512 Best Ave., Coeur d'Alene
Naturally, people I run into are always telling me about the various places they've dined, talking about how I simply must check out this or that new or semi-obscure eatery. Most of the time, my response is "Eh - been there, done that - you must not follow my blog very well since I reviewed them ages ago, kiddo." But once in a while they tell me about somewhere I've never actually heard of or that I'd never thought was worth locking into my brain. There's limited space up in there, you know.
One such place was the Best Sandwich Shack - I've had more people mention it to me in the last few months than anywhere else I can think of, but perhaps the lack of memory commitment on my part is somewhat of a classic "who's on first" scenario.
Them: "Oh, have you tried that one sandwich place over by the one taco stand over by that one fabric shop, it's the best!"
Me: "No, I don't think so. What is it?"
Them: "It's the Best Sandwich Shack."
Me: "Okay, you already told me that it's the best, what's it called, where is it?"
Them: "It's the Best...on Best."
Me: "Uh, yeah, I kinda figured out it was on Best Avenue, and I can tell you think it's awesome, does it have a name?"
Them: "Uh, yeah, I already told you it's the Best Sandwich Shack."
Me: "Never mind, I'll just have to figure it own on my own I guess. Go kick rocks, chump."
Okay, so that never actually happened, but I can imagine the possibly of it happening at least. Thing is, after having finally visited the Best Sandwich Shack, it wouldn't matter what the name of the street is that it sits on, it is indeed THE best, no doubt.
I drove into the little parking lot adjacent to Lyle's Fabrics where the shack sits, next to the aforementioned taco truck, an espresso stand and who knows what else, and pulled my car right up to the little window. Hint: I sorta learned this the hard way, but in retrospect I'm thinking it's meant to be a walk-up window, not a drive up window. I realized this when another hungry customer pulled into the lot, got out of his rig and knocked on my window: "Hey buddy, you mind if I squeeze in here to get my order?"
Come to think of it, the kind sirs running the shack had given me kind of an odd look when I shimmied my Mercury Mystique directly up next to his building, but how was I to know it was supposed to be a walk-up scenario with no cement parking barriers or anything to pitch a clue at me? Mea culpa, I guess, and fortunately I was handed my food right away after I realized my faux pas and Mr. Window Knocker was able to pick up his order without any trouble.
And immediately after my first bite of thin-sliced steak, mushrooms, pepperoni, mozzerella and fresh-baked bread, I knew the hype was valid - it was a rich, gooey, and deliciously unique Philly for real. I powered through my sandwich lost in a pleasure zone and although I was as stuffed as a pimento in a cocktail olive, I simply had to treat my mouth right away to the free brownie Best Sandwich Shack hands out with every order. It was homemade, dense and as killer as the main course. Oh golly, I'm not worthy! Needless to say, after plowing through so many love-drenched calories, the napping couch was my afternoon fate.
Shack culinary team "Kip and Dad" (this is how they list it on their Facebook page) aren't kidding when they say they make the best Phillys in Idaho. The "Meat Your Maker" is a bit higher on the cost scale than most sandwiches, but it includes pretty much every form of meat you could possibly dream of, including bacon, and is even listed on the menu with a heart attack warning. They serve a Chicken Philly, a BBQ Beef Philly, a Sweet and Spicy Turkey Philly, as well as links of handmade New York style sausage.
After such a monumental first experience, I had to return to the scene of the pleasure crime a week later for another go. This time I called ahead and WALKED up to the window to pick up my Whiz Cheese Steak and I was treated to some entertaining father and son humor along with my sandwich. When I got home and opened it up, it was a wonderfully sticky mess of melted Cheez Whiz and hot beefy goodness - so scrumptious, and the final evidence needed to declare that yes, yes, yes - Best Sandwich Shack really is the best of its kind in the town, and probably the state, and possibly the entire Northwest.
I'm not the only one with that opinion either. The Shack is listed as the #1 rated restaurant in Coeur d'Alene out of 110 listings on TripAdvisor and the comments there are as gushy as the Trevi Fountain. Highlights among all the customer reviews include:
"Its like a party in my mouth. You are all invited! The people and food are absolutely amazing, and its the best philly-isk experience in town! Cheese-steaks just like Philly! This place is beyond delicious! Hands-down the best sandwich shop I've ever been to! & super great prices for the amazing food! I will definitely be back! & great for grabbing a quick bite for lunch. This is definitely my friends' & I new favorite place! I'm already craving another one! :)"
"The Best Sandwich Shack is on Best Avenue, so I thought maybe they were trying to fool you with the street name. I was happy to be wrong. These are literally the best sandwiches. In fact, I've lived in different areas of the U.S. and this is actually the best place for sandwiches I've ever been."
"I am hooked on the Philly with Cheese Whiz....absolutely wonderful. The father/son team who run the restaurant are always fun to talk to and I enjoy their upbeat attitudes. They also have punch cards!! I like free stuff :)"
"We love The Shack!! They have the best sandwiches in town, they personable and funny too... everything on the menu is awesome, you gotta try them."
"I no longer live in Coeur d'Alene, but whenever I come through, I have to stop in. It's a little shack, run by a nice family that knows what they're doing. Be sure to try the Philly, it's the best one this side of the Mississippi."What are you waiting for kids? If you know what's "best" for you, you will point your hunger radar at the best Sandwich Shack and make your way in like now, momentarily, nowadays, on the double, promptly, pronto, right away, right now, soon, straightaway, these days, this day, today.