I visited Chef Lou's at 8th Street twice. The second visit was not prompted because the first one was bad. Instead, I quite intentionally ate at Chef Lou's a second time because of a sandwich—a greasy concoction called a Monte Cristo. Though I can't figure out why, the sandwich was presumably named after the classic story by Dumas. Just as Edmund Dantes found his treasure on an island called Monte Cristo, I found my treasure at Chef Lou's at 8th Street with the sandwich called a Monte Cristo.
My first trip to Chef Lou's was a late Thursday lunch with my friend Ashley. During the visit, our conversation drifted from how much we liked the new decor of the space to the cool, historical photos of Boise that adorn the walls.
Ashley opted for the 8th Street Burger with cheddar ($7.74) and a beer (Pyramid Hefeweizen, $4.50). Seeming as how she pretty much lives off burgers and beer, her palate is keen when it comes to sensing quality. She called her burger "decent," saying there was nothing she could really complain about, but that she'd had better. She followed up her burger assessment by professing her love for the fries. They were shoestring style, greasy and highly addictive. Other than the fries, Ashley's favorite part of our late lunch seemed to be the fact that there was a shaker of seasoning salt on every table.
In contrast to Ashley's predictable choice, I decided to branch out by choosing the aforementioned Monte Cristo ($6.49). The menu description of the sandwich was intriguing, and I had to try it. Chef Lou's version of the Monte Cristo is a triple-decker of ham, turkey, swiss and cheddar. The sandwich is lightly battered and fried, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a side of raspberry preserves. The preserves add just the right amount of sweetness to an already amazing combination of flavors.
When I took the first bite of my sandwich, I was stunned. It was awesome.
Ashley later retooled her assessment of her burger by saying, "My burger would have been better if I hadn't tried a bite of your sandwich first," calling the Monte Cristo "fried heaven."
My second visit to Lou's was on a late Saturday morning with two friends. Whereas most of the place was there for a late breakfast, we were there for lunch. The whole impetus for the visit was the Monte Cristo.
To keep our lunch diverse, my two friends went with hush puppies ($5.99) and a Peacemaker Sandwich ($8.99), which is basically fried oysters and red peppers on a hoagie. Both were a great grouping of flavors.
But, again, my Monte Cristo took center stage. It was the perfect late-morning meal—sort of like a combination of French toast and a ham-and-cheese sandwich. I left Lou's the second time wondering about my odds of developing atherosclerosis if I changed my routine to include one Monte Cristo a day.
Overall, Lou's is great. The staff is friendly, the place is inviting and the food is consistent. Chef Lou's culinary fans are legion and for good reason. His creations ride the line between fun and functional. If a Monte Cristo isn't your thing, you'll still likely find a favorite in one of the other menu offerings such as the BBQ beef sandwich or the reuben, though sandwiches aren't Chef Lou's only menu item. There is also an extensive dinner menu, and I plan to try that soon.
—Ryan Peck has never been to Disneyland. He's afraid of the rides.