“Would you like to sit inside or outside?” The question is pretty much a no-brainer in the Treasure Valley these days, because patio season has arrived.
Maybe it’s the Idaho summer’s extended daylight hours, the breezy nights or the feeling that on a patio you could be anywhere in the world. Nearly every restaurant, bar or coffeehouse with a few feet of sidewalk has a patio that’s just right for relaxing and people watching. Here’s a look at a few spots for outdoor dining.
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Sandbar Patio Bar & Grill
At the Riverside Hotel, 2900 Chinden Blvd., Garden City. 343-1871, RiversideBoise.com/dining/sandbar.
Just a cocktail olive’s throw from the Boise River, the Riverside Hotel’s Sandbar is one of the area’s most happening patios. It has it all: a cool atmosphere, a gorgeous view, great people watching and live music daily.
It opened for the season in May with a newly remodeled sister bar across the walkway on the hotel’s pool side. You’re welcome to hang out there and mingle with guests while you wait for your Sandbar table, or just enjoy a cool summer sipper and listen to the music.
Over at the Sandbar patio, you can cool off in the shade of sun sails and umbrellas, while misters keep the temperature under control. Munch on sandwiches, salads and appetizers and imbibe new Sandbar wine blends from neighboring Telaya Wine Co., a cocktail or a brew as local musicians, singer/songwriters and bands play a mix of originals and covers, from folk to rock to jazz.
It’s right along the Greenbelt. You can park your bicycle at new racks that are shaped like musical notes and — in great Boise fashion — you can even bring your well-behaved dog.
C.W. Moore Plaza, 250 S. 5th St., Boise, 331-3516, ZeeChristopher.com.
Start your day with a relaxing breakfast or lunch on this lovely rooftop patio and take in the spectacular panoramic view of Downtown Boise and the Foothills.
Chef-owner Chris Zahn of Zee Christopher Catering recently redesigned the interior of the cafe, upgraded his kitchen and added a tap system that will pour Idaho wine and beer. The patio got a light makeover with new furniture and umbrella tables.
He is retooling his rooftop restaurant and patio as more of an event venue and community gathering place, he says.
“I kept hearing people say they’d been here once for a wedding,” Zahn says. “I want them to come here more often.”
He’s programming live music on First Thursdays, staying open until 6 p.m. on Wednesdays for a pre-Alive After Five crowd, starting early morning yoga before breakfast service starts at 9 a.m., and offering cooking classes and discounted rates for nonprofit groups during the week.
Zahn’s menu is an eclectic mix of seasonal, made-from-scratch soups, salads, sandwiches and light entrees. He likes to keep his menu hyper-local when possible, shopping the Saturday markets when food is in season.
The Village at Meridian
3597 E. Monarch Sky Lane, 501-8207, TheVillageAtMeridian.com.
When the sun shines and the fountain dances, the energy spills out from the patios at The Village at Meridian into the shared space where concerts and other events happen regularly. Colorful flowers and foliage abound. The conversation is lively. The vibe is comfortable and casual, amid the bustle of a busy shopping mall and the quiet ease of a parklike community gathering place.
Al fresco dining is at the heart of The Village’s culture, says General Manager Hugh Crawford.
“When we designed each restaurant, we started with the patios and worked our way in,” Crawford says. “Being in Idaho is all about the outdoors, and for us it became a defining element for The Village.”
Your options are plentiful as every restaurant that lines Fountain Square has a patio: Kona Grill, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar, Yard House, Casa del Matador, Bodovino Wine Ristorante and the fast-casual food pavilions at each end of the square that house RiceWorks, Calle 75 Street Tacos and Village Coffee. Even the Backstage Bistro that’s attached to the Village Cinema has a second-level balcony patio that overlooks the scene.
▪ Angell’s Bar and Grill Renato, 999 W. Main St., Boise, 342-4900: This venerable Boise restaurant has one of the best patios in Downtown. Tucked below street level, it offers a sense of romantic escape, a feeling enhanced by chef Franck Bacquet’s French-fusion cuisine. You’ll find lots of foliage, romantic lighting at night and more events this season, including outdoor movies on some Thursdays and more live music nights. Happy hour gets you discounts on drinks and appetizers from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. AngellsBarAndGrill.com.
▪ Barbacoa, 276 Bobwhite Court, Boise. 338-5000: This elegant and scenic patio is perched on the edge of the ParkCenter Pond, with a view of the Boise Foothills. Kick back under the misters and sip the restaurant’s signature icetinis (two-for-one from 4 to 6 p.m. daily for happy hour) while noshing on house-made guac and chips ($9). Thursdays to Saturdays, check out the expanded view from the Luna Rooftop Lounge. Barbacoa-Boise.com.
▪ Bella Aquila, 775 S. Rivershore Lane, Eagle. 938-1900: The patio at this family-owned Italian restaurant flourishes with foliage and flowers next to a cascading waterfall and fountain. It’s a beautiful spot to wine and dine al fresco for lunch, brunch and dinner. The happy hour here is generous, with discounts on cocktails, beer and wine, plus a special menu from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. BellaAquilaRestaurant.com.
▪ Cottonwood Grille, 913 W. River St., Boise. 333-9800: Just off the Boise Greenbelt, you’ll feel a world away from the fray on one of the city’s most beautiful patios. Relax under shady coolness at umbrella tables, surrounded by lush foliage and the sound of falling water. Dine on Chef Jesus Alcelay’s Northwest fresh cuisine, and enjoy happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. daily. CottonwoodGrille.com.
▪ Eagle Bardenay, 155 E. Riverside Drive, Eagle. 938-5093: You’ll feel the natural cool of a gentle breeze coming off the Boise River when it’s warm, or gather near the fireplace when the sun dips below the trees on this popular patio. It’s the perfect happy hour spot, with discounted appetizers from 4 to 6 p.m. daily and 9 p.m. to close Wednesdays to Sundays. Bardenay.com.
▪ Joe’s Crab Shack, 2288 N. Garden St., Boise. 336-9370: With a deck along the Boise River and Greenbelt, this is one of the Valley’s best patios with a river view. Folks can chomp on Joe’s signature seafood-by-the-bucket and sip seafaring-themed cocktails as the Boise River flows past. Happy hour is 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays to Fridays with $3 drinks. On Tuesdays you get $2 appetizers. JoesCrabShack.com.
▪ Reef, 105 S. 6th St., Boise, 287-9200: Pull up a mondo pupu platter ($19.95) and light the torches at Boise’s only tiki bar. The Reef’s rooftop patio is steeped in Polynesian atmosphere, from the grass-roofed bar to the tropical concoctions poured by the friendly Hawaiian-shirted bartenders. There’s a real party atmosphere here, with food being served until the wee hours on the weekends. You can hear the live music from bands and DJs and check out the We Out Here EDM party on Sunday nights. From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., the place gets decked out with LED lights and grooves from local DJs. ReefBoise.com.
▪ Solid Grill & Bar, 405 S. 8th St., Boise. 345-6620: The patio at Solid is relaxed. Umbrellas and misters keep you cool. With its proximity to its sister business, Liquid Laughs, and the Knitting Factory, and a kitchen that serves until midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on weekends, it’s a great late-night spot to chill. Happy hour is 4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight daily, with half off drinks and $1 off appetizers. SolidBoise.com.
▪ Stewart’s Bar & Grill, 2805 Blaine St., Caldwell, 459-3308: This tranquil little patio sits on the banks of Caldwell’s Indian Creek. You can choose from a seat under the shade of the overhang or sit near one of its umbrellas. The creek is about 10 feet away, just beyond a shady grove of aspen trees. Happy hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. StewartsBarAndGrill.com.
▪ The 8th Street corridor from Bannock to Main streets: The area is nearly solid patios. On a nice day you’ll find them packed with people toasting special events, taking a break from a busy day, or just relaxing and soaking in the ambiance. And it’s simply the best people-watching spot Downtown. Just wait long enough and you’ll see someone you know.