Boise has a vibrant culinary scene these days with hip restaurants scattered across the city but many places found on Boise’s restaurant row, otherwise known as Eighth Ave. I liked how many of the restaurants here are kid friendly and my son Everett had a great time eating his way around the city on a recent family vacation. Below are some of my favorite Boise restaurants to dine with your little one. The kind of places where the whole family can enjoy the experience.
1. Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery
Right in the middle of Boise’s Basque Block, Bardenay is a vibrant distillery that also serves creative pub grub with a uniquely Idaho twist. The menu is all over the board when it comes to styles of food — you can start with satay or tacos for instance — and also includes a lot of great entrees and burgers. I loved the charbroiled trout filet served skin on with balsamic cream, capers, garlic mashed potatoes and veggies. It was perfectly cooked and flavored. My husband had a burger and was also not disappointed. And there is a full kids menu as well. Finally, Bardenay is a well-known distillery, so you don’t want to skip ordering a craft cocktail here.
2. Basque Market
Boise has the largest concentration of people from Europe’s Basque Country to live in any American city, and the Basque Block is a reflection of their heritage and culture. On this street, you will find a Basque Museum, boarding house, restaurants, and The Basque Market, which is my pick for tapas. We loved trying a number of different hot and cold dishes including the Extegarate Cheese & Membrillo, which was mild sheep’s milk cheese paired with quince preserves and slices of baguette. The dish was the perfect mix of smoky, tangy and sweet. The Spanish style wine is also really good and the multiple small dishes keep the kids entertained.
3. Boise Fry Company
The Boise Fry Company is a great choice for kids, and Everett had so much fun dipping fries into various flavors of ketchup including blueberry! The menu is super straight-forward, which made decision making much easier. Basically you choose a type of potato for the fries from gold to sweet to yam among other varieties and then you pick a cut: shoestring, regular, homestyle, curly or po ball. Then you pour some flavored ketchup and dipping sauces and you are ready to go. They also do burgers, where you can chose from bison, turkey or vegan and add various toppings and sauces.
4. FlatBread Pizza
Another awesome kid pick is FlatBread Pizza where your little one can make their own pie. Everett had so much fun (not to mention entertainment for us) spreading the sauce and cheese on his pie crust before it hit the oven. The Neapolitan pizzeria and wine bar is known for its authentic wood-fire oven pies that strictly adhere to the pizza making regulations set forth by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) of Naples, Italy. Not kidding. And the pizzas are absolutely delicious. I went with the Diavola and TJ tried the Four Seasons. We also had an order of Sicilian Meatballs that came smothered in the yummy house-made marinara sauce and two Caesar salads. You can also pair your meal with a wine flight. I chose the Pizza Classics, which was a nice taste of Chianti, Barbera, Sangiovese and Cabernet Merlot for an affordable $11.
5. Wild Root Café and Market
Wild Root Cafe and Market offers the kind of meal you feel good about eating. The restaurant run by a husband and wife offers health conscious, natural cooking that includes a lot of vegan and vegetarian choices. There are menus for each meal. We dined at lunch when selections ranged from bone broth to bruschetta to sandwiches. I had the Avocado Bahn Mi and TJ tried the Indian “Nachos” Flatbread but mine was so delicious he begged to have half — which he never usually does! For dessert, we tried the GrilledNut Butter & Nanners, which was locally roasted almond butter, chocolate-hazelnut butter and banana on sliced multigrain bread. Yum. Everett had a PBJ and absolutely LOVED the housemade potato chips.
6. Waffle Me Up
Everyone in my family loves waffles so it was a no brainer to make a trip to Waffle Me Up, which has gained serious foodie acclaim since opening in 2012. The waffles are made with high-quality local, fresh and GMO-free ingredients and baked with love in their kitchen each day. The waffles come out perfect thanks to their concoction of buttery, yeast-risen dough that uses real Belgian sugar pearls. These caramelize when the dough is pressed into a waffle and give them their crunchy sweet exterior flavor. On the inside, this waffle is perfectly soft and chewy, however. I tried the BOBacado Deluxe with fresh avocado, which was delicious and TJ did a waffle with fried chicken, gravy and onion rings.
7. Guru Donuts
If you have a sweet tooth then Guru Donuts is also a Boise must taste. They serve home-made donuts that are made from scratch daily in their historic downtown Boise storefront. The artisanal donuts come in all sorts of flavors from the classics to the one of a kind. TJ, Everett and I sampled a number of delicious selections including the Don Draper (Bourbon old fashion glaze and candy orange) and the Alice in Wonderland (vanilla base dunked in homemade birthday crumb and sprinkles), which was my favorite. We also had a super tasty Apple Fritter made with tart green apples, homemade pie filling and topped with a caramel drizzle.
8. Stil Ice Cream
Okay by this point you know I have a giant sweet tooth! And so does my son. But don’t worry, we eat healthy and know our limits. That said, there’s nothing wrong with ice cream on occasion, especially when your job mandates it! And Stil Ice Cream is awesome. So good Everett was eating his with his hands. The ice cream is made in house using fresh Idaho dairy and locally sourced ingredients and comes in a rainbow of color worth of flavors including many booze-infused flavors that adults will dig! It also has a unique ice cream with beer and wine pairing program where you can choose from four beers or wines with four scoops of ice cream for the ultimate tasting experience.
9. Boise Brewing
Finally, check out Boise Brewing for a post-dinner brew. Started in 2012, the brewery is the creation of Collin Rudeen. He came up with the idea to start a community supported brewery where locals can purchase “shares” that entitle them to new batches of beer made specifically for members each month after signing up for a community garden that works under the same concept. And so Boise Brewing was born. Today they have about seven beers rotating through on tap at once including seasonal selections and the beer here has won medals at the Great American Beer Festival. I recommend doing a flight so you can taste a number of different brews and whatever you do don’t miss The Black Cliffs, which is an award-winning American Stout that is full of rich chocolate and coffee flavors and lots of hoppy goodness.