Idahoans take their spuds seriously.
It was our first meal in Boise and we walked two blocks from the Grove Hotel in the heart of downtown to the Boise Fry Company, perhaps the city’s most famous restaurant and a popular tourist attraction. “Would you like burgers on the side?” our server Brad Walker jokingly asked as we browsed the menu board showing fries made from six different types of locally grown potatoes — russet, purple, gold, sweet, laura and yam. They come in five different cuts and are offered with a choice of nine types of house-made sauces and 10 varieties of salt.
We opted for heaping bowls of home-style purple and laura fries topped with garlic salt and accompanied with raspberry ketchup. And we got grass-fed bison burgers on the side, but more as an afterthought. We had come for the potatoes. “Our fries are really the showcase main course,” said Walker, who doubles as the restaurant’s interim CEO. “That’s how we like to play it, since we’re in Idaho.”
As we learned during a recent 72-hour visit to Boise, Idaho’s capital and largest city offers visitors a menu of activities, sightseeing and food much more diverse than its large variety of potatoes. We found a city with a vibrant nightlife, arts community, plenty of trendy, farm-to-table restaurants serving locally made craft beers and wines, and enough outdoor venues to please any hiker, skier or biker. It wasn’t the boring, northern plains dullsville I had been anticipating.