2008 Readers' Picks Dining

BEST LOCAL DESSERT

Le Cafe de Paris

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Boise for pulling the cheesecake out of its mouth. Last year, a corporate joint took first in this category for its overindulgent, giganto-sized, mega-sugared cheesecake. This year, we're proud to report that Le Cafe de Paris takes the cake, and the chocolate mouse, and the croissant and, well, just about any sugary bit of baked indulgence. For this, we applaud you, voters. As for Le Cafe de Paris, we'll start with a true story: There's an entire dessert menu. We've seen it with our very own eyes. More than a dozen choices, pictures included, and almost everything you order will require the words "au chocolat," so start practicing your French pronunciation. 204 N. Capitol Blvd., 208-336-0889, lecafedeparis.com.

Second Place: Fanci Freeze

Third Place: Chandlers Steakhouse

BEST LOCAL MEDITERRANEAN FOOD

Mazzah

Think back to the nail-biting wallop Boise State delivered to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl almost two years ago. Now apply that to the category of "Best Mediterranean Food" in a Best of Boise poll. Cazba plays the part of Oklahoma (a restaurant that's used to coming out on top year after year after year). Mazzah plays Boise State—the unexpected upsetter of what's become the way of the world. For as long as anyone around BW's offices can remember, Cazba has taken the first-place trophy for Mediterranean food. But there's a new king in town, one with a penchant for massive combo plates and addiction-worthy vegetarian food. Welcome to the top, Mazzah. 1772 W. State St., 208-333-2566, mazzah-id.com.

Second Place: Cazba

Third Place: Aladdin Egyptian cuisine

BEST LOCAL BURGER

Bittercreek Alehouse

There's only one thing better than a good burger: a good burger with a great beer, and Bittercreek Alehouse delivers both. It's the first appearance for Bittercreek in this Best of Boise category, but the restaurant has long been a local favorite. If the handsome pub interior isn't to your liking, grab a table on the popular streetside patio and do some quality people watching while you indulge in one of the greatest forms of cuisine any warm-blooded omnivore can dig into—and don't forget that beer. 246 N. Eighth St., 208-345-1813, bittercreekalehouse.com.

Second Place: Big Juds

Third Place: Bad Boy Burgers

BEST LOCAL SUSHI

Shige Japanese Cuisine

Though, sadly, some downtown dining institutions bolted their doors and drew the curtains this past year, Shige has weathered the ups and downs of Boise's culinary economy for an astounding 16 years. With an affordable, fresh selection of raw fish chopped and rolled by Chef Shige, the quality far overshadows the ambience in this carpeted, second-floor haunt. Our readers know a good poke when they taste one, which is why we're sure Shige will be around for at least another 16 years. 100 N. Eighth St., 208-338-8423.

Second Place: Happy Fish Sushi and martini bar

Third Place: Superb Sushi

BEST LOCAL COFFEEHOUSE

Flying M Coffeehouse

So many BW interviews have been conducted to the whirring buzz of the M's espresso machine. With high-voltage drinks, a hard-working staff and hordes of humorous trinkets you can't live without, it's the place we take people to show off just how sweet Boise can be. And our highly caffeinated readers couldn't agree more. 500 W. Idaho St., 208-345-4320.

Second Place: Java

Third Place: Moxie Java

BEST LOCAL BREAKFAST

Goldy's Breakfast Bistro

Goldy's, a downtown breakfast staple, is a great example of the Paradox of Choice. With a menu that lets customers craft their ideal hearty breakfast plate from a varied selection of meats, eggs, potatoes and breads, the possibilities can be a little overwhelming. With options that range from poached eggs with pork sausage, red flannel hash and black rye bread to scrambled eggs with a salmon cake, hashbrowns and an English muffin, it might take you the entire hour you have to wait in line for a table to decide on the combination that perfectly complements your breakfast personality. 108 S. Capitol Blvd., 208-345-4100.

Second Place: Capri

Third Place: Addie's

BEST LOCAL CHINESE FOOD

Yen Ching

Not only is Yen Ching pretty good Chinese food but it's got a full bar now and hosts many a power lunch with its wide open floor plan yet seemingly secluded tables. Good choice, readers. 305 N. Ninth St., 208-384-0384.

Second Place: Twin Dragon

Third Place: North End Chinese

BEST LOCAL LUNCH

Jenny's Lunch Line

We surmise this win was the result of a war that was waged from a home base at Jenny's Lunch Line. Last year's winner, Zen Bento, also showed off Boise diners' hankering for a healthy lunch. But speaking of last year's winners, Jenny's didn't even make the top three. Let that be a lesson to all of you who aspire to Best of Boise greatness—just because your business has been MIA from the list for years doesn't mean you can't pull off a victory. While you contemplate exactly how to stage a coup for next year, wander over to Jenny's to spy on her homemade, healthy and delicious operation. 560 W. Main St., 208-433-0092.

Second Place: Zen Bento

Third Place: Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery

BEST LOCAL BARBECUE

Eagle Rib Shack

It's a restaurant that started on a bet when owner Andrew Petrehn entered and won the 2003 Thrill of the Grill barbecue contest. Now, it's a haven for Treasure Valley carnivores with beef, chicken and pork prepared the way the gods of barbecue intended. The Rib Shack bills itself as "Barbecue with Attitude," and we have to agree. Vegetarians beware; this is not a place for you. Watching your cholesterol? Don't bother coming. This is a place for those who love barbecue in a big way. 360 E. State St., Eagle, 208-938-5460, eagleribshack.com.

Second Place: Andrew's Rib Shack

Third Place: Chef Roland's Cajun Cuisine

BEST LOCAL DINNER

Chandlers Steakhouse

Cross reference with "Best Local Steak" to fully understand the power that beef has over Idaho diners when it comes to making important decisions like determining who has the best dinner in Boise. Go ahead, we'll wait ... ... ... Any questions? We recommend an empirical approach. 981 W. Grove St., 208-343-7776, chandlersboise.com.

Second Place: Cafe Vicino

Third Place: Berryhill and Co.

BEST LOCAL FAMILY RESTAURANT

donnie mac's Trailer Park Cuisine

Kitschy is so cool, baby, and you know it. Boise is all about the trailer park cuisine: hot dogs with mac 'n' cheese, chili dogs, SpaghettiOs and PB&J. The little kids love donnie mac's because it's like mom's but gourmet. And without having to do the dishes. And without having to eat your vegetables. The big kids love it because it's like mom's but gourmet. And you can say "single wide" or "double wide" without flinching. And you can wash it down with PBR on tap. 1515 W. Grove St., 208-384-9008, donniemacgrub.com.

Second Place: Bittercreek Alehouse

Third Place: Hyde Park Pub

BEST LOCAL FROZEN TREAT

Fanci Freeze

No, this is not another tip of the hat to J.R. and his super-duper frozen fry technology. We're talking ice cream, people. And Fanci Freeze has it, including their Boston shake, and lest we forget, the kickin' soft-serve swirl cone. Summer may be over, but it's never too blustery for a shake. 1402 W. State St., 208-344-8661.

Second Place: Westside Drive-In

Third Place: Dawson Taylor's Gelato

BEST LOCAL PATIO

Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery

While summer's warm evenings are quickly fading, Boise diners still love a quality patio. They'll huddle under propane space heaters, shivering in jackets well into winter before they give up their right to eat outside. Bardenay has always offered one of Boise's best outdoor dining options. It may be right on the street in downtown's Basque Block, but the carefully designed fence, planter boxes and trailing vines make it feel a world apart. Kick back at one of the multitude of tables, grab one of the restaurant/distillery's custom drinks (may we suggest a Vitamin B martini) catch up with your friends, and join in Boise's best spectator sport: people watching. 610 W. Grove St., 208-426-0538, bardenay.com.

Second Place: Bittercreek Alehouse

Third Place: Reef

BEST LOCAL SOUTH OF THE BORDER RESTAURANT (BUT THAT'S LOCATED IN BOISE)

Chapala

Chapala is an institution. Or six institutions of Idaho-Mexico cuisine, rather. Readers love it because it's fun, it's accessible to the Boise palate yet still authentic enough, and it's got the father, the son and the holy ghost, er, Tecate, Corona and Negro Modelo. Various locations, chapalarestaurants.com.

Second Place: Casa Mexico

Third Place: Andrade's

BEST LOCAL FINE DINING

Chandlers Steakhouse

Talk about shaking things up, this year's fine dining category might as well be a salt shaker in Margaritaville. Yikes. Some change was inevitable, given the sad fact that many of Boise's finest independent establishments—indeed those that often dominated this category—fell tragically by the wayside in the last year. But this is extreme, with all three winners in this category making first-time showings. Way to walk on the wild side, Best of Boise voters. Want to know about the winner? This should be enough: You'll find it listed in these pages under "Best Local Dinner" and "Best Local Steak." Not a bad showing at all. 981 W. Grove St., 208-343-7776, chandlersboise.com.

Second Place: Berryhill and Co.

Third Place: Red Feather Lounge

BEST LOCAL INDIAN FOOD

Madhuban

Madhuban defeated last year's winner by a narrow 14 votes to move into the No. 1 spot this year. Madhuban, hopefully, will continue to demonstrate the staying power it has had all these years, which should make next year's competition a good fight. Undoubtedly the little hole-in-the-wall strip mall joint is known far and wide for its lunch buffet and lassi drinks. And apparently, that reputation is well-deserved and in good standing with Indian food indulgers throughout the city. 6930 W. State St., 208-853-8215, madhubanindiancuisine.com.

Second Place: Bombay Grill

Third Place: Taj Mahal

BEST LOCAL PIZZA

Flying Pie Pizza

We'll let you in on a scandalous little secret: Boise is in love with Flying Pie. It's true and we have proof. Our crack reporters have spotted hundreds of Boiseans caressing Flora (the Pie's rotund foil ball), trying endlessly to capture the beauty of the Pie in a doodle on the menu and professing undying love for the annual appearance of the double habanero. And we've said nothing of the X-rated activity happening between pie at the Pie and your tongues. Congrats once again, Flying Pie. May you and Boise live a long and happy life together. 6508 Fairview Ave., 208-345-0000; 4320 State St., 208-384-0000, flyingpie.com.

Second Place: Guido's

Third Place: Pie Hole

BEST LOCAL RESTAURANT

Cafe Vicino

A good gust of wind could have blown either Bittercreek Alehouse or Berryhill and Co. into the lead this year. Even a good solid sneeze would have pushed either one into the winner's slot. But (and say it in your best Highlander impression), there can be only one, and Cafe Vicino is what you want. Quick linguistic lesson: It's pronounced va-CHEE-no. And if you no know Vicino, you don't know nothing. Yet. We'll say this: A restaurant doesn't go from day one to best restaurant in just more than a year if it's not really, really good. We're talking seriously good here, folks. The elegant North End restaurant is petite-sized, but its Mediterranean-influenced food is anything but pint-sized on the taste Richter. Make a reservation. You'll need it. 808 W. Fort St., 208-472-1463, cafevicino.com.

Second Place: Bittercreek Alehouse

Third Place: Berryhill and Co.

BEST LOCAL SANDWICH SHOP

Cobby's Sandwich Shop

The little guy in overalls with a giant sandwich has been a Boise icon for decades. Readers seem to know their sandwiches, and with a variety of local sandwich locations to choose from, Cobby's with their hot or cold sub sandwiches have come out on top this year. And if you've been paying attention to Best of Boise over the years, number one is not an unfamiliar spot for Cobby's to find itself in. The store uses local ingredients, and employees take customer requests and skillfully create a delectable meal to take home or eat at the long family style picnic tables that fill each location. The never-ending chip box, apples, oranges and salad bar round out the order-by-number menu. Various locations, cobbys.com.

Second Place: Zeppole Baking Co.

Third Place: Deli George

BEST LOCAL VEGETARIAN FOOD

Boise Co-Op

One word: Tofurkey. Boise Co-op is the only place in town we've seen that sells it. Add to that every possible permutation of the soybean—soy beef jerky, soy crisps, soy cheese, soy mayonnaise, soy nuggets—and a healthy deli selection of prepared veggies, and you've got more vegetarians than a Phish concert. Even non-veggies love the Co-op's giant veggie burger, chock-full of grains and topped with crisp lettuce and melted cheese (this messy behemoth is best eaten ravenously alone). 888 W Fort St., 208-472-4500, boisecoop.com.

Second Place: Mai Thai

Third Place: Happy Fish Sushi and Martini Bar

BEST LOCAL STEAK

Chandlers Steakhouse

Excerpt from Rex Chandler's diary: First, conquer Sun Valley with my culinary awesomeness. Second, move to Boise with a "No. 2" version of the restaurant that Sun Valley-ites love. Third, continually pack the house by luring (and reeling) in fully suspecting and discerning clientele with nice dinner music, a see-and-be-seen happy hour scene and food to rave about. Fourth, rack up a laundry list of awards, including nods for martini making, a fine-dining feel and all around vino amazingness. Last, win a Best of Boise for the best damn cut of meat on a plate. 981 W. Grove St., 208-343-7776, chandlersboise.com.

Second Place: Lock Stock and Barrel

Third Place: Stagecoach Inn

BEST LOCAL THAI FOOD

Mai Thai

And the reign continues. Since its inception, Mai Thai has spanked the competition in the Thai restaurant category. Boise loves the Mai Thai. File the food under "creatively executed," "fresh" and "delicious" then cross-reference it with the atmosphere, which is tagged under "swanky," and follow up with the cocktail menu found under not only "interesting" but also "destination worthy." 750 W. Idaho St., 208-344-8424; 78 Eagle River St., Suite #165, Eagle, 208-938-8424, maithaigroup.com.

Second Place: Siam Cafe

Third Place: Chiang Mai Thai Restaurant

BEST LOCAL SEAFOOD

Fresh Off the Hook

So rarely does a name do a better job of communicating a restaurant's complete culinary philosophy than does Fresh off the Hook. What a "catchy" way to say "fresh fish." From a menu that's almost entirely pulled out of the sea, diners pick their poison: fried or grilled or sandwiched. And whatever is happening in the Milwaukee location, it ain't fishy; the competition was leagues behind. 507 N. Milwaukee St., 208-322-9224, freshoffthehookseafood.com.

Second Place: Happy Fish Sushi and Martini Bar

Third Place: Reel Foods Fish Market

Best Italian Restaurant

All of Them?

Sometimes, the dog still eats your homework, even in the all-digital age of Best of Boise. This year's "Best Local Italian" was inadvertently and inexplicably omitted. To each and every pasta joint in town, we apologize. To our readers who would like to vote for their fave Italian, e-mail editor@boiseweekly.com.

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