Southwest Idaho, which includes the capital city of Boise, is defined by its stunning mountain scenery, outdoor activities ranging from skiing to river rafting, and unique regional culture.
In fact, Idaho is home to the second-largest Basque-American population in the USA. Complementing this varied natural and cultural landscape is a thriving food scene propelled by noteworthy chefs, craft beverage producers, locally sourced ingredients and exciting food tours.
Explore Boise’s 8th Street
Downtown Boise is a hub of attractions, shopping, events and, of course, restaurants. Stroll along bustling 8th Street, where wide sidewalks encourage lingering for outdoor dining and nightlife. Try locally brewed beers and sustainably sourced food at Red Feather Lounge and Bittercreek Alehouse, a restaurant and brewery with a first-of-its-kind composting program located directly under the building. The menu at Fork Restaurant focuses on fresh ingredients from Idaho and neighboring states. For happy hour or after-dinner drinks, check out The Mode Lounge or the Modern Hotel & Bar. Both are known for their innovative cocktail menus.
Strolling along downtown Boise’s bustling 8th Street, known for its restaurants
Try the Signature Dishes
Idaho has several regional flavors you have to try, starting with trout. The town of Buhl, located southeast of Boise, is the world’s largest producer of rainbow trout. Try this mild fish in Boise at Fork Restaurant or Chandlers, an upscale steakhouse. Enjoy waterside dining on the picturesque Boise River at Cottonwood Grille in Boise or The Sandbar Patio Bar & Grill in Garden City.
Idaho is also famous for its potatoes, and local restaurants get creative with this American classic. The must-try Boise Fry Company features a build-your-own French fry menu with a variety of unusual dipping sauces such as blueberry ketchup. Head over to the nostalgic Westside Drive In for its famous dessert, the Idaho ice cream “potato” – ice cream rolled in cocoa powder that looks just like a spud.
Enjoying a meal including Idaho’s signature dish, Rainbow Trout, at Fork in Boise
Take a Boise Food Tour
Food tours are a delicious way to learn about a city’s history and culture through its flavors. The Historic Downtown Boise Food & Cultural Tour takes you for a stroll through arts and architecture in Boise’s downtown and historic district, stopping for signature samples at must-try restaurants along the way. The Boise Booze + Bites Tour is a grown-up excursion focusing on happy hour cocktails, beer and local wine, along with tapas-sized food samples – a perfect chance to enjoy a range of Boise’s nightlife.
Sampling craft beer during the Boise Booze + Bites Tour
Spend a Weekend in Wine Country
Did you know Idaho’s Snake River Valley has an active (and beautiful) wine country? Two popular spots to try Idaho wines are Coiled Wines, with locations in Garden City and downtown Boise; or the bustling riverside tasting room at Telaya Wine Co., named the 2016 Idaho Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest. Enjoy mountain views along with evening wine at Thousand Springs Bed & Breakfast, which has its own winery and vineyard. For an upscale experience, stay overnight in downtown Boise at the Inn at 500 Capitol, where staff greet you with a glass of Idaho wine or an Idaho microbrew at check in. Don’t forget to try award-winning cuisine prepared by Richard’s Restaurant on the ground floor.
Idaho wine country in the Snake River Valley at sunset
The most convenient international airports to southwest Idaho are Salt Lake City International (SLC) in Utah, Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA) in Washington State and Portland International (PDX) in Oregon. Both airports offer car rentals and connecting flights into Boise Airport (BOI).