Boise, Idaho is steeped in rich culture and history. Much of the influence comes from the Basque community. Numbering about 16,000, Boise's Basque people have one of the largest of Basque communities in the United States. In fact, it is the largest population in the world outside of Spain. The Boise and Treasure Valley Basques have a unique area to call their own — The Basque Block. The Block is now a hub of activity and a major Boise, Idaho tourist attraction with a cultural center, museum, shops, and restaurants. With everything there is to see and do, one can make a nice vacation of visiting the Basque Block in Boise. Let's take a look at some of the highlights.
The Basque Center
The Basque Center was built in 1949 as a place to gather for Basque people in the Boise area. The Center acts as a primary home for dancing groups that teach young children from ages 4 to 14 and the Oinkari Basque Dancers, a group for youth aged 14 years and up. The Basque Center hosts many events throughout the year with San Inazio in July. The Basque Center is a great starting point for your journey through the Basque Block in Boise.
Since 1991, Bar Gernika serves authentic, freshly prepared Basque foods, desserts, and wine. Stop by, enjoy their sidewalk seating and try some heavenly croquetas – small sphere rolls, breadcrumbed and fried with butter, onion, chicken, flour, and milk.
In 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, the Basque village of Gernika (located in northern Spain) was bombed by Nazi German troops, destroying the village and killing hundreds. The only two things that survived were the Assembly House and a lone oak tree – Gernikako Arbola, or the Tree of Gernika; this tree, as seen in Bar Gernika’s logo, has evolved to symbolize freedom, peace and the Basque country. One of the seedlings from this tree is planted on the Boise Basque Block within the Basque Museum, next to the historic boarding house. In 1993, Boise was one of the cities that was selected to twin with Gernika to represent the symbol of the peace movement.
Leku Ona Restaurant & Hotel
Jose Mari Artiach was raised in the Basque country, where he resided until emigrating to the U.S. His love for his homeland, its culture, and especially its food drove him to open Leku Ona. Many patrons of Basque background frequent the restaurant, nestled in the Basque Block. The unique menu is prepared by Basque chefs who delight in pleasing guests with mouthwatering entrees. If you’re looking to try some Basque food in Boise, you should find Leku Ona at 117 South 6th Street.
The Basque Market
If you love the many flavors that come from an authentic Spanish cuisine and want the Boise Basque food experience, then you need to get to The Basque Market. Established in the year 2000, The Basque Market specializes in making paella for large groups, sometimes for over 300 people. For just 10 dollars, you can enjoy a full plate of seafood and meat paella with freshly baked bread. The market also offers cooking classes with wine tastings so you can learn the Basque cooking techniques and take home an authentic basque recipe to recreate. Don’t have time for a class? Drop by and try some fresh appetizers or purchase some basque wine or packaged food items to take home. Hurry over to 608 West Grove Street to grab a taste.
The Basque Museum
Established in 1985, the Basque Museum is in the historic Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga House at 607 Grove Street. It is a virtual time machine that takes you back to look into the heritage of the Basque culture and communities. These exhibits do not just teach about the Basque people of Boise, Idaho but of the American West. The mission of the Basque Museum is to preserve, promote, and perpetuate the rich and colorful Basque history.
Referring to a festival in the Basque language of Euskara. It is the world's largest celebration of Basque culture. The festival combines the best of Basque dancing, musical performances, sporting events, and food. The Basque community is well known for their merriment and warmth, which are well showcased at this festival in particular. After Jaialdi in 1990, changes were introduced that the Jaialdi would continue to be held in Boise every five years. The festival has become so popular over the years that the largest events accommodate over 40,000 guests with celebrations continuing on The Basque Block and other nearby locations.
Planned right, The Basque Block makes for an interesting and rewarding adventure for those looking to experience Basque food in Boise as well as the culture of these vibrant people. For close accommodations, book your stay at Hotel 43 in the heart of downtown Boise.