I have to admit, Boise, Idaho was never on my bucket list. But thanks to a friend’s invitation, I found myself there for a short three-day trip and left with my heart filled. Although most of my time was spent prepping for my friend’s birthday party, I took full advantage of the moments I had to myself. Here is a recap of my visit:
I am not one to book independent hotel type of places, mainly because they usually don’t come with a gym like traditional hotels do. However, because I ignorantly assumed that Boise wouldn’t be hip to my plant-based lifestyle, I loved the idea of having my own kitchen (full-size fridge, oven, stove, microwave, coffee pot, dishes, pots, pans, spices and all) which spoiler alert, I didn’t even use!
Boise Guest House is a charming 119 year old house that has been renovated into private studios. It’s located in a safe and quiet neighborhood, walking distance from downtown. Everything regarding the booking to checking in/out was simple. I paid in full, in advance to receive a discount and was sent instructions about self check-in (a code to the front door) a few days before my arrival. My unit was so cozy, I wish I could stay there forever! It had a claw-foot bathtub too… talk about dream-worthy! As a guest, I also had access to the common areas like the backyard, equipped with dining tables, seating, twinkle lights and even a fire pit. I really enjoyed my stay here.
To my surprise, Boise had some great food! I definitely did not go hungry as anticipated, and the plant-based options were easy to come by. The noteworthy places include:
Wild Root Cafe – Unfortunately I was in a hurry when I ran into this place, so I placed an order to go. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable about the vegan options, and the food tasted absolutely incredible! Happy to see their use of quality, fresh, local and wholesome ingredients, I ordered the Power Bowl off of their lunch menu (red quinoa, millet, roasted sweet potatoes, beets, baby kale, citrus, toasted almonds, sherry dijon vinaigrette + cashew cheese), with a side of made-by-hand Idaho potato chips. I also picked up a coconut mango chia seed pudding cup to have for breakfast the next day. Yum!
The Funky Taco – This casual bar/restaurant spot is located just across the street from Wild Root Cafe. We went for dinner on a Friday and was greeted by a live DJ (upstairs), and a packed house! Thankfully, we quickly found and claimed a table, as it’s a seat yourself type of establishment. My biggest recommendation here is to bring a friend to share/sample multiple dishes without getting overly full because these aren’t street-style mini tacos. One order comes with two large tacos, so I accidentally ordered a total of four which was way too much food for me. I loved them both though and could tell that the chef put in a considerable amount of care and thought when developing these flavors: Bahn Mi Mi (funk fu – pickled veg – jalapeno – cilantro – toasted sesame aoli, asian slaw) and Fried Flower (panko cauli – arugula slaw – micro – bomb sauce – scallion – radish). I’ll be back for the enchilada next time!
Guru Donuts – I almost didn’t make it to this place which would’ve been a HUGE mistake. I visited the shop right before catching my return flight home. With six beautiful and creative vegan flavors, I was THIS CLOSE to ordering one of each. I ordered three different flavors instead: Limoncello, HipsterBerry, and a Salted Chocolate Bar. My intention was to bring them home to share with Alex, but only half of them made it that far! The Limoncello was gone in a matter of seconds! Oops…
Honorable mention: Cinnaholic – technically not located in Boise, my friend and I swung by a shopping center in Meridian before checking into my suite. “Honorable” because by now this place is a chain, and a quick google search can help you find one in or near your area. Worthy of a mention because I did not expect to see this establishment here! That should’ve been a sign that I was going to be alright in terms of finding other plant-based options. Nonetheless, this is a build-you-own 100% vegan everything cinnamon roll bar that more than satisfies my sweet tooth each and every time. Also worth noting is that the average consumer probably has no idea that this place is vegan, so bring along your biggest skeptic and challenge them to not give in! I went for the amaretto frosting and cookie dough topping! If you have trouble deciding, their preset holiday menu looked amazing! No matter the flavor, I recommend slightly warming it up just before consuming. Trust me, just do it.
Up Cycle – This fitness boutique is located in downtown, and was about a 20 minute walk from my suite. The studio is a comfortable size and offers amenities like showers, lockers, changing stations and even blow-dryers. They offer several different classes like yoga, TRX and barre, but I was there for spin (Uplift Ride at 9:30AM, Friday). Although there were only four people in my class, the workout was challenging and left me drenched in sweat. The staff were extremely kind and I completely fell in love with their mascot, a french bulldog puppy named Clooney!
Table Rock Trail – On my last full day in Boise, I was torn between biking through the green belt and hiking a trail. Per the recommendation of my friend, I opted for the hike and completed a 3.7 mile trail called Table Rock. It’s a pretty steep climb in a high desert scenery, with a sweet view of the entire city at the summit. I went around 7am on a brisk fall Saturday morning, and enjoyed how beautiful the trail was. While peaceful, I must admit to feeling a little nervous about being the only person out there though. I had to take a 10 minute uber ride to and from the trailhead (old penitentiary), and it took me about 45 minutes to reach the top. We’ll have to see the green belt next time!
Overall I was pleasantly surprised by Boise. I loved that it was a city but it didn’t quite feel like one with its small-town charm and cleanliness. This is the type of place where strangers aren’t afraid to speak to you, happily let you cross the street, and greet you with a smile. I was blown away by its warmth, kindness, and yummy eats! I look forward to visiting again, hopefully sooner than later.