"riverwalk" mentioned Boise Weekly, which is a free alternative newspaper with very fine writing
and very good restaurant reviews. That have an online archive of past reviews and current
diner comments about dining in the Treasure Valley that is very informative.
Have fun in Boise!
Brick 29 in Nampa is worth the short trip. Sunday brunch is very very good, and reasonably priced. Lamb shank is out of this world.
Epi's is an experience. It is like going to dinner at a Basque friend's house, who has a big happy family.
Chandler's has the best bar food oysters, fresh or baked, you can find.
Cottonwood Grill has been reborn. Excellent happy hour, gorgeous location for outside dining when it is warm and near the gigantic fireplace when it is cold. The fish is really good.
Gino's has just one location now, kind of out in the boonies, but well worth the trek. Been there many times and never disappointed. Osso bucco is a very rich treat.
320 11th Ave S Ste 100, Nampa, ID 83651
Whatever review below that you read, please know that Boise restaurants close frequently in the last few years. In addition, the chefs move around a lot, so a place that was great yesterday may not have the same food quality today. Boise Weekly (publication) has a restaurant guide online for 2011 in which some popular chefs are interviewed. You can see that many of them used to work at other restaurants (when they were good). The last few years have also brought such a hard hit to Boise economy that many of the employees are struggling to act happy to be at work. It's very hit or miss and a gamble to eat out now. It's a good idea to go in for a drink and check out the place first or find out when their best chef is working and make a reservation during that time period.
If you want a great sandwich during the day, the best ones are at the Tater or Idaho Spud something wagon parked in front of the Tobacco Connection at the intersection of Protest & Boise Ave & Beacon near BSU. The sweetest lady runs it and it's really clean, but she has the best soups and Reubens and pulled pork etc. Her potato soup is the best and people come from all around for it. It's a lunch wagon, but very clean and she is always so friendly like Aunt Bee. She has day hours and not open on Sundays, but wonderful. Everything is homemade and she has desserts, too. It's like coming home to ma for a sandwich and soup.
There is a brand new place called the Fork on 8th now that advertises that they only use local ingredients and have a list of vendors on their website with links. Haven't been there yet.
It's pretty discouraging to find a good place and it seems when we do they either change chefs or close down.
You'll think I'm crazy for suggesting this until you go there - Stan's Hot Dogs on Vista?! You've got to try the sauce they have and those hot dogs are basically the best I've ever had - as an ex-east coaster. You have to try the onion rings AND the custard AND they pay the employees well which is awesome. Yum. The hot dogs/sausages are imported by a maker in New York who makes all of his own from old world recipes. Amazing.
How is Milky Way these days? Looking for a gift certificate for my parents - seems like a decent fit. They like well prepared comfort food, not too spicey. We are Bay Area hounds and just refuse to get a chain certificate - I would love to have them try something new and nice. I am open to other suggestions too.
Sorry...Milky Way closed some time ago. The City Grill mentioned in the post above also closed a week ago. Let me recommend a few places that might be good replacements. Berryhill (208-387-3553) is downtown like the two mentioned above. Very attractive, good food, well run. Another good restaurant near downtown is Cafe Vicino (208-472-1463). Both of my recommendations are independent, well managed, with good food. I go to both regularly.
With the recent mentioning of TableRock's bankruptcy (although it's not closing down), I was wondering how the quality of the beer and food stacks up at the local brewpubs. The opinions on TableRock's food I've seen have been fairly negative, but I'm wondering if there are any opinions here on them or on The Ram, Sockeye, or Highlands Hollow. Are there any others in the valley that I've excluded?
OK no one has reviewed Chandlers Steakhouse here so I will even though it is not very Chowhoundish since it is more of a main stream fine dinging kind of joint. Here is my cross-post from Yelp.
"Chandlers Steakhouse is a great place to take your father-in-law for a special occasion. You know the guy, he likes the NFL, driving his black Cadillac, and reminiscing about his days as a top salesman for an industrial supplier. Back then he used to take his prospects and clients to places like this and close deals over martinis to the sounds of jazz before it became fake. Bring him here and he will be in wanna-be-Sopranos heaven.
The Top Sirloin Kobe is amazing - locally raised by Snake River Farms. Get the mushroom side. Also try the grilled artichoke. Spinach salad with bacon and goat cheese was perfect. I'd pass on the Hef-tini, it was a little too mediciny. And I like negronis. The Clayhouse Sirah was delicious."
wow, so many foodies around :)
here's my pick.
1) Pad Thai House - Of course, their Pad Thai is heavenly. (am yet to try Sa Wad Dee, reviews look great)
2) Romio's pizza and pasta - very rich food. totally worth the prices
I dont like any of the Indian restaurants here. They are expensive and the quantities served are less. Tastes are not all that authentic.
I tried this place called PitaPit recently. Located in Downtown. Its like a subway and the falafel pita was awesome.
Here's my list of suggestions... though I'll preface this by saying the pickings are rather slim and are actually slimmer now than in prior years when we still had Desert Sage, Doughty's Bistro, and Capers, to name a few. That said (and I apologize as this is a bit long but trying to cover a lot of territory): In my humble opinion the best hamburger BAR NONE in Boise is at the Tavern at Bown Crossing at the end of ParkCenter and they also have the best happy hour in town. Not one of these $ .50 off a glass of the house wine--they give you half off almost everything--certainly on the wines where you can get $12/glass wines for $6 plus great food until 6 p.m. Their meats are prime and you can get a prime beef skewer as part of the happy hour menu with the luscious peanut satay sauce for less than $3 (the dinner appetizer of the satays (the chicken is not as great as the beef) is about $10 for a few skewers. A smaller portion of their pot roast nachos, fresh-made potato skins, plus California rolls and other sushi from their companion restaurant next door. add to that they are on the Passport card, which you can buy at www.passportunlimited.com and get unlimited buy one get one free lunches and dinners. They 6 oz. filet mignon with a large baked potato or even a baked sweet potato is one of the best beef dishes for quality and price in town compared to paying almost 150% at Murphy's for meat that is not always as good. BTW, Murphy's is ALSO on the Passport card with unlimited buy one/get one. Screaming deal. (Also great spots on that card though in Nampa are Brick 29 and Copper Canyon. Brick 29 is awesome... if Dustan would open one in Boise it would be fabulous). The 2nd best burger is in a spot that is struggling a bit right across the street from the Tavern at Bown Crossing (NOT the same as the Falcon Tavern, where I have never had a good meal though I see that others like it) is Kessler's, known mostly for breakfast but a great burger. Another great pick for everyone particularly as I haven't seen anyone mention it is the "misunderstood" Romio's Pizza & Pasta on Milwaukee almost in front of Target. An AWESOME Greek-owned franchise with fabulous pizza and Greek dishes, including an excellent Greek pastitsio (Greek lasagna). Young, eager-to-please staff, too. Great prices! On the Mexican front, I have never had anything I cared for at Los Betos at all but TOTALLY agree with the poster who recommended El Pueblo tucked away in the same shopping center as Los Betos at the back. Ono, which is Kanak Attack Catering's place in the old Berryhill space on Broadway has almost always been very good with a couple of hiccups (once out of almost everything as they were catering too many things and once the normally yummy kalua pork was overdone and salty)... but cute place and great menu. Berryhill has great ambiance, too... Unlike several of the others, I have been underwhelmed with Epi's though the proprietor is charming and I really wanted to like the food--I just didn't and thought it was pricey for what you got and not that distinctive. Mazzah for Mediterranean can be quite good though if you get a meat skewer you have to ask them not to overcook it as they almost torch all of the meats... accommodating but a bit slow. One of the newest spots, which is opening for dinner shortly if they haven't just added it, is NEXT to Mazzah on ParkCenter and it's Focaccia's and it's Chef Bill Green Catering's outlet that started with just breakfast and lunch and had a really excellent Mother's Day brunch with house-baked pastries and other baked goods. Nice buffet and you ordered your entree and the staff seems to take pride in what they do. For Chinese, the best I've found is the China Grand Buffet on Fairview near Five Mile--handmade potstickers, tons of seafood, vegetable dishes, desserts, and more for less than $10 and they are continuously restocking and cleaning. That restaurant's little brother is a fraction of the size (and needs a new sign) but the food is still good: Din Fun on Vista on the west side of the street. Another treat if you're into fresh-cut French fries, which are somewhat ironically hard to find here: 1) Cottonwood Grille, Big Jud's cited for their burgers elsewhere, and Moon's Kitchen only if you ask for them if they're still doing them. They starting switching to frozen mediocre fries but I was told if you ask for the fresh ones they'll still do them. Copper Canyon in Nampa is a pretty space with great variety on the menu... duck and other things not so easy to find and his trio of mushroom dishes available as an appetizer is owner/chef Brian Inaba's signature from his days at other places, including what was Cafe Jacque at ParkCenter Mall years ago... service can be uneven but great food in a lovely setting and though it seems FAR away, it's less than 25 minutes from downtown Boise. Newest Indian place opened by the former owners of Madhuban is India Palace... one on Fairview near Milwaukee and I think the second is Meridian and Boise. Agree that Gino's is good but be clear that there are two: one with Gino in the kitchen (the Grill) and one with his mama, Gino's Ristorante... that one is a bit more casual and a bit less expensive.. I have not been impressed at all with Cafe Vicino or Bungalow (which just sold to the chef and another party) and do not recommend them but I understand that others here have had better experiences there. I also do not recommend Proto's but would recommend Guido's for thin crust and as odd as it may seem Old Chicago (NOT Chicago Connection) does good, thick-crust pizza (I am from Chicago, too)... I wish I could say I liked Flying Pie but I do not like it at ALL though there are legions of fans in town for them.. I find the quality of the ingredients, the consistency and flavor of the crust, and the general upkeep of the location itself to all be unappealing. Sorry! What was Lucky 13 in Hyde Park is not nearly as good as the real Lucky 13 was, which is not at Harris Ranch and while the pizza is okay you get to eat it off a thin white, picnic paper plate with chintzy plastic silverware if you need any but much better crust than the one now on 13th (Sunray Cafe or similar--not quite it). Also try Chef Roland's on Boise Avenue for BBQ... Even the workers at Lucky 13 said they have heard that from almost everyone. Hope this helps!
Passport programs puts restaurants who are struggling out of business. They take what very little profit a successful place makes and gouge them. These and other programs that "Put your restaurant on an elite dining list!" actually are just parasites. They're even more sophisticated now & tie into the credit card processing and take a percentage of sales depending on members CC #'s. If you sign up and a member is already frequenting your establishment...you make less from that regular. Drumming up new business shouldn't cost that much. There are other ways. I refuse to support these "discount clubs"
After reading various raves from here and elsewhere, I tried out Casanova for some pizza. We dined in once and ordered takeout once, and I have to say that it's not a pizza that travels well. I loved it, and it's a great change of pace. That wood-fired oven is a thing of beatuy. But I'll only be dining in from now on.
8th St. Wine Co., Red Feather and Bittercreek all buy from local providers whenever possible. All have good food.
Berryhill is great.
For Chinese, try Wok King on Broadway...would be average on a coast, but for Boise, it's good.
I think Leku Ona is overpriced for the bunch of boiled meat and potatoes they serve.
OH! OH!! And try Kanak Attack out on Broadway (same strip as Wok King) - they've been catering for years, and now have a home. Fabulous BBQ, and lots of it. Or if you're craving polynesian style tapas-y small plates (and who wouldn't?), this is the place.
Leku Ona isn't really overpriced, actually, if you are like me and will live and die for salt cod. Oh my god, bacala - it was what fueled the Vikings, and it will also fuel me. Plus, no one makes it right, except Leku Ona.
But yeah, if you just want boiled meat and potatoes you can go anywhere. They also make amazing stuffed peppers. Yay pinxtos.
I've been told that Wok Inn is amazing, but haven't been there yet for Chinese.
After a month of backordering, Costco finally got cases of Mexican Coke in glass bottles. Yay! A steal at $18 for a case (24-pack, 12 oz. bottles). I pray that it stays a regular item. But with the high gringo quotient here, it's hard to say.
A prior post mentioned Big Juds on Protest Rd. for burgers, and I have to agree. That place was great. And their fries were absolutely superb. They're these thick big slabs of potatoes that are cut fresh. I know where to go for a fry fix. I also tried Viking Drive-In on State and Veterans Parkway across from Albertsons. The burger was alright, but the fries were pedestrian and oversalted. I was both humored and exasperated when the kids working there didn't know what ordering your burger "medium rare" meant. Okayyy...
1289 S Protest Rd, Boise, ID 83706
Boise is hit and miss. I've lived in Chicago and a few other places in the East. By and large Boise doesn't compare, IMO, but for a few "local's" type places that take time to find. Here are my recommendations:
Mexican -- I haven't found great Mexican here yet or really any authentic Central Mexican food at all (I travel to Mexico City and Puebla at least once a year -- the Mexican food here is all Southwest gringo type fare). La Tapatia on Parkcenter makes a semi-realistic Tacos al Pastor, so that is usually where I end up. Mesa on 8th isn't authentic Mexican, but the Carne Asada tacos and everything else is extremely fresh (the place doesn't have a freezer) and it is dirt cheap.
Asian - I agree with others that there is no decent Chinese food to speak of and a few average Japanese places that aren't worth mentioning. When PF Changs is the best gig in town for Chinese, enough said. Zen Bento is nice for lunch.
American - Boise has a lot of good burger joints. The Falcon Tavern is my favorite and has a nice selection of beers on tap. Red Feather is also nice and has a very good wine list. Fanci Freeze on State and Bad Boy Burgers are also decent fast food.
Aside from a lot of others I am not much of a fan of Bardenay, which has a menu in need of punching up which consists almost entirely of standard brewery/pub food like one can find just about anywhere in any large American city. Berryhill and Co. is also overrated, IMO, and has a menu that seems more a dedication to the chef's ego than anything else (the fig, onion and grilled cheese sandwich seems a particularly good example of this). Both places have very serviceable wine lists, however, and Bardenay makes some of the better cocktails in town. Aside from the wine lists, I can't really recommend much about either place.
The Cottonwood Grill is similar to Bardenay and Berryhill, but with very slightly better food and a much less extensive wine list than either place.
Basque - I prefer Bar Gernkia to Epi's and Leku Ona. It has more of a "joint" type of an atmosphere, a small but cheap wine list, and the pallella is fantastic.
Italian - Gino's and Gino's Grill are my favorites and are, IMO, some of the better places to eat in Boise (and most expensive). They key here is to avoid the steaks and chops and to always err on the side of traditional Italian food. In general, the service is excellent at both places. The wine list is heavy on the Super Tuscans, etc.
Pizza - Boise has a few good pizza joints. Guido's is the closest thing we have to real New York style pizza. The Flying Pie has a nice rotating selection of beers on tap and is not half bad. Finally, Casanova's on Vista doesn't get a lot of lip service but is my favorite (the wood brick oven was built by hand by the owner) and reminds me of a lot of neighborhood joints I would eat at in Chicago.
Flatbread Community Oven is also worth noting as a kind of quasi-Italian pizzeria type of place and has what it bills as the only Authentic Neopolitan Pizza in town. I like the lasagna there as well. The sandwich shop across the street isn't bad either.
Indian - I like the place (the Bombay House??) in the Hotel Idan-ha. A lot of other people I know write it off as kind of dirty. It is sort of expensive, but has the market cornered.
Breakfast - Goldie's, Addie's, Jim's and Moon's all serve a similar American breakfast menu. All are decent. I prefer Addie's, but you can't go wrong with any of the above.
Other - La vie en rose in the Idanha has a great space and the menu is marginally French with decent food. Unfortunately, the service is some of the worst and slowest in town. I prefer the Cafe de Paris, which also suffers from surly staff, but is not nearly as slow. The Brick Oven Bistro is also popular with locals and serves a lot of comfort food.
Boise food in a nutshell:
Indian - Madhuban - incredible food, not so great atmosphere, best Indian in town, on State Street. Waiters will also give you hot tips on the best new Indian music/movies from Bombay
Mexican - El Pueblo - it's the real authentic deal but behind where the white people eat - Los Betos. I LOVE El Pueblo. Not so great if you don't speak Spanish and don't eat meat, but if you like delicious freaking Mexican meats 0- Oh my god, this is the place.
Baked goods: I agree about La Vie En Rose - great Parisian baked goods. Not such an excellent selection, though. really, there is no decent bakery in town. Sorry. Zeppole - THEY DO NOT EVEN MAKE ZEPPOLE!!!! don't bother, ever. Except for the coffee shop Lucy's - which has the best baker in town, and actually makes amazing American macaroons dipped in chocolate.
Crazy/stoner food : Merritt's Home of the Scone on State Street. It's basically awesome stoners and the best greasy spoon of all time, at all hours of the day
PNW Contemporary Cuisine: Bungalow - excellent, and better priced now that it's not Richard's. Still tries to be local, even though I see Sysco food trucks parked outside.
Coffee - Dawson Taylor, or Lucys - both unique to Idaho, both far, far better than anything at the Flying M cafe....
Basque - Gernika (get the spicy lamb grinder, or the veggie kabobs, and make sure you get the kroketas) or Leku Ona - very awesome, Epi's - the absolute best, but it is in Meridian. Leku Ona has the best secret bar in town. Too bad I'm saying this. Legislators hang out there, locals, friends, it's like Cheers.
Vietnamese - on glenwood Pho 79 is the best bet - real pho! real vietnamese tv too
Thai - Pat's Thai is actually really delicious especially if you ask for the spice rack. I personally love fish sauce with hot peppers. Sawadee is great for lunch.
Wrap lunch - Parilla on 13th - the buffalo meat is excellent.
Bardenay - you can't really dis on Bardenay since they distill their own liquor, and you can tour it, and it's delicious!!! the best menu item is the seared tuna salad.
Sushi - forget all the others because Fujiyama is the absolute best place in town. It is one of a kind, out by the mall, hidden inside a strip mall like all the best places in town. You'd never suspect it - but it's outstanding. Don't bother with Happy Fish unless you love expensive martinis.
Argentinian - Tango's on Orchard - really authentic, really delicious, also sell very nice gourds for the mate. Owner is italian argentinian lady from La Boca district of Buenos Aires. great selection.
More PNW contemporary cuisine - Cottonwood grill is standard fare, BUT their appetizer/happy hour is the best in town
Pizza - I second Lulu's on Bogus Basin - it actually tastes like the NYC pizza of my youth. I actually really think that Guido's is horrible, and I only go there because kids love it. Lulu's is the real NYC pizza. And after living in Portland, Berkeley, etc I can strongly say that there is no better pizza in the west (unless you count the Cheeseboard Collective in Berkeley, but that's like yuppie pizza, lulu's is gourmet, but tastes the same)
Indian part II - I do NOT like the Bombay Grill in the Idanha because it often takes forever and tastes/looks like somthing awful
Candy/ice cream: Goody's on 13th - ice cream and candy made in bend, or - supplies Goody's in bend and boise.
Salad/lunch: Jenny's Lunch Line - another hidden gem. this place is the best lunch in town, best salads in town, best soups in town. Amazing quality and taste. http://www.jennyslunchline.com
Pizza Part II: Lucky 13 - it's out on Harris Ranch now, so it's far out of the way, but it's still allright pizza.
Italian: Asiago's - that's about it. in downtown. Good wine, good beer, authentic white bean hummous, and delicious pastas. Some fusion, but that's ok.
Chinese food: NOTHING. YET. Allegedly Nam King is okay, and I've read there is some dim sum somewhere, but I don't believe it.
Mediterranean - Mazzah - two locations, and both excellent, ask for the Turkish coffee.
Grocery - Skip the Boise Co-op because they buy up ethnic foods from local markets and then re-sale them for twice the price. The local ethnic markets are absolutely excellent.
Phillipine - Pista Sa Nayon http://www.boiseweekly.com/gyrobase/C...
Rest In Peace - the incredible Tapas Estrella and Korea House. they are sorely missed...
Bar: Symposion. and Leku Ona. Tied. Period.
As I'm currently jobless, my plans for getting omakase at Sono Bana are on hold. I want to develop a relationship with the itamae, and doing so requires getting omakase once a week or so. Putting at least $50 (including tip and drinks) down each week for fish currently isn't in my financial plans.
Congrats to Wal-Mart for stocking Mexican Coke (at least the one on State/Glenwood). Unfortunately their usually cheap prices aren't reflected here: $5 for four 355ml (i.e. just under 12 oz.) bottles. Nope-- not good enough. That's about on par with the $2 I pay for a half-liter bottle at Campos Market. You can get a case at Costco for $18-$19. The Costcos around here haven't been carrying it, and I've left comments in each of their comment boxes. So I called the Nampa Costco, and hallelujah-- they have them on order, and we should expect it around the beginning of March! The lady said that this also applies to the Boise store.
Los Betos has competition for 24-hour Mexican. Unfortunately I can't remember the name. Like LB, it's a small chain, but located in other parts of Idaho. It's on Orchard just north of Franklin, on the west side of the street. I had an asada burrito. The asada had actual marinade taste to it unlike LB, but it was still pretty chewy and rubbery. I smacked my forehead when I realized that, unlike LB, they serve lengua (tongue). And I love lengua. They serve menudo on the weekends.
I hit up Chilango's on State near Veterans, which I later found out has a taco truck that hangs around downtown during lunches and party nights. Here they serve lengua and cabeza. I ordered one of their big burritos but was disappointed since they skimped out on the meat and left me with a ton of rice and beans. Went back another time for their taco special (5 tacos and a drink for $5) and felt better about the place. The quality of the lengua was subpar, but I liked my cabeza. Haven't tried the asada yet.
A thumbs down for Lulu's Pizza from me. The inside decor and the outside patio area is nice, but my NY Style pie was a soggy greasy mess. They skimped on the cheese too.
Guido's beats them hands down, not only in terms of quality but in price. Lulu's wants a 20" pepperoni pizza for $21.50. Guido's-- $12. If you order at Lulu's, DO NOT go by the prices on their online menu. I mentioned the $5 discrepenancy for my pizza between the online and take-home menu, and they still haven't fixed it.
For authentic Mexican, I saw El Rinconcito in Nampa and Tacos Michoacan in Caldwell as recommendations. Anyone been to either?
I, too, live in Boise, and strongly encourage any and all to break out of the box and try these locally-owned restaurants:
Bardenay (downtown Boise and Eagle)--GREAT upscale pub food (cloth napkins! made-from-scratch everything!) and house-crafted (!!!) gin, vodka, rum. Beautiful patio dining too. Amazing wine list.
Cafe Vicino--intimate decor, lovely Mediterranean-influenced menu, wonderful service.
Bungalow--aforementioned, adorable historic area (Hyde Park) with a remarkable Happy Hour 7 days a week with both booze and nosh specials.
I'm heading up this weekend for a job interview...do I need rezzies at any of these places? And if you had to pick your top two (Fri and Sat night meals) which would they be?... or any others of course!
Edit to add: found this list on the other Boise thread, any ideas to help narrow down my search? Go ahead and cross off the steakhouses, no food with a face for me :)
3. Cafe Vicino
7. Bar Gernika (Basque)
10. La Cafe de Paris
12. Zen Bento
I'd pick a downtown restaurant one night as well as something in Boise's lovely North End: Try Cafe Vicino (reservations recommended), as they have several "faceless" options (see menu on website), prepared in thoughful, tasty ways. Bungalow is also veg-friendly.
As for downtown, I'd do either Bardenay (again, interesting veg dishes) for a more boisterous, lively atmosphere, or if you like sushi, my favorites are Zutto or Happy Fish, neither of which takes reservations, but you should be fine.
Bon Boise Appetit!
For casual lunch spots, I'd recommend either Bar Gernika or Zen Bento, which are open on Saturdays.
Thank you so much for the tips!!! My brother, who was hosting me, pretty much called the shots. The bad news is that he picked On the Border (I know!!) one night and Raw Sushi (his girlfriend works there) the other night. The good news is that I accepted a nice job offer, so I'll have plenty of time to explore all your reccomendations. Thank you again - I can't wait to start eating my way around Boise :)
I am suprised that almost all of my favorite places to eat in Boise were left out. The Milky Way has great lunch and dinner and on tuesday, wednesday, and thursday, you can pick any appetizer, entre, and desert for $27. Ginos is my favorite italian resturaunt, and has a great ambiance. Goldy's always serves up an amazing breakfast, and is worth the wait. The Front Door is another great pizza place, and it also has an amazing selection of non-domestic beer.
I’ve tried Protos (which is downtown in the BoDo area near the Edwards Cinema). I thought it was pretty good, but I prefer the flying pie pizza, especially their zambini pizza. http://www.flyingpie.com/
The best pho I’ve had in Boise has been at Pho 79 at Glenwood & State. You can’t get a wide array of ingredients, but it curbs my pho longings in between visits to Seattle.
The Aromas Bakery and Restaurant does have some good food (my fav Mexican place here so far). I’ve eaten there a couple times, though I haven’t tried the chile soup yet. They have a great day old corn bread made from the previous day’s corn leftovers that I found wonderful. If you need horchata, you won’t find it at Aromas, but you can go down the street to Chela’s and get some there – unfortunately, Chela’s closed for a few months in late 2007. Though it reopened, the menu has been reduced and the burritos don’t seem to be quite as good. I always see the Corona (next to the flying pie on state street) busy. Anyone eaten there?
As a side note, if you are in California near Watsonville and want some incredible Mexican food, stop by my favorite cali restaurant -- Fiesta Tepa-Sahuayo. The sauces, the choices, the tortillas, the atmosphere and the prices .. incredible!
For burgers, especially if you want to avoid the chains, Big Juds is the best I’ve tried in Boise http://www.bigjuds.com. Their website doesn’t show it, but there’s one on prospect avenue in Boise. They also do fresh fries, which is my favorite reason for going.
If you like French dips, the Crescent “No Lawyers” bar-grill had the best I’ve tried in town so far.
Having moved here after a few years in Santa Cruz, I’m satisfied with the dining here in Boise area (better than I expected). That’s probably because, for an international travel destination, Santa Cruz has some pretty poor restaurants. However, if you are in the area head down to Watsonville for Mexican (as noted above) or head over the hill to Los Gatos and San Jose and you’ll find plenty of good food.
Thanks for your comments...the search in Boise is endless :0
I too like Pho 79. Had lunch at Aroma's today...ok but nothing I would rush back for. Chela's was great..but now just ok...new owners have new menu...completely different. Passable but not like the old Chela's where I ate every week. As I said in prior posts best options in Boise:
Gyros... Mezzah..but nothing else on menus is good
Thai...Sa-Wah-Dee and second Pat's Thai Kitchen
Vietnamese: Dong Khanh
Luka Ona: Basque
Pizza: Lulu's and Guidos
Wish there were more...anyone? Please pass on more suggestions.
The Boise are is a great place for food when you know where to look. Sawahdee is decent Thai food, I NEED all you thai food fans to go to Thai Cuisine on Overland. Best curry and pad thai I've ever had, try the drunken noodles. Get the wrap lover for an appetizer. Everything is good.
I believe there's a Proto's Pizza somewhere in Boise now. Pam Proto (grew up in New Haven CT on great thin-crust pizza) started what is now a small group of yuppified East Coast pizza places in Colorado. Boise became the first out-of-state location. Wood oven. Pizzas not overloaded with too much goop. Good crust. Variety of toppings. Decent wines. Bright, busy atmosphere. Best for nostalgic Easterners, not for fans of Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.
I second Guidos for pizza...equally as good is Lulu's Pizza on Bogus Basin Road. Plus Lulu's salads and wine options are better. They also have soup. From a prior post...Mortimers is excellent...maybe the best high end restaurant in Boise. If any Boisians have additional suggestions...love to hear them.
I live in Boise as well. When I first moved here from the Phoenix area I was very disappointed in the food options in town. However I have found a few places that serve great food. My favorites in town are Mortimers - Great food and atmosphere - expensiv though.
Red Feather lounge - great food small - get reservations for weekends
Cottonwood grill - great desserts
I have eaten at Epis and was disappointed. I lived in Spain for a few years and the food was ok, but not what I was expecting. I was disappointed that more was not created from scratch.
Mortimers also runs a second restaurant that is less money - I will try this soon.
Protos - in the bodo has great hand tossed pizza - the best in town.
The bar next to red feather lounge has great sandwiches - they share the kitchen.
Guido's Pizza is the most "chowhoundish" pizza. Local, cheap, and good.
Front Door below the Reef is good too. Local, good beers, punk rockers.
Tony's Teatro Pizza by the Egyptian is stellar. As is Casinova's on Vista and LuLu's on Bogus Basin.
But I'll tell you all that you should run not walk to Aromas Mexican Restaurant in the strip mall on Glenwood across from WallMart. The Chili Rellenos soup is amazing. Ceviche awesome. Reminds me of good Latin food we used to get in Miami.
Sundevil has been to the best spots in Boise. I travel to Boise frequently and eat out a lot. Best Food I had in Boise was at Six One Six in Eagle. The Trout Roulade at Franco Latino was also really really good. Never tried Milkey Way but also heard it was good. Still haven't found good sushi in Boise.
Mortimers, Franco Latino, and Milky Way are all gone.
Sushi here? Meh. Freshness comes into play. I talked to someone from the fish market downtown, and a good number of local places get their fish from them. But it takes an extra day for their fish to arrive from the port cities. I don't care if it's shipped flash frozen. I lived in L.A. all my life up until last year, and I can taste the difference with that extra day. I've actually had better and fresher where you live, as if someone has some good connections from the Tuskiji fish market. Anyway try doing omakase at Sono Bana I mentioned a few posts above.
To help keep this thread goin' a bit-- I've gone to Sono Bana twice now and had ramen both times (BTW I can confirm that the employees, save for some of the servers, are Japanese). Ramen isn't on their menu at the restaurant, nor is it in the area in the restaurant where they handwrite their specials that aren't on the menu. You need to be "in the know" to get it. They offer miso and shoyu ramen. Because of its secretiveness, I wouldn't recommend ordering it if you want a quick meal. My order for the shoyu took a long time to be prepared, presumably because I caught them off guard.
I'll preface this by saying that I generally don't order miso ramen save for one place in L.A. that actually makes their own miso paste (you can see and taste bean residue at the bottom of the bowl). But if I had to pick one to recommend over the other, I'd pick the shoyu. Mind you, it wasn't mindblowing or anything. It's pretty average stuff compared to what L.A. has to offer, but hey-- someone here makes authentic Japanese-style ramen that's passable, and that's all I was hoping for when I moved here. Both broths didn't have the most complex of tastes to them, but that's understandable since this isn't a ramen restaurant where they fine tune their broth over time and have big vats of broth simmering for a day or two to extract the most particulars of taste out of them. The quality of noodle wasn't anything special. I'm more of a firmer "al dente" style fan, and these definitely weren't. But the chashu pork that came with my shoyu ramen was excellent-- soft, moist, and brimming with taste.
If you want or want to try real ramen, then thankfully there is at least one place in the valley that has it. They didn't have bamboo shoots in either one, but the rest of the standards were there. They gave me fungus on my shoyu and nori on my miso. If I try the miso again, I'll probably have them make it spicy to see if I like it more that way.
As to the appetizers I had-- I recommend the takusonomo (pieces of octopus and fake crab
with cucumbers in sweetly-seasoned vinegar) and recommend that you avoid the gyoza altogether.
Also, I confirmed on my initial phone call to them that they do omakase if you give them advance notice, and I'm talking about a couple days kind of notice. They don't seem to get asked for it much as it took some talking between the woman on the phone and the chef to get the details. I think it's very promising that they would need the advance notice to do something different, and hopefully the chef will be inspired by it. The price they quoted me is an absolute bargain compared to the big cities-- $30-$40 each for a party of 2-3. And their website claims that they get some fish flown in directly from Japan. We'll see how many courses they whip out at that price, but I'm intrigued. I won't be back there until mid or late January.
http://www.sonobanasushi.com/ (their music on the site gets stuck in my head)
Nice to hear from so many Boise residents. I'm an ex-Chicagoan/Detroiter who also misses the great food larger cities all seem to have. The recommendations for Sa-Wad-Dee and Berryhill were excellent. I think Sa-Wad-Dee is the best Thai in Boise with Pat's Thai Kitchen a second. Berryhill is very good as well. Try anything with their bacon (salads, sandwiches etc). Another recommendation is Mazzah for Gyros. Maybe not up to Detroit and Chicago Middle Eastern standards...but very good. Unfortunately most of the other menu items there I cannot recommend. One of the best lunches in town is at the Cottonwood...beautiful setting on the river, excellent food, unbelievable bargain for lunch. La Caffe in Meridian has decent polish food...especially the pierogis. For Mexican I like Roque's in Eagle. Good Vietnamese at Dong Khanh on Broadway.
You know what's funny... I was in Boise in November. I eat out frequently here in LA, so it was only natural to do the same in Boise. The best meal I had was at some chain place called Caraba's (or similar spelling.) It's right outside of Boise in Eagle. It's a chain italian place, and I felt like I was walking into the Olive Garden (which is why I assumed it was a chain before knowing.) The food was actually pretty impressive and when I got home, I looked it up to see if there was one in the LA area, but there isn't.
It is a little difficult to find things in Boise, just because there are so many chains. When I travel, I like to eat at new places that are only located there. Sometimes that's hard to do. The non-chains in Boise aren't always that impressive. They don't have the same competition that other big cities do (nor the outrageously high rents.) But, there are some gems, you just gotta dig for them. Can't remember the name, but I've heard good things about some place in the "Hyde Park" area of Boise. Anyone know?
re: Azizeh Barjesteh
You're probably thinking of Bungalow that Erin K mentioned (or maybe Lucky 13 across the street, but they moved). The menu is pretty standard stuff, and the prices are on the higher side for a traditional menu like that. I know one person who's been there, and she pretty much shared in other opinions that I read online: solid but not earth-shattering. Seems like a decent place to take someone who isn't too adventurous with their dining choices, but a big cut above the chain restaurants that pollute and homogenize the city. The restaurant looks beautiful too. Though it's only a 10-minute walk from where I live, I'm not too terribly motivated to go there. But I'd love to go to happy hour one time during the summer just to sit on that gorgeous patio at sunset and take in the whole village vibe.
And apparently there is a Japanese restaurant in town actually staffed by Japanese people! Who woulda thunk? It's Sono Bana (formerly Tsuru) on Orchard south of Emerald.
Their site mentions serving ramen (YES!!) and curry dishes, but it's not on their online menu. And do they dare do omakase unlike everyone else here? I need to hit this place up, and soon. That stretch of Orchard between Emerald and Franklin is quickly becoming my favorite dining area because it's one big cultural melting pot.
Just saw your posting, there are a few places in Boise that are decent ( I know it's difficult to find them, I moved here from Chicagoland). There's a great fine dining place downtown off Capitol called Berryhill & Co. Not a huge selection, but the foods they have are great. We have not been disappointed yet. If you just want a good burger, believe it or not, there's a restaurant by the Edwards Cinema off Overland & Cole called Legends that has the best burgers in town (big burgers, nice and juicy, very tasty). There's also a decent Thai place on the corner of Emerald & Orchard called Chaing Mai. There is no such thing as good Chinese in Boise. Can't find one to save my life. For good breakfast, on 5th & Main there's a great little joint that I can't remember the name of but they have great pancakes! Any other types of food you're looking for in Boise?
Saw the post, there is only one place worth a stop, actually twice. Andrae's, they do not advertise and they are hard to find but it is worth it. They do dinner only Mon-Sat, i think, and then they do a Brunch on Sat and Sun. We have been there several times and have never been disappointed, food, wine, service all are the best in town!
I prefer Sa-Wad-Dee on Fairview in Meridian over Chiang Mai. Once in awhile I patron the noodle restaurant next to Chiang Mai. It's a hodgepodge of Chinese and Thai noodle dishes. It's nothing earth shattering, but the guy makes his own noodles, so I give him my business based on that alone (and based on my belief he's the only guy in the entire valley specializing in noodles). And it's also worth mentioning that the Asian market on the other side of Chiang Mai is the biggest in the valley.
Asian cuisine is my primary dining area, and it's generally pretty depressing around here (especially coming from a place like L.A.). I heartily agree about the Chinese situation here (once you start heading out of the city, you only see what's advertised as Chinese/American restaurants, which is just sad). I can't recommend any of them. Yen Ching in downtown got the most raves, but I was underwhelmed. And seeing employees that are as white as snow working in the place didn't sit well with me. There's a place on Broadway that does a limited choice of dim sum (sans rolling carts), but I didn't like it. Japanese is my favorite, which is too bad for me since it's probably the worst represented Asian culture here. No one working in the Japanese restaurants is actually Japanese. Well, there's Shige at Shige's. But he has the gimmicky sushi boats, and the fish quality is no better than the fish I can get at the fish market on Americana. If you want sushi, I'd say to save some money and learn to do it yourself. For Korean, Kim's Oriental Restaurant on Milwaukee and Fairview is apparently the only game in town now. I poked my head in and checked the menu but didn't eat there. I was told the Koreana Grill on Overland and Maple Grove closed down, but I drove on Overland last week and saw some signage still up overlooking the street. I didn't enter the minimall to check it out. But their phone number is disconnected.
Thai and Vietnamese are the two best represented Asian cultures here, so that's where you'll do best. I've already mentioned Thai, so my Vietnamese recommendation is the wonderfully-titled Vietnamese Restaurant on Curtis and Franklin. Ugly decor, but decent food. I didn't like their pho, though. I thought the pho at Pho 79 on State and Glenwood was superior.
For good cheap Mexican, I'd say go to Los Betos, although avoid their subpar carne asada. They have menudo on the weekends, but it's nothing special. For dining in, I'd recommend Andrade on Broadway. But with the heavier Mexican population to the west, you're bound to find something better in Nampa or Caldwell. I just haven't heard or read of any.
Thankfully I can get my empanada fix at Tango's on Orchard not far from Emerald. Have you been there by chance? I did briefly run into a Chicago native there.
Legends? Really? That crappy looking sports bar with the blaring sub-woofers over by the iMax theater? You musta been really hungry.
I'll second your Chaing Mai rec. Pat's Thai Kitchen on Broadway and Park Blvd. is better.
The breakfast place on 5th and Main is called Addie's. I've heard good things but have never been there.
I'm not kinrichs but I'll give you a few ideas. Do you live here or are you visiting? If you need directions on getting there, let me know...
Brick Oven Bistro, their selections vary often and I have yet to meet a bowl I did not like
Le Cafe de Paris, I really like tomato bisque, and my friend loves the onion soup
Angel's, if you like clam chowder is popular in my family
West Side Drive-In, not all the time - but I have stopped by to see what the soup of the day is and have been very pleasantly surprised. Sometimes, though, you can tell the soup is a forced combination of leftovers, so read the description carefully
Smoky Mountain Pizza, I really wanted to like the mushroom bisque but it is too rich and salty even for me
Marie Calendar's, I am a sucker for the veggie soup
Do you like Thai?