A year ago, the food truck was almost a foreign concept to Boise. Now a hungry cubicle rat can grub at a different portable food purveyor practically every day of the month without hitting the repeat button. Among the first to stake out curbside lunch service in town was Archie's Place, specializing in sloppy joes, soup and the dreamy sloppy joe grilled cheese.
I'll confess: I was stoked to have a good reason to eat at Archie's a few times in as many days. Ever since a mid-summer afternoon, when I put down a Mean Joe Green grilled cheese, I'd been having improper thoughts about having my way with another one.
Sloppy joe sliders, the most basic menu item at Archie's, are great little poppers, though if you're making a meal out of them, you'll want to think in multiples ($3 each, two for $5). Standard red beef, tomatillo green pork and ranchero vegan joe sauce can be had perched on a slider bun, ladled over a bowl of mashers or carefully hidden in a grilled cheese.
Any of those options will do you just fine, save one. A recent venture didn't end well for me or a mashed potato bowl ($7) topped with the Mean Joe Green pork sloppy sauce that I'd spent months remembering fondly. The concept of the dish sounded fine enough but the result was what one colleague called a "bad shepherd's pie." The ground pork--unfortunately lean on mean--destroyed the mashers' consistency while not doing it any favors in the flavor department.
One place potatoes do quite well, however, is in soup. Archie's is known for its homemade soup as much as for sloppy joe sammies.
A beige baked potato and jalapeno soup was no looker, but with a creamy consistency, bits of smooth potato and a sneaky heat on the finish, it didn't need to be pretty to be a fine specimen of what soup can do for the mouth and the soul on a winter day. The clam chowder at Archie's is also loaded with large chunks of potato, but it's not for the clam chowder fan who picks around the clams. Though many versions skimp on the bivalves, Archie's puts the clam in clam chowder.
My vote for best in show, consistently, is a sloppy grilled cheese ($5/$8). A recent special of pepperjack cheese and spicy shredded beef in red sauce could have been a total dripping disaster without the right bread/sauce ratio, but it was an awesome texture combo. Firmly toasted sourdough bread held it all together, even as long bands of stringy cheese pulled out with each bite. While all those other vehicles for joe sauce get the job done, this "house favorite" is what Archie's does best.