Nicknamed the ‘Potato State’, Idaho certainly does have a fondness for its famous export. However, there’s a lot more to the state’s culinary culture than just potatoes with more regional produce, like the much-loved Idaho trout, alongside a whole host of cuisines. From the vibrant buzz of downtown Boise to charming mountain towns like Ketchum, we take you on a culinary journey through Idaho’s best restaurants.
Nestled in the charming ski town of Ketchum is Michel’s Christiania—a stunning French restaurant steeped in history and boasting legendary clientele. First opened in 1959, Christiania was so often frequented by Ernest Hemingway that the restaurant gave the author his own table. It is now overseen by owner Michel Rudigoz, a native of Lyon, with executive chef Laurent Loubot impressing guests with his classic, upscale French dishes like filet de truite meuniere, made with Idaho ruby trout. Christiania itself is a feast for the eyes—a magnificent dining room, styled like an upmarket chalet with huge windows looking out across mountains and forest, while its bar sets a cozy scene in which to enjoy a drink or two.
Serving modern Asian fusion fare in a thoroughly modern space, Mai Thai is a downtown Boise restaurant with a decade-long reputation as one of the state capital’s best. It’s also received several accolades including Best of Boise’s Best New Restaurant and the Best Thai Food title for nine consecutive years. Combining the cuisines of the Far East, native Thai chefs prepare exquisite dishes like slow roasted honey and soy sauce duck with jasmine rice alongside plenty of sushi rolls and vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, and serve guests in an equally beautiful dining room with an exotic, contemporary theme and its own koi pond and waterfall.
A fairly new addition to downtown Boise’s dining scene, The Dish has consistently received rave reviews since it opened. Located in the city’s historic Empire Building, built in 1909 in a Greek revival style, The Dish occupies a palatial space with a modern, vibrant design and warm neighborhood vibe. Chef and co-owner Jered Crouch creates imaginative, modern dishes like the Kobe beef brisket, which is slow braised for 48 hours. Meat lovers will enjoy the mild cheddar polenta cake, braised kale, pine nuts, horseradish and natural jus.
Idaho’s second biggest city Nampa is home to a flourishing dining scene. Brick 29, with its creative rendition of ‘comfort food reinvented’, in one of its best examples. Located on the basement level of Nampa’s former Masonic Temple, Brick 29’s interior effortlessly blends industrial chic with contemporary comfort, mixing exposed ductwork with sumptuous comfy booths and natural woods. Chef Dustan Bristol, a proud Idaho native and three-time James Beard Award nominee, oversees a simple and uncluttered menu showcasing the very best locally grown produce. Standout dishes include the slow braised, domestically raised lamb shank with a smoked mushroom risotto and red wine demi-glace.
Bringing a touch of class to casual American cuisine The SnakeBite Restaurant is a frequent winner of Best American Restaurant in the Idaho Falls Magazine Dining Awards. Snakebite is locally owned and operated and boasts a menu of classic American dishes full of global flavors and local ingredients. Highlights include the Snake River Farms sirloin, grilled to perfection and served with fingerling potatoes and savory vegetables. Mix in one of SnakeBite’s local microbrews, like the Idaho Brewing Company’s Highland Scotch Ale, and you have the perfect recipe for a fantastic local dining experience.
Located on a particularly picturesque bend of the Snake River, Elevation 486 is a charming and modern Twin Falls bistro serving eclectic New American cuisine with global influences. Its beautiful dining room and patio terrace offer stunning panoramic views of Snake River Canyon, the Perrine Bridge and the surrounding Magic Valley region. Chef and owner Tom Nickel has created a concise but impressive menu of tasty dishes like grilled Idaho ruby trout with house-smoked red pepper butter and the fire-grilled Oregon quail with a honey, bourbon and jalapeno glaze.
Sangria Grille fuses the flavorsome cuisine of Peru with Northwestern produce resulting in dishes like the delicious local bone-in pork chop, over roasted and seared with garlic and red wine and served with sweet corn masa crumble, serrano peppers, cilantro and black beans. Wash it all down with a glass or two of sangria.
The charming resort town of Coeur d’Alene, nestled around the beautiful lake of the same name in northern Idaho, is home to The Cellar at 317 Sherman. There’s a cozy and stylish interior, live jazz music and an extensive wine list of over 3,000 bottles in its cellar that has twice earned it Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Chef Adam Hegsted’s revamped American menu will not disappoint diners with dishes like grilled local steelhead trout filet with shaved vegetable slaw, jasmine rice and soy caramel.
Taking inspiration from the traditional osteria of Italy, Àlavita describes itself as a ‘locally inspired Italian joint’ and it certainly brings together the best of both Boise and Italy. Located in the former Boise City National Bank building, Àlavita’s casual downtown vibe has made it a favorite with local diners. Àlavita has an open kitchen where guests can see dishes like lobster and fontina stuffed black ravioli in a creamy shrimp and lemon-fennel-thyme sauce being prepared.
Regarded by the Distinguished Restaurants of North American association as one of the top restaurants in the USA, Beverly’s is the flagship restaurant of the popular Coeur d’Alene Resort. Its vantage point on the resort’s 7th floor gives guests a stunning view of the beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene and beyond. Beverly’s boasts the biggest wine collection in the Northwest region with over 14,000 bottles and a menu full of regional flavors and ingredients. Try dishes like locally foraged wild mushroom risotto with sweet onion, fresh thyme and parmesan reggiano; and the Snake River Farm prime rib steak with loaded baked Idaho potato.