Lunch: CK’s Real Food
When Chris Kastner, the longtime chef at Ketchum’s Evergreen restaurant, opened a fine-dining foodie temple in Hailey, heads turned. “Where is the best place to eat in Sun Valley?” visitors asked. “In Hailey,” the locals replied in unison. For more than five years now, Kastner has been turning out masterpieces of conscious cuisine. Plenty of regionally ranched beef, locally grown produce and even smart seafood, all prepared beautifully in the Idaho-French farmhouse the Kastners designed themselves. But prices weren’t low, so when CK’s opened a hot dog stand on their back porch last summer, heads turned again. There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but cheap and good is a delicious start. Last summer’s hot dogs and pitas have grown into Hailey’s best new lunch spot for everything from grilled Reuben sandwiches to vegan veggie bowls, with most items going for less than $10. Sit inside or on the deck this summer—look for the squash and creeping berry vines around back. And if a $3 meal is all you need, CK’s hasn’t ditched the simple idea that originally launched their lunch venture last summer. 320 S. Main St., Hailey, 208-788-1223, cksrealfood.net
Dinner: Lago Azul
Sandra Castillo moved to the Wood River Valley from Nampa in 2000, and she has been making the tastiest, most consistently satisfying El Salvadorian and Mexican food in the area since 2002. Specialties from her native El Salvador include the hangovercuring papusas, which are handmade cornmeal tortillas stuffed with ground pork and cheese and then griddle-fried. Unlike most Mexican places in the area, you can find Central American specialities like fried plantains, yucca and a simple Caldo de Res (beef soup) bursting with veggies and beef on the bone. The all-family-run Lago Azul serves breakfast all day, and the shredded beef machaca is a perfect example of how Castillo can take a simple combination of foods—eggs, skirt steak, onions and peppers in this case—and turn it into a food experience for less than $10. Other favorites include the Tacos Tinga—shredded chicken cooked with onions and chipotle, stuffed in a taco, flash-deep-fried and smothered in fresh veggies. Due to popular demand, Castillo is introducing Beef Tinga this summer. The fridge is always stocked with fresh horchata and a solid selection of Mexican beers. It’s not on the menu, but if you ask for a michelada, Chris Castillo will bring you the refreshing tomato juice, beer, hot sauce and Clamato creation you crave. 14 W. Croy St., Hailey, 208-578-1700 www. b oiseweekly.c o m
Lunch: Big Belly Deli
In the Main Street strip of casual lunch competition, you really can’t go wrong. Wize Guy Pizza was recently joined by McLeans Pizzeria, officially making this a two-pizza town. And for quick and sort of healthy-ish Mexican fare, try KB’s, which despite its name (Ketchum Burritos), now calls Hailey home. But on the north end of the strip, Big Belly Deli is the little sandwich shop that could. This place has really grown into its own during the past few years and has been offering more and more homemade deliciousness both on your sandwich (the white-bean spread is an ingenious complement to the all-veggie garden sandwich) and off (homemade yogurt, for real). 171 N. Main St., Hailey, 208-788-2411
Ketchum The jewel in the Wood River Valley’s crown, Ketchum is a classic ski town with a bit of an identity crisis. Real estate developers wonder if the town should be more like Aspen or Park City. Still others hope for an altogether unique destination. The good news is that all this hand-wringing is producing a wave of new eateries. Some will succeed, and some won’t, but for now, there are more new places to eat in Ketchum than at any time in the past few years.
Dinner: Sego Restaurant and Bar
This is the place that everyone who cares about food in Ketchum was talking about all winter and spring. The gourmet tavern was boldly opened by Las Vegas food veterans Kevin Stuessi and Taite Pearson in December, at the height of the Christmas crush. During high snow season, the place was crawling with celebrities, but they waited for tables just like everyone else. Chef Pearson built a Vegas-quality kitchen and has been turning out stunning food for almost six months now. The big secret about Sego is that, even though the decor is West Coast luxe, even though the chef is a strict locavore (by midJuly, it should be serving 90 percent Idahosourced food), and even though the menu’s creative gourmet options are on par with the hottest food trends in Brooklyn, Portland, Ore., or San Francisco, Sego is the best deal in Sun Valley. Take the burger—9 ounces of house-ground, grass-fed, top sirloin raised in Middleton, served on a pretzel bun with piles of zesty house-made tomato jam, balsamiccaramelized onions and heaps of hand-cut Idaho fries, all for $12. That is a deep, smoky, screaming bargain. And nothing on this always-changing, always-interesting menu tops $20, which, for this town, is news alone. This summer, Sego will blossom as it doubles its seating with al fresco dining on a street-level patio and a rooftop deck.
Vacation Rentals in Sun Valley, Idaho Value • Service Selection • Satisfaction www.HighCountry-Rentals.com 800.726.7076 • 208.726.1256 boiseweekly | 2010 WOOD RIVER VALLEY SUMMER GUIDE | 5
Boise Weekly's Guide to the Wood River Valley