For months I’ve been telling my Boise family and friends how excited I was for the first week of October. Now, we have nearly arrived at the week in which 550 (and counting) of my close friends, business partners and industry colleagues arrive in Boise for the Council of Multiple Listing Services annual conference. Since the location was announced last fall I’ve taken my fair share of ribbing about potatoes and a blue field. A few of you expressed genuine excitement about visiting a place you had never been, and a few of you were less “enthusiastic” about the location (it’s ok, I forgive you.)
Naturally, I want EVERYONE to come and enjoy the incredible content put together by CMLS leadership and conference hosts Intermountain MLS and Willamette Valley MLS. But I also want to show each of you some of my favorite spots in and around Boise. So without further adieu, here is my completely biased view of “the BEST of Boise”.
Lets start with EATS since I know that’s what 100% of you will be doing at some point while you are here. Walking distance from the hotel, downtown Boise hosts a veritable cornucopia of great places to eat. I’m proud to say MOST of them are NOT chains. Folks, if you were hoping for another overpriced steak from Morton’s this is not your town – you can however find some of the best grass fed local beef I’ve ever tasted. PS – I might as well break it to all you Starbucks junkies that we also don’t have any of those downtown. Drive to the burbs if you are desperate, otherwise I highly recommend you walk to one of nearly 30 local coffee shops in the downtown area.
Ok, back the carnivore recommendations. There are several places in downtown Boise to get a good steak (yes you can get a real IDAHO baked potato too). Here are a few of my favorites:
- Chandler’s Steakhouse – If you have the patience, try the 10 minute martini, it’s worth the wait! My recommendation for dinner is the American Kobe Beef grown right here in the Snake River Valley. As a nod to our Willamette Valley co-hosts, I highly recommend any of the Pinot Noirs coming out of the Willamette Valley on the wine list.
- Fork (Do we really need anything else?) – Excellent Northwest Cuisine. If you arrive Tuesday in time for dinner go get the Cast Iron Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Cheddar Waffle – trust me on this one. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini but I LOVE the Huckleberry Gemini ~ Idaho 44 Degrees North Huckleberry Vodka, St. Germain, fresh grapefruit juice and topped with splash of Prosecco 🙂
- The Cottonwood Grille – Looking to try some wild game? This is the place! A gorgeous setting right on the Boise River – heaters on the patio for those of you that just can’t get enough of our fresh air. I’ve had both the elk and the buffalo and recommend them both for the slightly more adventurous – good stuff!
If you are looking for something a little more casual, your options are nearly limitless in downtown Boise. A dozen brewpubs, a tequila bar and yes even a restaurant/distillery that creates their own delicious Vodka and Rum along with some great casual dining! I’ve haunted a few of the following joints with great satisfaction:
- Bardenay – The only restaurant in the country that is also a distillery of vodka and rum (both are yummy). I think I’ve said enough here, but in case you need further convincing the locally raised pork chop is one of my favorites!
- Bittercreek Ale House – Beer lovers meet up here! 39 drafts on tap from all over the West. If you love a burger with your beer – these are some of the best!
- Bar Gernika – Boise has one of the largest Basque (it’s a region of Spain for those who want to save the google) communities in North America and that means some great Basque food! Try the Lamb Grinder or the Paella.
- The Matador – Okay, I’m allowing a “sort of” chain restaurant on the list but this place is AWESOME! With over 50 kinds of tequila to choose from and a menu that includes goat cheese stuffed jalapenos wrapped in BACON, this place is a little slice of heaven on earth.
I realize breakfast is part of the AGENDA at CMLS but so many of you have asked me where to get off campus for a good breakfast so here we go:
- BACON – Anyone who knows me already knows this is my favorite spot. Both breakfast and lunch are served featuring – you guessed it – my favorite food group, BACON. Seven kinds of bacon are served (I refuse to count the vegetarian option as bacon). PS – for those of you needing a Bloody Mary to jump start your day, this is the place to be!
- Goldy’s – Definitely try the Sunrise Mimosa, have two if you don’t have to behave responsibly for a few hours J The stuffed French Toast will have you speaking in tongues – delicious! My favorite menu item is the Andalusian Eggs with the aforementioned mimosa.
Once you finish eating and drinking yourself into a near comatose state, you may decide you need a place to burn it all off. If there was ever a week to leave the hotel gyms behind – this is it! Boise (coming from the French word Les Bois “the trees”) is a gorgeous city with over 25 miles of greenbelt that follow the Boise River and hundreds of hiking trails. Like your Mom always told you “go outside and play!”
- Hike Tablerock – This is one of my favorite hikes because the reward is an amazing view of our beautiful valley. The trailhead is only minutes from downtown Boise – a quick cab ride or an easy walk of about 1.5 miles.
- Walk or run the Boise Greenbelt – This time of year is cool but not cold in the mornings (exception: Floridians and Arizonans) so throw on a sweatshirt and take in the beauty of Fall along our amazing river. Folks around here are friendly so if you aren’t sure where you are going – just ask someone!
- Head to the park for a workout! Yes, Boiseans love the outdoors. So much so that they built an outdoor gym with equipment donated by local company body building.com
If all these exercise options make you tired, put a down payment on some relaxation at this great Day Spa right in the heart of downtown Boise.
And if the CMLS schedule and your gastro-adventures haven’t completely consumed all available time, here is a list of 84 attractions in Boise.
Whatever you do while in Boise, I hope you all have an amazing time! Please feel free to shoot me a message if you have any questions about other local information. See you all next week!
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