The Lift 

4091 W. State St., Boise, 208-342-3250, Open Sun.-Wed.: 11 a.m.-close; Thurs.-Sat.: 11 a.m.-2 a.m., www.theliftboise.com

Beer, it's what was for dinner for me and several friends when we gathered at The Lift last week for the $1 beer happy hour special they have on weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. When earlier I called upon my pals to join me at The Lift after work, no one knew where or what it was. "Hark," said I. "It is kind of new and somewhat unassuming. But you shall know the place when you see it."

In years past, The Lift has been a handful of other popular restaurants, but most noteworthy is that there is a prominent and incongruous Romanesque fountain welcoming patrons into what is now a sports bar.

"Oh, thaaat place. It used to be a Shakey's Pizza," said one friend.

"No, it was the Brass Lamp," insisted another.

"Wait, I thought it was a Burger and Brew," said yet another. Well, whatever it was is history; it is now The Lift.

As we happy-houred to beer and dollar-off well drinks, we collectively pondered the name choice of the place: There are no elevators, or lifts as they are called in England; there are no men with inserts to make them taller in their shoes, or lifts as they are called; there were no free weights or other heavy objects for people to physically pick up. It is kind of a sports bar, and by "kind of," I mean the decor is sporty but rather sparse—and I deduced, based on one pair of skis on the walls and a few ski pictures amid other sports pictures and neon signs, The Lift is named after the T-bar's older cousin, the ski lift.

However, I reserve the right to be incorrect, for it may be that $1 beers and the rest of the restaurant's favorable options simply aim to lift the spirits of patrons. They certainly lifted ours. An attentive waitress provided a steady flow of drinks to our table during happy hour—and once the 6 p.m. witching hour befell, we ordered food.

The only thing weird about The Lift, besides the fountain at the front door, is how many kids and families were dining during happy hour. There were a lot, and sure, it is a restaurant, but there is no division between the bar and dining area—it is just one large room (and there is also a wisteria-covered patio, though it is still too cold for patio dining). Boisterous young professionals imbibing after a tough day in the office tend to talk about issues somewhat inappropriate for family dining. And, it might be tough to rein in the R-rated venting so the kiddos can enjoy their chicken fingers—especially when dinner time coincides with $1 beer happy hour.

The grub is standard pub fare: lots of fried appetizers, salads, burgers and sandwiches. I had a sandwich called the T.A.S. Mania—turkey, avocado and Swiss cheese—sidelined with a massive pile of fries. Others at the table ordered finger steaks, nachos, jalapeno poppers, tater tots, fries, a reuben sandwich and a pastrami sandwich, all of it served quickly by the attentive waitress. We dug into each others' orders to find that everything was hot and crispy. My sandwich was huge—it was a basic sandwich, but it was tasty and a nice buttery-grilled respite from all of the obviously delicious fried dishes. The consensus was that the nachos ruled and the pastrami was a little better than the reuben, though they were prepared in a similar way on grilled marble rye.

All the portions were enormous and fit for sharing, and just about everything cost $7 or $8, which, with all the cheap aperitifs, resulted in pretty diminutive bills.

—Jennifer Gelband knows the words "french fry" in 50 different languages.

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