With so many great opportunities for snowshoeing near Boise, it’s very possible (and common) to venture out of town for a morning hike and be back in the city by happy hour. Whether you make the easy 45-minute jaunt up to Bogus Basin Ski Resort and Nordic center, or even journey 2 hours into the Boise National Forest for a day in the backcountry, you’ll have no trouble making it back to a downtown barstool in time to take advantage of these awesome après specials.
The classic way to end a day of fun in the great outdoors is with a frosty pint at a local brewery. Located just north of town in the industrial Garden City area, Payette Brewing has a truly great selection of beers for four bucks a pint. Catchy labels accompany crisp, bold flavors in popular year-round brews like the North Fork lager, Payette Pale Ale, Outlaw IPA and the Mutton Buster brown ale. You’ll also see a creative selection of seasonal offerings on tap like a Rodeo Rye. Create a custom flight for a dollar a pop to sample on your own, or join an afternoon tour of the brewery and sip while learning about the history of the operation. Grab a bite from a local food truck stationed in front of the tasting room most days of the week. Food truck purchases made on Wednesdays and Fridays will earn you half off your first pint inside. Other fun daily specials include discounts for wearing company gear, filling a growler and arriving on a bicycle.
What seems like a basic sports bar is actually a beer drinker’s haven and locavore’s utopia. This spot has so many beers on tap that change so frequently that it prints a new menu each day to accurately feature its current selection. More of a booklet than a menu, the pages unfold to inform you about what’s on tap, where it came from and how many miles it travelled to get there. Categories like “Wood Aged” and “Tart & Funky” help you navigate the extensive selection. Experience their unique “low power” happy hour weekdays from 3-5:30pm when the lights are turned down to save energy and you can enjoy discounted beer, wine and appetizer specials (think street tacos, poutine and duck sliders). This environmentally conscious operation sources the majority of its food items locally, and even has an “Urban Worm” initiative that involves feeding food waste to a tank of worms in the basement. Learn more about their sustainable endeavors during free tours on Thursday evenings. Be sure to check out their sister restaurant, Red Feather Lounge, next door for extended happy hour specials and an impressive list of classic and creative cocktails.
For those who prefer grapes over suds, head to Bodovino wine bar in downtown Boise. Bodovino offers a unique “self-guided wine tasting tour of the world” in a casual, cozy atmosphere. Purchase a wine card at the front register and then sip and swirl your way around the self-serve wine pouring stations organized by global region. This is a great place to explore local offerings from the up-and-coming Snake River Valley region which was recently designated as an official AVA in 2007. Once you’ve selected a wine, just insert your pre-loaded card and choose which size pour you want. Then, watch excitedly as the bright, fresh elixir of your choosing spurts into the glass. One ounce sample pours can be obtained for as little as $1.50, with five ounce glass prices starting around $7. The “trophy case” features world-class wines soaring up to $90 per glass. Sink into a couch by the fireplace and order a few small plates from a tapas-style menu of flatbreads, meat and cheese platters and hummus dips. Special events like live music on Monday evenings, free wine tastings on Tuesdays from 5-7pm, and happy hour pricing all day on Sundays make this special spot a favorite hangout among locals. Best of all, Bodovino encourages lounging and is a great place to warm up at your own pace after a cold day outside.
Located in the heart of the historic Basque district and named after the sailor’s slang for cocktail, Bardenay is self-described as the “nation’s first restaurant distillery” and offers a fun place to refuel after a long, cold day. From 4-6pm on weekdays patrons enjoy discounts on appetizers like satay skewers, glazed chicken wings and artichoke dip. Other Northwest inspired cuisine options include salmon croquettes (a nod to Boise’s rich Basque heritage), a locally-sourced Halloumi grilled cheese satay and a cider-brined pork chop. You can try a beer from their large tap selection, or go a more adventurous route by trying a cocktail hand-crafted with one of the spirits distilled on site. Spend some time perusing the drink menu and sample something new and interesting, like the Huckleberry Lemondrop made with Bardenay lemon vodka, or the Bardenay Ginger Rum martini. With cocktail prices starting at just $6 you can afford to try a few.
For those of you whose day just isn’t complete without a hearty breakfast, even if it’s served after 12pm, you’ll want to check out Big City Coffee in Boise’s industrial and inspiring Linen district. This spot serves breakfast all day, and hitting it in the afternoon is actually a genius idea as the early bird line is often out the door and seating is too close for comfort. The motto here is “bigger is better” and they mean it. Even a post-snowshoe appetite will be no match for these mouth-watering, dinner plate-sized cinnamon rolls, muffins, waffles, skillets and breakfast sandwiches. Lunch items such as soups, salads , sandwiches and wraps are also available. Order a pastry to go with your steaming, artful latte to enjoy while you wait for your meal as creating flavors this big can take some time. Then, find a cozy spot to post up among the variety of wooden tables, barstools, and couches. Bring a newspaper and settle in for a relaxing afternoon of thawing out and filling up.