Darla's Deli 

On the plate of Reviewer No. 2

The lunch bell just rang and you're foodless. Here's the plan: Head to the C.W. Moore building at the corner of Fifth and Front streets, board the west elevator and press the penthouse button. When the doors open, take a hard right into Darla's Deli, and when the view hits you like a ton of bricks, try to play it cool. First veer left, where you'll find Darla's workspace and from where her friendly without-fail hello will emerge. Head to the far end of the counter, peruse the succinct menu and pay for your lunch (cash only, please).

Now, while lunch is on the make, take a moment to gawk.

Directly opposite the deli counter is your lunch companion--a coast to coast view of Boise and the Foothills.

As eateries go, Darla's occupies a sort of space in between. It's a space whose purpose is reminiscent of the school lunch cafeteria where patrons with brown-bag lunches share tables with friends who've relied on Darla for their midday meal. Singles linger over copies of Boise Weekly, lunch meetings take place over the faux red and white roses in glass vases, and Darla, as she crafts sandwiches and ladles soup, greets customers by name. Country music hovers over the whole scene, and even if you're not a fan, you shrug it off because the omnipresence of the Foothills at Darla's trumps just about everything.

Luckily the food holds its own. And luckily, it's far superior to anything coming out of a school cafeteria near you. Recently, the special ($6.35) was a hot, open-faced chicken sandwich on village bread with a swab of pesto mayo, smothered in melted Swiss and bleu cheese, and sprinkled with dried cranberries and walnuts. The chicken was the awkwardly shaped chunks of the real stuff rather than the deli sliced stuff, the pesto mayo provided a subtle garlic bite, and the bread ... oh, the bread. The day before, I'd had the Turkey Village ($5.75)--lunch meat turkey and provolone with sun-dried tomatoes, pesto mayo and lettuce on village bread--and the bread stole the show. When asked what village bread is, Darla replied that it's like sourdough only better. In texture, village's bubbly innards are similar to sourdough, though in taste it's much milder. Despite its brawny crust, village--unlike sourdough's sometimes painful crust--is the ideal sandwich vehicle, holding up under the weight of a loaded hot turkey sandwich while still giving easily even after a stint in the toaster.

Darla's also serves up her rooftop view for the first meal of the day with a selection of burritos, sandwiches (which come on a variety of different starches, including the laudable village loaf) and omelets at prices competitive with your favorite fast-food stop.

With well-priced crave-worthy food and an enviable perch in the sky, Darla's sounds like some cafeteria Mount Olympus. If Darla's has an Achilles heel, it's the menu's brevity--though there is something nice to be said about doing only a few things and doing them really well.

--Rachael Daigle thinks it takes a village (loaf) to make a great sandwich.

Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Darla's Deli.
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