Located within the southwest nook of the Gem State, Boise has seen its inhabitants develop by double digits each decade for the previous 50 years. In current years, the City of Trees has seen an inflow of Californians in addition to individuals from different western states. And the native meals scene has grown as quick (if not quicker) than the inhabitants.
Idaho license plates should still boast potatoes, however the actual treasure is within the numerous African, Asian, European and Latin American eating choices all through the capital. Much of the range in Boise’s meals scene comes from their willingness to absorb refugees from locations like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and Somalia. Many of those refugees have introduced their enterprise acumen and cooking expertise to their adopted metropolis and are actually operating their very own specialty grocery shops and eating places.
Here are eight eating places that show there’s extra to Idaho than spuds.
Alyonka Russian Cuisine
Pelmeni (Russian dumplings) from Alyonka — Photo courtesy of Natalie Martin
Boise has one full-service Russian restaurant, however in case you favor high quality over amount, Alyonka is all you want. The thought for this cozy eating spot began when proprietor and head chef Elena DeYoung labored because the occasion coordinator for the annual Russian Food Festival. She discovered to prepare dinner in her native Kazakhstan.
This small, intimate restaurant serves Russian requirements like beef stroganoff, blini (Russian crepes), borscht (beet soup) and pelmeni (bite-sized dumplings). For drinks, they’ve conventional Russian tea choices, in addition to Baltika, which is the most well-liked beer in Russia.
Desserts like pavlova, candy blini and the decadent royal poppy seed ganache cake are as important to the Alyonka expertise as are the appetizers and entrees. If you do not have room for dessert, you’ll be able to at all times seize it to go. The desserts and drinks are on show in entrance of the kitchen entrance. Reservations beneficial.
The counter at Baguette Deli — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Boise has a handful of Vietnamese sit-down eating places to select from. Baguette Deli is at the moment doing take-out solely, nevertheless it’s nonetheless value a go to. While Boise’s different Vietnamese eateries deal with noodle and rice dishes, Baguette makes a speciality of crispy bread-based foot-long sandwiches. Most choices are Vietnamese, however additionally they do teriyaki together with a number of French- and Italian-inspired choices. There’s at all times a line, and the expertise feels extra like fast-paced New York than laid-back Boise.
If you are in search of a sit-down expertise with full service, Pho 208 & Vegan has probably the most diverse Vietnamese menu in Boise. Like Baguette, they’ve an array of drink choices. But additionally they have a number of vegan gadgets, which isn’t one thing Vietnamese meals is understood for. For a extra modern city vibe, take a look at Pho Le.
Das Alpenhaus Delikatessen
Deli counter at Das Alpenhaus — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Das Alpenhaus brings the flavors of the Alps to southwestern Idaho. This German deli, which opened in 2016, is co-owner Jamie’s nod to his time in Thüringen, in addition to his expertise rising up in a German household. Like most “only one of its kind” eateries in Boise, Alpenhaus is a small import grocery retailer with a meals counter and small seating space.
You can construct your personal sandwich from scratch or order from the menu, which is on show above the counter together with the day by day specials. On weekends, you’ll be able to count on a festive environment, particularly in the course of the summer time, when patrons can sit exterior and play ingesting video games to the sounds of volksmusik (German people music).
The drinks are as a lot part of the Alpenhaus expertise because the meals. They have a wine and beer backyard at the back of the shop with a whole bunch of various choices. The menu adjustments each month.
Food Land Market
Arabic-style shawarma at Food Land Market — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Food Land is one in every of Boise’s woman- and refugee-owned eateries. The proprietor, Hana, is a Baghdad native who taught historical past earlier than fleeing together with her household to Jordan and ultimately settling in Boise. After six years within the freight transport enterprise with two of her brothers, she opened her dream retailer on the intersection of Emerald and Orchard. Food Land is modeled after the market that her dad and mom owned throughout her childhood in Iraq.
It’s greatest to expertise Food Land in three phases. First, stroll by means of the grocery retailer part (which takes up many of the house) to the meals counter within the again. As quickly as you enter, you may discover the odor of Turkish espresso. By the time you attain the meals counter, the espresso odor will give approach to the scent of contemporary bread, which is baked on-site day by day by Hana’s son.
The meals menu is displayed above the counter, and their Arabic-style shawarma is the most well-liked merchandise. Thin bread from their clay oven is stuffed with pickles, onions, french fries and a gyro-style lamb/beef combine. It’s then reduce into seven items and topped off with sumac and chopped parsley. It’s greatest eaten with their garlic sauce, which comes on the aspect.
Take your shawarma to the seating space within the entrance and order espresso or tea from Hana, who prepares the entire drinks. After your meal, make sure you spend a while searching the 5 aisles for imported Middle Eastern groceries. They’re open day by day from 9 a.m. to eight p.m. All meat is halal.
Lamb stew and croquetas from Bar Gernika in Boise’s Basque Block — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Boise has the best focus of Basque individuals in North America. Downtown, there’s even a Basque Block, with a museum, a small grocery retailer and some eating choices. Bar Gernika serves Basque tapas, sandwiches and stews out of a small nook pub. They even have an in depth beer choice. In the summer time, Gernika has out of doors eating, the place you’ll be able to get pleasure from people-watching in one in every of Boise’s busiest pedestrian areas.
To prime off your Boise Basque culinary expertise, head throughout the road to The Basque Market. They promote chorizos, cheeses, Iberico hams and a whole bunch of wines, in addition to extra quirky gadgets like foie gras potato chips. You can seize lunch right here 5 days per week. The Basque Market has tapas/pintxos three for $5, in addition to a small meals and wine menu.
Kibrom’s Ethiopian & Eritrean Food
Veggie & meat mesob gebeta from Kibrom’s — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
This informal eating spot has its roots in Ethiopia’s Shimelba refugee camp. Like a lot of Boise’s refugee-owned eating places, Kibrom’s began on the now-defunct International Market. The vibe is tremendous informal, and every thing from the East African music movies on the TV display to the paintings that line the partitions lets you understand precisely what sort of delicacies you’re there to get pleasure from. While beyaynetu combo plates over injera bread are the celebrities of the menu, you also needs to go away room for samosas and their East African tackle spaghetti. An excellent portion of the menu is vegan and vegetarian-friendly.
Even in case you’ve by no means had Ethiopian meals, you shouldn’t really feel intimidated right here. There’s a glossary on the backside of the menu, which explains every thing. Spicier dishes are clearly marked, and gluten-free injera is accessible on request. Although they supply silverware, Ethiopian meals is eaten together with your palms.
Enjoy Korean BBQ in a cup at Cupbop — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Of the handful of Korean choices in Boise, Cupbop is probably the most distinctive. Their “Korean BBQ in a cup” idea (often known as “bops”) gives a enjoyable and inexpensive approach to get pleasure from fried hen, BBQ beef or pot stickers. The bops are all beneath $12 and have a mix of rice, noodles, cabbage combine and your alternative of protein. There are a few vegetarian choices as nicely. You can set the spice stage from 1 to 10.
Sunshine Spice Bakery & Café
Sisters opened and run Sunshine Spice Bakery & Cafe — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
This standard breakfast and lunch spot is Boise’s first Afghan bakery. It was began in December 2019 by four sisters who moved to the United States to get the schooling denied to them by the Taliban. They mixed their love for baking, meals pictures, jewellery design and visible arts to offer patrons a scrumptious and aesthetically pleasing expertise. You can see every sisters’ abilities on full show all through Sunshine Spice.
The title “sunshine spice” is a nod to Afghan saffron, which is omnipresent in many of the meals and drinks served within the café. All 4 of the Shams sisters insist that Afghanistan produces the world’s best saffron. Try the saffron pudding in case you want some convincing.
Sunshine additionally has Afghan dumplings, that are totally different from these of neighboring Uzbekistan. Their model are only a tad larger than bite-sized, they usually’re stuffed with minced beef and onion. As presentation is a key a part of the Sunshine Spice expertise, they’re topped with chopped cilantro over dueling layers of orange tomato sauce and their white sauce, which is a mixture of bitter cream and garlic.