2016 was a banner year for restaurant openings in the Treasure Valley, with several new spots making their mark on the area’s vibrant dining scene. Here are Statesman restaurant critic James Patrick Kelly’s picks for the best new restaurants reviewed in 2016.
On a Roll, 257 E. State St., Eagle
After opening in March in downtown Eagle, the daytime deli has been a meaty godsend for diners craving New York-inspired sandwiches, hot dogs, salads and sides.
Owner Tony Delia, a longtime California chef who moved to Idaho last year, goes above and beyond in the meat department. He smokes his own pastrami, brisket, corned beef, turkey and bacon, and these yummy cured meats end up on a gamut of hot and cold sandwiches made on crusty Acme Bakeshop bread.
You won’t be disappointed with the hot pastrami ($9.99) or the slow-smoked brisket sandwich ($9.99) with caramelized onions and tangy barbecue sauce. Other good choices include the piled-high Reuben ($9.99) and a pork schnitzel sandwich ($8.99) with celery slaw and gooey provolone.
Phone: (208) 761-5225. Online: on-a-roll-deli.com.
Bacon and Berryhill, 121 N. 9th St., Boise
These are hardly new eateries, but the two longtime restaurants were consolidated into one spot earlier this year.
Bacon takes care of the breakfast and lunch crowd from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, while Berryhill is now a dinner-only dining destination that’s open 4 to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Chef and owner John Berryhill has overhauled the menus at both places, showing off his Deep South-upbringing with a bunch of fun riffs on Southern classics.
At Bacon, you can get various buttermilk biscuit “sammiches” and chicken pot pie ($13). And, of course, bacon reigns supreme on the menu with the Bacon Styx Sampler ($7), an array of house-cured bacon in different flavors. Other good breakfast picks include brioche French toast with saucy strawberry coulis ($7) and the Josh-Hash ($9), a biscuit pileup of hash browns, steak, mushroom gravy and chipotle fried onions with an oozy fried egg on top.
At night, when the place gets transformed into Berryhill, try the bacon hush puppy croquetas ($7) and pan-roasted catfish ($23) served with cheesy grits and fried okra.
Phone: (208) 387-3553. Online: berryhillbacon.com.
Pho Le, 2146 S. Broadway Ave., Boise
The Vietnamese eatery opened this spring in the newly rebuilt section of the Broadway Park shopping center that was destroyed by fire in 2014.
As the name suggests, Pho Le specializes in big bowls of pho ($7-$15; beef noodle soup) served with a side plate of crunchy bean sprouts, purple-stemmed basil, sliced jalapeño and lime wedges for spritzing the aromatic soup.
Besides authentic pho (pronounced “fuh”), the restaurant serves traditional starters ($6) such as fried Vietnamese egg rolls (pork, vermicelli rice noodles and veggies) and fresh summer rolls for carnivores and vegetarians alike.
Diners can also get vermicelli noodle dishes ($10), banh mi sandwiches ($6) and spicy noodle soup ($13) with briny shrimp broth, rice noodles, pork loin and peppercorn-studded pork sausage.
Phone: (208) 807-2341. Online: idapho.com.
North End Pizza, 1513 N. 13th St., Boise
This neighborhood pizzeria in Hyde Park is the sister establishment to Prost German Pub in Downtown Boise.
Start things off with turkey meatballs ($7) fragranced with basil and garlic, topped with chunky marinara sauce and melted mozzarella.
North End Pizza gets its medium-thick crust just right in terms of chewiness. Many of the pizzas are named after fellow businesses in Hyde Park. The menu has several noteworthy picks when it comes to blistered pies. Among them is the Latin-influenced Casa Mexico pizza ($18/12-incher) made with spicy chorizo, pico de gallo, goat cheese and cilantro. Another tasty choice is the Goodies pizza ($18/12-incher) topped with herbaceous red sauce, Italian sausage, bell pepper and fresh mozzarella.
The hip eatery and watering hole offers a large selection of draft brews and local and Italian wines to wash everything down.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Phone: (208) 345-5669. Online: northendpizzaboise.com.
Azteca Mexican Grill, 10386 W. Ustick Road, Boise
Fans of the Azteca taco truck were pretty excited when it went brick and mortar in May.
Owner Miguel Hurtado and his family are gracious hosts at their new sit-down eatery. You’ll find many of the same affordable Mexican offerings from the taco truck, which is still in operation around town. But with a larger kitchen comes a larger menu.
Hurtado hails from Mexico City. This explains the pambazo sandwich ($5), a torta-like creation with a piquant mashed potato and chorizo mixture, cream cheese, salsa verde, chopped onion and cilantro on a crumbly roll dipped in hot sauce and grilled on a scorching flat-top. Other noteworthy choices include the carnitas plate ($8.50) and one of the best egg-battered chile rellenos ($8) in these parts.
Phone: (208) 514-0158. Online: https://www.facebook.com/Azteca-Mexican-Grill-587606511416226/.
Masala Bistro, 8053 W. Emerald St., Boise
This restaurant opened in July near Boise Towne Square mall in a spot that’s been a revolving door of ethnic eateries over the years.
Here you can enjoy a taste of northern India with standout dishes such as delicious goat curry ($14.99) and matar paneer ($10.99), a regional specialty made with house-made cow’s milk cheese, peas and buttery pepper sauce redolent of garlic and fenugreek leaves.
Besides traditional Punjabi offerings, Masala Bistro also serves dishes from Goa and other southern stretches of India. The vindaloo lamb curry ($13.50) is guaranteed to clear the stuffiest of noses, with tender pieces of lamb and potato stewed in a zesty, brick-red curry sauce. Order a basket of charred garlic naan bread ($2.25) to soak up the fiery curry.
Vegetarians will find a large selection of meatless options. The daal makhani ($9.99) is a good place to start. This black lentil dish boasts lots of flavor thanks to the fresh coriander, cumin and other spices that get infused into the melt-in-your-mouth legumes.
Masala Bistro sets up a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and a more elaborate dinner buffet on Friday and Saturday nights from 5 to 9 p.m.
Phone: (208) 322-9497. Online: masalabistroboise.com.
Manfred’s, 1114 W. Front St., Boise
Jason Farber has earned a loyal following with his Archie’s Place food truck in recent years, so it made sense for him to go brick and mortar with his hybrid sandwich concept.
Farber recently teamed up with Bar Gernika owner Jeff May to open Manfred’s this summer in the same building as Woodland Empire Ale Craft.
Diners will find some Archie’s Place favorites, like the Sloppy Grilled Cheese ($8), alongside new sandwiches designed with beer in mind. Do yourself a favor and try the Beer Sandwich ($6), constructed with slabs of tender meatloaf (pork and lamb) layered with house-made pickles brined with fresh hop cones and Electric Warrior Oatmeal Stout-spiked mustard on grilled slices of rustic Acme Bakeshop bread that’s baked with spent grains from the brewery.
As you would imagine, Manfred’s also serves Basque-inspired creations such as roasted garlic masa croquetas ($5) and a recognizable solomo pork loin sandwich ($9) on a crusty baguette with roasted red bell pepper.
Phone: (208) 343-7202. Online: manfredscatering.com.
Bodovino Ristorante, 3630 E. Monarch Sky Lane, Meridian
Bodovino opened in late August at The Village at Meridian in the former Cacicia’s Cucinas Old World Sicilian Foods space in Fountain Square. Like at its sister establishment, Bodovino in BoDo, Bodovino Ristorante has plenty of self-serve wine-dispensing machines with a profusion of labels from around the globe.
The kitchen is considerably larger in Meridian, which enables the seasonally influenced Italian menu to go beyond the simple wine bar menu that’s offered in Boise. Noteworthy picks include garlicky eggplant caponata with crostini ($6) and pan-seared lamb chops Romano ($16) sided with sautéed wild mushrooms ($7). During lunchtime, try a Panini-pressed pork belly sandwich ($10.50; with spicy fennel confit, arugula and a lemony cream sauce) and the al dente linguine ($14) with leafy kale, walnuts and aged Parmesan.
Phone: (208) 887-5369. Online: bodovino.com.
Owyhee Tavern, 1109 Main St., Boise
The sister restaurant to the Tavern at Bown Crossing impressed diners from the minute it opened in October in the former Gamekeeper spot.
The upscale steak and seafood restaurant and bar seems destined for a long run like its predecessor in The Owyhee building. The modern-looking dining room, with its deep booths and sleek design, is a great place to hang out and slurp freshly shucked Pacific oysters on the half shell ($3 each), served with shallot-pocked champagne mignonette.
Other starters include crispy kung pao calamari ($13) and an impressive Seafood Tower ($100; built with king crab legs, lobster, oysters, prawns and smoked salmon) designed to take care of everyone at the table.
Various steaks get hand-cut from USDA Prime-grade beef and American Kobe beef from Idaho’s Snake River Farms, and you can get roasted prime rib nightly ($24/eight-ounce; $45/20-ounce bone-in).
Phone: (208) 639-0440. Online: owyheetavern.com.
Meraki Greek Street Food, 345 S. 8th St., Boise
The year ended on a Mediterranean note with Meraki’s opening in BoDo.
Owners Aki and Farrah Kalazakis, who recently moved here from Northern California, dig deep into the treasured family recipe book for this fast-casual concept that gives diners a taste of authentic Greek street food, as the name suggests.
Customizable gyros take center stage at Meraki, with a lineup of traditional sandwiches and some hybrid creations that speak to American sensibilities.
Try a traditional gyro ($9) made on puffy pita with a marinated lamb and beef mixture, chopped tomato and red onion, fragrant tzatziki yogurt sauce and some crispy fries sticking out for good measure. Or keep it local with a Bronco-named chicken gyro ($10) with apple wood-smoked bacon, crumbled blue cheese, tomato, red onion, romaine lettuce and tzatziki.
Meraki also serves Greek-style appetizers, soups, salads and desserts. A cup of hearty avgolemono soup ($3; made with chicken, eggs, lemon and rice) will definitely warm you up on a chilly day.
Phone: (208) 639-1693. Online: merakigsf.com.
Email James Patrick Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org.