Most restaurants offer a daily feature of some kind, but there also are places with specials so good they have become regular weekly fixtures - the kind of occasion that people plan their week around.
Though all of the following restaurants are well-known, each is an entirely different place one day a week - when their deal is on.
MONDAYS: $5 BUILD-A-BURGER AT O'MICHAELS PUB AND GRILL, 2433 BOGUS BASIN ROAD, BOISE
When: all day.
This time of year, the perpetually St. Patrick's Day-decorated O'Michaels sees extra traffic, even though they serve corned beef and cabbage every Thursday night. With as much character - and characters - as any restaurant in Boise, the weekly special that keeps me coming back to this clandestine tavern is a simple burger.
The $5 burger special is not just a no-frills version of the regular burger. Served with fresh leaf lettuce, tomato and onion, it includes your choice of cheese and two other toppings, such as sauteed mushrooms or caramelized onions, bacon, ham, avocado or jalapenos. It also comes with a choice of homemade soup (a recent tomato basil was very good), side salad or fantastic hand-cut shoestring French fries.
Perhaps a little low on the uniqueness scale, but high on value, this is a no-brainer to finish off day one of a work week. But the secret is out: Mondays are packed, and on big game days, like the NCAA basketball tournament, expect the room to be crazy. So grab a pitcher and relax - the wait is worth it.
TUESDAYS: GOURMET NIGHT AT FLYING PIE, 4320 W. STATE ST. AND 6508 FAIRVIEW AVE., BOISE
When: 6 to 9 p.m.
Once a week, both Flying Pie locations host a family-friendly pizza buffet: $8.50 for adults, $5 for kids ages 9-12, $3 for kids ages 5-8, and kids under 5 are free.
Twelve varieties of pizza rotate, including six classics from the regular menu, among them the popular PHOSGO and the Samoan, their terrific version of a Hawaiian with smoked gouda. A point is made to always have vegetarian pizza on the schedule. But what makes this a table-sharing event is the esoteric selection of non-roster pizzas, with recent choices like a three-onion pie called the Bermuda Triangle and the always-in-demand gyro pizza, with strips of gyro meat, lettuce and housemade ranch dressing. (The upcoming menu for gourmet nights at each location is posted at www.flyingpie.com.)
The deal includes the well-stocked little salad bar, breadsticks and creative dessert pizza.
Not all 12 pizzas are available at once. Usually there are three to four out at a time. This means there's a sweet spot to find, when the restaurant is busy enough that new pizza is coming out of the oven every few minutes but not getting gobbled up while you're in line. Go early.
WEDNESDAYS: THE WANDERER AT PIZZALCHIK, 7330 W. STATE ST., BOISE
When: 6 to 10 p.m. (No new "Wednesday Wanderer" customers after 8.)
As there is no such thing as too much good pizza, Pizzalchik offers its own all-you-can-eat deal on Wednesday nights. "The Wanderer," as it is called, is $11.95, including your choice of soda, canned beer or glass of house wine; for another $2.65 you can upgrade to any beer on tap. Mine was a tasty mug of Pizzle Drizzle (a beer whose name seemed appropriate here), poured by owner/chef Brad Breakell, in a tie-dyed chef coat, chatting about music with the regulars at the bar. He is as much the center of this restaurant as the huge stone oven in which everything is cooked. The vibe is eclectic and low-key.
Here, the food wanders to you, delivered by the chef's kids in aprons and tie-dyed T-shirts. It's impossible not to feel good about a restaurant so truly geared toward family, and the kids are on the ball - eager, happy and polite.
The pie is hand-tossed, cracker-thin crusted, cut into petite wedges apt for sampling. I saw no less than a dozen uncommon pizzas go by in an hour, and everything I tried was of high quality: mushroom and house-made Italian sausage; a white pizza with salmon and lemon; a Hawaiian with fresh pineapple; a mac and cheese pizza. I was about to declare a champion after I tried the cheeseburger pizza with ground beef, lettuce, onions, special sauce and hand-cut French fries - a drive-in burger meal spread out in pizza form. But then I tried the Highway to Hell, with a smoky, blazing sauce, topped with fresh tomatoes, best right out of the oven, and I had to ask for another piece.
Best of all - even after a half dozen (or more, I lost count) pieces - I felt full, but somehow just right.
THURSDAYS: PAELLA DINNER AT THE BASQUE MARKET, 608 GROVE ST., BOISE
When: 6 p.m. until sold out.
The tiny Basque Market has been serving their paella - a rice dish with saffron, chicken, high-quality chorizo, red peppers, shrimp, clams and mussels, cooked in a wide pan - regularly on their Basque Block patio on Wednesdays and Fridays, but recently added a Thursday night dinner to the slate.
For $13, you get a plate of paella - and this version is deliciously rich - plus three chef's choice tapas, a green salad and a roll. (The exception is on First Thursdays, where everything is a la carte, with paella for $8 and tapas priced from $1 to $3.)
Recently, every single one of the mini-appetizers my wife and I tried was outstanding - we loved the tuna-stuffed deviled egg, the Spanish-style egg-and-potato tortilla, and a flaky vegetable tart with pine nuts. One note of caution - it's easy to spend more than you planned on appetizers while you're waiting for the paella, as everything looks good and it's tempting to try one of everything.
The market itself is worth a stop for its unusual items and cold case of grab-and-go dishes like rice pudding. Though the communal seating fills up quickly on a Thursday, this is the best way to appreciate the familial atmosphere. One of my favorite meals in Boise.
THURSDAYS & FRIDAYS: TO-GO PRIME RIB FROM WESTSIDE DRIVE-IN, 1929 STATE ST. AND 1113 PARKCENTER BLVD., BOISE
When: 6 p.m. until sold out
Billed as the "Drive-In with a Chef," hard-working, professional Lou Aaron's Westside restaurant has always had an unbelievably huge menu of drive-in classics like burgers and shakes, plus to-go homestyle entrees like lasagna and Pepsi-Cola ribs.
But on Fridays and Saturdays, the drive-through lines snake out onto the street with people ordering the prime rib dinner ($17.95), which comes with your choice of soup or salad, a baked potato and dinner roll. This meal is as good as any you'll have in a sit-down restaurant, for 10 bucks less. The cup of clam chowder was rich and well-seasoned, the baked potato was cooked nicely, the au jus beefy but not overly salty. The prime rib itself was beautiful, at least 12 ounces, cooked to temperature, and with an intensely flavorful rosemary crust - warm and delicious after a car ride home. Most impressive was how well-composed all of this is in a to-go box, and how much attention is spent on presentation; it was even garnished appropriately.
With the help of national notice from the Food Network, Westside expanded last year to another location on ParkCenter, with indoor seating, and has added a heated tent to the original's patio. As busy as it can get, the staff are always friendly and calm under pressure, and on this most recent trip, I was off the lot with my food in less than 10 minutes, lines and all.
SATURDAYS: TONGUE AT BAR GERNIKA, 202 S. CAPITOL BLVD., BOISE
When: 11:30 a.m. until sold out
For someone who eats out a lot, Bar Gernika consistently impresses me, with its tight-knit crew of servers and cooks sharing duties, and with impossibly good, interesting food emerging from what must be the most efficient kitchen space in the city. Everything on the menu is tasty - the spicy lamb grinder has such a pull on me, I can hardly order anything else.
But in the years of frequenting Gernika, I'd never made it on a Saturday lunch to try the beef tongue ($7.25, served with bread; $1.50 for additional sides). A couple of weeks ago, I finally did. For uniqueness, this is off the charts. The three-day long process involves peeling, braising and slicing the meat into thin, wide planks, then battering in a crepe-thin coating, frying and basting the tongue in deep, unctuous tomato sauce. For some, it's impossible to disconnect the texture from the meat's origin - but the tongue itself is something like pot roast, spiced from within, and well-balanced by the sauce. Though a friend was skeptical, he liked it spread on the baguette. And the ceramic boat of a serving is huge.
With a red wine-and-Coke kalimotxo (sounds crazy, is amazing), a side of dark, crispy hand-cut fries, croquetas or even a salad with Gernika's perfect creamy garlic dressing, this Saturday lunch is a wonderful prelude to an afternoon nap.
SUNDAYS: SUNDAY BRUNCH AT THE PLAZA GRILL, OWYHEE PLAZA, 1109 MAIN ST., BOISE
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Though there are the marks of a remodel somewhere along the way, the dining room of the Plaza Grill, inside the Owyhee Plaza Hotel, still has the high-ceilinged grandeur of the early 1900s, luminous white on a Sunday morning. It's one place in Boise where visiting makes you feel as though you have traveled somewhere else. I have deep fondness for places like this and for the sharp-dressed older crowd who frequent them.
The buffet ($13.99 including a mimosa) is an old-fashioned catered-style affair, laid out in tiers and in polished chafing dishes on linen-skirted banquet tables. On one side is fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese and cereal. In the center are the hot dishes: scrambled eggs, potatoes, breakfast meats, pancakes or waffles. One recent Sunday, the chafer was full of medium-rare prime rib, charred on the grill. Another table is filled with pastries, biscuits and sausage gravy, and at the back is a display of gravlax (raw cured fish) with rye toast and rosettes of dill butter, capers and shaved red onion. Everything is familiar in the best way.
After brunch, move over to the lounge, with its mythic old Boise photographs and bloody mary bar - a soft landing at the end of the week.
Email Alex Kiesig: firstname.lastname@example.org.