While famous for its potatoes, Idaho’s culinary contributions stretch far beyond just stellar spuds. This scenic northwestern state boasts a diverse blend of flavors from its rich agricultural valleys, foraging traditions of Native American tribes, and more recent influences from Basque immigrants and the booming wine and craft beer scenes. Idaho’s unique geography has cultivated a distinctive regional cuisine worth exploring.

A few tasty fun facts about Idaho:

  • The Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot celebrates the state’s iconic russet potatoes with exhibits, a potato cafe, and the world’s first potato hotel!

  • Boise has one of the largest concentrations of Basque residents outside of Spain, introducing ciders, Txokos (private gastronomic clubs where members gather to cook, eat, and socialize), and cured chorizo to Idaho’s food culture.

  • With its snowy peaks, abundant wildlife, and pristine rivers, Idaho is an outdoorsman’s paradise perfect for foraging wild huckleberries, buffalo berries, camas root, and mushrooms.

  • Lewis-Clark Valley in northern Idaho has developed into an up-and-coming wine region, especially for exquisite Riesling and Syrah varieties perfectly suited to the area’s soil and climate.

Now let’s dig into some of Idaho’s most iconic dishes

Idaho Rainbow Trout
Idaho’s glacier-fed rivers teem with flavorful rainbow trout that lend themselves perfectly to recipes like smoked trout dip, trout cakes, bacon-wrapped trout, and more. For peak freshness, many locals even develop their own secret recipes for curing trout caught straight from the streams.

Finger Steaks
Idaho finger steaks are a local favorite. Imagine strips of tender beef, about the size of your finger, coated in a crispy batter and deep-fried until golden brown. They’re usually served with a side of cocktail sauce or fry sauce for dipping. It’s like a cross between chicken fingers and steak – hearty, satisfying, and perfect for snacking. Originating in Boise in the 1950s, these tasty morsels have become a staple in bars and casual restaurants across the state.

Basque Chorizo
From the booming Basque culture of Idaho comes this cured, smoky, garlicky chorizo sausage found in dishes like chorizo con puris (sausage hash), solomo sandwiches, and charred on hot coals during the region’s traditional Basque barbecues.

Idaho Sturgeon caviar
Idaho Sturgeon caviar is a high-end delicacy that’s been making waves in the culinary world. Produced from white sturgeon raised in the pristine waters of the Snake River aquifer, this caviar is known for its clean, nutty flavor with a buttery finish. It’s often compared favorably to wild Caspian Sea caviar, but with the added benefit of being sustainably farmed.

Potatoes are still Idaho’s claim to fame, but there’s a lot more to the state’s food scene than most people realize. Idaho’s varied landscape offers up a smorgasbord of ingredients, and locals are getting creative with them.

From quality meats raised on local ranches to wild-foraged goodies, there’s a surprising variety. It’s turning into a bit of an under-the-radar food destination. If you’re into good eats, Idaho might just surprise you.