When it comes to barbecue, Idahoans have a meaty selection.
Choices range from ubiquitous national chains to mom-and-pop joints and roadside shacks.
But one Gem State restaurant smokes all others, according to a new Yelp analysis. And, strangely, you don’t have to be a meat eater for it to make your mouth water.
BBQ4Life, 930 S. Vista Ave. in Boise, is the ’cue king in Idaho. The restaurant was highlighted in an article from global news publication Insider about the “Best BBQ Restaurant in Every State,” created in conjunction with Yelp.
A family-owned outfit, BBQ4Life serves an array of smoked meats. And vegan fare.
The dichotomy has been part of the restaurant’s DNA since its start. BBQLife celebrated its eighth anniversary at Vista Village strip mall last fall, but its roots go back 10 years to a food truck called B-Hive BBQ & Vegan.
Plant-based food is not an afterthought. It’s a significant part of the restaurant’s marketing on social media. You’ll find menu options such as the popular Smoked Tempeh Sandwich ($13 with side). Or try the Mushroom Mozzarella Burger ($14 with side) or Vegan Nachos ($16). And when there are meaty-sounding specials such as Chili Cheese Fries, those get offered regular or vegan.
But this is a barbecue joint, right? Carnivore-leaning diners definitely will find BBQ4Life’s pecan-wood-smoked meats tantalizing. The menu includes a ton of sandwich options priced starting at $11.50 for Pulled Pork up to $17 for Tri-Tip. (All come with a side.) You also can order solo meats. Or just go for the 2 Meat Plate & 1 Side ($18), which includes choice of two of the following proteins: 1/4-pound pulled pork, a pepperjack bratwurst link, 1/4-pound pastrami, 1/4-pound tri-tip or three ribs.
BBQ4Life might not offer the diverse meat selection of a larger, more traditional barbecue destination, but it has found a niche.
“Pulled pork and BBQ sauce on nachos? What were they thinking?” wrote one Yelp reviewer. “Thinking in a very creative and wonderful way. So tasty and so good. Combine that with such a very helpful and friendly staff — and owner — and you have a plus, plus, plus review.”
“In my eight years of being vegan I have never found such amazing BBQ,” wrote another. “It was so delicious I made my boyfriend try it to confirm it was vegan. They smoke the tempeh and it legit tasted like brisket.”
Wondering about the methodology used by Yelp, the long-running, crowd-sourced reviews site? Here’s the scoop, according to a Yelp public-relations specialist’s email:
“This is an all-time list of the top barbecue restaurant in every state, according to Yelp. To determine the best barbecue restaurant in every state, Yelp identified businesses in the restaurant category with a large concentration of reviews mentioning ‘barbecue,’ then ranked those spots using a number of factors, including the total volume and ratings of reviews mentioning those keywords. When available, all of the businesses listed also have a passing health score and are marked open as of March 13, 2023.”
This tale was originally printed March 28, 2023, 1:55 PM.