I’m ready to move here! Well probably not quite but I am pondering a 2-3 week residency to get more fully immersed in the Boise scene.
The love affair started with our hotel, The Modern Hotel & Bar. It’s a former Travelodge with great mid-century décor and a very cool vibe that attracts as many locals to its courtyard bar & restaurant as it does visitors!
Read on below for five things that make Boise the BEST!
Everything starts with the Modern. The staff is fantastic – welcoming, friendly, helpful, tapped into all that is new and happening in Boise. Their food and drink program is great. And for those of you for whom such things matter, it’s incredibly dog-friendly.
The Modern is located in downtown’s Linen District. Almost everything I am interested in doing is within walking distance.
It reminds me a lot of another longtime favorite: The Standard Hollywood.
2. Amazing Restaurant Scene
We had dinner here on our first night in Boise. It was outstanding – and they’ve only been open since April.
The chef and co-owner, Sarah Kelly, delivers a fantastic food experience. On top of that, the space itself is gorgeous, a bit funky and attracts a cool clientele. I could have eaten at Petite 4 every night.
It set a high bar for what we expected from restaurants here – some came close, others not so much.
Additional restaurants to check out:
Txikiteo (pronounced chick-e-tayo) means “pub crawl,” in Basque. It’s a new creation from the owner of The Modern Hotel, Elizabeth Tullis.
The menu is Basque-inspired with fabulous charcuterie platters, sandwiches and salads. We ate here twice.
The General Manager of our hotel also recommended Basque Market and Bar Gernika. Both are on the Basque block. Unfortunately, we made it to neither since there was a big Basque festival happening and the wait times were ridiculous. But I did pop into the Basque Market and must say their pintxos and paellas looked divine. Next time!
So good! And I ran into the chef of Petite 4 (Sarah Kelly) just as we arrived so I was doubly optimistic it would be good. And it was. The pizza was first-rate.
The Modern’s Restaurant/Bar is extremely good – and the vibe and the setting are incredibly congenial. It’s a top spot in town – and deservedly so.
Fork was a bit of a letdown. It came highly recommended on various travel sites, but none of the locals thought it was “all that,” and I should have listened to them. It was okay, but I would most likely not return – food was average, the place is too loud, and although we had a great waitress, the overall service was subpar, e.g., mains came out as we were still working on our appetizers, used plates sat on the table through dessert. Strange.
This 25-mile path along the river is great for walking and biking. We checked it out on foot, and then the most adventurous types in our group arranged to float down the river in tubes. They raved about it and insisted I give it a 5-star review!
4. Street Racing
I know a grown-ass woman shouldn’t be so excited about this, but on Saturday night, I got the thrill of a lifetime when we got caught up in Boise’s “Fast & Furious” street racing scene.
All I can say is “Wow.” Crowds of young people, mostly guys, standing on street corners counting down the racers encouraging them to “Launch it” as the lights switch to green. Naturally, the cars are souped-up and decked out with spoilers, and some fancy accoutrements like LED underglow lights. If I lived here, I’d be out there every weekend cheering this crew on.
5. Western Idaho State Fair
This is the reason I came to Boise in the first place. And while this fair is much smaller than others I’ve attended, e.g., Iowa or Texas, it is way more fun and agreeable than many of those outsized ones.
Highlights for us were the animals especially the llamas, goats and pigs.
When it comes to Fair food, I was ecstatic about the potato icecream, and the elote (corn) served in a cup with spicy seasonings (yummy!).
And I must add that some of the Fair attendees looked especially stylish this year.
I absolutely love Boise! It’s a spotless, easy to navigate city and appears to be extremely well-run. It’s very verdant with beautiful, well-groomed parks. Mid-century design is prevalent. People are fit and healthy – lots of biking! And this really blew me away: it’s litter-free. How they do it is a mystery to me but I certainly would like NYC’s mayor to take note of what a well-run city looks like versus increasingly filthy, disorderly NYC.
Boise also has the country’s largest per capita population of Basques – their influence is strong from food to politics. Boise’s current mayor is a Basque.
And finally, people are well-educated. Boise State offers one-of-a-kind programs in Basque Studies and also has the nation’s only master’s degree in raptor biology. We met an amazing young woman who is getting her Masters degree in raptors when we visited the World Center for Birds of Prey, and she gave us a guided tour. Boise State is also known for its nationally-ranked undergraduate engineering program which is drawing companies like Micron and Intel to the city.
Overall, the city feels young and healthy with a cool, hipster vibe.
Thank you, Boise, for EVERYTHING that made this weekend so fabulous! A beautiful way to spend my birthday. I can’t wait to return to your beautiful city.