As recently as May 2016, the Idaho Department of Labor reported Meridian had outpaced Nampa as the state's second largest city. Of the estimated 90,700 people, plenty of them probably get thirsty; but, with Meridian's ever increasing sprawl—the population has ballooned more than 80 percent since 2000—finding a good place to belly up for a brew beyond the downtown core often means knowing where to go before you even set out.
While we recognize there are dozens of pubs, bar-and-grills, dives, sports bars, brewpubs and sundry other establishments where you can get a drink in the city that was "Built for Business... Designed for Living," we took an afternoon mini tour of three 21-and-older-only establishments offering distinct experiences. We'll leave the rest of the exploring up to you.
- Kelsey Hawes
White Water Saloon
Set in one end of a low-slung mini-mall on the corner of Meridian Road and Fairview Avenue (right where it turns into Cherry Lane), White Water Saloon is a drinker's drinkery. Beyond the Old West-style arched facade, the sprawling interior is a smoke-filled den of good times and bar games. Locals crowd the big U-shaped bar, which is backed by a full liquor selection and eight taps. Bud Light is king at the White Water and the two pool tables are always busy. The place also features two dart boards, Golden Tee, a bank of pull tab machines, a pinball machine and, somewhat bizarrely, a claw game and "Bonus Hole,"one of those coin pusher machines into which you drop a quarter and hope the sliding metal arm dumps a pile of money into a drawer.
Aside from the bar games, NASCAR, Boise State football and NFL are big draws, as is the May Fun Bus Golf Tour (a booze cruise to Payette Golf Course) and karaoke Thursday-Sunday nights.
1646 N. Meridian Road, 208-888-3063, whitewatersaloon.com
- Kelsey Hawes
Brigette's Construction Zone Bar and Grill
Locals might know the Construction Zone as the former home of Bill-N-Lynn's Place. It has been about five years since the new management—also the owner of The Busted Shovel on 704 N. Main St. in Meridian—took over, and a lot of changes have been made to the space. The interior underwent a complete renovation, including new tables, updated floors and "pretty much everything else," according to one of the friendly day-time servers. Located in a small square building on a stretch of Franklin Road west of Meridian Road, the Construction Zone still exudes a casual roadhouse vibe, though. There are nine beers are on tap, a wall full of booze and you can smoke 'em if you got 'em. Bored? Play pool, pull some lottery tabs or push some coins in the "Bonus Hole" game (they're popular in Meridian). Hungry? Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served seven days. Feel a song coming on? Sign up for karaoke on Friday and Saturday. Hankering for horseshoes? There are a couple of pits out back, perfect for whiling away a summer day.
229 W. Franklin Road, 208-888-4075, facebook.com/TheConstructionZoneBarGrill
- Kelsey Hawes
If you weren't looking for Strikers Bar, you might miss it. Driving south on Meridian Road, you might see Meridian Lanes and think, "I don't need to go bowling today." Maybe not, but do yourself a favor: Pull into the parking lot—although, good luck finding a spot on a Friday afternoon— and push through the red swinging doors. Inside you'll find a dim-lit space that is somehow cavernous and cozy at the same time. Lined up along a wall are nine big dart boards and a banner reading, "The Treasure Valley's #1 Choice for Dart League Play." The banner doesn't lie. According to the bartender, league play takes place six nights a week, and an average of 40-50 teams compete each season. Take a few steps across the fantastic carpet, featuring featuring a pattern of neon bowling balls and pins, and take a seat the bar, which is a repurposed bowling lane. There you'll find 13 taps—including a couple of local brews—a respectable liquor selection and prices that make it easy to stay all day ($1.75 for a PBR). Pull tabs and Mega Millions games sit in one corner among a handful of three- and two-top tables. If you get hungry, order something from the adjacent bowling alley concessions, which is set up like a mini-diner accessible through a pair of doors by the bar. With its generally worn exterior and cinder block facade, Strikers might seem a little intimidating at first. Look above the front doors, however, and you'll see a small sign that reads, "Because Nice Matters." They aren't kidding about that, either.
Meridian Lanes Bowling Alley, 324 S. Meridian Road, 208-888-6908, meridianbowlinglanes.com