Best Place To Listen To A 45
Modern Hotel Bar
Have you ever stepped into a hotel bar bathroom and thought, "I sure would like to listen to a little Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston music while I'm in here?" The folks at the bar in the Modern Hotel read your mind. Both the men's and women's restrooms at Modern Bar are equipped with a Numark turntable and a stack of 45s from which to choose your lavatory tunes. Just be careful that you don't lose track of time sifting through the vinyl; if the line forming outside the door gets too long, people will start to talk.
1314 W. Grove St., 208-424-8244
Best Bar In Which To Not Get Your Ass Kicked
We know a few places where, any given weekend night, some drunk guy is going to say something stupid to some other drunk guy's girl, and there's going to be a brouhaha. Don't let the haha fool you: There's nothing funny about a bar fight. Maybe Terrapin Station has a special spell on the door that causes the people who cross the threshold to leave their anger behind and just go on in and have a good time. Or maybe the sort of people who start fights in bars don't hang out there. Whatever the case, we're just glad it's the case.
1519 W. Main St., 208-342-1776
Best Local Hooch
Microbreweries are so yesterday. It's true. Distilleries are the new black in the locally concocted concoctions market. While the trend itself may be rooted deep in the past (we're thinking about grandma's moonshine, lovingly home-brewed in the barn), Bardenay today is the most fashion-forward of the pack, with the singular distinction of being the first restaurant distillery in the nation.
610 W. Grove St., 208-426-0538
Best Smoky Bar We Love
Tenth Street Station
We dig hanging out in a bar with live music so loud we can't hear what the people next to us are saying. We do. But sometimes, we just want to sit back with friends and let conversation rule. Tenth Street, with its dark interior, low chairs on rollers and cheap, stiff drinks makes it the go-to place when intimate conversation is on tap for the night. It gets smoky in there, but with the smoke we've had in the air this summer, we're accustomed to watery, itchy eyes.
104 N. 10th St., 208-344-2677
Best BW Extension Office
"Meet me at Gernika." That's something our freelancers, sources and co-workers hear more often than we'd care to admit. It's only two long blocks away from the BW offices, and it's unpretentious, totally Boise and the service is top-notch. Major stories have been born there, and we swear it's not because we were sipping too many Red Seal pints. Major staff moves have been initiated there, and we're pretty sure it wasn't because the job candidate agreed to pay for our croquetas fix. The interior, winter or summer, lends itself to candid conversation, with the brick walls and the small tables. The bar is a great place to watch the Gernika guys and gals whomp up some killer eats, delivered sizzling hot to your plate. No, you don't go there to impress someone or to have any sort of hard alcohol. If you want to watch the fun on Capitol Boulevard or the Basque Block, you can sit outside. For us, we take our business inside. It's closer to the taps and it's quieter. And if you're an ink-stained wretch, quietude and a nearby frosty one are two important ingredients in a good day.
202 S. Capitol Blvd., 208-344-2175
Best Hallway Bar
The Red Room
While high ceilings, thousands of square feet of covered tables and fancy leather chairs have their appeal, sometimes a cozy little joint is really what we want. Red Room is just one long, cozy narrow room. If someone on the way up to the bar accidentally knocks your elbow, don't take it as a challenge. Ask the knocker to join you at your table. If you're the one doing the bumping, offer to buy the bumpee a new drink. You might just make a new friend.
603 Main St., 208-343-7034
Best Unrequited Bar Love
For a while now, the folks at TK's haven't had the greatest feelings about the old BW. We think it may have to do with some not-so-cold-beer temperatures, but we're afraid to ask. What we do know is that we love the place, even if it doesn't love us back. Maybe we should write a love letter ... maybe we could try serenading it. Maybe we'll just go and beg for forgiveness (even though we're not quite sure what we've done). Or maybe we'll move on with our lives and find a bar that loves us for who we are. Nah. We'll just keep trying to win it over.
3231 Federal Way, no number listed (or we would have called)
Best Bar Food Special
Dutch Goose two-fer Tuesdays
Down State Street sits a little tavern that, if you didn't know was there, you'd probably miss. The Dutch Goose, which carries on the tradition of its predecessor in Menlo Park, Calif., is one of those places that once you've gone, you kick yourself for not having discovered it sooner. On Tuesdays, stop by, but unless you're a really, really big eater, take a friend because from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 6-8 p.m., the big, greasy gorgeous burgers are BOGO. We don't make it as often as we'd like since Tuesday is our deadline day, but we may hustle and try to get things done a little early next week.
3515 W. State St., 208-342-8887
Best Pleasant Surprise Bar
Beer joints abound in downtown Boise and while we all have our favorites, every once in a while, it's nice to try a new place. Falcon Tavern is a small pub that we've walked past a hundred times. One day, we took notice of it there, sandwiched between Pollo Rey and Mai Thai, and stopped in. We were pleasantly surprised at the great selection of microbrews, delicious food and friendly atmosphere and now the place is definitely on our radar.
708 W. Idaho St., 208-947-3111
Best New Restaurant/Bar That Reminds Us Of The Places Our Parents Used To Frequent
Chandler's Steakhouse in Hotel 43
A few decades ago, the word "nightclub" referred to a place where reservations were required, tables were draped in linen cloths, a maitre d' pulled your chair out for you and you could dance to the groovy sounds of a great jazz combo. Chandler's brings back the old-school charm of days gone by, offering dark, private dining alcoves (which house the incredible wine selection) where a date will be duly impressed. Chandler's is a place for adults, which means if we like the place, we must be growing up.
981 Grove St., 208-383-4300
Best Bar in a Bar
The women's bathroom in a bar is a mysterious and secret place, where women collect en masse to report back to the team of superwomen running the world from a secret superbathroom. From the privacy of their own bathroom stalls, women transmit top-secret messages back to headquarters and await further instructions as to how best carry out their part in running the world. It's a well-refined process, and for hundreds of years, the world's men have been fooled into thinking female herd-mentality in so far as restroom protocol is concerned was simply an expression of learned social behavior. It is in fact, a genetic need—a call, if you will—for women to report back to the queen. Well, that and sometimes there's a bar in the bathroom. And a couch. Come to think of it, why wouldn't women rather hang out in the bathroom where there's no line for the bar, the couch is comfy and the men can't crash the party? A bar in a bathroom ... sounds like an idea that should catch on all over town if you ask us.
100 S. 6th St., 208-338-6604
Best Glass Of Red Beer (Still)
The idea of a frosty glass of beer with fruit and/or vegetables is sacrilege to some, but to others only serves to heighten the joy of the beer-drinking experience. Some of us find great pleasure in the flavor a couple of fingers of juice adds to our PBR (we don't mess with the perfection of a decent microbrew or the dark, chocolatey taste of say, Guinness). At the Bouquet, a "red" beer means a healthy shot of their Bloody Mary mix. It's a salty, piquant mix that makes a cheap beer or two go down way, way too easily. Plus we overheard someone say that beer with tomato juice helps keep the next-day-hangover-caused jackhammering in your brainpan at bay.
1010 W. Main St., 208-345-6605
Best Funky Smell
As we travel through life, we see awe-inspiring vistas and are taken back by many a dulcet melody, but rarely does a smell make you feel like you've been bitch-slapped. The Fireside is a lovely neighborhood bar where friends routinely meet to talk about the latest world politics. But it's also home to a funk unlike any other. It's a funk with attitude. One BW staffer described it as the incarnation of stale beer, smoke and shame, that curled up in the corner and died.
1610 N. 31st St., 208-342-9075
Best Group Drink Big Enough To Swim In
We in the newspaper business have been known to partake of a cocktail or two (or five), but even we prostrate ourselves before the altar of a drink that is bigger than any one of our heads.
Bask in the glow of the group drink—a hot-tub-sized barrel of adult libations, served with fruit and a paper umbrella. They have clever, fancy names—like the Scorpion—but it all comes down to an impressive bowl o' booze. Just think of it as social networking with straws.
125 S. 6th St., 208-287-9200
Best Non-Biker, Biker Bar
When BW sent a couple of food reviewers to the Busted Shovel in Meridian, they came away with one clear message: It is not a biker bar. Ignore the fact that there are a dozen or more Harley Davidson bikes lined up along the curb on any given day. It is not a biker bar. The bartender may be clad in some sort of bike-themed T-shirt as he or she serves you food and/or beer, but it is not a biker bar. The term biker bar leads to all sorts of unfortunate associations, and this is Meridian after all. So remember, it is not a biker bar. Got it?
704 Main St., Meridian, 208-288-2217
Best Booze Bang For Your Buck
Ves's Broadway Bar
No deals. No happy hours. No the-bartender-is-your-friend hook-up. But drinks for you and three mighty thirsty friends will set you back less than a movie ticket. And short pouring is against the law. You want a cheap, stiff one? (There's a dirty joke in there somewhere.) Dig the change out of your couch, remind your co-worker she owes you a few bucks, bug your buddies for "bus money" and belly up at Ves's Broadway.
1712 Broadway Ave., 208-342-9951
Best Heineken On Tap
Everyone who has enjoyed their three free Heinies during their tour through Amsterdam's famous brewery knows that those green bottles we're forced to drink Heinie from in the United States just don't do a single good thing for the flavor. Hence the success of the mini-Heinie keg. But because every once in a while you still get a skunker mini that's been sitting on the storeroom shelf three months too long, there's the salvation of a proper Heineken on tap at KB's. Go ahead, just try to find another place in town doing it that way. (And if you find it, let us know.)
405 S. Capitol Blvd., 208-336-3390
Best Bowling Alley Bar
A bowling alley without a bar is like Abbott without Costello, a burger without fries, 10 pins without a ball. We know you're not thinking about bars in bowling alleys unless you're in a bowling alley, so let us do the work for you. The bar we love best located in a house of lanes? The Gaslight Lounge in 20th Century Lanes rawks. And, of course, that has nothing to do with the themed bar stools. OK, maybe it does just a little bit.
4712 W. State St., 208-342-8695
Best New Nightclub Trend
This category was first named "Best Nightclub Trend We Just Don't Get," but that's not very good reporting from an arts and entertainment paper, is it? So we sent out one of our own to check out the scene. (Incidentally, the reporter charged with this particular exploratory mission smoked at her first hookah bar in San Diego in 2003, returned to Boise and gave some serious thought to opening up one here before her "wiser" business-minded friends convinced her it would be a bust in Idaho.) We're actually pleased to report we had good fun toking, taking a break from crowded bars and having a little dance. First time? Ask for Jana at Babylon Hookah Lounge.
609 W. Main St., 208-343-5648
Best Coldest Beer Saviors
The Bush/Sutton Ticket
In a serious campaign drive for employees of the month, our promo guy and our office manager dug deep into their reserves of kindness, hitched up their pants and accepted the job of BW Wingmen. Here in these pages, we'd like to make a toast to the sacrifice and the unwavering commitment Bush and Sutton made for the sake of editorial deadlines. Scrapping their social lives, reworking their calendars and completely ignoring their domestic duties, they visited 57 bars over a period of seven days for little more than our undying gratitude and the sake of BW beer science. For seven days and nights, they bellied up, drank beer and diligently reported back to headquarters. They rawk.
Best Bar Greeting
Typically, the only acknowledgment a barfly gets from a bartender upon entering a bar is a barely audible curse (that may be far less subtle the closer it gets to last call) followed by a terse and often insincere inquiry as to said barfly's poison preference. But to each patron who walks into the long, red bar adjoining Cazba, the bartenders give a hearty "Opa!" in welcome. Stick around there long enough and you'll catch yourself doing it, too.
213 N. 8th St., 208-342-6555
Best Purple Bar
It's been referred to as the Purple People Eater in these pages, and rightly so. It's purple. A few too many rounds in this dark little Garden City bar, and you'll feel like you've been chewed up and spit out by some of the nicest bartenders in town. Funny thing about Mr. Lucky's is the collection of shiny hogs lined up in the parking lot from time to time. Who'd a thunk a purple bar would beckon bikers?
4902 W. Chinden Blvd., 208-327-0925
Best Country Western Time Warp
The winds of change may blow other trends out of fashion, but shit-kickin', boot lickin' tight pants and pearly button-downs are always in style. The haircut under the 10-gallons may snap in and out of acceptable styles, but the boot-scootin' attire is forever OK. Line dancing, bronc riding, hard-working men and women of country, let out a "Yee haw" now.
5467 Glenwood St., 208-672-9090
Best Place(s) That Used To Be McDonald's
Lush and Lucky Dog
We will openly admit that, on occasion, we can be food elitists. The lack of fast food and the plethora of decent dining downtown means it's actually pretty easy for us to maintain our eatery snobbery—but even we know where the Golden Arches used to be (hey, they make delicious fries). Though there's still one Micky D's on the outskirts of the grid, two of them have gone through transformations which are, in our humble opinions, for the better.
What was a Super-Sizer (before it was creperie Square), is now Lush, a joint with a hip atmosphere, open garage-door walls, low-slung furniture and a fire tube, throwing off any trace of the space's former fast food incarnation. The slick nightclub doesn't seem like it could have ever been anything but.
Lucky Dog was in a place so tiny, it should have been called Lucky Puppy. They just recently moved to another ex-McDonald's spot, giving the everyone-friendly bar some much needed elbow room.
Lush: 760 W. Main St., 208-342-5874; Lucky Dog: 2223 Fairview Ave., 208-333-0074
Best Place To Not get Your Smoke On
The BW staff is well-enough populated by nicotine freaks, but we are more than happy to see Pengilly's go smoke-free. When a consortium of buyers took Pengilly's from stanky to swanky just by banning smoking inside its walls, they got us—and we suspect, a few of you—to reconsider the place as a potential hangout. And it's still got the musical bona fides to carry it through the transition.
513 W. Main St,, 208-345-6344
Best Place You Wish You Were
Ever wonder what the heck you're missing when you're pedaling or driving or walking by Parrilla Grill on a summer evening? The place is always overflowing with people on its patio who are clearly not the sort to sit quietly. Parrilla draws a hopping crew, regardless of the evening. They're aggressive about carding, and you'll need to have the wristband to get the time of day at the bar, but once you're banded, you can hang out and party with the big kids.
1512 N. 13th St., 208-323-4688
Best New Wine List
8th Street Wine Company
It's lengthy, it's mysterious, and we don't care. So long as the wine list at 8th Street keeps surprising us with intriguing options for our imbibement, we'll continue to celebrate the long book. For the uninitiated, order a "flight" of wines to try. You'll become accustomed to a variety of wine and your inhibitions will go out the window with your carefully-guarded sobriety. But then you're ready to return and make a knowledgeable foray into one of Boise's best new evening spots.
405 S. 8th St., 208-426-9463
Best Frou-Frou Drinks
If your taste buds are asking for something new and unexpected to drink, head to Pair. The flavor combinations read strange—the basil mango combination, for example—but go down very nicely. Other places offer fruity drinks, but few if any do so with the verve at this great little corner joint. The patio is nice on a summer evening, but since it's located on one of the busiest street corners in the whole damn town, you're taking your reputation into your own hands by ordering something bright red or shocking yellow. Two sips in, however, you probably won't care.
601 W. Main St., 208-343-7034
Best Jello Shots
Sometimes the best way to wax nostalgic is to do a Jello shot. Head over to the Pocket and let the bartender know what you're after and she'll hook you up with a shot or two. Whether you'll get peach, strawberry or lime depends on what the Pocket felt like whipping up that day, but we saw a recipe book with over a hundred different flavors. We'll just have to keep going back until we finally get blueberry banana.
1487 N. Curtis Rd., 208-375-2474
Best Place To Interview A Band
Beyond being just a fun place to hang out, the Bouquet has become a satellite of our satellite office. The members of most local bands have day jobs, so our band interviews usually take place at night. The Bouquet is a great place to meet up with a group of musicians, have a beer and find out what makes them tick. A lot of local musicians play at the Bouquet (both on and off stage), so they're comfortable hanging out there, plus, a pitcher or two of beer goes a long way toward putting even the most nervous interviewees at ease.
1010 W. Main St., 208-345-6605