BEST RESTAURANT BAR
Murphy's-Maybe it's the dark woods and cushy booth seating. Maybe it's the televisions in every corner, tuned to various sporting events. Maybe it's the wide demographic of customers. Whatever it is, we love the bar at this fine restaurant. Late nights seem best, but we've had a great time in the heart of an afternoon. Happy hours are 2-4-1 drinks. Imbibe. Enjoy.
1555 Broadway, 344-3691
BEST LOCAL BREW
Highland's Hollow Brewhouse- We thought, when the old Harrison Hollow sold, that we might never drink another microbrew within its walls. Happily, we were wrong. The décor is just about the same, the food is fine, and the microbrews- and we can hardly believe it-are even better than they were before. Ales, ambers, porters, and stouts. Some are hoppy, some are wheaty, some are named after the brewmaster's horse and all are just damn good.
2455 Harrison Hollow, 343-6820
BEST AFTER HOURS HANGOUT
Merritt's- Open 24/7, Merritt's always has some kind of comfort food we are hankering for after a night on the town. Nothing fancy, mind you, just good food, good service, and feeling that everything is going to be all right.
6630 W. State, 853-9982
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR
The Navajo- Folks on the Bench are so lucky to have this place. Dark, smoky, karaoke, and bartenders who regularly give a hearty "pour." Don't change a thing (not that you would-and that's why you're so cool).
4900 W. Emerald, 345-5817
BEST BAR THAT CLOSED THEN REOPENED
The Crescent- We loved it when it was smaller (and smokier) over there on Orchard. We love it now that it's bigger (and better ventilated) over on Franklin. The Crescent is still a great place to go for good bar eats and some swell swilling. More pool tables, more room, and a weird video game where you don a helmet and blast away at swarms of aliens. And, of course, lawyers are still verboten. Hoorah!
5500 W. Franklin Road, 322-9856
BEST LOCAL COFFEE
Dawson Taylor- Where else in town can you drink black coffee and not have to scrape your teeth and your wallet? Served up by the fast and sassy "espresso divas," DT coffee is hand-picked, locally roasted and, well, REALLY GOOD. A 12 oz. cup is an even buck, and froofy extras are all natural and just as reasonable. Quality is never compromised, the location rocks, and policy supports organics, green coffee practices (i.e. sustainable wages and lowenvironmental impact) and a good time had by all.
219 N. 8th St., 336-5633
BEST PLACE TO WATCH A MOVIE AND SIP BEER/WINE
The Flicks- Every town has its indy theater, but how many of them also act as a video library, restaurant and all-around sweet place to hang out and soak up some culture? The Flicks always has the latest foreign, low-budget and over-looked yet brilliant films that separate true cinema from "movies," and the ticket prices seem almost antiquated. The staff is down-to-earth and bakes a hell of a chocolate chip cookie, and with spirits available, you won't have to smuggle the goods.
646 Fulton, 342-4222
BEST TAP BEER SELECTION
Old Chicago- Who else has enough beer between the tap and the bottle to keep you sated with a different flavor every night of the year? They have the staples and then some that change with the seasons. And of course, not many people can resist the challenge of the World Beer Tour.
350 N. Milwaukee St., 321-0033; 730 W. Idaho St., 363-0037
BEST PIANO BAR
Manhattan Grill- If you don't get out much you may not know that the place to be is at Manhattan Grill on a Friday or Saturday night. It's packed. Women pack themselves in to the Upper Eastside Lounge, sipping cosmos and singing along with the dueling pianists, Todd Dunnigan and Danny Beal. They'll sing you happy birthday, they'll sing you happy bachelorette party, they'll sing your requests and a whole lot of Billy Joel.
622 W. Idaho St., 331-1131
BEST BAR TRICK
The crawl- Behind the bar there are plenty of tricks the tenders use to wow the crowd. However, we say the best trick is on the drinkers' side of the bar. If you can make the downtown crawl with a shot at every bar and hold it all down, that's a damn good trick. It's also a damn good hangover.
BEST ALTERNATIVE BAR
Neurolux- From the socially idle, to misanthropes, to those just happy to be alive, Neurolux's patron base has always been broad and broad-minded. The Crown, the Juke, the sassy bartenders-we love all of it. Decorated in dark, the 'Lux makes us remember some of the reasons people gather together to drink in the first place. Live and jivey music and exotic fun that keeps us coming back.
111 N. 11th, 343-0886
Tie: Mosaic and Bardenay- As bonafide connoisseurs of this lively Cuban libation, we had to drink several of these to narrow the field down to two. Barneday plucks mint leaves from their window boxes, creating mojitos made with homegrown minty love. Mosaic just does something magical with the basic ingredients-rum, lime juice and mint-that gets our mojo movin'.
Mosaic, 500 W. Main, 338-5006 Bardenay, 610 Grove, 426-0538
BEST CHEAP DRINKS
Tie: Ves's Broadway Bar and 10th Street Station- Yes, there are an abundance of smokin' drink deals around town right now. At least four bars offer 2-4-1 Happy Hour and with enough perseverance you can find all-you-can-drink beer or $1 PBRs just about any night of the week at various locations throughout town. But there's no place else in Boise that you can walk out only a ten dollar bill later with a hefty buzz at any hour of the day on any day of the week. And these two holes aren't taking the title just because they're cheap-they are also pouring some of the stiffest in town. If you're a wuss be sure to ask for a tall glass because the bartenders pour a mean one.
Ves's, 1712 Broadway Ave., 342- 9951 10th Street Station, 104 N Boise Ave., 344-2677
BEST BAR GAME
Competitive masticating- Here's a tip for the hip: prehistoric relics like billiards, darts and shuffleboard are on their way out. Jump on the competitive eating chuckwagon ASAP, starting with a hard-boiled egg-eating contest à la Cool Hand Luke. Dozens of bars valley wide still feature the archetypal "ageless jug of pickled hen-droppings" behind the cash register, so what are you waiting for? They ain't getting any tastier!
BEST BAR THAT CLOSED
The Interlude- Sometimes, we find ourselves wandering by the old place, expecting to see a couple social misfits (like us) pontificating in the outside seating. We look at the window-no longer grease smeared and dark- and try to picture the little plastic hamburger that sat in it. Sigh. There's a hole in our life now; and though we should be stronger for it, we can't help but lament the passing of the 'Lude.
BEST NEW BAR
Red Feather- There's no stopping Dave Krick. With what may be the largest lava lamp in Boise, if not all of Idaho, the largest wine room, a second floor interior balcony for an illicit rendezvous, and a cellar for romantic ones as well, the Best Booze List, the hippest, coolest patrons who'll wait hours for a table, Red Feather Lounge gets our nod for Best New Bar.
246 N. 8th St., 429-6340
BEST NON-SMOKING BAR
Mosaic- No butts about it, we like to drink and hang out without that ubiquitous swirl of cigarette smoke that always infiltrates our hair and clothing in most bars. Mosaic offers a bar room atmosphere without the need to shower away the stink afterward.
500 W. Main, 338-5006
BEST PLACE FOR JAZZ
Bring it on Boise's jazz dearth is disconcerting. We're big enough, good enough, and gosh darn it, we deserve some good jazz. While talk of Janie Harris's jazz club and rumors of a currently vacant bar reopening as a jazz joint keep us hopeful, we're tired of all this waiting and want to hear some smooth sounds and upbeat tempos. If you build it, we will come.
BEST BAR IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
Cook's Two Hole Bar- The Red Eye Saloon is great, but let's face it: Kuna ain't the middle of nowhere no mo. Its cousin Melba, however, is just as bumpyroaded and shit-kickin' as ever. With beer for a buck and pool for a quarter, Cook's Two Hole Bar is the retro shizzle for Owyhee Countizzl- they even have a life-size cardboard cutout of Elvira, mistress of the infected dark. We've loved this dank saloon for years, but still can't figure out what the two holes are supposed to be. Oh, wait. Eww.
313 Broadway, Melba, 495-9784
BEST COWBOY BAR
Silver Spur- Sorry, there's no mechanical bull in this cavernous watering hole anymore, but did you really need another way to self-maim? The Spur is a beautiful mixture of images: sprawling and peaceful murals of cowboy life, overlooking a disco-ballin' dance floor, perfect for bootin' and even scootin' your boogie. Stick around 'til closin' time, and you may see us in the corner, listening to an old Hank Williams moaner with tears in our beer.
5467 Glenwood Ave., 375-0373.
BEST POOL HALL
Crescent Bar- "Pool hall" or not, the new tables at The Crescent "No Lawyers" Bar, newly reopened on Franklin, are the epitome of "chizzerry." The first time we popped a couple of quarters in the slot, we almost plotzed in our bling. The pure bounces, the deep emerald hues, it's just nuts- and we're not talking about the testicular "Lawyer Fries."
5500 W Franklin Road, 322- 9856
BEST OVER-35 BAR
Piper Pub- While no establishment wishes to get pigeonholed about its clientele, we find the most interesting 35+ people time-after-time at the Piper Pub and Grill. Is it the big windows? Is it the patio to watch the revelers walk along Main and through the Grove? Is it the mature cocktail, wine and Scotch list appreciated by refined tastes? No, it's that once you're over 35 you're appreciation of finer things takes over. We appreciate Piper Pub and Grill.
150 N. 8th St., Boise, 343-2444
BEST BOOZE LIST
Red Feather Lounge- Damn that Dave Krick. Red Feather Lounge just had to go and make one of the most impressive, informative and extensive booze lists in Boise. Our livers are going to sue you Dave!
246 N. 8th St., 429-6340
BEST BAR MAKEOVER
Big Easy- Ah ... we can breathe. The worst part about the Big Easy used to be the hole in the wall downstairs through which drinks and money were hastily exchanged. It was supposed to resemble a bar, but it's carnival-ticket-booth look stood in stark contrast to the upstairs cool of Bourbon Street Saloon. It's amazing what a difference knocking out a few walls can make.
416 S. 9th St., 367-1212
BEST BLOODY MARY
Bardenay- Bardenay vodka, tomato juice, a host of spices and a vegetable garden. That's right, a vegetable garden. Olives, onions, lemons, limes, asparagus and celery (okay, a vegetable garden and some fruit trees). It's amazing there's any room left for ice with all that's happening in such a small glass. For a tasty change from the bloody mary, order its cousin, the Sunday Paper-but watch out, it's a spicy one.
610 Grove St., 426-0358
BEST HAPPY HOUR
Murphy's- Don't let the posh interior and swank dinner prices fool you, these guys know how to throw a happy hour. Everybody is trying to do the 2-4-1 gig these days, but take a lesson from these guys because they're the only ones doing it right. All micros, house wine, liquor and appetizers are 2-4-1. What's even better is that there are two happy hours: 3- 6:30 p.m. and 10-midnight and that it's seven days a week. At last, there's a happy hour for people with taste-no domestic and well specials here. No serve yourself chips and salsa or get your own room temperature hot wings. Order your Grey Goose 2-4-1 while you shoot some oysters, suck down stuffed mushrooms and munch on Firecracker Salmon Rolls. Now that's good eats for cheap.
1555 Broadway Ave., 344-3691
Trinity- Up in the mountains above Pine on the road to Featherville is a hot springs known in these parts as Trinity. For years they've sold three-gallon jugs at the co-op but now they've gone national. Trinity water comes from deep in the earth and is so laden with minerals and whatnot (it's been tested, it won't hurt you) that by law it cannot even be labled as water. But it sure tastes good. You can find it at the Co-op and served at Boise's water menu pioneer Dave Krick's restaurants. They recommend only drinking one yellowlabel bottle a day but you can get a less mineralized version (blue label) to drink to your heart's content. It's one of the purest waters in the world.
BEST BACHELOR PARTY
The Torch- Strippers, drinking, stag films and hookers are the mainstay of bachelor parties. That is, as long as the future ball-and-chain and her gang of harlots don't find out about the intimate details of the evenings festivities and put a stop to it. On one end of the spectrum you could rent a bus, get keg and make a beeline for the Nevada border, where, just on the other side you can find a brothel or two. But for a tamer experience we suggest Boise's Best Strip Club- the Torch. There the ladies will be sure to give a "special" dance to the man about to lose his single status.
1826 W. Main, 344-0218
BEST BACHELORETTE PARTY
Fly Limo Ride (or crash the bachelor party)- Ladies tend to be a little tamer (on average) than the men when it comes to a bachelorette party. They rely on drinking, bandoleers made of condoms, penis candy and maybe, just maybe, if they are feeling "wild" a male stripper. We recommend all the above and renting a stretch limo for a cruise around town. We also recommend crashing the bachelor party.
Jill Ashby- Out of habit you go there every day to get your fix. But you're not stuck going to the same coffee shop every day. There are enough of them so that if one isn't right, then the other one on your traffic pattern may be perfect. Oftentimes it's the barrista, the coffee person, behind the bar that makes an average coffee a supercoffee. Jill Ashby at the Moxie Java on Main St. is just that person. She knows what her regular customers want, but can anticipate a subtle change in their behavior and suggest something new that hits the spot. She's more than a barrista, she's become our caffeine drug pusher. In other words, a trusted friend.
BEST BAR TO LOSE TRACK OF TIME
10th Street Station- Hiding quietly under the hype and hustle of BarTime is the loved little room where so many of us have gathered for a low-key night beneath the city streets. Some complain it's a little smoky, but hey, what bar isn't? At least its patrons are capable of speaking in complete sentences and are fully clothed. We feel like there should be a big burly doorman asking for the secret password as we enter, but once we're down there, it's nothing but good times.
104 N. Boise Ave., 344-2677
BEST PLACE TO SIP SCOTCH AND SMOKE A CIGAR
Piper Pub & Grill- So you've got your favorite cigar and you want to smoke it in a public place but there's not many in town where you feel comfortable enough to spark it up. You're a conscientious smoker, you don't want to drive the weaker olfactory customers away. So head up to the Piper Pub and sit out on the patio. Order a nice Scotch to compliment your cigar and fire it up, baby.
150 N. 8th, 343-2444
BEST NORTHWEST MICROBREW
TIE: Mac & Jacks and Deschutes- One of the toughest decisions we've ever made. Mac & Jacks has only three labels: African Amber, Serengeti Wheat and Blackjack Porter- none are available bottled and rare are the M&J taps in town, but this is genuine good beer. Deschutes scores big with its Cinder Cone Red, only this year made available in bottles. We've been known to traverse the High Desert to Bend solely for a pitcher of Cinder Cone Red so imagine our glee when we saw it on the shelves at our beloved Co-op.
Kevin Farney- One true sign of a good bartender is the trust the owner of the bar puts in their ability to develop the cocktail menu. Kevin serves up a wide assortment of classic cocktails but also some new ones, developed just for the Red Feather Lounge. You only get the Tom Cruise spinning bottle flair if you tip well though.