Tara Morgan worked in partnership with Visit Idaho to create this Travel Tip.
With spud farms and cattle ranches scattered across much of the state, it’s no surprise that Idahoans have a penchant for meat and potatoes. And nowhere is that more apparent than the capital city, where you’ll find an abundance of white-tablecloth-clad steakhouses serving up petite fillets and sizzling T-bones in low-lit leather booths. But there are plenty of other laid-back spots in Boise to score a perfectly cooked steak sans sport-coat. From French brasseries to oyster bars to farm-to-table bistros, here are a few favorites.
Ditch downtown and make your way up to this beloved Bench destination for an evening of hearty, French-influenced fare. Recently reopened for reservation-only inside dining, Petite 4 offers an assortment of rustic small plates, like duck terrine or chorizo croquettes, along with specialties like seared scallops with sea beans or steak frites. Chef Sarah Kelly serves her marbled Snake River Farms culotte steak—a boneless cut derived from the sirloin tip—with herbed peas and carrots and a stack of champagne pommes frites crisped up in beef tallow. It’s a hearty meal that pairs perfectly with a glass of Cotes du Rhone.
Located on the busiest corner of downtown Boise’s bustling restaurant block, Fork offers prime people-watching on its newly expanded outdoor patio. With a menu packed with Northwest classics like pan-seared Alaskan salmon with sugar snap peas or sauteed mushrooms on crispy polenta, Fork focuses on regional ingredients, wines, and beers. The restaurant’s Northwest Filet features a grilled 8 oz. tenderloin served over brown butter mashed Idaho potatoes. Drizzled with a silky roasted beet demi-glace and a sprinkle of chives, the tender filet can be bulked up with a side order of grilled asparagus, or deep-fried asparagus with ranch if you’re feeling extra.
Richard’s Restaurant & Bar
Chef Richard Langston’s namesake restaurant occupies the ground floor of the boutique Inn at 500 Capitol. The space—which features a bar/lounge, a formal dining room, and a second-floor patio—serves up Italian-influenced dishes that range from housemade pasta to fresh seafood and braised meats. Richards’ flavorful 12 oz. ribeye is grilled to temp and served with wilted greens and fingerling potatoes tossed in a gorgonzola cream sauce. Wash it back old-school-style with a Richards Martini, made with Tito’s vodka, carpano dry vermouth and an olive, served up.
Little Pearl Oyster Bar
If you think Boise is too far inland for fresh oysters, let Little Pearl prove you wrong. The intimate French bistro—which feels secluded even though it’s situated just steps off Eighth Street—boasts a rotating line-up of East Coast and West Coast oysters shucked fresh and served simply with mignonette and lemon wedges. That same ingredient-driven simplicity drives the rest of Chef Cal Elliott’s menu, as well—from Maine lobster rolls on Acme brioche buns to gently poached shrimp served with a house cocktail sauce flecked with fresh horseradish. And the Steak au Poivre follows suit. Elliott serves his 12 oz. Snake River Farms Wagyu NY Strip with a house green peppercorn sauce enriched with 40-hour veal stock and a side of fries—which you can order tossed with Old Bay seasoning on request.
Crave Kitchen and Bar
Perched next to a verdant pond in a new development off Eagle Road, Crave Kitchen and Bar is a sprawling modern space with an assortment of seating options—from leather banquettes to barstools to ground-floor and rooftop patio tables. The menu ranges from raw starters like tuna tartare guacamole and truffle sashimi to heartier entrees like whiskey-braised short ribs and seared Alaskan halibut. The Double R Ranch Filet Mignon is served with a melting slab of bone marrow butter and a scoop of loaded smashed potatoes topped with crispy bacon and chives. While the wine list leans heavily on West Coast selections, the craft cocktail menu incorporates unique fruity liquors and fresh juices.
Feature image credited to Tara Morgan.
Tara Morgan is a freelance food + booze writer and co-owner of the company Wild Plum Events. She loves an epic dinner party, good design, bad puns and pretty much every French rosé ever made.
Published on September 7, 2021