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Diablo Magazine: One Fine Day in Boise

By Kristen Haney, Diablo Magazine

Idaho’s capital city boasts charms that give its Northwest neighbors a run for their money.

In Boise, half the fun is discovering unexpected cosmopolitan delights in a relatively small town. With a population not quite a third the size of San Francisco’s, the capital of Idaho manages to offer big-city draws such as farm-to-table dining and a multi­cultural atmosphere while exuding a friendly, easygoing charm. Winter is an ideal time to explore this blossoming metropolis, which features prime skiing less than 20 miles from downtown, plus nearby hot springs, cozy restaurants, and urban wineries.

Given all these draws, it’s no surprise that Boise ranked number one on Forbes’s 2018 list of America’s fastest-growing cities. And with more and more people transplanting there (and direct flights available from Oakland), now is the time to plan a visit—before the secret gets out.

Farm-to-Fork Fare

Although Idaho has long been associated with potatoes, Boise’s food scene brings more to the table than just spuds. For breakfast treats, locals flock to Waffle Me Up, which dishes out savory and sweet waffles topped with fresh ingredients, and Guru Donuts, where the from-scratch daily doughnuts range from classic to crazy (to wit: a variation on an ice cream sundae with a gluten-free potato base). For lunch, try the sandwich spot Tasso, known for inventive combinations such as a tart, spicy turkey with pickled carrots, fennel, and gochu cabbage, or the pork rind–topped kimchee club.

While 13th Street Pub and Grill in Hyde Park specializes in pub-grub fare, the eatery uses ultra-high-quality meats from Idaho’s Snake River Farms and makes everything in-house, getting most of its produce from local farms. Then there’s the team behind Bittercreek AleHouse, which has gradually taken over the block surrounding its flagship, first with the small bites and cocktails hangout Red Feather Lounge, and then with the Mexican-​styled Diablo and Sons. The cuisine—locally and ethically sourced when possible—and atmosphere vary across venues, but the trio shares a focus on the environment and sustainability.

For an upscale experience, reserve the chef’s table at Juniper. The prix fixe menu is presented alongside wine pairings at a handcrafted juniper wood table. Other Boise institutions include Fork (don’t miss the asparagus fries) and Boise Fry Company, where you can sample six varieties of fried potatoes in your choice of five cuts with “burgers on the side.”

Short for “the sweetest things in life,” The STIL serves up artisanal ice cream made with Idaho-produced ingredients. Consider ending your evening with a flight of micro-​scoops paired with microbrews or wine.

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