It is always nice to find a place where I can go in to have a beer and not come out an hour later stinking like a cigarette. My husband and I have three favorite watering holes near our home in North Boise, where we regularly catch up with friends over shuffleboard or billiards, or on a floating dock, all the while choking on second-hand smoke. After a few beers, we get home, immediately disrobe and, clutching bundles of smoky smelling clothes, head straight for the garage to let them air out for a couple of days. It's refreshing to find a bar where I can sip my suds and chat with friends without the tobacco stinkfest, like The Lift.
Pull into the parking lot at 5 p.m. on a Friday night and you'll have trouble finding a place to park. Inside the bar, you'll see sports memorabilia like posters of Bogus Basin and photos of the Idaho Steelheads. A dart board, a Golden Tee game, a pinball machine and a pool table offer mindless diversion from the work week that is now thankfully behind you. Eight televisions broadcast current sporting events while the sounds of '90s alternative rock bands like Pearl Jam, Sublime and the Presidents of the United States of America provide the groove for your respite from Friday's rush hour. Behind the W-shaped bar, you'll find a full bar, 14 beers on tap and a small selection of vino. On the menu are bar food basics like hot wings ($7), nachos ($8) and finger steaks ($7). You can also have a salad, soup, halibut fish tacos, a sandwich or burger, and the $7 lunch special gets you half a sandwich and a cup of homemade chili or soup. Nothing on the menu is over $10.
Three hungry men helped me test the food at The Lift. We started with an order of breaded jalapeno poppers ($7) stuffed with gooey melted cheese and served with a side of ranch dressing. We dove into the generous plate of nachos, lifting clusters of corn tortilla chips that were fused together with melted cheese and heavy with gobs of spicy homemade chili, fresh chunky guacamole, tomatoes, marinated jalapeno rings, chopped cilantro and sour cream. The Lift's freshly made salsa was the perfect accent to the highly munchable nachos. Between the four of us we cleaned the huge plate. We quartered the Malibu burger ($7) and all agreed the combination of pineapple, melted Swiss cheese and sliced ham was delectable as we ordered our second round of cervezas. Throughout our meal the waitress did a good job of replenishing bottles of Newcastle and pints of hefeweizen and Fat Tire as soon as we drained them.
The last item we tested was an order of finger steaks. You need to know that the best finger steaks I've ever eaten were from the Torch Lounge in Boise before it went bikini. Made from beef tenderloin, the meaty, lightly battered morsels of long ago were served with both special sauce and horseradish sauce and inspired many a late night craving back in the day. Suffice it to say that while the little beef nuggets with barbecue sauce at The Lift were tender and tasty, they did not measure up to the gold standard of the fondly missed pre-babe Torch. No matter. By the time we finished soaking up our third beer and were hugging our good-byes, I realized as I hopped into my car for the very short drive home that I did not stink of smoke. Oh happy day! So what if the finger steaks weren't the best ever. Everything we ate was tasty, the beer was cold, the prices were reasonable and The Lift is in my neck of the woods. I'll definitely be back.
—Jennifer Hernandez's neighbors are Goldilocks and the three bears.