What takes a day trip from good to great? Finding that local hidden gem with the best huckleberry pie you’ve ever tasted. Or tacos. Or fresh-caught trout. Some of the best eats in Idaho are tucked away off the beaten path. Time to make this day trip unforgettable.
Photo credit: Amano on Facebook
Sal Allamilla worked his way up from dishwasher to executive chef in just three years, fronting some of the top restaurants in Boise. In 2019, he and his wife Becca opened Amano — and the rest is history.
Amano serves SoCal, Michoacan, and Oaxacan-inspired Mexican food, prepared with seasonal local ingredients. Their birria tacos? Legendary. The mole coloradito? Out of this world. Don’t even get us started on the mezcal selection. This is the authentic Mexican cuisine with a modern twist that you’ve been dreaming of. Minimalist design, welcoming staff, and a trendy vibe makes for a one-of-a-kind dining experience.
Amano doesn’t only stand for delicious food — it’s also a pillar of the Caldwell community. The Allamillas pay it forward with events to raise money for local nonprofits, fund book purchases for students and teachers, and feed the community. Good food. Good people. Sounds like a good day.
Walk off your meal with a stroll around Indian Creek Plaza, or head over to Lake Lowell and explore the nature trails.
How to get there
From Boise, hop on I-84 West. Take exit 28 for City Center. Take a left on N 10th Ave and then a right onto E Chicago St. Take an immediate left onto N Kimball Ave. Take a right onto Main St, and Amano will be on the left.
Local’s tip: Turning this day trip into an overnighter? Book a room at the cushy Best Western Caldwell Inn & Suites.
Anderson Reserve, Sweet
Photo credit: Anderson Reserve on Facebook
Road tripping up Hwy 55? Here’s a detour that’s more than worth it. 15 minutes west of Horseshoe Bend is one of Idaho’s best-kept culinary secrets: Anderson Reserve.
Founded as a family butchery in 1975, today Anderson Reserve is an unparalleled farm-to-table dining experience. This stylish converted barn is the perfect blend of contemporary dining and rustic, laid-back living. Simple ingredients, simply prepared: simply put, it’s the taste of the Pacific Northwest.
Relax and sample their private reserve meats, wines, and cheeses. For an entree, we’re hard-pressed to choose between the pan-seared steelhead trout almondine or the locally raised filet mignon with caramelized whiskey onions and saffron bourbon cream sauce. For dessert, what could be more simple and elegant than an apple galette? Is anyone else’s mouth watering?
You’ll need to work up an appetite — why not do it with a day on the river? Cascade Raft & Kayak is just up the road from Horseshoe Bend.
Can’t get enough dessert? Neither can we. Pick up a fresh-baked pie at Volcanic Farms. It’s a highway 55 tradition for a reason.
How to get there
From Boise, head up Hwy 55 to Horseshoe Bend. From Horseshoe Bend, turn left onto Hwy 52 West. Turn right on Sweet Ola Highway, just past the Montour Country Store. Continue on Sweet Ola Hwy for a mile and a half. Anderson Reserve will be on your left.
Local’s tip: Ready to crash? Frozen Dog Digs B&B in Emmett is just a 20-minute scenic drive away.
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Two Rivers Grill, Crouch
Photo credit: Two Rivers Grill
A taste of mountain life. Garden Valley is the ultimate alpine adventure destination, and Two Rivers Grill is the laid-back neighborhood spot that embodies the Idaho spirit. The ambiance is intimate and relaxed, with soaring log beams and homey decor.
The selection is just as welcoming as the surroundings. It’s comfort food at its best. Rock salt roasted prime rib. Fresh caught fish of the day with hazelnut butter. Loaded potato skins with cherry mustard sauce. Two Rivers Grill is all about familiar favorites with an elevated twist.
Whether you’re swinging by for a quick lunch or lingering over a leisurely dinner, you owe it to yourself to check out Two Rivers Grill the next time you’re in Garden Valley.
Outdoor lovers, rejoice. Garden Valley is a year-round adventure hub. Snowshoeing and sleighing in the winter, hiking and rafting in the summer. The possibilities are endless. Check out a local outfitter for tips and tricks.
How to get there
From Boise, go north up Hwy 55 past Horseshoe Bend. In Banks, take a right onto the Banks/Lowman Road and continue for 8 miles. Turn left onto S Middlefork Road, and then a right onto Old Crouch Rd. Two Rivers Grill will be on your right.
Local’s tip: Not ready to head home yet? Spend the night at Walk on the Wild Side B&B and enjoy the 5 acres of pristine mountain landscape.
Southfork Lodge, Lowman
Photo credit: Southfork Lodge on Facebook
Pine, wine, and dine. Savor the old west vibe at Southfork Lodge. Founded in 1937, this rustic retreat is sandwiched between the mountains and the Payette River. Sparse pine walls and antler chandeliers make for a rustic cabin vibe. Huge bay windows look out over lush Ponderosa pines and the turbulent South Fork. Watching herds of elk over breakfast? That’s quintessential Idaho.
The seasonal menus feature local wild game. Chow down on an elk burger for lunch and try the smoked rib eye for dinner. Their breakfast selection is the star of the show, ranging from a chili relleno bake with elk jalapeno sausage to the signature huckleberry bake with sweet brown butter. If there’s such a thing as Idaho cuisine, this is it.
After your meal, relax at the riverside patio bar. Sipping on a shake or craft beer while gazing out over dense forests and a wide-open sky is the definition of relaxation.
If you’re in Lowman, you can’t skip a visit to Kirkham Hot Springs. The gentle waterfalls and steaming pools of mineral water make this a favorite Southwest Idaho destination.
Adrenaline rush more your speed? The South Fork of the Payette is world-famous for its rapids. A half-day rafting trip will thrill whitewater lovers and newbies alike.
How to get there
From Boise, head north on Hwy 21 past Idaho City. Also known as the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Route, this section of Hwy 21 winds 33 miles through the mountains to Lowman. Southfork Lodge will be on your left, just before the river crossing.
Local’s tip: Don’t stress yourself out with mountain driving in the dark — stay the night at Southfork Lodge so you’re first in line for breakfast in the morning.
Steamers Steak & Seafood, McCall
Photo credit: Steamers Steak & Seafood
Seafood in a landlocked town? You’d better believe it. This local favorite is famous for its fresh seafood, decadent steaks, and friendly atmosphere.
Located on McCall’s bustling main street, Steamers is a classic resort town hangout. The outdoor section overlooks the marina, and it’s the perfect place to relax, chat, and enjoy the view. Indoor seating has a welcoming pub vibe with quirky decor and friendly staff.
Start your meal off right with their signature dish: steamed clams in a garlic white wine sauce. And while you’re at it, why not baked brie and lingonberry jam for the table? You can’t go wrong with an entree of Idaho Ruby Rainbow trout with lemon-caper butter. Talk your dining partner into ordering the beef tenderloin with a port and cranberry demi-glace, and steal a taste when they’re not looking.
McCall is Idaho’s playground. There’s no end to the fun, no matter the season. In the winter, spend the day skiing Brundage Mountain Resort. In the summer, get your lake life on at McCall Lake Cruises.
Take it slow and spend some time wandering and shopping in McCall’s historic downtown. After your meal, head next door to the iconic Ice Cream Alley.
How to get there
From Boise, head north on Hwy 55 for approximately 2 hours. Continue on through downtown McCall to where hwy 55 meets E Lake Street. Steamers is on the southwest corner of the intersection.
Local’s tip: Want to extend your McCall trip? We can’t blame you. Book a room at the historic Hotel McCall and soak in the local color.