THE YARDARM AND GEM STREET KITCHEN
It’s what you might find on a beach along the coast of Mexico or an island in the Caribbean: a place to slip off your sandals and dig your toes into warm sand while sipping an ice-cold beer and listening to waves break to the rhythm of reggae. But you’re not in Sayulita or Guanaja, you’re in the airy lot of The Yardarm in Garden City, just steps away from the Boise River wave-maker. Yes, Garden City.
Instead of a thatch-roofed palapa, you’ll find an “upcycled” shipping container that houses a reclaimed wood bar and deck. The Yardarm’s owner, Guy Midnight, imbued a tongue-in-cheek, industrial-nautical theme to his place—from its name to its layout and furnishings
A large sign near the cash register painted in black and white against an aquamarine background informs you that a “yardarm” is the horizontal pole on a ship’s mast used to hold up a sail. In nautical lore, pirates and sailors would get their first ration of rum when the sun rises above the yardarm, “The time of day when it is permissible to drink.”
Sun shades reminiscent of tan-colored boat sails keep the nautical allusion going while keeping the hot sun from blazing down on you. Water misters also help keep temperatures bearable.
According to Midnight, the surf bar feel is intentional.
“I wanted you come into it and be transported to a different place, and the surf wave had a lot to do with it,” said Midnight. “I wanted to feel like when the wave is in people are walking in with wetsuits and surfboards and people from Idaho are, like, ‘Where am I? This is crazy.’”
For liquid refreshment, The Yardarm offers 13 rotating taps of mostly craft beer, wine and cider. One tap seems to be reserved for Tecate Light or PBR, while Modelo cans from the fridge are served with a chunk of lime.
When hunger calls, you can shuffle your way through the sand to the Gem Street Kitchen, a food truck docked on one end of The Yardarm. As you’d expect, the truck offers beer-battered mahi-mahi, carnitas and carne asada tacos, as well as assorted burritos.
What you might not expect are artichoke heart tacos with a smear of aioli made from preserved lemon, white miso, black pepper and garlic; or sous-vide asparagus with microplaned preserved duck eggs sourced from Weiser; or, if you’re lucky, tomato tartare topped with a sous-vide egg yolk and microgreens. Food truck owner Max Lillie learned these cooking techniques while working with chefs at Boise’s Red Feather Lounge. His tomato tartare, though, is inspired by a tapas dish created by the Adrià brothers in Spain. Lillie also said to watch out soon for handmade tortillas and sopes, as well as seasonal vegetable dishes using ancient varieties of corn and peppers sourced from Fiddler’s Green Farm in Boise.
Once you’ve had your fill of food and drink and Midnight has finished serving last call, you can watch as he uses a winch to hoist and fold the wooden bar and deck into the side of the container, literally locking up for the night.
The Yardarm and Gem Street Kitchen
314 E. 35th St., Garden City
Open April–September, weather permitting
M–F 2pm–close, Sa–Su noon–close