This Boise Newbie LOVES Boise Chow!
First, let's get a few things straight:
1. I am a TRUE Chowhound and I do know good food
2. I just moved to Boise at the end of Nov. from just outside of Atlanta
3. Boise is neither farmland OR Hicksville ... We have the best of 2 worlds : Gorgeous outdoors with parks and plenty of activities for the nature lover AND ballet, opera, theatre, the best library system I have ever seen ... and plenty of places for a Chowhound to discover. One would also be surprised of the number (and good quality) of ethnic restaurants as well. For example, where I moved from I would have to travel pretty far for a quality Indian restaurant. Here, I have 2 (that I know of) that are very close.
I can't believe some of the things I have read about Boise on this board! It made me wonder if we were talking about the same place. Especially when someone said that all Boise had was "chain restaurants" and many others stated that they couldn't find any good places to eat. WHAT?!
Trust me, I know all about the dreaded chain (metro-Atlanta was full of them) but what impressed me about Boise the most was the LACK of chains. Sure, they are here ... they are EVERYWHERE in the US, but I would say they make up only 10%.
Then there is the issue with people saying they can't find descent food here. Again I have to question these people.
I have only been here a short time, but I have been to several outstanding places to eat.
Brick Oven Bistro
Murphy's Seafood and Steak (Reminds me of a place you would find in Atlanta, Chicago etc.)
Bombay Grill (AWESOME lunch buffet - changes daily)
Westside Drive Inn
Big Bun Drive Inn
Jenny's Lunch Line
Chef Lou's on 8th St (Owner of Westside Drive Inn)
Guido's NY Style Pizza (You would sware you were in NYC!)
Pat's Thai Kitchen
Alladin's (Great lunch buffet -awesome shawarmas)
Pad Thai House
Mazzah Mediterranean Grill
Andrade's Mexican Food
Tacabi Sushi (One of several that are supposed to be really good)
Then I have to admit I LOVED 2 chains I had never heard of
McGrath's Fish House
Tomorrow I am going to try a place called Taste of Memphis (The lady actually moved here from Memphis not too long ago - it got great reviews)
I can't be the only one who loves eating in Boise!
I was in Boise about 7 years ago for travel/work and I really like the area. Very friendly, clean and not cluttered with urban sprawl and chains. I noticed there seemed to be a significant Basque population there and there were a number of restaurants that reflected it. I don't remember any names, but I do remember enjoying the food.
Most of the chains are out by the Mall. Years ago, there were no hotels out there; most were around the airport, on south Vista, or downtown. I'd expect most of the complaints about chains are those folks stuck w/o rental vehicles out at the Mall.
I go up there fairly frequently for work and look forward to both "old standards" I've been going to for 20 years, as well as "new favorites".
Bardenay, a restaurant/distillery downtown has House Martinis to die for.
The Ram brewpub is always very dependable, and I love doing lunch there in the spring/summer, out on the patio right along the Greenbelt. Even a 1-hour lunch break feels like you're playing hooky! :)
Buster's Sports Bar and Grill has been Boise's local version of Hooters (college-age waitresses in short shorts) for years, but they've got excellent fish and chips. They use halibut, and the batter is very light, like a tempura, and not at all greasy.
I've spent so much time (and money) at the Boise Co-op that I got a lifetime membership there many years ago. They've got an outstanding deli and cheese counter and for many years have been the best wine shop in town.
The Vista Deli has excellent sandwiches and is a great lunch spot. Service has always been fast and excellent, even when it's standing-room-only busy.
I've spent up to 6 weeks in Boise at a time, and about the only chain I go to regularly is Red Robin, simply because they're my favorite chain. Unless you're trapped in a Mall hotel, there's no reason you can't get excellent, unique, non-chain food there.