Food Traveler is a collection of culinary adventures and recipes from around the Northwest. Find the full 2018 Food Traveler inside the August issue of Northwest Travel and Life, on newsstands until August 31.
In the past, when speaking about the Idaho culinary scene, one main commodity always popped up: the humble potato. Nowadays, the narrative is changing—Idahoans are talking more about trout, huckleberries or locally-sourced beef instead. While they’re still mighty proud of the spuds, Boise’s culinary clout is on the rise and its loyalty to showcase local Idaho products has never been stronger.
Start out in Downtown Boise. Any visitor would be remiss not to hit the Basque Block at the corner of 6th and Grove streets, a truly unique part of Idaho history. When sheepherders emigrated to the United States from the Basque region, Idaho was where many of them landed, and to this day Boise has one of the largest concentrations of Basque populations outside of Spain. Lucky for you, this means some of the best Basque food anywhere in the world—grab a pintxo (small tapa) and glass of Spanish wine at The Basque Market, then make your way over to Bar Gernika for croquetas and lamb or pork grinders.
After those Basque delights, it’s time to move on to another part of downtown for a true Idaho delight—fries courtesy of the Boise Fry Company. Here you can customize your fries right down to the variety of potato and style of cut (i.e. curly purple fries). Homemade dipping sauces include blueberry ketchup, sour Thai and spicy fry sauce, among others. Even though their tagline is “Burgers on the Side,” their fresh bison burgers are insanely delicious as well, with meat sourced just 50 miles away.
If you’re still in the mood for more in Downtown Boise, 8th Street has got you covered! This fun street houses all sorts of restaurants and bars—Fork, Red Feather or Juniper offer a true taste of Boise.
Looking for some local libations? For craft beer, make your way to Payette Brewing. Started by a Boise native in 2010, this brewery recently moved from small production digs to a beautiful, brand-new facility in the Boise core. This move has allowed them to produce a ton of one-off and specialty beers, with over 20 tap handles running at any time.
If cocktails are more your speed, head to The Modern Hotel & Bar on Grove Street. With their relaxing patio and firepit (not to mention some of the best mixologists in the state), you will be in good hands with a cocktail list that ranges from familiar to rare and unusual.
Boise is located only 45 minutes from the heart of the Sunnyslope Wine Region. While there are plenty of wineries making award-winning varietals, we highly recommend a stop at Huston Vineyards on Chicken Dinner Road and grabbing a few tastes at Hat Ranch Winery and checking out the new digs for Sawtooth Winery and Koenig Vineyards.
When it comes down to it, Boise’s culinary scene is surprising and second to none – come see (and taste) for yourself. To learn more about Southwest Idaho or to plan your stay please visit visitsouthwestidaho.org. For more information on Idaho, please visit visitidaho.org.