The vinous vistas of Boise, Idaho, may not be most wine lovers’ first thought for a travel destination, but its location in the middle of the up-and-coming Snake River Valley AVA is the ideal base from which to check out the area’s wine country. Boise’s blend of urban savvy, proximity to nature and entrepreneurial streak means the city—one of the 20 fastest-growing in the U.S.—won’t stay unsung for long.
Where to Drink
Southwest Urban Wine District
Though the heart of Idaho wine country is less than an hour from downtown Boise, there are several wineries and tasting rooms in the metropolitan area, particularly in the suburb of Garden City.
Try the new Coiled Wine Bar in downtown Boise, as well as high-elevation wines at Terra Nativa Vineyards made from classic French varieties. Also plan a visit to Cinder Wines, whose 2012 Tempranillo received 92 points from Wine Enthusiast in 2016—the highest to date of any Idaho wine. Enjoy the gorgeous riverfront patio at Telaya, where you can picnic in front of a fire pit while sipping one of their locally-produced, Old World-inspired wines.
Tip: Rent bikes and explore the entire 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt, ending at the urban wineries.
Press & Pony
This craft cocktail haven is pint-sized and perpetually packed, which might be aggravating if you were in any city less friendly than Boise. Bartenders here are happy to help you navigate a cocktail list that gives equal attention to both classic cocktails and cutting-edge mixology. Keep an eye out for the revolving selection of housemade tonics and sodas to pair with your spirit of choice.
Since 2012, Taphouse has offered the city’s widest selection of draft beer. It offers 44 choices on tap, including a selection of Boise-based brewers like Payette, Sockeye and Edge Brewing Co. All beers are available as 4-ounce pours that customers can use to create their own tasting flights, with pitchers and growlers also available (growlers are ubiquitous in Boise). Don’t miss their signature burgers and weekend brunches featuring fried chicken and waffles and $2 mimosas.
Almost all Bittercreek’s 40-plus draft beers and ciders are from the western U.S.; the adjoining Red Feather Lounge serves seasonal American cuisine and classic cocktails.
With a whopping 144 glass pours and an additional 600 bottles, Bodovino has the city’s largest wine selection, paired with cheeses and tapas.
PreFunk Beer Bar
A craft beer bar and growler filling station, PreFunk has dozens of choices on tap, and two locations in the Boise Metro area.
Where to Eat
State & Lemp
State & Lemp offers a dinner-only prix-fixe menu from Wednesday through Saturday (reservations recommended) that showcases innovative flavor combinations, inspired wine pairings and Boise hospitality. While Kris Komori, the James Beard-nominated chef, works closely with area farmers, he’s not averse to sourcing hard-to-find ingredients elsewhere for the perfect finishing touch. A recent menu, for example, featured duck with nasturtiums, morels, zucchini and Montasio cheese from Brush Creek Creamery in upstate Idaho, paired with an Austrian Zweigelt from Claus Preisinger.
Wild Root Café
Anne-Marie and Michael Trebbi’s daytime-only eatery has become a downtown staple since its debut in late 2015. It uses local ingredients to make globally-inspired dishes like falafel, ramen, bánh mi and Indian bhurji. Enjoy your meal with wine, beer, cider produced in the area, and even Idaho kombucha.
Juniper’s commitment to local ingredients extends to its wine list, which is comprised almost entirely of Idaho selections. Try creative but unpretentious dishes like blackened Idaho trout with a blue-corn grit cake and harissa aioli, or Snake River Farms beef medallions with farro risotto. The Chef’s Table is a worthwhile experience: Five courses prepared as you watch, paired with local wines.
The Basque Market
Boise has the largest Basque population in the country. This market offers Basque and Spanish food, drink, wine tastings, classes and more.
Westside Drive In
A real-deal 1950s drive-in diner famous for its finger steaks, Monte Cristo sandwich and “ice cream potato”.
John Berryhill’s beloved bacon-centric bistro is a must visit. Be sure to grab a package of its chili-sugar cured bacon to take home.
Modern Hotel & Bar
An updated Travelodge in the hip Linen District, the Modern Hotel & Bar also boasts a terrific restaurant and some of the city’s best cocktails.
Sofra Bosnian Grill
Edina Delic serves authentic dishes to Boise’s large Bosnian community and other hungry locals.