One of the best ways to connect with others is with one thing we all need: Food. Food, especially good food, can change a person’s life, define cultures, and shape communities. All of this can be true no matter where you go in the world, and this is no different in the Treasure Valley. For this segment, however, we’ll look at some great metropolitan eateries in Boise’s downtown.
First up on our list is the restaurant recently lauded in ESPN’s coverage of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: The Fork. Located in the heart of downtown Boise off of 8th Street, the Fork is a restaurant that strives for excellence, but not to abandon the hometown values that, in part, give it its unique charm. In fact, they strive to be true to their roots in more ways than one. According to the founders, Cameron and Amanda Lumsden, they strive to source all their ingredients locally or from the Northwestern region of the United States. This is due to their slogan, “Loyal to Local”, “a commitment that has us sourcing many of our key ingredients from local Boise and Northwest farmers, ranchers, bakers, distillers, brewers, producers and cheese makers.” The great thing about a restaurant of this idea is that you know that what you are served on your plate is something that very well could be from the very same Valley you live in, or nearby, giving your heart, and your stomach, something to feel good about. From their “addictive” Asparagus Fries to the playfully named Voodoo Chicken, the Fork is a restaurant that is sure to simultaneously surprise you and make you feel right at home.
If you’re looking to start your day off on a sweet note, or if you just love pastries, Guru Donuts on Main Street is your destination. Guru Donuts, much like The Fork, takes pride in using local ingredients, sourcing as much as they possibly can to local growers and producers. In their words, “We learned from our friends at the Boise Farmer's Market that you leave the flavors in the hands of the growers. From local fresh eggs, locally farmed regional flour, and expertly roasted coffee, we have sourced our favorite ingredients as close to home as possible. After all, donuts are a community effort.” Guru Donuts speaks to the culture of baking in Boise, taking prizes amongst local newspapers and competitions alike. One such year was 2016, when Guru Donuts was voted second place for “Best Local Bakery” by Boise Weekly, the author of the article put it this way, “When Guru Donuts first opened at its location on Capitol Boulevard, downtowners started eating their desserts before their meals. In the summer of 2016, it reopened in a larger spot in the Idanha, complete with a huge glass display case, a larger kitchen and loads of posh seating. Next thing you know, they'll be calling it a bakery.”
If a night of fine dining is in the works for you and your sweetheart, or perhaps a little business wooing is in order, Chandler’s Steakhouse is one of many of Boise’s finest places for all that and more. Located snugly against the popular Hotel 43, Chandler’s is the definition of a treat. Sweet Jazz music, combined with some equally excellent culinary harmony, will guarantee you a night to remember. Don’t believe me? Boise Weekly, again, had this to say about the illustrious Steakhouse: “Over the years, Chandlers has become a prime date night and business dinner destination, with an award-winning wine list and martini bar to match.” Like the Fork, Chandler’s is within walking distance of much of the greater downtown area, just minutes of great shops, sightseeing opportunities and workplaces. Overall, if you want to have a good time, with good food, and be right in the middle of the action while doing so, Chandler’s Steakhouse is the place to be.
At the end of the day, or throughout your day, if all you want is something of the sugary goodness variety, and absolutely love candy, there’s a place on 8th Street that’s calling your name. The Idaho Candy Company has all the locally made candy you could ever want, with a wide variety of chocolates and candy bars. The business, and the factory that houses it, is a historical part of Boise’s downtown, being first built and operated around the turn of the 20th century. T.O. Smith, the man who started it all, was a journeyman candy maker who had begun his training in Chicago, and further trained in Salt Lake City, before a construction job had brought him to Idaho. After his construction work was over, he began to make and sell candy door to door, using shoe boxes as his packaging, until the demand for candy required him to invest into bigger production. His first candy making plant was located around the north end of 8th street, but by 1909 Smith had partnered with other Boise natives to build the factory that stands today almost to the corner of 8th and Myrtle. To this day, the Idaho Candy Company produces uniquely themed candy, like the famous Idaho Spud Bar and the Old Faithful Bar, two products of T.O. Smith’s earliest concoctions, with many, many other kinds of unique candy sure to whet your appetite. The famous Idaho Candy Company sells candy retail at the factory, across the Northwest, over the Internet and, by extension all across the world, cementing it as one of Boise’s greatest success stories of all time.
All in all, there are a great many restaurants and eat shops in Boise’s downtown that are absolutely magnificent. There is a vibrant culture of food in Boise in general, but nowhere is it on display, in all its grandeur and variety, as it is in downtown Boise. Casual eater and foodie alike can find places to satisfy their taste buds almost on every street in the downtown area, so much so that it would take even a determined food enthusiast awhile to partake of all the wonderful options available. The great thing about this list is that, as you check these out, you can’t help but pass by all the other amazing mouth-watering venues around, hopefully inspiring you to come back again and again.