12 Idaho Restaurants With The Best Potato Dishes, Ranked

Even if you know nothing else about Idaho, you've likely heard of the state's reputation for growing potatoes. The versatile starchy vegetable is what the state is famous for. Though technically Idaho is known as "The Gem State" because of the rare minerals that can be found there, most think of it as "The Potato State" because it grows more potatoes than any other American state, accounting for one-third of the nation's potato farming. Three hundred thousand acres of the state are devoted entirely to growing over 30 varieties of root tubers that go into making some of the best dishes in a variety of cuisines around the world.

It may come as a surprise, however, that potatoes aren't native to Idaho. The crop was introduced to the land in the mid-19th century, and as luck would have it, the conditions in Idaho were perfect for potato growing. The combination of weather, volcanic soil, and the pure water that melts from the snow-capped mountains make the region ideal for potato farming. So is it any wonder that restaurants in the state take advantage of the locally-grown, perfected potato? Let's take a closer look at some of the best potato dishes the state offers and where to find them.

Parrilla Grill - Boise

Parrilla Grill is a popular cantina-style restaurant that serves burritos, tacos, and nachos that aren't strictly limited to Mexican flavors. There are two locations in the capital city of Boise, one in the Hyde Park neighborhood and one downtown. The restaurant's menu is composed of fusion cuisine and contains surprising ingredients like wasabi, thai peanut sauce, and Cajun spices — just to name a few.

With its penchant for the unexpected and its neighborhood pub atmosphere, leave it to Parrilla Grill to add one item you may not have thought to add with nachos: tater tots. But considering its location, it isn't surprising there's an homage to the state on the Parrilla Grill menu that utilizes potatoes in an unexpected way. The popular Idaho nachos are composed of typical snack ingredients like tortilla chips, a cheesy gaucho sauce, black beans, and cilantro. It's the dish's house-fried crispy tater tots made from potatoes grown in Idaho that turn it into a local favorite. And if you need a little extra protein, you can also add meat to the cheesy chips. The nachos pair perfectly priced Tecate or draught beer during the pub's popular happy hour.

Smitty's Pancake and Steak House - Idaho Falls

Smitty's Pancake & Steak House is located in the picturesque Idaho Falls on the Snake River. The diner has been serving homestyle comfort food to the community since 1966. Though the establishment came under new ownership and the restaurant was fully remodeled in 2020, its pancake recipes have been unchanged for over 50 years. The menu comprises a variety of homemade pancakes, all made from secret, decades-old recipes, including classic buttermilk, old-fashioned sourdough, Southern pecan, gluten-free, and German pancakes. But the potato pancakes make this Idaho landmark stand out amongst other pancake houses.

The famous Idaho flapjacks have grated potatoes mixed right into the batter resulting in a slightly crunchy exterior. However, these potato pancakes are different from latkes and have a much fluffier, typical pancake interior. They're made to be eaten with either applesauce or sour cream (though some may drench them in the standard maple syrup instead). The result is a satisfying and savory pancake for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

If you're still hankering for more potato treats after the pancakes, Smitty's also offers red-skin mashed potatoes, hand-cut french fries, tater tots, and baked potatoes on the menu. 

The Westside Drive-in - Boise

There's no shortage of potato dishes at The Westside Drive-in. The 1950s-themed diner has been open since 1994 and has become one of the most famous food spots in Idaho and has even been featured on Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives." The restaurant, which has two locations in Boise, has a huge menu of made-from-scratch items, including Super Spuds, which boasts to be the "biggest bakers in the valley." You can get your pound of starch filled with broccoli and cheddar or stuffed with bacon, chives, and sour cream. Or if you're one for the simpler tastes, the Basic Idahoan is just plain butter. You'll also find other American classics like potato salad and mashed potatoes with gravy as side dishes. And you can't expect to go to a drive-in like this one without finding classic diner potato-forward finger foods like French fries, cheese fries, chili cheese fries, curly fries, or tater tots. 

Then to finish off a potential potato feast, The Westside serves a famous potato-emulating dessert. While it's only vanilla ice cream dusted with cocoa and topped with whipped cream to look like a baked potato with swirls of sour cream on top, it will nearly have you fooled into thinking it's the real thing.

Boise Fry Company - Boise

Boise Fry Company is a French fry connoisseur's heaven. The Boise chain has six locations throughout the city and in neighboring towns. The burger-heavy menu offers such a wide variety of fries that its tagline is "Where the burgers come on the side." Idaho is surely the only state where you can find a restaurant that offers six different types of fries made from six different varieties of potatoes, all sourced from local farms and fried in non-GMO oils. The russet fries are the most traditional; the gold potatoes are a bit lighter; the fries made from Laura (or red) potatoes are described as nutty and buttery, while the yam fries will be fibrous and sweet but not as sugary as the sweet potato fries. The seasonal purple fries, made from locally sourced organic purple potatoes, are also a unique option.

Once the customer decides on the type of potato, they can choose their preferential cut, which changes daily but can include regular, homestyle, curly, shoestring, or po'ball (similar to a tater tot). The restaurant offers various dipping sauces — from ketchup, garlic aioli, and a special Fry Sauce to sweet mustard, barbecue sauce, and the most original one: blueberry ketchup. For the high umami fry consumer, Boise Fry Company also offers specialty ones fried in duck fat and topped with truffle salt or truffle fries with pungent minced garlic and Parmesan.

Diablo & Sons Saloon - Boise

Diablo & Sons Saloon in downtown Boise boasts a devilishly tasteful ambiance with a menu full of flame-grilled dishes. Known for its decadent saloon atmosphere, craft cocktails, and extensive draft beer list, the restaurant is committed to creating unique dishes sourced from local ingredients that are cooked in creative ways. Its menu is predominantly Mexican-inspired, and the kitchen certainly fits in a few Idahoan twists. The smashed fried potato taco, for example, is an elevated take on a locally-inspired taco, loaded with Idaho russets and fire-roasted chiles, drizzled with horseradish lemon BBQ sauce, and sprinkled with Manchego cheese, scallions, and pickled onions.

The Patatas Diablo is another potato-heavy highlight. Similar to the taco, the dish consists of fried russet potatoes and horseradish-lemon bbq. A russet-potato menu item called the Five-point Fries is topped with caramelized black salsa, Parmesan cheese, and a Middle-Eastern-inspired pistachio dukkah. Clearly, the culinary minds behind Diablo & Sons have created some sinfully delicious ways to enjoy Idaho's favorite crop, making it a popular spot for foodies in Boise. 

Spud's Waterfront Grill - Sandpoint

Spud's Waterfront Grill is located in Sandpoint, a scenic, historic town on Lake Pend Oreille, where many outdoor adventurers go for activities like skiing, mountain biking, and boating. As the name suggests, Spud's is right on the water, so you can devour one of the many specialty-loaded baked potatoes while enjoying a pleasant view. The local spot — only open for lunch — offers a unique variety of spuds. Take one called Drag it Through the Garden, which features broccoli, cucumbers, spinach, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and purple cabbage, dressed with a green onion dill sauce. Other adventurous spuds include the Mexican-inspired South of the Border (black beans and salsa verde) or the zingy, summery Papa Fresca, including thinly sliced and Himalayan-pink-salted avocado with lemon juice. 

If classic spuds are more your style, have no fear. The menu also features an American-style spud with bacon, butter, and sour cream, an English style with just butter, and a broccoli cheddar baked potato. Overall, Squd's is the place to find classic Idaho taters with fresh ingredients. Not to mention the lovely waterfront scenery that adds a little extra enticement.

Barbacoa Grill - Boise

The concept of Barbacoa Grill in Boise is based on the lifestyle of cowboys and ranchers. To be exact, the cuisine is inspired by "the vaqueros of Spain," "the gaucho of Argentina," "the llanero of the Brazilian plains," and "the charro of Mexico," owner Robert Castoro and Chef Enrique Martinez have explained. The dishes are cooked using an open-fire grill. Though it is a meat-heavy menu, it's the garlic mashed potatoes we're here to talk about. The side dish is a customer favorite.

The mashed potatoes, grown in Idaho, are full of garlicky goodness and are served in a mini iron skillet, presented in an aesthetically pleasing swirl, and topped with fresh herbs. The dish comes as a side with the Coulotte steak and Cajun shrimp, as well as with the New Zealand grilled lamb chops. But if you're just looking for a vegetarian potato fix of Idaho-grown, then you can grab the garlic mashed potatoes a la carte for $10. The menu also includes a classic Idaho baked potato which would be a great compliment to any of Barbacoa's flame-grilled mains. 

Bittercreek Ale House - Boise

The unofficial national food of Canada may be this quintessential Quebecois dish, but America has some great places for poutine as well. With its base of potatoes, it's not surprising that you can find cheese curd and gravy-topped french fries in Idaho. At Bittercreek Alehouse in downtown Boise, it's a customer-favorite item on the menu.

What makes this poutine unique and unequivocally Idahoan? It's entirely made from local ingredients. It starts with the pub's French fries, made with potatoes from M&M Heath Farms located in Buhl and hand-cut daily by Bittercreek. Then they're topped with house-made gravy and braised pork from McIntyre Farms, an hour outside Boise. Ballard, a local dairy farm, makes the cheese curd. Sprinkled scallions top the dish. A host of reviews rave about how deliciously flavorful the french fries are. It's an elevated finger food that pairs perfectly with one of the bar's many beers, from bitter and hoppy pale ales to toasty porters and rich stouts. At Bittercreek Alehouse, you'll find comfort pub food at its best. 

Pie Hole - Multiple locations

Pie Hole is an Idaho franchise that began in Boise. The late-night by-the-slice pizza joint also has a location in Idaho Falls and has even expanded to nearby states. While Pie Hole has a menu full of unique slice options, all with deliciously floppy New York-style thin crust, the Potato & Bacon pie acts as a reminder of the restaurant's Idaho origins. It's unsurprisingly one of the most popular slices at its Idaho Falls location. The potato pie consists of creamy Alfredo sauce, thinly-sliced roasted potatoes, a gooey blend of cheese, and bits of bacon to top it off. It's a spud in pizza form.

All ingredients for the popular Idahoan pizza are made fresh every day in-house, per East Idaho News. The Alfredo sauce is a Pie Hole original, and the star of the pie — the potatoes — are hand-sliced, seasoned, and roasted by the staff daily. It's no wonder customers can't get enough of this unique potato dish. If you've never thought of putting potato on a pie, it's high time you try this Pie Hole specialty and dig the praise for yourself. 

Meltz Extreme - Multiple locations

A sandwich may not be the dish you would expect to find a potato in, but Meltz Extreme Grilled Cheese doesn't shy away from unexpected and even wacky ingredients. The gooey comfort food haven started in Coeur d'Alene and has another location in Boise. The sandwiches served at Meltz have been highlighted in national acclaim. 

Like many Idaho restaurants, the chefs take advantage of the surrounding potato farms and don't skimp on providing a host of potato options. The Burger Bomber has shoestring fries loaded right into the sandwich, along with beef, bacon, tomato, and bacon. Stuffed with beer-battered French fries, the CC Poutine sandwich is a nod to the Canadian dish and features beef short rib, cheese curds, and gravy.

If a French fry sandwich sounds too "extreme" for your tastes, Meltz's potato chips are another excellent buy. Made from Idaho russets, the chips are hand cut and fried fresh daily and seasoned with a special "extreme" spice blend. You can choose from various dipping sauces to dunk your chips in; there's a kale jalapeño bacon cheese sauce, tangy Gorgonzola and sweet chili dip, or an herby artichoke ancho pesto and pickled pepper sauce. The Cheezy Scalloped Potato Pie is also not to be missed. A Meltz original, the pie is as rich, creamy, and starchy as the name insinuates, all packed inside a crumbly crouton crust.

Madre- Boise

At Madre in Boise, you'll find an array of tacos that contain unique components. This "boutique taqueria" uses entirely fresh ingredients. The chef, John Cuevas, creates every detail of the aesthetically pleasing tacos from scratch and serves them in an upscale yet laid-back environment. The Idaho spud and chorizo taco is a nod to the restaurant's home state and is created with local potatoes, chorizo, and topped with mojo and jalapeño pesto.

But Madre is not just using the state vegetable for tacos. You'll also find potato taquitos on the menu. If you don't already know, taquitos are rolled, deep-fried, often-stuffed tortillas that are delicate and crispy treats perfect for dipping. Madre's taquitos are stuffed with starchy potato filling and dressed with lux ingredients: guacamole, pico de gallo, and crema. While the menu items are rotating and change according to seasonal ingredients, the potato tacos and potato taquitos are consistent items throughout the seasons.

Pioneer Saloon - Ketchum

Of all the restaurants on this list, The Pioneer Saloon is the oldest. The historical restaurant has been serving booze, steaks, and potatoes since 1953, per USA Today. Located in Ketchum, a historical frontier town often visited for its nearby skiing attractions, the saloon is full of Western decor and doesn't look much different than it did when it opened 70 years ago.

The steakhouse-style spot is known for oversized spuds, with some even weighing in as much as 4 pounds. The Jim Spud is particularly popular. Folks who order the famous dish will be served a perfectly baked Idaho-raised potato that is fluffed up and stuffed with butter, caramelized onions, chives, and sliced steak, which then gets smothered under a blanket of gooey cheese. And for vegetarians, there are meat-free spuds on the menu as well.

While we can't say Pioneer Saloon's spuds are the most unique potato dish on the list, they're seemingly the most famous and the most consistently top-rated. So if you're looking for a tried and true Idaho restaurant that will make you feel like you stepped straight into the Wild West, Pioneer Saloon is for you. You certainly won't find a more classic Idaho baked potato.