors and a large patio to fit all of your family and friends. Downtown, Utara Brewing offers great beers, Indian-Anglo cuisine, and a large back patio perfect for sipping and cornhole.
In the summer, iconic local bar 219’s back patio comes alive at night. If you’re looking for cocktails, this is the place to be. “Seasonal Huckleberry Mojito with hand-picked huckleberries will make its return in July as well. And finally, the Margarita is here every single day, and that’s newsworthy in itself!” says manager Mark Terry. They’ve got a sturdy beer and wine list as well, and in summertime the live music often moves outdoors to the back patio—the perfect place to shake it up, dance and let loose.
“Starting in July we will be featuring music every Saturday night on the patio at 9pm.
During the festival, we’ll also be adding music on Friday nights,” adds Terry. Patrons can look forward to “local and regional acts from funk to honkytonk to classic rock; rotating food trucks in the works, and all the pool and foosball that people can play!”
When it comes to summer in Sandpoint, waterfront is where you want to be. Thankfully, there’s a number of places to grab a bite and drink waterside. Trinity down at City Beach offers one of the largest waterfront decks in the town, with a tasty menu, cocktails, beer and wine, and outdoor entertainment on occasion. You can sit and watch the sailboats head in and out from the adjacent Windbag Marina, or head down to the public beach for a dip.
Situated along Sand Creek downtown, Spuds Waterfront Grill and Burger Dock both offer outdoor dining that overlooks the creek, and they are perfect spots to stave off your hunger during a fun day on the lake. If you’re boating, you can even dock up along the shore briefly while you eat.
If you’re out on the lake for the day, or looking for an evening cruising destination, there are several great dining options around the lake. The Floating Restaurant in Hope is an easy spot to pull in and dock up while you sit and enjoy a meal on the large outdoor floating deck, and it’s a nice viewpoint from which to watch the boats come in and out of the marina.
Hope’s newest addition, Pearl’s, is situated in the old Ivano’s del Lago building at Beyond Hope, a widely popular summer destination that offers epic lakefront beaches, docking, beautiful views and delicious food and drink, all from an idyllic location on the Hope peninsula.
Headed the opposite direction down the Pend Oreille River, Dish at Dover Bay is an easy place to pull in and sit down on the outdoor patio. Enjoy an eclectic summer menu and full bar while you watch boaters, kayakers and paddleboarders enjoy the river—the warmest place to swim on the lake.
New to Town
Over the past year, the restaurant scene in Sandpoint has seen a bit of flux, but this summer will see the arrival of some new places to town—which means it’s time to get out and give them a try! Pearl’s at beyond Hope is the newest already open addition, and, in downtown Sandpoint, Blue Room will be opening sometime in June in the old Ivano’s building on the corner of 1st Avenue and Lake Street. The large outdoor patio with a fountain is a prime spot to enjoy downtown Sandpoint, and the new food and drink menu promises some American favorites with a twist.
Keep an eye out for other new spots downtown that are in the works, and get ready to get out and enjoy this Sandpoint summer the right way: patio side.