Taste March 13, 2017

Brunch Season!

A roundup of some favorite downtown brunch spots

How fortunate are we to live in Boise? Let me count the ways! And one of them is that we have a long season of outdoor dining. The sub-zero temps, record snows and icy roads of the past winter are another lifetime ago. Today, the only snow in sight is on the top of Shafer Butte, a friendly reminder not to set your tomato plants yet. What better sign of summer’s promise than to inhale the soft spring air and feel the sun gently warm your skin as you sit on the patio of your favorite eatery preparing to indulge in the pleasure of weekend brunch?

The pedestrian corridor on 8th Street between Bannock and Main Street serves up a righteous choice of patio brunches. Don’t let the crowds from Saturday Market deter you—your patience in waiting for a table will pay off in some of the best people watching in town! Or come back on Sunday before the church services let out. Here’s a sampling of some of my favorite places:

Farm-to-Table Freshness

Restaurateur Dave Krick of the Red Feather Lounge is the father of the locavore movement in Boise and Red Feather was the first dining establishment to popularize farm-to-table freshness. Breakfast pizza, anyone? It’s topped with cheddar hash with bacon, onions, red peppers and sausage gravy and, oh yes, scrambled eggs. The roasted cauliflower hash with eggs sunny-side up features mustard greens spiced with harissa sauce, an aromatic Tunisian hot pepper paste. Savor a house-made breakfast beignet drizzled with hot butterscotch sauce and a cocktail from a full complement of mimosas and Marys. Red Feather Lounge: brunch Saturdays and Sunday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Beet Margarita, Anyone?

Seasonally inspired and locally sourced ingredients are central to the culinary creations at Juniper. Try the house made ricotta donut bites with lemon curd and raspberry puree or the Snake River Farms beef benedict with caramelized onions, sweet peppers and béarnaise sauce. Another favorite is the brioche French toast with huckleberries and maple syrup. The beet margarita is not to be missed! Juniper: brunch Saturdays and Sundays, 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Try the Wild Skillet

Wild Root Café owners Michael and Ann-Marie Trebbi offer locally sourced dishes with a seasonal focus—and some of the most imaginative food stylings this side of San Francisco. The signature Wild Skillet is a trio of oyster, crimini and shitake mushrooms, kale, red potatoes and white cheddar beneath two cage-free eggs with top notes of garlic and truffle oil. Window-front counter seating overlooks the patio. Wild Root Café: brunch Saturdays 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Sheepherder’s Breakfast

After a winter hiatus, the Market, located on the historic Basque Block, is once again offering its monthly Sheepherder’s Breakfasts. It’s an all-you-can-eat traditional Basque breakfast of churros, chorizos, eggs pipparade (a traditional Basque dish prepared with green peppers, tomatoes and white onions—all of the colors of the Basque flag) and bottomless Bloody Marys or sangria blanco. The only thing missing is the sheepherder’s wagon. And the sheep! Basque Market: monthly seatings at 10 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Gems Beyond the Downtown Core:

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention several “Best Brunch Patios” just outside the downtown core:

Cottonwood Grille, brunch on Sundays beginning at 10 a.m.

The Cottonwood is the venerable grand dame of Boise dining, with dependable Northwest cuisine, an outsized stone fireplace for ambiance in the winter and an incredible patio nestled next to the Boise River for brunch al fresco. Eggs Sardou and pan-fried lamb lollipops are perennial favorites.

13th St. Pub & Grill, brunch Saturdays and Sundays starting at 11 a.m.

In the outdoor dining season, the patio seating expands by virtue of folding back the oversized windows that enclose the fire pit in winter. Kids love the chocolate chip waffles and pancakes topped with sprinkles and whipped cream.

The Modern Hotel & Bar, brunch Saturdays and Sundays 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Located in the heart of the Linen District, the iconic Modern is a former motel gone hip. That creativity extends to their menu and bar offerings. Try the brioche with charred orange and Prosecco sabayon, a light mousse-like custard sauce, or the ploughman’s brunch of pickled eggs, liverwurst and house-cured meat with cheese and mustard on soda bread crafted by Gaston’s Bakery. The patio is small but lovely.

Breakout Box:

Other Brunch Patios Worth Mentioning

36th St. Bistro 3823 Garden Center Way, Saturdays and Sundays 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Just off Hill Road at 36th Street. Relax on the patio surrounded by lush foliage from the adjacent Garden Center and sip a Champagne Bellini with seasonal fruit puree or a sake Bloody Mary. Brunch offerings include salads and sandwiches.

Bown Tavern 3111 S. Bown Way, brunch on Sundays, 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Near the Greenbelt in Bown Crossing in southeast Boise, The Tavern Omelet is a sure bet for the meat lover—with grilled Black Forest ham, applewood-smoked bacon and pork sausage with jack and cheddar cheeses. Or try the crab omelet stuffed with blue crab meat, smoked Gouda, fresh tomatoes and topped with béarnaise.

Bella Aquila 777 S. Rivershore Lane, Eagle, brunch on Sundays, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

By night, this “ristorante romantic” offers white-linen dining inspired by the classic flavors of Italy. For Sunday brunch, it boasts one of the loveliest patios in the Valley. Situated by the Boise River in Eagle, the patio’s two stone fountains will serenade you as you bask in the spring sun. The smoked salmon plate with house-smoked salmon, mini bagels, cream cheese, capers, red onion and hard-boiled egg or the smoked chicken and sweet potato hash with poached eggs and Hollandaise are a great way to start the day!

This article appears in the Spring 2017 Issue of Territory Magazine.