Folks like me who love Boises craft-beer explosion have another Downtown destination to try new and obscure brews from around the West and beyond.
With an ever-changing cast of IPAs, whites, browns, stouts, lagers and more on a whopping 44 taps, the appropriately named Taphouse is a serious destination for serious beer drinkers right up there with Bittercreek, the Front Door, Bar Gernika, Falcon Tavern and the growing number of Downtown establishments that cater to hopheads and barley buffs.
The Taphouse has a focused menu: burgers and fries, wings and nachos. Enough to fill your belly so you can have one more 7 or 9 percent imperial stout, and maybe a couple of crave-worthy surprises. (Its still evolving, co-owner Brian Forde says. Look for entree specials.) But the star here is beer and the D. Wade to its LeBron James is sports, on what could be the best-positioned array of large- screen, high-definition televisions in town.
The Taphouse isnt a sports bar per se 80s music drowned out any TV sound on the nights Ive been there. But the televisions are certainly the focal point of the decor. I watched a U.S. v. Brazil soccer game there and could tell a few others were out for that. But there were enough TVs that the hockey fans could focus in on the Stanley Cup championships, and the basketball crowd could watch the NBA semi-finals, all on multiple screens. (Each game ended in succession, so I ended up staying out a lot later than I thought, but I caught two great overtime finishes!)
That night, a friend and I split the pulled pork nachos ($8.99) as an appetizer, thinking wed each grab burgers or a chicken sandwich for our main course. No such doing. Between the hearty beers and the giant plate of nachos, we were stuffed. (A side note if you have yet to venture into this brave new world of local and hand-crafted beers: they have a higher alcohol percentage and are far more packed with hops than you may be used to. Just be aware as you plan your drive home.)
The Taphouse cooks make their own tortilla chips, a fact my wife noticed and appreciated right away on a later visit when we had the guacamole ($6.99), which was fresh and spicy. I would recommend it over the nachos for both reasons of taste and experience; it doesnt leave you too full to try the burgers or the wings, which are both very good.
The wings ($8.99 for a pound) are breaded and fried and served up with a variety of spicy, Asian or barbecue sauces. I know some purists decry the breading, but I find myself more of a gourmand than a gourmet when it comes to wings, and if the meat is juicy and the sauce delicious, I am open to whatever method of cooking you choose. We tried them with the traditional Buffalo sauce, and they had that Franks Red Hot and butter silkiness and spice. (In fact, earlier that night, when the nachos filled me up, the smell of the wings and the French fries filled me with regret.)
The burgers are handmade and full of potential, with a variety of cheeses and choices to doctor them up. We split a cheeseburger with provolone ($8.99 plus $1 for cheese), and it was melty and moist. We ended up with the sweet potato fries (they offer traditional fries and a rosemary option as well). Ours came with a maple dipping sauce that tasted, as the waitress promised it would, like frosting.
Like Fork, which opened around the corner from here in a space that has churned through the restaurants over the years, the Taphouse inherits a room no one has been able to make their own for very long. Years ago, it was a McDonalds franchise. Since then, it has been an upscale creperie (Square) and swanky lounge (Lush). It spent some time as an intentionally divey bar called The Lobby that was big with the young tech crowd.
The folks at the Taphouse added some vintage-looking wood planks that soften the feel and the general din of the room, but kept the garage door that can open the bar to the summer nights. And like Fork, it has been pretty busy on the nights Ive been there, though with a younger and more boisterous crowd. If the similarities persist, Taphouse could be in for a good ride.
Gregory Hahn: email@example.com