Boise's Hidden Patios 

Secret sunny spots to soak up spirits

We've all had those afternoons. Maybe you tied one (dozen) on the night before and need a sunny spot to hide behind your aviators and lap up a plate of eggs benny. Or maybe you're bored with all the usual patio suspects and want to sip a cocktail in an unfamiliar outdoor oasis. Well, here's BW's answer to your secret patio prayers, ranked by smoking availability, shade (three fair-skinned gingers means maximum freckle protection) and the probability you'll run into someone you know. In the name of the lawn chair, the sun and the boozy spirits. Amen.

Darla's Deli

250 S. Fifth St., 208-381-0034

In the kingdom of secret patios, Darla's is a particularly elusive species. Not only is there a special access code to ascend to the penthouse deli on the roof of the C.W. Moore building, but also the space is only open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. But if you happen to work downtown and want to catch a few rays while snacking on a reasonably priced avocado BLT, Darla's is your bird's nest. And while you won't be able to make it a hazy, martini-soaked lunch, Darla's does serve up an array of espresso drinks and a refreshing, alcoholic-in-name-only scotch and soda (Sprite, vanilla syrup and fresh lemon).

Pros: Awesome view of downtown, pretty flowers, cheap eats.

Cons: Limited hours, not much shade, no hooch.

Boise Fry Company

111 Broadway Ave., Ste. 111, 208-495-3858

Most pommes frites connoisseurs have waltzed past Boise Fry Co.'s Broadway-facing strip-mall parking lot patio and winced at the thought of scarfing a burger and fries while inhaling a lung-full of car exhaust. Well, fret not, fry-munching friends, Boise Fry Co. recently opened a new patio--a semi-secret patio--that you access from inside the restaurant.

Christened a few short weeks ago by local indie lad James Orr, Boise Fry Co.'s new patio is a wooden oasis featuring a handful of tables and colorful flowers. Shaded by the side of the building, the patio is the perfect place to linger over BFC's super sweet happy hour: two-for-one drafts and small fries Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m.

Pros: Enjoy your meal al fresco without being rubbernecked by Broadway's rush-hour masses.

Cons: No smirking at the dancing Statue of Liberty tax mascot.

36th Street Garden Center and Bistro

3823 N. Garden Center WAy, 208-433-5108

In a neighborhood rich with garden shops, the sprawling 36th Street gardening compound on 36th Street and Hill Road has a leg up on the competition. Not only can you pick up a variety of starts, seeds, watering cans, garden gnomes and fancy gloves, you can relax from all that backbreaking shopping with a lime-spritzed crisp white wine and a fresh salad on one of Boise's swankier hidden patios.

Whoever designed the 36th Street Garden Center patio has undoubtedly taken a few trips to Europe. The centerpiece of the two-tiered brick patio is a bubbling fountain adorned with a surprisingly un-gaudy assortment of parrots and toucans. Patio diners can choose to sit under a partially shaded pergola surrounded by leafy bushes in planter pots or out in the direct sunlight closer to the fountain. Like an Italian piazza minus the catcalls, the 36th Street Garden Center and Bistro patio is a mini European vacation that's only a cruiser ride away.

Pros: Too many to name.

Cons: No full bar.

Superb Sushi

208 N. Eighth St., 208-385-0123

While not necessarily hidden, the Superb Sushi patio is most definitely underground. Literally. Located in the basement of the Idaho building, Superb Sushi serves up a consistently fresh array of specialty rolls and sashimi. Whether you're in the mood to save some dough on the lunch special--$7.99 for nine pieces of sushi, an inari pocket, Asian slaw and miso--or chill out with microbrews and sake in the evening, the Superb patio is a welcome retreat from the chaos of Eighth Street.

And though the patio may be lacking in flowery frills--it's a simple square space with a few umbrella-clad tables and a staircase that runs up to Falcon Tavern--it nonetheless fills the need for fresh air and fresh fish. Smoking is allowed on the patio in the colder months but is frowned upon once the restaurant's large windows are cracked open in the summertime.

Pros: A quiet escape in the middle of downtown Boise.

Cons: No full bar. No smoking in the summer months.

Tavern at Bown Crossing

3111 S. Bown Way, 208-345-2277

Set aside any comparisons of Bown Crossing to Stepford for a sec and listen up. In addition to the prime people-watching street-side patio Bown Tavern has out front, it also has a sprawling, oft-overlooked rooftop patio with--get this--a full cantina-style bar.

Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. and Saturday from 2-5 p.m., Bown Tavern also has a rad happy hour deal: $5 specialty cocktails, $1 off drafts, discounted wines by the glass, and $2.95 California and Sake sushi rolls. And now that all the crazy Parkcenter bridge construction mess is over, you can pedal out to Bown Crossing via the Greenbelt and take full drunken advantage of all that cheap sushi and discounted hooch.

Pros: Rooftop bar. Full view of the Foothills. Plenty of umbrellas, shade and seating. Lush happy hour.

Cons: It's in Bown Crossing.: :

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