Le Game Plan 

First Thursday on only 10 bucks

Have any of your First Thursdays involved ambling into a gallery, peering at some landscape paintings then searching for the free wine, only to find—gasp—a slew of empty bottles and a bowl of broken Chex Mix? If so, you've been sadly sans game plan, friend.

Even with the trusty BW listings, downtown can be a crowded, unnavigable labyrinth on First Thursdays. With so much to see, it's essential to start early, know your route and snag as many free hors d'oeuvres as possible to soak up all those tiny glasses of wine. Luckily, we've got you covered. What follows is the BW guide to having a stellar—and cheap—April First Thursday. May you never encounter snack scraps again.

5:00 Parking: Since you're starting early, downtown meters won't be free for another hour. And while the first hour of parking is always free in public parking garages, those extra few hours can add up to a couple of cocktails. We suggest pocketing that change and heading to the Fourth and Grove area to search for free curbside parking. Snag a spot and you'll be close to destination number one on the Basque Block.

click to enlarge Eggs-ceptional tapas at the Basque Market. - JOYCE ALEXANDER

5:15 The Basque Market (608 W. Grove St.): To celebrate Easter, the Basque Market is offering an egg-ceptional deal: 50-cent stuffed egg tapas. While many are takes on the popular deviled recipe—crammed with tuna, shrimp or roasted red peppers—some tapas will also come cradled in an egg shell. Take a crack at three or four of these little guys and wash them down with a cold Luzon Verde organic wine from Jumilla, Spain ($4.50). With wine and tapas holding hands in your belly, you'll have the pluck to make it through round two.

Cumulative cost: $6 Booze/Food: |

5:45 The Trolley (Capitol and Grove): Hop on the free trolley and ride the loop until you hit Eighth and Idaho. Jump off, then scoot up to the Idaho Building. Take a right on Bannock and walk until you reach what used to be Satchel's, then climb down the adjacent stairs that lead into the Superb Sushi courtyard. Ta da. You've reached the elusive Gallery Alexa Rose.

6:00 Gallery Alexa Rose (280 N. 8th St., in the courtyard): For their third show "Everything," the collective Apples and Oranges will present, well, a bit of everything. At the gallery's entrance, you'll be greeted by Marie Mortensen's bright found-object chandeliers. In the main space you'll find Prentiss Cutler's metal and plastic mixed-media sculptures, Jenny Rice's wood and string shadow boxes, Bill Hofstra's oil paintings and Christopher Hunt's comic book panels. In the back, you'll encounter Lisa Arnold's massive paper installation, Jason Willford's kaleidoscopic short film and Heather Plummer's pies. And who knows, maybe someone in a fuzzy bunny suit will hand you a refreshing glass of orange Hi-C. Weirder things have been known to happen in this hip hidden oasis. After you've thrown back some juice, shimmy down Bannock until you hit 10th Street. Pry open the door of downtown Boise's sparkling retail mecca: Macy's.

Cumulative cost: Still $6 Juice/Bunny: |

6:30 Macy's Downtown (918 W. Idaho St.): We know it's been a tough night so far. You deserve a little free pampering. Head into Macy's for the 5,5,5 Cosmetic event and score a free five-minute makeover. If you plan ahead and make an appointment by calling 208-388-7340, you can also walk away with five free fancy scent samples. You a dude? Or prefer the natural look? Bee-line for the massage chair with therapist Steven Semrau for a free five minute de-kinking. You'll need it for what lies in store. Next, stroll down one block to the corner of 10th and Main and descend into the Basement Gallery's subterranean space.

Cumulative cost: Still $6 Beauty/Relaxation: 2/1

6:45 Basement Gallery (928 Main St.): What's that? You're ready for more art? If you didn't check out the "Abstract Meets the Eclectic" show at Basement Gallery last First Thursday, here's your second chance. With mixed-media collages by Jay Nelson and Bryan Moore, abstract paintings by Erik Sande, some wtf feral hand puppets crafted by Keith Farnsworth and colorful screen-prints by David Colcord and Tomas Montano, everything in the show is eclectic, if not deliciously weird. Losing your buzz? Swing into 10th Street Station (104 N. 10th St.) for a quick happy hour nip of your favorite well firewater ($2.75, 5-7 p.m.) and a puff of delightful first- or second-hand smoke.

Cumulative cost: $9 Booze/Food: |

7:15 Lisk Gallery (850 Main St.): This First Thursday brings an exciting opening from BW fave Erin Ruiz at Lisk Gallery called "Codependency and Other Weaknesses." Since the show tackles "common human weaknesses like booze, petit larceny and the inability to enrapture others in conversation," it might be a good idea to grab a handful of fancy Dream chocolates to cover up any lingering "codependency" breath you may be emitting. After you've had your fill on art, chocolate and tunes by Dan Costello, head back to the trolley stop on Main between 10th and 11th next to DV8 Salon.

Cumulative cost: $9 Booze/Food: |

7:45 The Trolley (Main between 10th and 11th): Hop on the free trolley again, ride the loop down Ninth Street to BoDo and exit in front of Ha'Penny. Saunter down Broad Street and enter the 8th Street Marketplace Mercantile Building.

8:00 8th Street Marketplace AiR Program (Eighth and Broad): Congrats, you've made it to the last stop, and you're probably going to want to linger for a while. Grab a free glass of Idaho grown viognier, rose or syrah from Cinder Wines (don't forget to tip) and a snack from Gandolfo's, and pull up a seat to catch a short performance from Alley Repertory Theater's new play Love Person. Also make sure to check out Holly Streekstra's interactive hat exhibit and Kelly Packer's paintings. Though Adrian Kien is set to emerge from a mound of dirt and spout poetry at 7 p.m., it might not be too late to follow his trail of soil and beg for an encore performance.

Cumulative cost: $10 (remember the tip?)

Booze/Food: |

9:00 The Final Trolley (Eighth and Broad): Whew. What a night. Good thing you can take the scenic ride back to your car. On second thought, how much hooch have you Hoovered? Maybe you should walk it off. Be safe and see you next First Thursday.

—Tara Morgan

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