Boiseans Know Best: 5 Local Favorites Visitors Will Love
by Barry Eitel
Boise’s cosmopolitan flair juxtaposed with its mountainous surroundings make it a singular location. While its varied restaurant, brewery and winery scene might be news to some visitors, the residents of Idaho’s capital city sure know how to eat and drink in style. Here are some local favorites where you’ll find plenty of Boiseans and even more flavor whether you’re in town for a vacation or business.
Although breweries have operated in Boise for several decades, Payette Brewing Company opened its taps in 2011 and quickly won the beer-loving souls of the city’s residents. With a relaxed atmosphere and a rotating selection of beers, Payette is firmly embedded in Boise’s foodie renaissance.
“Payette Brewing Company has grown by leaps and bounds, filling out its Garden City brewery and taproom, landing handles at practically every bar in town and making its beers widely available (and portable) in cans,” the staff of the Boise Weekly gushed last year when it choose Payette as the best local brewery of 2015.
Boiseans have quickly welcomed Wild Root to the downtown neighborhood since its opening in November 2015. The bright, fresh ingredients are enough to tempt any palate, but they’re especially friendly to those looking for vegan or gluten-free options. The café is open for breakfast and lunch six days a week serving a variety of items created with local, organic ingredients. The reliance on these fresh, sustainable goods means the fare changes regularly, and customers keep coming back to see what’s changed on the menu.
Despite being relatively new, reviews on the restaurant’s Facebook page indicate a great future for Wild Root. Joe Filicetti has eaten there four times and raves, “Great fresh food that is chef quality from start to finish. Beautiful presentation. Less expensive than you would expect.”
Highlands Hollow Brewhouse has served locals and travelers for years, pioneering local beers long before the microbrew trend caught on. The experience shows – the warm and friendly atmosphere, which often includes live music, welcomes those living in Boise or just spending a few days there. In winter, it is an ideal place to cap a day on the slopes.
“The inside even has the feel of an old alpine ski lodge,” notes Boise native and beer-lover Crandal Boudreaux. “There's a round fireplace in the middle of the room and rows of old beer cans on top of the exposed wooden rafters. There are also old rustic signs on the walls, a few TVs that no one seems to watch and some pretty decent food. It all succeeds in creating a rather cozy environment.”
Anyone who has lived in an urban environment knows locals are usually fiercely dedicated to
their nearby independent coffee shops. Boise is no different, and with local favorite Java Coffee & Café serving up a tantalizing selection of sweet and savory bites to go along with their coffees, teas, smoothies and more, it’s easy to see why.
“Boise has plenty of excellent coffee shops to choose from, but my overall favorite is Java in downtown Boise,” according to Boise resident Ben Quintana. “My staple drink is the salted caramel mocha with whipped cream – absolutely delicious way to start, or refuel, your day.”
Boise is surrounded by an American Viticultural Area (AVA) and, therefore, is home to wineries that can compete with any in the nation. Cinder, one of the earliest Boise vineyards, is well-entrenched in the area and recently opened a tasting room just outside Boise’s downtown area – locals have been flocking there since the barrels were unplugged.
“Cinder has had a tremendous impact on the Idaho wine industry,” Moya Dolsby, executive director of the Idaho Wine Commission, told Great Northwest Wine. “They are truly leaders. They are setting an excellent example of how if a winery works hard to make good wine and goes out there to sell it, then success can be had.”
When you come to Boise for work or play, check out these local favorites for an authentic taste of Boise’s best.
This article is brought to you by the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau. Boise — it’s time to see for yourself.