Over the decades, Moon's Kitchen Cafe has straddled the line between greasy spoon and cafe. In years past, it leaned more toward greasy spoon, becoming one of the go-to places for those in need of a big homestyle breakfast after falling victim to a hangover.
Since the eatery's move from Bannock Street to a more high-profile location on Idaho Street, however, Moon's has made a deliberate move away from greasy spoon and shoved itself toward quaint cafe, with a spiffed up interior and a menu offering big breakfasts, simple lunches and dinner two nights a week.
The result is about what you'd expect: It's still Moon's, just spiffier.
When Moon's made its move, the owners made one especially smart decision: they brought the long, low trademark counter with them. That beloved counter is still a centerpiece at the restaurant where diners can rest their elbows as they contemplate traditional diner fare of eggs and bacon, pancakes, omelets, burgers, sandwiches and salads. And, of course, the menu's numerous gluten-free options are not just a step, but a leap, into the realm of cafe.
Still, Moon's remains the tried-and-true diner that has carved out a niche in the hearts of generations of Boiseans.
Claiming a seat in the tidy and comfortable dining room for lunch means facing a long list of burgers, grilled sandwiches and assorted house specialties that sound like they would require a wheel barrow to A) get it to your table and B) get you out the door.
The Western burger ($8.75) combined some of my favorite things--barbecue sauce, bacon and onion rings. The one-third-pound burger arrived as advertised, although the two tiny strips of bacon could have used some more time to grow. While I appreciate thoughtful details in presentation, the fact that the barbecue sauce was made into a smiley face on the top half of the bun was cute, but two eyes and a mouth do not equate to much flavor.
The onion rings got high marks for crispness and lack of grease, as did the handcut, skin-on fries on the side.
The Reuben sandwich (7.95 regular, $9.85 for the half-pound monster) elicited an appreciative, if not slightly sticky, thumbs up for ideal sauerkraut-to-pastrami ratio. The accompanying sweet potato fries (apparently the side du jour at valley restaurants) were a highlight--not greasy, still crisp, yet soft inside.
Unfortunately, while the staff is friendly and helpful, the service could stand to be a bit quicker. Downtown lunch diners don't always have more than a hour to spend waiting for a burger or sandwich like we did. If there is a requisite order at Moon's, it's one of the hand-spun milkshakes, and it seemed only right to take a dark chocolate shake ($3.75 half, $4.95 full) back to the office with me, even if I was too full eat much of it. It didn't disappoint: rich, creamy and chock full of old-fashioned-diner nostalgia. Kind of like Moon's itself.
--Deanna Darr moons to the beat of her own drummer.
Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Moon's Kitchen Cafe.