When you think of locally sourced ingredients in Idaho, potatoes probably come to mind first. After all, Idaho license plates have been promoting their “famous potatoes” for nearly 100 years. And while you can enjoy delicious baked, mashed, and fried versions at almost every restaurant in the state, Idaho is also known for its dairy, beef, and lamb. With the Snake River flowing through Idaho Falls, expect trout to be on the menu in this beautiful southeast Idaho city.
From breakfast to dinner, these are my favorite restaurants in Idaho Falls.
Note: Some of my meals have been hosted. All opinions are my own.
1. Dixie’s Diner
For a filling meal with a pinch of 1950s nostalgia, head to Dixie’s Diner. The checkerboard tiles, neon signs and jukeboxes will make you feel like you’ve stepped inside the set Happy Days. (Wearing a poodle skirt is optional.) Dixie’s is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch, and as you’d expect from a diner, you can order breakfast all day.
What to order at Dixie’s Diner
For a filling breakfast, opt for a three-egg omelet like the Idaho, which adds hash brown to the egg layer and is filled with bacon, sausage, chives and melted cheddar cheese. For lunch, bite into a juicy, made-to-order hamburger. And for dinner, try a classic diner fare like meatloaf and mashed potatoes or chicken smothered in gravy with rotisserie chicken.
2. Smitty’s Pancake and Steak House
Located just steps from the Japanese Friendship Garden on the Idaho Falls River Walk, Smitty’s Pancake & Steak House is a great place to refuel before a scenic walk along the Snake River. It is open 7 days a week for breakfast and lunch, and for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
What to order at Smitty’s Pancake & Steak House
As the name suggests, you can’t go wrong with Smitty’s Pancakes! Stick to a simple stack of Smitty’s famous buttermilk pancakes and top them with strawberries, blueberries, sliced bananas or chocolate chips for a little something extra. Or try their pancake specialties: including Southern pecan with toasted nuts; Potato served with applesauce, bacon, or sour cream; or German, topped with powdered sugar.
Pro Tip: If you’re visiting Idaho Falls with a gluten allergy or sensitivity, you’ll be pleased to know that Smitty’s offers a gluten-free version of its famous pancakes.
3. MacKenzie River Pizza
For pizza in Idaho Falls, I recommend MacKenzie River Pizza Co. right on the Idaho Falls Greenbelt Trail. They have nearly 20 specialty pizzas, including several inspired by seasonal local ingredients. You can choose your own crust so you can choose original, thin or gluten free. This Idaho Falls restaurant is more than a pizza place; MacKenzie River also has a wide variety of salads, sandwiches, bowls and pastas.
What to order at MacKenzie River Pizza
For a specialty pizza you can’t get anywhere else, I recommend the Mountain Harvest with pesto sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, caramelized onions, and roasted butternut squash, served with a sage-honey side. I’m also a fan of the jalapeño popper pizza with cream cheese, smoked bacon, and fresh jalapeños. And while everyone knows calories don’t count on vacation, the decadent mack and cheese barbecue fries, pulled pork, bourbon barbecue sauce, and green onions are worth every bit of their 1,000 calorie count.
4. Jaker’s Bar and Grill
In a nondescript building just a short walk from the Snake River, the team at Jakers Bar and Grill prepares everything from scratch daily. And as if that wasn’t amazing enough, Jakers takes happy hour seriously, with delicious discounts on appetizers, draft beer, house wine and cocktails every day of the week, including weekends! In the near future, Jakers will launch a Smart Plate Menu that will offer smaller portions and lower prices specifically for diners over 60.
What to order at Jakers Bar And Grill
For a filling comfort meal that lets you enjoy several Idaho staples, try the meatloaf. It’s made with a combination of ground sirloin and Italian sausage, and served with mashed potatoes and a half-glaze of black pepper. I also recommend the seared salmon served on a cedar board or one of Jakers flame grilled burgers. Try the campfire burger with bacon, cheddar cheese and crispy fried onions.
Pro Tip: Jakers Bar and Grill has a special menu for vegetarians and those on a gluten free diet.
5. The SnakeBite Restaurant
Family owned and operated since 1994, SnakeBite Restaurant has been a local favorite for decades. Located in the heart of historic downtown Idaho Falls, The SnakeBite is known for its delicious appetizers and gourmet burgers.
What you can order at SnakeBite Restaurant
As someone who lives in the nation’s most landlocked state, I’m always drawn to seafood and salmon when I visit the Pacific Northwest. If you feel the same way, start your meal with the homemade sockeye salmon venison pies served with chipotle sour cream or clams sautéed in a white wine broth and served with toasted pesto sourdough.
SnakeBite also serves several delicious grilled dishes, including Western-inspired burgers like the Grand Teton with Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and avocado; the Blue Snake River with green chili blue cheese; and the cowboy with homemade barbeque sauce and an onion ring. There are also chicken, vegetarian and salmon dishes. The South Fork Salmon Sandwich with blackened sockeye salmon, roasted red peppers, sautéed onions and pesto was absolutely amazing.
Pro Tip: Unless you’re from the Rocky Mountain region of the United States, you might not be familiar with gravy. Popular in Utah in the mid-20th century in Salt Lake City restaurants, the gravy is usually an equal mix of mayonnaise and ketchup served with french fries. The gravy at The SnakeBite was some of the best I’ve ever eaten, probably because it had a little kick to it. My waiter wasn’t sure what sets it apart from the myriad other gravies I’ve tried over the years, but my guess is paprika and some cayenne.
6. Smoking fins
For seafood, sushi and more, head to Smokin Fins near the River Walk in Idaho Falls. Located right on the Idaho Falls River Walk, they offer a wide variety of appetizers, sandwiches, tacos, sushi and more.
Pro tip: If your Idaho Falls experience leaves you wanting more smokin fins, you can also find locations in Arizona and Colorado.
What you can order at Smokin Fins
Seafood lovers will enjoy starting their meal with the lobster-stuffed avocado, homemade lobster tater tots served with chipotle aioli, or the amazing shrimp appetizer, which features crispy shrimp with honey chipotle sauce and ranch combined dressing. Meat lovers will enjoy the prime rib sandwich with sautéed mushrooms and onions, smoked gouda and horseradish cream in mushroom au jus. And if you’re craving halibut, you’re sure to enjoy the Pistachio-Crusted Alaskan Halibut, served with mashed potatoes, pistachio cream, and asparagus. No matter what you choose at Smokin Fins, you can add a bottomless mimosa to your order any day until 2pm.
Pro tip: If you are looking for an amazing place to stay in Idaho Falls, I recommend the Residence Inn by Marriott Idaho Falls. Not only is it right on the Idaho Falls River Walk across from the Japanese Friendship Garden, but it’s also within walking distance of several restaurants on this list, including Smokin Fins.
7. Sandpiper Restaurant
For fine dining overlooking the river, there is the Sandpiper Restaurant. The seafood served at Sandpiper is flown in daily, and the chefs make all of the sauces, soups, and desserts from scratch.
What you can order from Sandpiper
Sandpiper is known for its delicious steaks – especially the slow-roasted prime rib – and jumbo crab legs. In addition to this excellent selection, meat lovers will delight in the Sandpiper Steak, a bacon-wrapped grilled tenderloin served with sautéed mushrooms and Burgundy and Bearnaise sauces. And fish lovers will rave about Idaho’s ruby rainbow trout.
Pro Tip: If your travels take you to Pocatello, a town of about 56,000 at the intersection of Interstates 15 and 86, you can also dine at the original Sandpiper Restaurant.
8. Copper Groove Restaurant
Located just off the left bank of the Snake River, Copper Rill is a great place for dinner in downtown Idaho Falls. Led by Southeast Idaho native chef Jud Wilcox, guests can enjoy a wide variety of perfectly prepared appetizers, pasta dishes and entrees, all served by impeccable service.
What to order at the Copper Rill Restaurant
Known for its steaks and seafood, you’ll surely enjoy the black and blue filet mignon with creamy gorgonzola, the flat iron steak with Madeira mushroom sauce, or the baked haddock with lobster and mango salsa. And if you fancy pasta, try the sautéed shrimp chicken fusilli with lobster sauce or the handmade butternut squash ravioli with sage and blue cheese cream sauce.
From a stack of buttermilk pancakes for breakfast to a multi-course meal with wine for dinner, these are my favorite restaurants in Idaho Falls.
Before you travel, find out everything you need to know about Idaho: