Does people-watching from a third-floor view above Boise sound like your cup of Long Island Iced Tea?
You need to sip a cocktail on the roof-deck patio at the Residence Inn by Marriott at 400 S. Capitol Blvd.
It's a work in progress, but Downtown's newest outdoor gathering spot is already rising above the competition.
It's a perfect place to enjoy beverages while looking down on others. (Wait, does that sound smug? Yes, minions on the streets below, it does.)
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Skeptical? I get it. Why would you choose a chain-hotel patio if you're headed Downtown for appetizers and drinks? When the Residence Inn opened seven months ago, its business plan did not even include a patio bar open to the public.
But this 2,800-square-foot relaxation zone wound up having too much potential. There are two fireplaces. Two fire pits. Three shiny gas grills. And that bird's-eye view.
Mayor Dave Bieter saw the possibilities. He was one of the first to pester, er, lobby for this patio bar, general manager Aimee Tylor says.
"I'll blame the mayor," she explains with a chuckle. "He kept saying, 'When are you going to open up that roof deck?' I'm like, 'Well, you can always come over.' He's like, 'No, when are going to open up the roof deck? When are you going to open up the bar? When are you going to let people come up?' "
On May 4, the Residence Inn patio morphed from a guests-only hangout to official Downtown bar contender. A couple of street-level sidewalk signs have been enough to lure curious passers-by into the elevator and up to the patio.
After all, Boiseans love patios. If you tossed an upside-down milk crate on the street outside a restaurant, we'd run up and sit around it.
This is different, though. There's a dearth of rooftop patios in this city. You can grab drinks at the tiki-themed Reef restaurant and bar in Old Boise. Or nibble lunch at Zee's Rooftop cafe atop the C.W. Moore Plaza.
But the new Residence Inn patio is a borderline game changer.
"There's nothing like this in Boise," Tylor says.
The patio is open during the day, so feel free to wander up and scout things out. The patio bar serves from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Tylor is toying with the possibility of staying open until 10 p.m. in the future. "Right now, we're trying to see what the impact is on guests."
Food is limited. You can choose from four small plates: Caesar salad ($8), a hummus platter ($8), garden bites ($6) and a Tuscany board ($10). The modest beer, wine and cocktail menu isn't groundbreaking, either. ("Yo, bartender, is that Roof Deck Revelry drink for $10 anything like a Long Island Iced Tea?") But libation options will grow. Hiring a craft-drink-oriented bartender is on the agenda.
"We're hotel people," Tylor admits. "We're not food and beverage people. I had to go find a food and beverage director and say, 'Come on, let's make it work!' "
Future upgrades include a TV mounted above the fireplace over by the grills. And music. Right now, there's a DJ on Fridays. Tylor would like to add live, local jazz on Tuesdays.
"Nothing extravagant," she says. "Just enough to entertain people."
Speaking of those grills, how awesome would it be if a guy ran down to Whole Foods between rounds of drinks, bought a rib-eye steak and threw it on a Weber?
"I would frown on that if you didn't rent a hotel room," Tylor says. "It's for guests."
What? The grills are exclusively part of the Residence Inn's "home away from home" hotel concept? Apparently, the rest of us riff-raff are out of luck.
"You know what?" Tylor says after a pause. "Hey. We're going to welcome everybody. If they want to throw a steak up there, I'm not going to be too picky. So long as they're drinking my top-shelf liquor, it's all good!"
This patio bar is all good. Better yet, it's just getting started.
"We've done nothing so far," Tylor admits. "We're working on it. There's a plan coming. We're just trying to stay ahead of it.
"It's just such a cool place. It's hard not to want to share it with everybody."