Cafe Carambola is where you should go to lunch next time you are in Coeur d’Alene. But… you can only go if it is Monday-Friday from 11am-3pm. Their hours are literally the only negative thing to be said about this wonderful, flavorful cafe. But, can we really blame them for being open for limited times because they are so popular that is all they need to sustain their business? Cafe Carambola is open for limited lunch hours or while ingredients last. Which, they don’t usually last long. When you stop in for lunch, you can enjoy their homemade, Latin American inspired sandwiches, soups and salads. Plan to come near opening, so you can be sure they don’t sell out of any of their favorites.
The owners at Cafe Carambola are passionate about serving up authentic flavors, traditional latin american dishes, and using the freshest ingredients. Carambola is the star fruit that can be found in the traditional Latin American Mercados drinks. The flavor of the Carambola is crisp and pure, just like the entrees and sides at this cafe.
I couldn’t decide what to order but knew I wanted to try as much of their menu as possible so I requested one of their salad sampler plates. Then, I let the owner choose my salads. No one knows what’s better than the owner himself. Some of the traditional salads they serve include Black Nile Barley Tabbouleh, Incan Quinoa, Farfalle Pasta, Marinated Tomato and Avocado, Mango and Black Bean, etc. These salads are bright and lightly dressed with lots of fresh herbs and citrus flavors.
Their sandwiches, aka Tortas, are served on toasted French bread and you can choose your meat: pork, beef, chicken (or vegetarian). We tried the Carambola Club and it was honestly one of the best sandwiches I have had. It doesn’t have too much going on but the flavors and quality of ingredients are top notch. We ordered the half, and were really disappointed when it was gone so fast. We will definitely be ordering the full sandwich next time. Another top seller is the El Mexicano served with cilantro pesto, pico de gallo, queso fresco, lettuce, and shredded beef.
If you don’t want a sandwich you can go for one of their grilled quesadillas. Again, you might be expecting a typical quesadilla, but nothing about Cafe Carambola is typical. The flour tortillas taste fresher, the cheese tastes creamery, the pico tastes more flavorful.
You can also create your own wrap by choosing your meat, spread, cheese, salsa, and veggies. We met for lunch with some “Cafe Carambola regulars” and one of them mentioned that they have never had the same soup twice. They are stirring up unique flavors to create memorable soups each day and you never know what you are going to get. I ordered the soup of the day and I was blown away. It was a curry, coconut milk soup with just the right kick. Once again, go big or go home. I got the cup but was so sad when it ended. I would have been much happier with the bowl of soup. When the food is this delicious and flavorful, the calories don’t matter. That’s another great thing about Cafe Carambola. The dishes are light enough and incorporate real, quality ingredients, that you don’t leave feeling full or gross. You are satisfied and ready to go straight to the lake for a water skiing session.
Make sure you try one of their Aguas Frescas to drink. This is their house-made Mexican style fresh fruit cooler. It’s a dark red drink that comes in a large glass and its the refreshing side that perfectly compliments the latin flavors in the food.
Cafe Carambola (610 Hubbard Ave # 110, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814 // 208.676.8784)