Idaho likes to keep its meals all-American, based around meat and those famous Idaho potatoes. You may be surprised to learn that they even have ice cream in the shape of potatoes and serve some side dishes grilled in potatoes. In the college towns of Pocatello, Idaho Falls, and Boise, there is a decent range of ethnic restaurants, but for the most part menus are classic American. The state is also known for its rainbow trout in season. Bars are easy to find anywhere; especially the college and resort towns, but fanciful nightclubs or big concert venues are another story. Idaho’s nightlife is decidedly sedate, but nearly every meal or beer will feel refreshingly affordable.

Bars and Pubbing in Idaho

There are a lot of bars in Idaho, most of them friendly, unpretentious watering holes. Even in the bigger cities like Boise you’ll be hard-pressed to find a nightclub with a dress code. Instead, enjoy the casual atmosphere of brewpubs like TableRock (705 Fulton Street, Boise) or the Ha’Penny Bridge Pub (855 Broad Street, Boise) for the city’s Irish drinking scene. Boise is also home to the country’s first distillery micropub, Bardenay (610 Grove Street, Boise) which makes its own gin, rum, and other alcohol.

Ketchum and Sun Valley also have lively little bar scenes thanks to the skiers and other tourists who flow steadily through these areas. The funky Casino Club (220 N. Main Street, Ketchum) was once a favorite of Ernest Hemingway, while the Roosevelt Tavern (280 N. Main Street, Ketchum) is more representative of a typical Idaho tavern. Most bars serve food and many offer live music.

Coeur d’Alene Brewing (209 Lakeside Ave, Coeur d’Alene) is another fine example of mixing drinking and pub grub in a casual atmosphere. You are more likely to find straight up bars in the college towns of Moscow, Idaho Falls, and Pocatello, where the closing time is 2:00 a.m.. Bars in quieter towns usually have last call around 1:00 a.m..

Dining and Cuisine in Idaho

There aren’t many culinary surprises in Idaho. Boise and Sun Valley present a few fine dining venues in the state, and they are very good. Mortimer’s Idaho Cuisine (110 S. 5th Street, Boise), Barbacoa (276 Bobwhite Court, Boise), and Epi’s Basque Restaurant (1115 N. Main Street, Meridien, Boise) are all well-established upscale restaurants in Boise.

But what they’re known for is plenty of casual fare on tap in Boise’s lively downtown core. Cafés like the 8th Street Wine Café (405 S. 8th Street, Boise) have reliable food and a solid wine list. For breakfast, follow the locals to Goldy’s (108 S. Capitol Blvd, Boise). Ketchum and Sun Valley have several eating options, all of them typical steak and potato joints. The Pioneer Saloon (308 N. Main Street, Ketchum) and the Sawtooth Club (231 N. Main Street, Ketchum) are two long-standing favorites.

Coeur d’Alene Resort’s fine dining restaurant Beverly’s (Coeur d’Alene Resort) is a place where you need to dress up, make a reservation, and prepare to spend. The views over the lake and its creative Northwest cuisine menu make it worthwhile. Brix (317 Sherman Ave, Coeur d’Alene) is another trendy spot in this quaint town featuring a New American menu that changes often.