2005 Dining Readers' Choice

Readers' Picks

Best New Restaurant

Square

We like a restaurant working with a single idea until it's perfect. Witness the crepes at Square. They've got them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as main dishes and desserts, with an array of delicious fillings. Their soups and salads are wonderful too, but come on—those lovely flat squares of bread are the stars.

760 Main St., 345-7782

Second Place: Pair

Third Place: Reef

Best Breakfast

Goldy's Bistro

Goldy's is one of those rare gems that people unanimously agree is way too hip for our little western burg. From the adorable chandelier of winged light bulbs to menu options like sweet potato hash browns, it smacks of big city cool while retaining the comfy vibe of a small town favorite. There is always a pot of hot, delicious Dawson Taylor coffee on the sidewalk for the people standing in line, and once you get inside you are guaranteed the best breakfast around with plenty of extra butter and syrup or dry toast and egg beaters, depending on your tastes.

108 S Capitol Blvd., 345-4100

Second Place: The Capri

Third Place: Addie's

Best Burger

Big Jud's

The Big Jud burger is like the K2 of burgers—seemingly unconquerable. It's one pound of 100 percent beef on a toasted plate-sized bun with all the burger trimmings. And if you can eat the whole thing in 20 minutes, it's free. If you don't want to stretch your tummy waaay out of shape, order one of these hamburgers to share with your friends.

1289 Protest Rd., 343-4439

Second Place: Westside Drive-In

Third Place: Bittercreek Alehouse

Best BBQ

Goodwood Barbecue Company

We at BW loves us some barbecue, and our readers are no different. In this department, Goodwood delivers the saucy goods. Their motto is "Generous Portions—Moderate Prices," so stop in a put them—and our BW readers—to the test.

7849 W. Spectrum St., 658-7173

Second Place: Texas Roadhouse

Third Place: Eagle Ribshack

Best Chinese Restaurant

Yen Ching

Yen Ching is one of those enduring establishments that's still around because it was built on a foundation stronger than the dismal statistics that plague downtown Boise businesses. With the hundreds of times our staff has eaten their amazing mushu Pork, mongolian beef and hot and sour soup, we've never walked out unsatisfied with the food, service or atmosphere. Our hats are off to the long-time owners, who, as far as we know, can count the number of days off they've taken in 20 years on one hand. One. We hope this bit of recognition communicates how much this city appreciates having a "sure thing" when its people are craving good Chinese.

305 N. 9th St., 384-0384

Second Place: Twin Dragon

Third Place: Oriental Express

Best Frozen Treat

Coldstone Creamery

A close race indeed, because Boise abounds with great places to get your ice cream headache on. Coldstone Creamery has tons of frozen flavor choices and "add-ins" that range from the sublime to the ridiculous. (And sometimes both, as in the case of the scrumptious French vanilla with macadamia nuts...)

577 Park Blvd., #120, 344-9888.

Second Place: Goody's

Third Place: Fanci Freeze

Best Chef

Chef Lou, Westside Drive-In

Sometimes the best things in life are the ones we can enjoy in pajamas with a car full of friends on the side of a busy street. The Westside Drive-In may not be the fanciest place in town (meaning they have pronounceable menu items and friendly employees), but the food has been a Boise favorite almost as many years as the mastermind behind it: Chef Lou. Whether he's whipping up cookies on a local morning show or reinventing the great American hamburger, he is an icon we can all relate to. He bucks the traditional chef persona, leaving his ego at the door again and again, no matter how many reasons we give him to let it bust loose. Keep those corn fries coming, Lou.

1939 W State St., 342-2957

Second Place: John Mortimer, Mortimers

Third Place: Mitchell Maricich, MilkyWay

Best Coffeehouse

Flying M

Is anyone surprised that Flying M continues to lay the smack down in this category? Coffee shops are notorious for fast employee turnover, but the M is one of those places that will always have a familiar face behind the counter—if not a dozen. Maybe it's the richness of the atmosphere, the musical and personal freedom, the great mix of people who come to watch each other, read and smell the beans. The Flying M is where you go to be somewhere, and if Hemingway were alive and in the mood for espresso, no doubt he would dub it a "clean, well-lighted place" of the highest caliber (right before purchasing a devil ducky from the gift shop).

500 W. Idaho, 345-4320

Second Place: Java (Hyde Park and downtown)

Third Place: Moxie Java

Best Cup of Coffee

Flying M Coffeehouse

It makes sense that the best cup of coffee in town is served at the best coffeehouse. Starting with the basic 12-ounce dose of black gold, the M brews their own Purple Bean blends that sooth the taste-buds and progressive sensibilities. Then there are the mochas with chocolate so thick it should defy being mixed into the perfectly steamed milk that is always crowned with perfect foam. The cappuccinos are as artful as they are true to their Italian forebears, and everything has the option of being served in a totally unique ceramic vessel that makes you feel like you're home on your own couch. And the M staff is so friendly and accepting, they probably wouldn't bat an eye if you wore your bathrobe to complete the fantasy.

500 W. Idaho, 345-4320

Second Place: Moxie Java

Third Place: Java (Hyde Park and downtown)

Best Dessert

Le Cafe de Paris

True dessert connoisseurs make a habit of prowling pastry cases, if only to imagine how a particular sweet might melt on the tongue and slide ever so silkily into the waiting stomach. The absolute best in town for looking and devouring is Le Cafe de Paris. Each day, the case is covered with baskets of fresh pastries and filled with desserts almost too gorgeous to be eaten. Nowhere else in town can you get an authentic eclair or a fruit tart with custard so light it threatens to fly off the spotless china. Le Cafe is open late enough that you can almost pretend to be wandering the streets of Paris with a late-night craving for something small and indulgent. They say the French are the foremost experts on dessert, and it appears you are in agreement.

204 N. Capitol Blvd., 336-0889

Second Place: Square

Third Place: Coldstone Creamery

Best European Restaurant

Le Cafe de Paris

There are no wrong choices at Chef Mathieu Choux's Capitol Boulevard cafe. The pastries—divine! The breakfasts—serenity now! The wines, the apps, the boeuf bourgignon—we're not worthy! And for the aspiring glutton of your dining party, BW's faux-European-in-training Nicholas Collias has three words: confit de canard (duck confit). In his words, "It's like duck-flavored ice cream on a bone." Some of our readers have probably already dropped their papers and started running toward downtown.

204 N Capitol Blvd., 336-0889

Second Place: Bar Gernika

Third Place: Epi's Basque Restaurant

Best Family Restaurant

Flying Pie

We can't say enough about a place with a neon sign in the window that says "VERY Open." Add to that the fact that Flying Pie recognizes "Talk like a Pirate Day," offers a super-cheap, super-tasty pizza buffet on Tuesdays called Gourmet Night, has their own locally-produced Belgian-style brew called Triple Pi, lets people enter the kitchen and throw their own, encourages crayon-drawing and makes some of the most inventive topping combos this side of, well, anywhere, and you have the best place in Boise to take the family for a great meal at a great price (and as much fun as Chucky Cheese without the scary animatronic band). Boise loves Flying Pie's independent pizza experience, and with good reason.

6508 W. Fairview Ave., 376-3454

4320 W. State St., 345-8585

Second Place: Smokey Mountain Pizza

Third Place: Red Robin

Best Fine Dining

The MilkyWay

As Boise grows, the fine dining scene continues to sculpt itself into an oasis of impressive cuisine that may one day rival meccas like Seattle and Portland. The MilkyWay isn't the newest or the edgiest, but it's consistently the best. The ambiance manages to be trendy without being beyond the comprehension of everyday folks, and the food is an impossible combination of "comfort" and "chic," evidenced by the fact that mac 'n' cheese shares a menu with Kobe beef cheeks. The servers are extremely knowledgeable about wine and etiquette, and the cocktails are good enough that the bar side would definitely survive without the restaurant. And even without all this, they would win for their chocolate-infused bread pudding. It'll make you swoon.

205 N. 10th St., 343-4334

Second Place: Cottonwood Grill

Third Place: Red Feather Lounge

Best Italian Restaurant

Gino's Ristorante

Named after Gino himself, the 8th Street Italian restaurant has become a downtown staple. Get your fix of pasta and meat stuffs at Gino's proper or pop in to Gino's Grill next door for pizza and gelato. The intimate dining atmosphere at Gino's makes for a quiet date and the pseudo-patio makes for an excellent "outdoor" winter dining experience. On any level, you can't go wrong at Gino's.

150 N. 8th St., #217, 331-3771

Second Place: Asiago's

Third Place: Louie's

Best Japanese Restaurant

Shige

These days, it seems there are as many Japanese restaurants in town as there are fast food places, and it can be hard to shake down who is the best of the best. Shige deserves the prize. The miso is rich and hot, the salad is crisp and refreshing, the sushi offers traditional picks, risky innovations and hybrid crowd pleasers, the tempura has no equal and the chefs are some of the most talkative, lightning-fast fellows in any restaurant genre. Plus, Shige Express offers an amazing alternative to the fast food joints that are threatening to swallow the landscape—sushi that floats by on miniature boats. Here's to another few decades of Shige.

100 N. 8th St., 338-8423

Second Place: Zutto Japanese Restaurant

Third Place: Kyoto Japanese Steakhouse

Best Outdoor Dining Patio

Lucky 13

One of the many great eateries in the Hyde Park neighborhood, Lucky 13 boasts a fabulous kid- and dog-friendly patio. Not only can you enjoy their good eats in al fresco comfort, you can do it while seeing and being seen, which is what hip outdoor patios in hip little neighborhoods are for.

1602 N .13th St., 344-6967.

Second Place: Reef

Third Place: Cottonwood Grill

Best Restaurant from South of the Border

Roque's

If you've seen or read the amazing story Like Water for Chocolate, then you have some understanding of the emotional, transporting elements food can have when made with love. Every dish at Roque's is tinged with this magic, from the airy tortillas to the homemade salsa to the creamy, decadent, spicy, aromatic goodness that is the Pollo Enchilado. At either of the two locations, dining in or out makes for happy tummies and dreams of moving to Mexico.

2870 W. State St., 343-7211

Second Place: Chapala

Third Place: Andrade's

Best Restaurant One Hour Drive or More Still Within a Half-Day's Drive of Boise

Danskin Station

Danskin Station is so good, with seafood (yes, seafood) so fresh, we're convinced they must have figured out how to teleport their ingredients directly out of the ocean. Besides an impressive menu, there's a wine and beer list that includes Chimay Grande Reserve.

1889 Banks Lowman Rd., Garden Valley, (208) 462-3884

Second Place: Pancake House, McCall

Third Place: Lardo's, McCall

Best Lunch

Square

When Square first came on the scene, people were skeptical about crepes stuffed with ingredients like smoked salmon and creme fraiche. Fortunately, the banana-Nutella combo warmed people to the idea, and now Square is one of the most happening places to grab a quick lunch that leaves you feeling like you took your time. The possibilities are endless, as combinations go in both sweet and savory categories, and if you're not in the mood for crepes, Square's salads and soups are absolutely dynamite. We salute this unique eatery for having an amazing patio and food to match.

760 W. Main St., 345-7782

Second Place: TIE—Bittercreek AleHouse & Guido's New York Style Pizzeria

Third Place: Zen Bento

Best Mediterranean

Cazba

Cazba always rocks. The clientele tends to be a mixture of out-of-towners who've heard how good it is and in-towners who probably gave them the advice. The pita bread alone is heavenly, but topped with the hummus and baba ganouj, it's transcendent. Every kind of kebab is an adventure in flavor. The interior is painted with luscious scenery rivaled only by the beautiful waitresses dressed in black. Cazba has it all, and once again, you noticed.

211 N. 8th St., 381-0222

Second Place: Aladdin

Third Place: Mazzeh

Best Thai Restaurant

Mai Thai

If this doesn't apply to the restaurant's interior decor as well as to its delicious cuisine, it should. The color-changing wall behind the bar, the neutral tones and slick seating all scream "culture." And then the food, my god, the food. With all manner of tasty Thai treats, this is the place for everything from a nibble to a feast.

750 Idaho St., 344-8424

Second Place: Siam Thai

Third Place: TIE-Bangkok Thai & Thai Cuisine

Best Restaurant

MilkyWay

O, MilkyWay, Boise loves you like it loves breathing. And why shouldn't we? Your food is sublime, your restaurant chic and comfortable, your wait staff knowledgeable. If Best of Boise was the Miss America contest and you a contestant, you'd score and perfect 10 in interview, talent, swimsuit and evening gown.

205 N. 10th St., 343-4334

Second Place: Square

Third Place: Mai Thai

Best Steakhouse

Texas Roadhouse

The ribs are so tender, they fall off the bone and straight into your mouth. Oh, yeah, and the steaks are pretty darn good as well. And of course there's the honey butter for your warm bread. What's not to like at Texas Roadhouse?

801 E. Fairview Ave., 887-9401

Second Place: Lock, Stock & Barrel

Third Place: Outback Steakhouse

Best Seafood Restaurant

Murphy's Seafood Bar & Grill

The ambiance at Murphy's is tasteful and intimate, classy enough to bring a date, yet relaxed enough for dinner with the family. The seafood is fresh tasting and cooked to perfection—whether with your dinner or as part of the Sunday brunch. And if your meal is accompanied by something from the well-stocked bar, so much the better.

1555 Broadway Ave., 344-3691.

Second Place: Joe's Crab Shack

Third Place: Fresh off the Hook

The reason behind two Reader's Choice categories when we only asked you one question:

Editor's Note

When you think about it, Bardenay in downtown Boise is quite different than the Bardenay in Eagle. They obviously should be considered two different restaurants for the purposes of voting for things like Best Bar. In larger cities, editors argue that in reader's polls, McDonald's always wins best fries because of the sheer number of them throughout the city, even if the real best fries are at a mom and pop joint in some obscure neighborhood. To counterbalance the corporate chain effect for voting, it made sense to establish a policy of individual location voting.

While our new individual location voting policy did split votes among small chains such as Moxie Java or Smokey Mountain Pizza, we couldn't justify having some categories for individual locations and others for the total number of votes. Once voting was complete, we took a look at the votes in all categories and discovered that the winners—using our new individual location policy—were not affected by the splitting of votes. In all cases, individual restaurants beat out any chain restaurants, even when all the votes for different chain locations were added together. All cases, that is, except for in one category ... pizza. In question were the two individual Flying Pie locations versus the downtown Guido's Original New York Style Pizza in downtown Boise. (We know there's another Guido's, but it wasn't even nominated in our poll.) Using our policy of individual locations, Guido's clearly won. But when you added up the total number of votes for both Flying Pie locations, it won. Because both Flying Pie locations have the same menu and use the same recipes, we asked ourselves if they were really separate individualities. You see our dilemma, don't you? So we decided to split them up. Counting one way, we determined the Best Pizza in Boise. Counting another, the Best Pizza Restaurant. We think you'll agree.

Best Pizza

Flying Pie

The sheer variety of pizza styles available to one at either location assails the senses. Flying Pie offers something for everyone. Even if you don't like pizza you are sure to find something on the menu you do like. And if you can't decide, go for the sampler of five different pizzas. It's the best pizza deal you'll find anywhere, and they deliver, too.

6508 Fairview Ave., 345-0000

4320 W. State St., 345-8585

Second Place: Guido's Original New York Style Pizza

Third Place: Lucky 13

Best Pizza Restaurant

Guido's Original New York Style Pizza

On 5th Street in downtown Boise is a slice of heaven direct from New York. Big individual slices with so much cheese grease you have to towel them off makes our mouths water just thinking about it. Drop in for a quick lunch or pick up a monster pie to take home for the kids. You'll have plenty left over for breakfast.

235 N. 5th St., 345-9011

Second Place: Flying Pie State St.

Third Place: TIE-Lucky 13 & Flying Pie Fairview Ave.

Best Vegetarian Restaurant

Kulture Klatsch

We've recently heard rumor that the Kulture Klatsch is klosed. Whether temporarily or permanently we aren't sure, but either way, our stomachs' superegos are crying. We all know we should be eating there all the time, and whenever we do, we wonder why we don't go more often.

409 S. 8th St., 345-0452

Second Place: Boise Co-op deli

Third Place: Mai Thai

Best Restaurant Wine List

Red Feather Lounge

This category should double as Best List and Best Display of wine. Red Feather has two stories and an actual cellar full of nothing but the vino. For a list encompassing decent, well-priced wines to special-occasion splurges, Red Feather is it.

246 N. 8th St., 429-6340

Second Place: Mosaic Gallery and Wine Bar

Third Place: Grape Escape

Best Wait Staff

MilkyWay

Setting an example for the rest of wait staff humankind is the phenomenal service staff at Boise's Best Restaurant. Keeping your water glass filled, dishing up the dish you ordered in a timely manner, showing off impressive food and wine knowledge ... is there nothing the MW servers cannot do well?

205 N. 10th St., 343-4334

Second Place: Richard's of Hyde Park

Third Place: Reef