Idaho’s fine dining and foodie culture is still relatively young compared to that of other states, but it seems like elegance and ambiance are something that Idahoans (and their other halves) crave. So much so, in fact, that it might take a little extra work to grab yourself a table on that special night out.
High-end, delicious, and a treat for the senses, some of these Idaho restaurants feature the outstanding service, candlelit ambiance, and flawless cuisine that one might expect, but almost certainly take reservations to ensure you get a coveted spot. Others have developed their own cult-like following and a reputation that goes well beyond the Idaho border — and lines that go out the door.
1. Bleubird, Boise
This tiny sandwich place in downtown Boise has gained quite the cult following in recent years for its insanely fresh ingredients and foodie's touch put into every sandwich, soup, or salad. There's a line out the door nearly 24/7 here - fortunately, it moves quickly so you won't have to wait too long to dig in.
2. Michel's Christiania, Ketchum
It doesn't get much more romantic than fine French cuisine, and this popular Sun Valley restaurant is near-perfect, with authentic fare prepared just the way it is in Lyon. A towering cathedral window adds just a touch of extra romance with its breathtaking view of Bald Mountain. The stunning combination keeps guests flocking here, making this restaurant a challenge to get into on weekends.
3. Beverly's, Coeur d'Alene
Renowned for its creative interpretations of classic regional fare, the largest wine cellar in the Northwest, and its stunning views of Lake Coeur d'Alene, this resort restaurant can be especially hard to get into during tourist season but is so very worth it.
4. Pioneer Saloon, Ketchum
Rustic, nationally recognized, and considered a must-visit for any visitor to the Sun Valley region, this classic western restaurant is beloved for its prime rib, huge baked potatoes, and incredible decor. So popular is this classic Idaho gem, in fact, that you might just have a very, very long wait ahead of you.
5. State & Lemp, Boise
If you believe food is a language and art form of its own and should be celebrated in community, State & Lemp is the something truly special. With a prix fixe menu that rotates regularly to feature new and artistic flavors of the season, this big city-style restaurant is on a brand new level when it comes to cuisine, ambiance, and experience -- so much so, that it was recently named to America's Top 100 list. Reservations are required.
6. Nectar, Moscow
Delicious, packed, and a favorite for special occasions, you'll be hard-pressed to find a table here on a weekend, but valiant efforts will be rewarded with some incredible eats. Locals particularly flock here for the most unexpected of reasons: mac and cheese that is mind-blowingly rich and delicious, made with Washington State University's own Cougar Gold cheese.
7. Chandler's, Boise
In nearly every list that counts down Boise's top restaurants, Chandler's rises to the top -- and for good reason. With a romantic, jazzy ambiance that is just as much a part of the meal as the food itself, flawless service, and live music, this classic Boise steakhouse is elegance, perfected.
8. CK's Real Food, Hailey
Regionally ranched beef, locally grown produce, and even fresh seafood, all prepared beautifully in the French farmhouse the owners designed themselves. But this spot is without a doubt one of the best, freshest, and most unique stops in town, so a reservation is a must unless you want to be caught in the line outside.
9. Enoteca, Ketchum
Creative Italian dishes with modern flair gives this Sun Valley restaurant quite the following. While you'll leave with your tastebuds entranced at the end of the night, you'll definitely want to make a reservation beforehand or be prepared to wait.
From the sublimely fancy to the local classics, these restaurants have earned their reputations and long lines for good reason, but clearly Sun Valley is a hub for swoon-worthy meals. What other “worth-the-wait” restaurants in Idaho have faithful followings?