Rockies Diner, Boise, Idaho
From the second you step into Rockies Diner in the Gem State’s capital, it feels like you’ve gone back to the 1950′s. The waitresses are on skates, the music is from two generations ago and the lights and checkerboard floor are exactly what you’d find in the old movies. In every sense of the word, Rockies is the classic American diner.
Of course, that includes the food. Whether it’s breakfast or lunch, you’re bound to find something good at Rockies, a statement I can make because I’ve managed to show up at both times of the day (thank you, Idaho state basketball tournament) to try some completely different options.
On the breakfast side of things, Rockies is known for its wide variety of burgers. These aren’t ridiculous-sized burgers, with the exception of the Johnny B. Goode and the Earthquake, but they certainly are delicious and creative. Options such as the Sourdough Burger, the Zorba (gyro meat on the burger), the Bleu Cheese, the Mushroom and the Colossal (pastrami-topped) dot the menu on the normal burger side. Open-faced burgers are available, covered in chili and cheese for a delicious combination that is best tried while wearing a color other than white. You can also get the chili cheeseburger as a standard, topped burger.
On my two burger visits, I’ve gone with the Mushroom and the Chili Cheeseburger, with a side of fries added. Rockies’ fries are standard and thick-cut, exactly what you’d expect from a diner. They’ve got plenty of potato (it is Idaho, after all) and plenty of taste.
The two big burgers, which I wasn’t touching, include one regular burger and one open-faced. The Earthquake adds a second patty to the mix, and adds pastrami, bacon, chili and two kinds of cheese. The biggest is the Johnny B. Goode, which is part of the Rockies’ Challenge. The burger includes three patties, a hot dog, pastrami, two cheeses and is smothered in chili. Somehow, it costs less than the Earthquake. I have no idea what kind of accountants they’re employing at Rockies, because this burger weighs 4 1/2 pounds.
When the Johnny B. Goode is made a part of the challenge, it gets paired with a 16 ounce milkshake and a 1 1/2 pound plate of chili cheese fries, and you’ve got a half-hour to get those down with the entire restaurant staring at you in order to try to win a guitar. I do not recommend even trying it, but going to Rockies and not getting a milkshake is a mistake. I’ve only tried the chocolate, and with a full serving of whipped cream, it’s wonderful. Other flavors include vanilla, strawberry, Oreo, cherry, caramel, black raspberry and banana.
On the breakfast front, Rockies delivers in the form of omelets. Nine different omelets are available, including a mushroom Swiss omelet that is basically a siren song for me (about the only greater siren song for me is peanut butter pie). The combination of egg, shroom and cheese works perfectly, and when paired with some high-quality hash browns (it’s Idaho, you cannot find a bad potato in the state) and sourdough toast, it’s a perfect way to start your day.
Diners from the 1950′s are all over the country, but few provide the food quality that can be found at Rockies. The wide options available make this place stand out from the genre, and make it worth a visit.
Time to go: Anytime. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Rockies has a satisfying meal available.
Wait during my visit: None. Diners tend not to have long waits, and Rockies is no exception.
Location: Rockies is at 3900 West Overland Road in Boise, Idaho.
Cost: Most burgers are under $10. You should be able to get out of here for under $15.
Parking: Not a lot, and the lot isn’t easy to navigate, but you shouldn’t have too many issues finding a spot.
Website: Rockies Diner. The restaurant also advertises specials on its site and Facebook page.
Specialty items: Omelets, burgers, milshakes