Exploring Boise: A Walking Culinary and Cultural Tour
After zigzagging across the country for 25 years as a sports and entertainment executive, Angela Taylor’s decision to move back to her home state of Idaho might not have seemed like the obvious next career move. But perhaps that made more sense than her decision to then start Boise’s first culinary walking tour—when she’d actually never been on one. That was in November 2015. Taylor launched Indulge Boise in June 2016.
“My mission for Indulge Boise was to be a conduit to help promote local businesses and restaurants,” Taylor explains via email, “to motivate people to visit neighborhoods they aren’t familiar with or to sample cuisine they wouldn’t normally order off a menu and to celebrate the things that we all love about Boise, the Treasure Valley and Idaho.”
Taylor’s timing was right on trend. In a 2013 report on culinary travel, Mandala Research found that 51% of leisure travelers were planning vacations specifically around eating and drinking experiences. This includes reservations at celebrity chef’s restaurants, food festivals, cooking classes and culinary walking tours.
“Fueled by strong consumer interest in cooking shows,” Taylor continues, “an increase in the number of food and wine enthusiasts, the advent of social platforms such as Instagram, where foodies can post pictures of food, and a plethora of food, wine and craft beer festivals popping up around the globe, culinary tourism has quickly become one of the fastest growing industries in the world.”
And there’s good reason for that. The laid-back pace of a culinary walking tour is an ideal way to experience any city—including Boise. Taylor suggests wearing comfortable shoes and preparing for plenty in the way of food, drink and history while strolling Boise’s downtown streets—history I’d wager many Boise natives don’t know. Over two and a half to three hours the tours stop at locally owned restaurants, at the farmers market stalls and shops—some new on the Boise food scene and some longtime favorites—all featuring local ingredients. Going away hungry—or thirsty, if you add the optional alcohol pairing—is definitely not a concern.
On the Historic Downtown Boise Food and Cultural Tour, for example, there might be a stop at Guru Donuts in the historic Idanha Hotel built in 1901 for, at that time, an astounding $125,000. At the Basque Market you’ll be served not only croquetas, chorizo and slushy white sangrias, but also a little Basque history. At Olivin, you’ll be coached on the differences between the various olive oils and balsamic vinegars. The Chocolate Bar ensures a sweet ending with samples ranging from floral to spicy, paired with an explanation of the chocolate-making process.
“I have to pinch myself from time to time because this has been such a wonderful journey thus far. I’m not sure what I expected when I launched Indulge Boise, but it has been an amazing endeavor for a plethora of reasons,” says Taylor. “One of my favorite aspects of doing the tours is the people… the opportunity to meet and connect with fascinating people of all ages from Idaho as well as those from other parts of the world. From guests visiting from as far away as New Zealand to North End natives, I love being able to share, or in some cases introduce, guests to the rich history we have in the City of Trees, the cultures unique to this area, the beautiful architecture and public art found in various neighborhoods, and, of course, the amazing culinary scene that is emerging in one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.”
Indulge Boise accommodates 16 guests per tour and currently has three offerings: their signature Historic Downtown Boise Food and Cultural Tour, the Capital City Sunday Brunch Tour and the Boise Booze + Bites Happy Hour Tour. Angela Taylor plans to launch more options in 2018. Corporate and private group tour options are also available.