Words & Deeds

This new Boise restaurant rocks. Bands perform on an elevated stage overhead

The Funky Taco keeps its menu fresh and creative.
The Funky Taco keeps its menu fresh and creative. The Funky Taco/Facebook

A new Downtown Boise restaurant is making big noise — and it’s not just slobbering sounds from ravenous taco fiends.

The Funky Taco, which will unveil its full menu next week at 801 W. Bannock St., brings a fresh music venue to Downtown Boise. Located in 8th Street’s bar and restaurant corridor, the ethnic-food hangout adds a multi-faceted entertainment option on a block that normally doesn’t crank much live music.

The Funky Taco debuted with a limited menu and hours during Treefort Music Fest last month, and has remained open. That gave musicians a chance to test out the elevated stage. Perched high above the dining area, it’s loaded with state-of-the-art audio equipment. Treefort director Eric Gilbert calls it “a great addition to Downtown.”

Boise rock group Jupiter Holiday performed there last weekend.

“The sound system is absolutely incredible,” guitarist-vocalist Luke Anderson says. “Everyone that was there said it sounded great up front, and the show was awesome.”

“Acoustically, it’s a sound space,” he adds. “The place is really designed for live music.”

The new restaurant is the brick-and-mortar evolution of a mobile kitchen that began at the Boise Farmers Market in 2013. The space at the corner of 8th and Bannock streets used to be Mongolian Grill & Bar. It’s been completely retooled as The Funky Taco.

A giant mural leads the way for musicians heading up to the restaurant’s elevated stage. The Funky Taco/Facebook

Besides the ceiling-scraping stage, there’s a massive mural on the south wall from Boise artist Cody Rutty. The restaurant also features rotating exhibits from local artists.

The Funky Taco’s menu targets diners with an appetite for locally sourced, globally influenced cuisine. Trying it for the first time? Go for the popular Macho Taco ($10.50), ancho- and coffee-braised brisket, roja salsa, cilantro crema, shaved carrot and cilantro. But, man, that Korean Pastor Taco ($10) sounds tasty, too: ground pork, diced pork belly and smoked ham, kimchi, Asian mango salsa, cilantro and radish.

“We create food within a ‘farm to funky fare’ framework,” the restaurant’s website explains. “Our emphasis is on Asian, Indian, Mexican, and Americana ethnicities/styles of food. We religiously support our local farmers, and our menu selections will morph and change with the seasonal yields. We have options for everyone, the carnivore, the omnivore, the vegetarian, the vegan.”

Wash everything down with local and regional craft beers or a glass of wine.

The Funky Taco will serve from its limited menu through Saturday, then launch full-bore either Monday or Tuesday next week; details are still being finalized. After that, hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The Funky Taco’s owners are eager to support local music, but it’s going to take time to get things completely up and running, co-owner Amy War says. A music schedule on The Funky Taco website only lists one future gig, a June 22 show from touring indie acts Snail Mail and Bonny Doon.

“Our music program is still evolving, and we don’t have set schedules yet,” War explains. “... We are just opening and trying to balance art, food and music.”

That’s understandable. It’s also going to take a little time for musicians to absorb the stage vibe. As Jupiter Holiday learned, gazing down on Boiseans drinking and eating isn’t the same as gigging in the tight corner of a neighborhood bar.

After experiencing The Funky Taco’s atmosphere for several songs, the band members treated their second set almost like a rehearsal, Anderson says — and took their jams outside the box as a result.

“There’s kind of a disconnect because you are so far away from people who are watching you,” he explains. “We’re used to playing a stage where you’re closer to audience level, so you have much more of an interaction with the crowd. That’s probably the only missing element from a musician standpoint.”

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