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Boise - what have I been missing?

The kids will be at grandma & grandpa's house for a week this month, and dh and I can have a few date nights - or lunches! Our "dining" has been mostly at Carl's Jr. and other places with play areas, and we try to make up for that with really good home-cooked meals.

We make it a point to stop in Uncle Guissepe's every couple months (which we discovered last year when the kids were away!), but haven't been anywhere else for a good, long time. Happy to try food trucks, dives, ethnic places, one or two places that are normally out of our budget. Anywhere in the valley.

I'm considering Epi's in Meridian and the Shakespeare Festival (the cafe), but I'm at a loss as to where else - any suggestions are appreciated :)

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  1. We went to the Stagecoach Inn on Chinden in Garden City last night for steaks, fried shrimp and halibut. This is retro dining at its best in Idaho. There was an hour wait...but weekdays you can walk right in. Nothing exotic...just good food and great service.

    My favorites in Boise include Cafe Vicino for excellent pastas, fish, nice salads, etc. Nice atmosphere...good service...near the Boise Co-op. Another top pick is Cottonwood Grill for patio dining...great scallops.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Tripper

      Thanks! I've driven by Stagecoach Inn lots of time and just haven't made it in. I haven't been to Cottonwood Grill for a loooong time, and have been craving scallops lately. Just checked Cafe Vicino's menu online ... it's very good for our budget that we don't live in that part of town! :) It looks great - I don't know how I haven't heard of it yet.

    2. Wow, there are Boise hounds out there!

      It seems like people either love or hate Fork. I am a fan but admit service can drop a level when they are slammed. I concur with Cafe Vicino and Cottonwood. I will add Willow Creek Grill and Casanova Pizzeria (both on Vista) to the list as well as Boise Baguette Deli (Franklin or 8th St. options). Andrade's on Overland is good for (Boise) Mexican. If you're up for more of a drive, Sa-wad-dee is my choice for Thai but it's in Meridian. All the options in the Basque Block are great as well (Basque Market, Leku Ona, Bar Gerrnika). Speaking of Shakespeare, I keep meaning to try A Tavola (old trailer Park restaurant site) it's the Cafe Shakespeare crew's full-time gig. Good luck and report back :)

      4 Replies
        1. re: enbell

          Thanks, and for all the links below! I actually live in Meridian so Sa-wad-dee is a short bike ride away (if we had lights for out bikes ... maybe next time)! It's been a few years since we've been there, but once upon a time we were regulars. Love that place! I'll be spending a lot of time poring through the menus on those sites ... :) Will let you know what we end up with!

          1. re: SAHCook

            Sa-wad-dee is a long time favorite. The reason I didn't mention it is because our visit last month was less then good. We brought friends...told them how good it was...only to have a mediocre meal. Food was bland...we ordered four entrees and several appetizers...none were as good as past visits. I hope it was an off night.
            Baguette Deli is a favorite as well. The Franklin location is great for picking up a sandwich on the way to the airport...downtown Boise location is great for lunch after the Saturday market. It is one of the biggest bargains in Boise. I recommend Fork as well...one of the few places with artichokes on the regular menu.

            1. re: Tripper

              My husband has gone there (Sa-wad-dee) a few times recently with a group from work and he has said he was disappointed most of those times. So I don't think I'll be able to talk him into that one ... maybe I'll get takeout there and see what I think when it's just me one of these nights. It will be hard to narrow down all the choices to just a few meals! :)

        2. Can't say I agree with all of the recommendations, but I'll second the ones for Casanova Pizza and Baguette Deli (nothing mindblowing, but solid and butt-cheap banh mi; I don't like the pho though). Another solid-and-cheap recommendation is Tango's Subs & Empanadas on Orchard. Choose the empanadas over the subs. Extremely nice and friendly employees. I definitely would've recommended Uncle Giuseppe's if you didn't already know about it.

          Only went to Stagecoach once, but I did enjoy my trip. I was told to get the prawns, and I'm glad I did. And yes, very old school there. A' Tavola does look intriguing. It seems to have become quite popular. I see plenty of people out on their patio during the day. Being on the outskirts of downtown, I wasn't sure whether or not it would survive. But they and Big City Coffee manage to keep the crowds coming in that area.

          The big thing right now (at least for me) is the opening of Casa Blanca Cuban Grill on Overland. Hope it succeeds, even if it's ultimately not all that great. Boise needs variety like this.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nakni

            I do like Tango's, and absolutely love the friendly factor! Brought the kids there once when we studied Argentina so they could get a feel for at least one dish (empanadas). But you reminded me I want to go back!

            I didn't know about Casa Blanca Cuban - will have to check it out, thanks!

          2. Ok, where I ended up ...

            I did not get to Baguette, but I still want to! I went to Saigon Deli (Cherry Ln./Linder) instead because it's so close to home. I had bahn mi and really enjoyed it - except there was a low filling to bread ratio. Is that how it should be? Or was the restaurant just too stingy with the meat? The bites with bread AND filling tasted great. But about 1/3 was just bread ... I'd love to see how Baguette compares.

            DH took me to Willowcreek in Eagle for lunch, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere! We sat on the patio next to the water feature. A far cry from the playland chaos I'm used to ;) I had fish tacos, which were really good but not better than what I make at home. DH had a salmon BLT. I didn't try, but he enjoyed it. Service was decent. I drank my AND DH's water before I got refilled - twice, and the waitress took over 5 min. unsuccessfully trying to open a bottle of wine for the next table (not poor service for us because we didn't order wine, but ...), however she was pleasant and polite. Still, I'd love to go back for a relaxing lunch or maybe dinner.

            We stopped by Lucky Fin (Eagle Rd. and Fairview) for lunch another day. We weren't brave enough to try the sushi at what felt like a pub :) I had a shrimp po'boy made with grilled shrimp (can also choose blackened or fried), and it was a tasty, filling (but not too much) meal. DH had fish tacos to see how they compared to the Willowcreek ones, and they were very different! These were rolled in larger corn tortillas and served crispy. We were surprised to see a couple families eating here, and we may bring our kids in the future. There wasn't a kids menu that I noticed, but I saw several menu items that each of my kids would be happy with.

            DH surprised me with a night at the Grove that included dinner at Emilio's. We started the night with drinks at Mai Thai. We'd been to the Eagle one, but not downtown. Shared small plates (spicy tuna roll and summer roll) and got the 2-for-1 drinks. LOVED the No Star (gin, lemongrass simple syrup, thai basil, lime juice)! We had probably the best waiter/server we've had in a long time: very attentive and personable.

            Emilio's brought us our best meals. DH ordered lamb with tamarind-spiced roasted fingerling potatoes and I got filet with sweet potato gnocchi. They were both served with the best greens we've had. I cleaned my plate, which is rare - and didn't feel overful. The flavors were perfect - every flavor added to the meal, and none overwhelmed. This is the one meal that is better than our homemade version would be. :) The meal was paced perfectly and the waiter was efficient, friendly and kind of invisible at the right times.

            I made DH promise to take me to Cottonwood so I can sit on the patio for lunch one of these weekends, and Baguette is on my "very soon" list, too. I'll probably have to wait awhile for most of the others, but I have to say I had a very good week! Thanks so much for all the great suggestions!

            2 Replies
            1. re: SAHCook

              Thanks for reporting back! Glad you enjoyed yourselves for the most part. I especially appreciate your report on Emilio's because what I heard about it wasn't so great; that was at least two years ago though so it sounds like they made significant improvements. Emilio's is now on my list :) Enjoy Cottonwood and Baguette!

              1. re: enbell

                I'd love to hear what you think when you go! It looks like they change their menu up pretty frequently, or maybe just the way they prepare a set selection of mains. It will be good to know if we just visited on a really good night, or if it's that good all the time!