Words & Deeds

Which chain restaurant should come to Boise? (Vote now, diet later)

The Double-Double from In-N-Out Burger is on the wish list of many drooling Idaho carnivores. (Wait, is that actually a Triple-Triple?)
The Double-Double from In-N-Out Burger is on the wish list of many drooling Idaho carnivores. (Wait, is that actually a Triple-Triple?) Flickr

Before I wrote about Culver’s coming to the Treasure Valley, I had never heard of it.

A Wisconsin-based fast-food chain? Selling Butterburgers? And frozen custard?

So I was somewhat floored by social media reaction when Culver’s opened in Meridian last month.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life ...,” a guy on Twitter responded.

“OH MY GOD,” croaked a Facebook commenter, whose arteries must have been hardening. “YESSSS,” replied another.

United by the promise of breaded cheese curds, Midwest transplants began bonding on the Idaho Statesman’s Facebook page.

“Love, love, love Culver’s!” a woman wrote. “I moved here from Illinois in January and have missed having Culver’s.”

“Hi, I’m from Illinois too. What part?” replied another. “Just sent you a pm.”

It was hilarious. It was endearing. And, this being Idaho, it quickly got Californicated.

“WHERE’S OUR IN-AND-OUT BURGER???” demanded an all-caps commenter.

Calm down, man. It’s just a freakin’ hamburger.

Or is it? I have a feeling that In-N-Out will dominate the poll at the bottom of this column.

Boise has come a long way on its journey toward chain-restaurant heaven and hell. We have Chipotle. We have Five Guys. We have Panera Bread. We have Jersey Mike’s and Firehouse Subs.

But we do not have West Coast favorite In-N-Out Burger. Not yet. Maybe never, despite the fact In-N-Out hopped us and opened in Utah years ago.

In the meantime, plenty of other still-missing chains cause Boiseans to salivate.

I’d kill for a Runza. (Regrettable restaurant name, but if you have any German in your blood, you’re hooked.)

And can we please get a Taco John’s inside Boise city limits — not just Meridian?

Sneer all you want, locavores. Few of us are above the siren call of a beloved chain restaurant. Especially one ingrained in our DNA since we were kids. (Like, where did all the Godfather’s Pizzas go?)

One of my favorite childhood memories involves annihilating sacks of hard-shell tacos weekly with my little brother in a park across the street from a small-town Taco John’s. Two for 99 cents back then. Every Taco Tuesday, baby.

When Taco John’s came to Meridian in 2016, a co-worker and I discovered we have this fast-food obsession in common.

I have a thing for Taco Bravos, which are a combination of a hard- and soft-shell taco. But he has a clinical Taco John’s fetish. First, he orders Super Nachos. Then a side of Potato Oles. Then, in a move of staggering culinary creativity, he dumps the Potato Oles on top of the Super Nachos.

“Cover it all in hot sauce,” he says, eyes widening. “Oh my gawd. I could die.”

Eating fast food does make us die, in fact. We. Don’t. Care. There’s no other explanation for the rows of Arby’s, Popeyes and McDonald’s populating every corner.

If I got to choose, the next restaurant chain to come to Boise would be less predictable than an In-N-Out. Something more like Culver’s, which reportedly sells walleye sandwiches during Lent. Walleye!

There’s a LongHorn Steakhouse under construction near Boise Towne Square, which will give Outback Steakhouse competition. But those are casual restaurants.

Visceral chain passion involves fast-casual or fast-food joints. They’re addictive. Need that quick “fix”? Hit the drive-thru.

Besides In-N-Out, what other fast-food fantasy gets your hamburger juices flowing? Shake Shack? Whataburger?

On the flip side, ever eaten at a Tender Greens in California? It’s a healthy fast-casual chain that’s expanding.

Seeking one out will not be a priority for me. I’ve still gotta try one of those Butterburgers in Meridian first.


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