Let's Taco 'Bout It: What's New in Food in the Treasure Valley 

click to enlarge 123RF
  • 123RF
In May, Meridian was named Idaho's fastest-growing city and the 10th-fastest-growing city in the United States by the U.S. Census Bureau. That growth has its downsides, but it also has its upsides, foremost among them for foodies the new restaurants that have sprung up in Meridian and beyond to service the swelling population.

Some of those eateries are brand new, while others are new locations of already-beloved spots, like McCall-based Mexican eatery Pueblo Lindo, which unveiled plans for a Meridian location in August.

"We had been looking for places all around Boise. We first found a location off of Broadway, in the downtown area, but we noticed that Eagle Road is probably the busiest right now in the Boise and Meridian area," said server Orlando Figueroa, one of the McCall-based staff that will move to Meridian to work in the new restaurant. "...We thought it was a good place for a Mexican restaurant."

The new spot—located at 3327 N. Eagle Road, Ste. 170—is expected to open in late October or early November, and will offer the same menu of enchiladas, tacos, burritos, margarita pitchers and more as the flagship in McCall.

click to enlarge Red Bench Pizza, created by the owners of Juniper, is opening a second Treasure Valley location. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • Red Bench Pizza, created by the owners of Juniper, is opening a second Treasure Valley location.
Red Bench Pizza, the Neapolitan offshoot of downtown Boise eatery and gin bar Juniper, is also opening a second location. Boise Dev reports the new pizzeria is slated to open in Eagle, just off of Eagle Road in The Bridges at Lakemoor development near T-Sheets, in March of 2019.

“Since we don’t have permits yet and contractors are busy, we are trying to be realistic," Red Bench Co-owner Shannon Lincoln told Boise Dev.

Other new spots have already opened their doors, including the bike-repair-station-meets-coffee-shop Bikes & Beans on the Boise Bench (1350 S. Vista Avenue) and the upscale Indian and Indo-Chinese restaurant Saffron Bar and Grill (3300 S. Vista Avenue), which replaced a steakhouse in the Wyndham Garden Hotel near the Boise Airport. Marco's Pizza, a national chain based out of Ohio, also moved in a while back, opening its first Meridian location (4865 N. Ten Mile Road, Ste. 150) in February. In an email, Marco's PR representative Kelly McNamara told Boise Weekly that the more than 900-location chain "has its eyes set on growing its presence throughout Idaho," and plans to open five additional pizzerias in Boise by 2020.

Speaking of pizza, other local news outlets have reported that a still-unnamed pizza joint is slated to fill the long-vacant spot near Trader Joe's in Downtown Boise. However, Downtown Boise Association Executive Director Lynn Hightower told Boise Weekly that "a tenant for the space ... is not yet finalized."

"Capitol Boulevard south of Main Street has become a very active part of downtown, and an establishment that helps build on that really cool, really inviting vibe of that area will be welcome," she added.

Apart from openings and closings—unfortunately, downtown Boise sushi spot Superb Sushi shut its doors Oct. 13, as its owners headed off for retirement, and Boise institution Andy's Deli has shuttered and is being replaced by Nampa-based Sarah's Bagel Cafe—there has been a reshuffling of ownership for one downtown Boise sweet spot.

As of late August, The Chocolat Bar (805 W. Bannock St.) is now owned by husband-wife team Jason and Trish Stack. They took over the spot from Chris Preston and Kristi Echols-Preston, who founded the upscale candy store in 2004.

click to enlarge Executive Chef Emran Chowdhury is a new hire at Alavita. - COURTESY ALAVITA
  • Courtesy Alavita
  • Executive Chef Emran Chowdhury is a new hire at Alavita.
The winds of change are also blowing at downtown Boise Italian spot Alavita, where Canadian-born Emran Chowdhury has stepped into the position of executive chef, just in time to pioneer a new fall and winter menu. Chowdhury studied the art of pasta-making in Italy and helmed the Washington fine dining restaurant Cantinetta Seattle, among others, before moving to Boise.

“I like to define our food as 'graceful,'" Chowdhury said in a press release, speaking to Alavita's new menu. "Our goal is to create simple, elegant, and refined dishes with local and seasonal ingredients using contemporary techniques. We hope to create a long-lasting impact in the community and build great relationships with local farmers going forward.”

And in a final spot of drink news, Boise Weekly neighbor Boise Brewing won bronze in the
American Stout beer-style category of the Great American Beer Festival for its Black Cliffs American Stout, its fourth award from the fest in a many years. Though the community brewery scored the award in mid-September, it's not too late to head over and raise a congratulatory glass.
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