One of the best parts of travel is sampling the food indigenous to the place where you’ll be. Sometimes, the locale might not really have a worldwide reputation. Idaho kind of falls into that category: most people know us for potatoes, but certainly we have a wider variety of cuisine to offer than potatoes. Surprisingly, Boise has quite an array of really unique restaurants, with lots of local authenticity.
Here’s where I like to take visiting guests:
- Red Feather Lounge is my favorite nice restaurant in all of Boise. It’s not huge, so if you have a large group, make reservations. The basement wine cellar is my favorite place for a party-sized group, or upstairs in the alcove is cozy for a smaller group. The food at Red Feather is anything but typical. The staff is helpful and knowledgeable. On a recent visit, our waiter discussed his trip to Italy to learn Latin. The food and the wine selection is top rate.
- Another local place for a really nice dinner is Cottonwood Grille. With more space than Red Feather, and a beautiful location along the Boise River, Cottonwood serves up an experience. The food here is what you’d imagine from a state with hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness. Ever wanted to try an elk steak? Now you can.
Fork is my newest favorite Boise eatery. Housed in a century-old bank building with exposed brick modernized with wood columns and mod sconces, Fork prides itself on bringing food from local sources directly to the dining plate. Literally, some days they step out their door where the farmers’ market takes place on Saturdays and buy whatever is available. It’s so fresh, their menu calls it “vegetable of the moment.”
- For more casual dinners out, you really can’t go wrong with pizza. My favorite local pizzeria is Flying Pie Pizza. With two locations in Boise, Flying Pie is all about fun. They have one of the largest selections of beers and wines to accompany your pie, and they’ll happily recommend parings. Pizzas come in so many tasty combos it’s hard to decide. I love their crust—it’s thick without being gooey or heavy.
- For authentic Mexican, El Gallo Giro is the place to go. A casual, family atmosphere reigns over the beautifully decorated dining room, and the basket of truly fresh tortilla chips never ends. I never knew there were so many varieties of salsa until I ate here. You don’t have to be close to the border to get this great food.
- The Basque country in Spain may be on the other side of the globe from here, but we benefit from being home to the largest Basque population anywhere else in the world. Leku Ona makes traditional Basque food and serves it up with hearty and full bodied Basque wines. Bring your appetite.
- For a great burger and brew, Tablerock Brew Pub is my choice. They have great fries, as well as other pub favorites like fish and chips.
- There are some other excellent brew pubs too. Highlands Hollow has the biggest bread sticks I’ve ever eated.
- And for excellent fries, you just have to experience Boise Fry Company—where burgers are the side dish.
- Finally, Donnie Mac’s Trailer Park Cuisine has the most unique ambiance ever—with an old car serving as the centerpiece table. You literally eat inside the car. (Get revenge on your dad who never allowed food in the car!) Probably a good idea to take a very long walk before you eat here, as much of the food is fried, and oh so good.