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Al Fresco Dining, Eagle Style

Five Great Restaurant Patios For Any Taste or Occasion

Story and Photography by Pete Grady

The breeze picks up as our server glides to our table, tray in hand and smile on her face. “Who had the High Desert Margarita?” she queries with a voice both lilting and gently assertive. A gust moves upward to rustle the leaves of the cottonwoods, their pitch in tune with the threshing murmur of a nearby waterfall. Sunlight sneaks through the trees, performing an effortless tango across our table, while our friends share their escapades from a recent weekend trip to McCall. Time stands still, for a moment, and any concerns about the pool’s pump going out, the hotel losing reservations for next month’s trip, or that check that bounced seem very far away indeed.

Al fresco dining during the warmer months is quite popular, and restaurateurs have been quick to figure that out. So much so, that it’s difficult to think of an Eagle eatery that doesn’t have some kind of outdoor seating. Of course, what good is a fabulous place to relax and visit with friends without great food? With those ideals in mind, we set about creating a list of patio options that serve a variety of fare, from a humble cup of coffee to an elaborate five course feast. By no means are these the only or even the best of choices, but here are five tempting terraces we think are terrific.

Rice
Rice offers its tasty Asian Fusion cuisine with a decidedly contemporary flair. Inside, the decor compliments that modern aesthetic with a minimalist elegance. Outside, the ambiance becomes more populist. Huge trees cover a patio that transitions into the kind of deck we all wish we had at home. A multi-level stained wooden veranda takes advantage of the ample shade, while also providing a feeling of privacy. Start with a Crispy Spring Roll with Lettuce Wrap as a warm up, then move on to the Chinese Kung Pao Chicken for a bit of a spicy kick. Energetic proprietor, Toffee Dullaphan, is happy to set the deck aside to host your event, so don’t hesitate to ask her about that and the special perks of VIP membership.

Rembrandt’s Coffee House
Established in 1997 by owner Mark Priddy, Rembrandt’s Coffee House has become an Eagle icon, serving up delicious micro-roasted coffee drinks, teas, and a savory assortment of quiches and baked goods. As much as we love to wander indoors to relax amid the stunning architecture of this former church and admire Priddy’s eclectic selection of artworks, the summer months find us more often than not on the patio out front. Beneath the gaze of the steeple and a delightfully geometric kinetic sculpture, umbrellas hover over mosaic tiled tables. Get there early and mingle with everyone from soccer moms to local executives and retirees enjoying their lattes adorned with Rembrandt’s signature “R” atop the foam.

Bella Aquila
With a setting right out of the pages of a resort brochure, Bella Aquila’s patio is difficult to top. Winding along the length of the river side of the restaurant, enormous stone waterfalls anchor each end of this splendid terrace. The rushing turbulence provides a relaxing ambiance for your dinner table conversations, and since this veranda is set back well off the road, the pleasant sound of rushing water is the only white noise you will experience. Afternoons find this locale at its best as the sun dips behind the trees that flank the Boise River. Bella Aquila serves up everything from the simple and elegant Insalata Caprese with balsamic-splashed tomatoes, mozzarella, whole basil and basil oil, to robust entrees like their Black & Bleu, a pan-blackened rib-eye steak topped with Gorgonzola and fresh herbs. Celebrating more than five years at this location, this is the place to take guests to impress.

Bardenay
As delightful as it is to enjoy Bardenay’s Boise location on the Basque Block downtown, the Eagle venue offers up the classic riverside setting and natural ambiance that Idaho is rightfully famous for. Surrounded by stone and ornamental iron walls, baskets overflowing with luscious flowers, and ample shade from three tiered umbrellas, diners can ogle the tree-lined banks of the river as Greenbelt strollers amble by. A favorite of locals as well visitors, Bardenay offers a full bar, some of which are products of Bardenay’s own distillery, as well as a comprehensive menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and entrees. Be sure to sample the Grilled Shrimp salad, featuring notes of bleu cheese and heirloom tomatoes. Also recommended is The Grilled Atlantic Salmon, which is set off by a dab of sun-dried tomato butter—fish on!

Smoky Mountain Pizzeria Grill
If you’re more in the mood to be part of the action, Smoky Mtn. Pizza’s spot along the boulevard might be just the thing for you. Near enough to an intersection that traffic is slow and quiet, it’s nonetheless the place to be to run into friends and neighbors as they walk along Eagle’s downtown promenade. Set amidst shops, parks and other local eateries, Smoky Mtn. offers a full bar with a focus on pizza, yet the newly revamped menu offers something for everyone, from grilled fish entrees to burgers, sandwiches, salads, and a variety of pasta dishes. For something different, try their Santa Cruz BBQ pizza. It features BBQ chicken, mushrooms, bacon, jalapeños and smoked Gouda set on a creamy garlic sauce. General Manager Mike Stevens recommends a glass of Sawtooth Pinot Gris to compliment this unique dish. Kids get their own choices as well, so bring the family.

From getting your motor running with an early morning coffee, discussing mergers and acquisitions over a sandwich at lunch, or just to winding down and planning your weekend in the evening while nibbling a salad, Eagle has a dining patio to please anyone. Make plans to get out today and enjoy the summer at these fabulous local hotspots, you won’t regret it.