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2005 Bars and Nightlife Editors' Picks 

Editors' Picks

Best Place To See Angst-Ridden Teens

The Venue

"My parents don't understand me. Nobody understands me."

"Meat is murder, man!"

"I am too old enough for a boyfriend/girlfriend."

"I hate everything."

If you've ever been, had or lived within a 20-mile radius of a teen, you've probably heard at least one of the above sentences uttered in either a piercing cry or a low surly growl. Life is tough when you're a teen: just ask one. There's something rather endearing about these alien creatures, though. They're daring, clever, emotional, passionate and fashion conscious, which makes them fun to watch.

Several nights of the week, look down the street from the corner of 6th and Broad and you'll see several of these not fully formed humans standing around, navel-gazing outside the Venue. The Venue is an all-ages place with a no-smoking, no-drinking policy which means "all ages" is generally the 13-20 demographic. Waiting for the doors to open or between bands, you can see them milling around in green Mohawks, wearing uber tight jeans, Chuck Taylor kicks, chains, collars, tiny T-shirts with little logos and just about anything Sid Vicious would have pulled out of the least-smelly pile of clothes on his hotel room floor and thrown on before a show. They are adorable. They come in so many shapes, sizes and colors, you won't be able to take your eyes off of them. Take a chance and go inside. They are just as cute in there, but some of them are even dancing. Just pretend not to notice. They would hate for anyone to think they are actually enjoying themselves.

521 Broad St., 919-0011

Best Bloody Mary

Bittercreek Ale House

Their Guinness pours extra neat, their mojitos are a perfect balance of sweet and sour and they have light-up ice cubes. Of course, a pub with that much going for it has to have a kick-ass bloody. Whether you want a spicy start to a Friday night or a Band-aid for Saturday morning, Bittercreek's Bloody Mary is one of the best we've tried outside of our own kitchens. And if you want extra celery salt or some pearl onions to make it more like home, just ask. They might even throw in a light-up ice cube.

246 N. 8th St., 345-1813

Best Hangover Therapy

Breakfast at the Trolley House

As much as we hate to admit it, hair of the dog is the main ingredient for beating a hangover that feels like you took a frying pan to the face ... repeatedly. There should also be a big breakfast, fresh air and some company to go with that side of misery. Where can all of these things happen at once? A good bet is the Trolley House patio on picturesque Warm Springs Avenue. They let you bring in your own Bloody Mary mix, champagne for mimosas or an unapologetic bottle of bourbon, and they have dynamite eggs benedict that seeps into those dark places where tequila likes to lurk. An hour at The Trolley House will have you back in shape for another rough night.

1821 Warm Springs Ave., 345-9255

Best Exotic Dancer

Salina at the Torch

Man, woman, animal or vegetable, you have no chance against this irresistible creature. If you dare, sit next to the main stage at the Torch and be prepared for your tongue to wag and your hands to shell out cash without any discussion with your brain. When Salina hits the dance floor, she is a chemical reaction, a flash of long brown hair, long brown limbs and musculature worthy of a sculpture or two. But the fact that she's impossibly hot isn't what makes her the best--it's the way she can make you drool without even touching you. Where other girls serve it all (and we mean all) up for a few bucks, Salina opts for a sensual tease, and when she smiles, you're a goner. She has a pectoral trick that defies the laws of physics.

1826 Main St., 344-0218

Best Bad Pickup Line

Picture this: You are an innocent young woman having a drink with some friends. A man wearing loafers with no socks and a T-shirt that reads "This isn't a beer gut, it's the engine to my sex machine" swaggers over holding a plastic grocery bag. He smiles, and asks you to put your hand inside the bag--just for a second. You laugh, look away and hope he's a magician. He isn't. You give him every chance to get the hint. He doesn't. Finally you put your hand in the bag in the hope that he'll go away. Crinkling the bag around your wrist, he says, "I just wanted to see how you'd be in the sack."

Best Bouncer

Ole at Neurolux

If you have set one foot into Neurolux to see a show, you have met face to face with Ole. The first thing he said to you was, "Three Dollars tonight," or something related to the price you would be paying to get further inside. But do not be mistaken by his deadpan demeanor. Ole's ability to spring into action against the most heinous of partygoers is memorable. Getting in trouble with Ole is like having your dad yell at you. And like any good dad, Ole's soft spot is huge when you can prove yourself to be a decent drunk at the Neurolux.

111 N. 11th St., 343-0886

Best Neighborhood Bar-Bench

The Trolley Bar

There are some great bars on the Bench: Quinn's has been serving cold beer and tasty food in the area for years; The Vista Bar's A-frame design and reader board have beckoned many of its neighbors in for a friendly drink; The Overland has some of the friendliest around; McCleary's regulars are regular, big-hearted folk. But the homiest bar on the Bench would have to be The Trolley. Inside an authentic old-fashioned trolley car, this bar boasts some of the nicest people to ever serve beer, a pool table and a big backyard. It's a home away from home. They serve a cold glass of beer, but order by the bottle and the brew is cold enough to freeze your whiskers. The people who fancy and frequent this joint are happy-go-lucky folks who stop by for a quick drink after work or go to spend a Friday evening among friends. Look up "neighborhood bar" in the dictionary and you might just find a picture of The Trolley.

4103 Rose Hill, 342-9084

Best Bar to see Nudes On Velvet and a Jagermeister Machine

The Overland Bar

With super-friendly staff, nice regulars and kick-ass karaoke seven days a week, the Overland Bar already has a lot going for it. The velvet nudes have been on the walls for years, and have started to take on that chic, yet kind of creepy look of Keane's big-eyed paintings. But they've always been there and like the bar they call home, they're comfortable. The Jagermeister machine is one of the Overland's concessions to the 21st century. It's bright and shiny and serves an icy cold shot of the J. You can sit in the windowless bar sipping on chilled Jager, staring at the lovely nakeds and waiting for your turn at the mic. Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday.

3907 Overland Rd., 336-4707

Best Bathroom to Avoid When Drunk


The food is awesome but beware the sake if you intend to use the ladies room. As you walk through the door, the shocking pink interior brings to mind someone spraying Pepto-Bismol and having an aim so fine as to hit nearly every nook and cranny of the rather small rest room. It is a pink so intense that if perchance you have had too much sake or any other substance it will send you into spin mode.

303 N. Orchard St., 323-8822

Best Bar Makeover that isn't a Makeover

The Core/Used to be Bogies

Do you remember the old Bogies? Great! Because it looks exactly the same. The Core, being a fine new addition to the downtown scene, may be doomed to live forever in the shadow of Bogies because of its resistance to change. Not that we don't love what you are doing with the place. Battle of the Bands rocked, if we do say so ourselves. But come on guys, couldn't we get some new tables? New chairs? Paint? Hey, isn't that my gum from that 1992 Social Distortion show?

1124 W. Front St., 342-9663

Best Neighborhood Bar-West Side


A quaint little place located smack dab in the middle of suburbia, it provides an "everybody knows your name" atmosphere that makes you feel like a regular on your first visit. Cold beers and friendly service soothe the inner barfly while darts and pool provide entertainment for those who prefer a little activity with their alcohol. It is a great place to run into old friends from high school, former roommates, old flames or people you have been trying to avoid for the last five years because, well, you've moved on.

10704 Overland Rd., 376-9800

Best Place to Test Your Pick-Up Lines

Tenth Street Station

There's a rumor circulating that some of you out there are still using pick-up lines. "Hey, babe ... what's your sign?" should have gone the way of asbestos-filled insulation and lead-based paints, but apparently that's not the case. OK. If you feel you have to use a pick-up line, don't go to a bar with loud, live music. Screaming, "If I told you that you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?" into a girl's ear is not only going to make her mad that you got beer-smelling spit all over her cubic zirconias, but it's going to come out sounding like, "If I sold you a hat from beautiful Bali, would you show it to Andre Agassi?" Not only will she be wiping the saliva and you off of her clavicle, she may tell you to get help. So, if you must use a line, try Tenth Street Station. The drinks are strong and cheap--you'll need your courage. The lighting is dim--maybe she won't notice that your socks don't match. And it's the perfect place for quiet, private conversation--whether your line doesn't work (hopefully, none of the other patrons hear you making an ass of yourself), or if you get lucky and it does.

104 N. 10th St., 344-2677

Best Bar to Pick Up a Doctor

Lounge at the Rodeway Inn

OK. So, in the past it has had a reputation for being a pick-up bar for those who are, ahem, going through the change of life. But, come on, it is located next to St. Al's, so, you do the math. Although, some may call it a bit cheesy and dark, many Boiseans prefer the soft-lit ambiance that makes us all look barely legal. Whether or not actual doctors are hooking up regularly at the lounge is mere speculation. But to quote a famous dead guy (Alexander Pope, to be exact) "Hope springs eternal..."

1115 N. Curtis Rd., 376-2700

Best Wine Bar

Mosaic Gallery and Wine Bar

There are two kinds of wine drinkers in the world: those who like to discuss what they are drinking and those who just know what they like. Wine's sordid reputation as being only for those who are pretentious and over-educated is shattered by Mosaic's friendly environment. Snobbery is checked at the door. Whether you want to indulge the knowledgeable staff and discuss the bouquet or just prefer a smart recommendation, Mosaic provides a comfortable haven for all who enter.

500 W. Main St., 338-5006

Best Place to get a Red Beer

The Bouquet

On the other side of the Ole Miss, if you order a red beer, you will probably get a glass of tomato juice with ice and a bottle of Killian's Red. On this side of the river, if you order a red beer, you get a domestic draught filling a glass to within an inch of the rim, topped off with the tasty juice of the tomato. For some beers it is verboten to taint them with tomato: Guinness, Chimay, Stella Artois, etc. If you don't already know this, put your can of Old Milwaukee down immediately, walk to the nearest downtown beer-serving establishment and have the bartender explain why. But for some beers, tomato juice not only enhances (read: improves) the flavor of your basic domestics but makes them slide easily down your throat like oysters on the half-shell one right after the other. Often, a bar has either generic juice or pre-made Bloody Mary mix. Those are OK, but the juice is sometimes warm and/or bland and the Bloody Mary mix is too bloody spicy. For the perfect piquant tomato flavor mixed with a basic beer, head to the Bouquet. They have somehow managed the perfect Bloody Mary mix and nothing beats it in a pint glass with bubbly beer (although it's probably super mixed with vodka, too). It's cheap, it's cold and it's served in one of the friendliest places in town.

1010 W. Main St., 345-6605

Best Best Place to Smoke

Montego Bay

Open and airy just like Jamaica. Well, maybe not exactly like Jamaica, but it makes you want to go to Jamaica. In the summer, the back doors open to the lake keeping the place well ventilated and comfortable for those who partake and for those who do not. Yah mon, we are talking about the sinful joys of smoking ... cigarettes. Those of us who enjoy our coffin nails like a place where we can light up but not be overwhelmed by our own second-hand smoke. There are no nasty glares when we smoke it up at Montego Bay just a great feeling of "no problem, mon."

3000 N. Lakeharbor Lane, 853-2583

Best Place to Fear Seeing Your Name

Neurolux Message Board

Man, woman, employee or band, the Neurolux Internet message board is a platform for users to talk trash and report kudos about bands, people and pretty much anything else that could be discussed at the bar during its regular business hours. This is where the after-hours party begins and ends. Most chatters use off-color or off-center pseudonyms making their identities obsolete to the real quest: the messages themselves. Feel free to jump in at anytime to interrupt the usual back-and-forth banter of "Yes it is," "No it isn't" mentality, or just to defend a Neurolux employee whose naturally endowed body parts are the subject of an opinion poll. See for yourselves.

Best Saloon

Pengilly's Saloon

Pengilly's might actually be one of the more romantic bars in Boise because of it's turn-of-the-century décor, dim mood lighting, and quaint built-in drinking nooks, each furnished with a stained glass lamp. The drinks are cheap, the barkeep is professional, and nothing beats an intimate performance here between you and acts like The Frim Fram Four and Travis Ward and the Junkyard Bandstand. What is most charming about Pengilly's is the dedicated clientele. Take a walk over to the window side of the bar and you might meet some Boise's oldest native residents willing to tell you a story or two.

513 W. Main St., 345-6344

Best Bar in the Middle of Nowhere


Nestled between Joann's Fabric store and the Broadway off-ramp on Federal Way, TK's lounge is an unassuming little joint with brown side paneling and a large dirt parking lot that always seems to be full of motorcycles and cars. Apparently, the building was moved from a previous location on Broadway and relocated to its new spot in the middle of nowhere to provide its customers with the privacy they needed to get loud and crazy with their endless choices of games like shuffleboard, darts and karaoke. TK's now overlooks the valley with a spectacular view. And who said the middle of nowhere was a bad place to be?

3231 Federal Way

Best Place to Buy a Bottle of Wine

The Boise Coop

Whether you're cooking Thai food and in search of the perfect Riesling, or headed to a casual barbeque in need of a robust Shiraz, the wine connoisseurs at the Boise Co-op are ready and available for questioning as much as they are knowledgeable about good wine. If the service isn't enough to be impressed by, then the selection will surely please even the most schooled of drinkers. Don't try to push your cart down the aisles, but be careful: trying to add a couple of bottles of wine to an arm full of tofu, all-natural potato chips, a thick, juicy organic steak, an aromatherapeutic tincture and a block of delicious Cotswald cheese can make for a dangerous

888 W. Fort St., 472-4500

Best Cocktail Waitress

Colleen at Pengilly's

Pengilly's already has a lot going for it: local hangout for some of Boise's best musicians, one of the nicest bartenders around, a cool vibe, a funny picture of confused looking old man on the wall... One of their greatest assets may be cocktail waitress Colleen. She always has a smile and friendly banter to offer patrons. Your conversation can be a little smart aleck and spicy if you're looking for a laugh, or she can simply be the one who says "hello" and brings your drinks with a smile. Always attentive and always sweet, she is awesome.

513 W. Main St., 345-6344

Best Neighborhood Bar-East Side

Jim's Alibi

The unforgettable mural facing Broadway from the side of Jim's Alibi is enough to call this bar the best in town, but because of it's friendly atmosphere, it's nice bartenders, and it's small but very sweet backyard, Jim's Alibi is very much a neighborhood bar. It's the kind of place a kid could go for change, or the Neighborhood Watch committee could have their meetings. Whatever the occasion, whether it's a wedding reception, or an 8 am glass a beer after your graveyard shift at Micron, Jim's is there for you, like a good neighbor.

2710 Broadway Ave., 342-9220

Best Neighborhood Bar-North End

Harry's of Hyde Park

Harry's is a model of what a neighborhood bar should be. The food is delicious, the beers are diverse, and servers/ bartenders are some of the nicest people you could hope to meet. Show up by yourself one night to have a beer and odds are you'll end up making a new friend. Sort of like "Cheers" without the song and with better lighting. A great place to knock back a couple of Bronsons and make friends.

1501 N. 13th St., 336-9260

Best Bar Snacks


Pickled eggs, old beer nuts, stale pretzels, Rocky Mountain oysters (eww) ... Opa takes the risk out of uninhibited appetites and offers great buffets. Sometimes it's Opa's classy take on nachos while other times they'll serve up a great Greek noodle concoction. The best part? The food is free. Sometime around 9 p.m., out come steaming pans of food It's your one-stop place for a nice night out--good live music, good drinks, and great food. They only thing you are paying for is your drinks.

213 N. 8th St., 342-6555

Best Hotel Bar

Gamekeeper Lounge

Jazz on the piano, well-priced, top shelf drinks, scrumptious appetizers and dark lighting. It's changed a bit in the last few months--for one it is not as smoky as it used to be. They serve free clams on the weekends, and their bartenders know what's up.

1109 Main St., 343-4611

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)


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