For the Love of a Good Hamburger: Mugsy's Tavern and Grill
Relaxing on the PatioClick thumbnail to view full-size
Food, Friends and Fun
The Northwest is a beautiful place, with tall trees and beautiful ocean views, wildlife and sometimes wild people. In Seattle you can experience dining at a variety of restaurants, and seafood is highly available everywhere. Spokane and Coeur d' Alene have Italian, and pubs, and as you travel up 95 towards Canada, the homey, little cafe's are to be found.
There are also hundreds of entrepreneurs in out-of-the-way places who have ventured out to create unique dining adventures. They come from all parts of the country, and settle in this great outdoor environment, and some of them choose to make their living differently than when they were in the big cities.
From Seattle to Spokane, from Coeur d' Alene to Canada, I have discovered pockets of great individual restaurants just waiting to be enjoyed.. The locals have the opportunity, daily, and some of them would prefer to keep them just quiet and quaint. Some don't care if we join them, while others hope we do. They welcome tourism, so long as we are polite and amicable, and refrain from polluting their world with nonsense they don't care about.
This brings up a good point. If you have noticed how some small town restaurants make a point of delaying service to you in favor of the locals, because it's less complicated? I mean, let's face it, Joe orders the same breakfast pretty much every day, and if he didn't enjoy it, you would hear about it from everybody in town. There is a flow to life there, and they try to keep it that way at any cost.
If you have ever dined with someone who is determined to get healthy food at a hole-in-the-wall great breakfast diner, it's not pleasant. It turns into a tug-of-war in which no one wins or enjoys. It's kind of like going to another country. It's quite possible you might consider adjusting your "have to haves" a smidgeon. Try something new, and you just might find out that what they tell you is best on the menu, really is.
I have found that to be true at Mugsy's, because the owner, Danielle is the princess of hospitality. She just plain wins you over through kindness and considerate service. If you are down, she sees it and sits right down to keep you company. Where else does that happen but in small towns?
These owners set before us great fare, at reasonable prices, with great atmospheres. When I travel, I make it a point to ask the locals where they eat, and when that isn't possible, I drive through small towns and pick my own delight.
I am quite picky in taste, I like fresh, colorful, healthy food. I don't eat at fast food places often. On the rare occasions when my hunger overtakes my mind, it's Arby's MarketFresh Sandwiches, Good Times Burgers, In and Out or Tommy's, primarily because of the quality of hamburger, and a craving for a specific taste.
It's cold here in Colorado, and I am dreaming about one of my favorite restaurants of all times, Mugsy's Tavern and Grill, in Bonner's Ferry, Idaho. Just about 35 miles from Sandpoint, the "booming metropolis for tourists", Mugsy's is my place.
For me it's more than worth the extra 30 mile drive just to sit on the patio in the sunlight, thinking about what to do, and inevitably running into the locals, who are so friendly they will invite you to sit with them if you are dining alone. It's just a stone's throw from the Kootenai Casino, where I have never gambled, but found a most enjoyable spa and massage.
My last visit for instance provided a great afternoon. I met a local Border Patrol agent and his wife. They invited me to sit with them, just for conversation. It turned into a community table, as an old friend from Northwest Academy (where we used to work together) showed up.
Athough I don't live there full time, they caught me up on all the political and local news. I shared laughter and information as I continued consuming the delicious bison burger in front of me.
We sat for hours visiting, and learning about each other. It was the stuff that beautiful almost-autumn days are made of. They invited me to go to Nelson B.C. with them, both the wife and I declined, I just wanted to rest. Maybe next time, it's always a possibility it could happen again, that's just how life rolls in the far north.
Back to Mugsy's....the owner, Danielle, is a delightful person, who takes great pleasure in making her customers feel at home. If it's not busy, she will sit and chat with you until it gets busy. It doesn't matter if you are at the table, the bar, or on the patio, it's all good when it comes to service.
The food is out of this world, and the atmosphere welcoming to everyone who comes through the doors. The menu has the most variety of anywhere in town. The cook does a great job of getting the food prepared the way you request it. The food is fresh, nicely presented and absolutely enjoyable.
I make it a point to order the side salad rather than fries in the summer in the anticipation that Danielle has made her amazing cheese cake. Topped off with fresh huckleberries, it was to die for. In fact, I came back two days in a row, just on a chance there might be a piece left.
I received my desired fare and without reservation I ate dessert again! If you know me, this is not normal behavior. Some things are just two good to pass up.
There is also a large pool room (also with dining tables), darts and supplies (they are proud of their team), and a banquet room for larger events. Of course like any sport's bar, large screen TVs broadcast all the sports events.
Beer and alcohol are available, part of the experience for many is where great conversations start. Mugsy's has something for everyone, including me, who doesn't drink alcohol. Two bad experiences on the beach in Florida where I couldn't find my way home cured me of that.
If you are going to Creston, or Cranbrook, it is on the way to Canada, right off Highway 95 North, in the old part of Bonner's (not that there is really a new part). If you get up that way, don't miss it, you won't be disappointed.
Tell her Linda, from Colorado sent you, I bet you will get a big smile, and by all means, enjoy yourself. Don't forget to ring the bell as you exit, it's a tradition to let everyone know that you had a great time!