Idaho dubbed the “Potato State,” has a strong affinity for its famed export. However, the state’s culinary culture encompasses much more than potatoes, with other regional produce, such as the famous Idaho trout, and a diverse range of cuisines. We take you on a culinary tour across Idaho’s top restaurants, from the frenetic buzz of downtown Boise to lovely mountain communities like Ketchum.
1. Michel’s Christiania
Michel’s Christiania, a magnificent French restaurant steeped in history and boasting renowned customers, is nestled in the quaint ski town of Ketchum. Ernest Hemingway was such a regular at Christiania when it first opened in 1959 that the restaurant gave him his table. Owner Michel Rudigoz, a native of Lyon, now oversees the restaurant, with chief chef Laurent Loubot wowing diners with classic, elegant French dishes like filet de truite meuniere, cooked with Idaho ruby trout. Christiania is a visual feast, with a stunning dining area designed to look like an affluent chalet with enormous windows facing out over mountains and forest and a comfortable bar to enjoy a drink or two.
2. Mai Thai
Mai Thai, a downtown Boise restaurant with a couple of years of renown as one of the best in the state capital, serves modern Asian fusion cuisine in a thoroughly modern atmosphere. It’s also won multiple awards, including Best New Restaurant in Boise and Best Thai Food for nine years running. Native Thai chefs prepare enchanting dishes like slow-roasted honey and soy sauce duck with jasmine rice, as well as plenty of sushi rolls and vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, and serve guests in an evenly lovely dining room with an exotic, contemporary theme and its koi pond and waterfall, all while serving guests in an equally beautiful dining room with an exotic, modern motif and its own koi pond and waterfall.
3. The Dish
Since its opening, The Dish, a relatively new addition to downtown Boise’s eating scene, has routinely gotten outstanding reviews. The Dish is a magnificent place with a modern, vivid design and welcoming neighborhood vibe, located in the city’s historic Empire Building, erected in 1909 in a Greek revival style. Chef and co-owner Jered Crouch prepare innovative, sophisticated dishes like the 48-hour slow-braised Kobe beef brisket. The mild cheddar polenta cake, braised kale, pine nuts, horseradish, and natural jus will appeal to meat aficionados.
4. Brick 29
Nampa, Idaho’s second-largest city, has a thriving eating scene. One of Brick 29’s better examples is its imaginative rendering of “comfort food reborn.” Brick 29’s décor, which is located on the basement floor of Nampa’s former Masonic Temple, seamlessly merges industrial flair with contemporary comfort, combining exposed ducts with plush cozy booths and natural woods. Chef Dustan Bristol, a three-time James Beard Award winner and proud Idaho native, supervises a clean and straightforward menu highlighting the freshest locally sourced vegetables. Slow-cooked, domestically raised lamb shank with smoked mushroom risotto and red wine demi-glace is a standout dish.
5. The SnakeBite Restaurant
Adding a bit of sophistication to casual American cuisine, The SnakeBite Restaurant is a frequent winner of the Idaho Falls Magazine Dining Awards for Best American Restaurant. Snakebite is a locally owned and run restaurant with a menu of classic American cuisine infused with foreign tastes and ingredients from the area. The Snake River Farms sirloin, cooked to perfection and served with fingerling potatoes and flavorful veggies, is one of the highlights. Combine that with one of SnakeBite’s local microbrews, such as Idaho Brewing Company’s Highland Scotch Ale, and you’ve got yourself a wonderful local dining experience.
6. Elevation 486
Elevation 486, a quaint and modern Twin Falls cafe providing creative New American cuisine with worldwide influences, is located on a stunning bend of the Snake River. Its elegant dining room and patio terrace provide breathtaking views of Snake River Canyon, the Perrine Bridge, and the Magic Valley region. Tom Nickel, the chef, and the owner have crafted a short but delectable menu with dishes like grilled Idaho ruby trout with house-smoked red pepper butter and fire-grilled Oregon quail with honey bourbon and jalapeno glaze.
7. Sangria Grille
Sangria Grille combines Peruvian flavors with Northwest ingredients to create dishes like the succulent local bone-in pork chop, roasted and seared with garlic and red wine and served with sweet corn masa crumble, serrano chiles, cilantro, and black beans. Drink a drink of sangria to wash it all down.
8. The Cellar at 317 Sherman
The Cellar at 317 Sherman is located in the quaint resort town of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which is tucked around the gorgeous lake of the same name. The restaurant boasts a warm and modern interior, live jazz music, and an enormous wine selection with over 3,000 bottles in its cellar, earning it the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence twice. With dishes like grilled local steelhead trout filet with shredded vegetable slaw, jasmine rice, and soy caramel, Chef Adam Hegsted’s redesigned American cuisine will not disappoint diners.
Àlavita advertises itself as a ‘locally inspired Italian restaurant,’ drawing influence from traditional Italian osterias, and it indeed brings the best of both Boise and Italy together. The casual downtown ambiance of Àlavita, housed in the former Boise City National Bank building, has earned it a local favorite. Guests can watch meals like lobster and fontina-packed black ravioli in creamy shrimp and lemon-fennel-thyme sauce being cooked in the open kitchen at Àlavita.
Beverly’s, the premier restaurant of the famed Coeur d’Alene Resort, is regarded as one of the finest restaurants in the United States by the Distinguished Restaurants of North America group. Its location on the resort’s 7th floor provides visitors with a breathtaking view of Lake Coeur d’Alene and beyond. With over 14,000 bottles of wine and a menu rich in regional flavors and ingredients, Beverly’s has the most extensive wine collection in the Northwest region. Try the Snake River Farm prime rib steak with loaded baked Idaho potato, made with locally foraged wild mushrooms, sweet onion, fresh thyme, and parmesan Reggiano.