Wednesday, October 12, 2011

venemous: The Snake Bite Lunch

Downtown Idaho Falls doesn't have any skyscrapers.
In fact, there aren't any buildings taller than five stories.
It doesn't have a Gap, a Starbucks, or any store whose name you would recognize.
It doesn't have great parking. Or even a whole lot of traffic, for that matter.
But what it does have is nearly impossible to find anywhere else in town- real charm.
And one particular gem of Downtown Idaho Falls is impossible to find anywhere else in the world.
The Snake Bite Restaurant.
 Before I tell you how I love The Snake Bite (oh, rest assured I am about to count the ways), I will address your first thought:
You: What's with the name of this place? It sounds like you are going to go in and spend an hour tying tourniquets and sucking venom.
Me: I know, right? But don't worry. The most venomous thing in this restaurant is a crabby waiter, who I like to pretend has a sort of Carl-Fredricksen-in-a-younger-man's-body, heart-of-gold thing going on. Don't mind him.
He doesn't bite.
Once inside this Corner Cafe-style restaurant you will no longer worry about snakes. Just bites.
As in how many bites-worth of food you can stuff in your mouth at once.

Forgive me for diving in, but I am just going to tell you about the crown jewel of The Snake Bite so we can get this over with. I know that the suspense is killing us both. Here it is-
 Their hamburgers. And for me it's not about just any hamburger on the menu, it's about the "Blue Snake River" burger.
Wait, are you let-down? Was that anti-climactic? What is there to "ooh" and "ahh" over about a plain old burger, blue cheese or no?
Well, let me tell you something, dear reader. Building a delicious burger may not exactly be rocket science, but it is a lot harder than it would appear. It takes a light and buttery bun toasted juuust right on the flat top. It takes an expertly seasoned hamburger patty cooked to juicy perfection. It takes fresh, delicious vegetables and homemade sauces. I am telling you, the "Blue Snake River" burger is the MotherBurger.
It doesn't need to be hidden with ketchup and mustard, it doesn't need to be salted, peppered or slathered with pointless accoutrement just to hide the taste of it. It is the real deal.
Now that we have settled that, let me just say that the basic "Snake River" burger is all you could ever hope for in a hamburger, but The Snake Bite takes the BlueSR to a new level by adding not only creamy and salty blue cheese, but (drumroll...) green chilies!
Don't worry, when I first read that on their menu I had to double-take, too.
 And I had to try it.
And since then my life has never been the same.
Because the green chilies bite through the mouth-coating lusciousness of the blue cheese just enough, your mouth is left reeling as it tries to catch up to what your brain has already figured out: This is good.
Perhaps the highest compliment I can give the "Blue Snake River" burger is this:
There is the option to add crispy, delicious bacon to this burger for an extra 50 cents.
Bacon is my favorite food.
 I do not indulge in this option.
I know.
I know!
Quiet your collective gasp and I will tell you why I say no to bacon (just in this one instance!) at The Snake Bite. This burger is the perfect balance of salty, sweet, creamy, crisp, buttery goodness. It just doesn't need bacon (Somewhere a pig is giving thanks that I finally Just Said No. But not for long. I am coming for you, Wilbur!) Adding bacon to this nirvana only adds calories.
This time around at The Snake Bite happened to be lunchtime for our family, and my husband also chose a burger. He went the more pedestrian route (I love you, honey, but you know it's true) and ordered the "Cowboy Burger", the same perfectly cooked and seasoned hamburger this time with a crunchy onion ring, melted cheese and barbeque sauce on top.

I think he likes it.
On a totally unrelated note, payback is sweet, isn't it?
Before I forget I had better mention their amazing waffle fries with homemade fry sauce (Not your usual mayo/ketchup/pickle garbage! A word of warning for parents, though. It's a little bit spicy- my kids don't like it, and they are the least picky eaters I have ever encountered- so ask for ketchup, too!). My burger came with a side house salad with dried cranberries, blue cheese and a tangy vinaigrette. In other words, even their sides are worth coming back for.
Usually the hub goes for one of their delicious seafood and pasta pairings, or pretty much whatever he can find that costs an arm and a leg and contains any amount of lobster that they will sell him, but lunch just begs for a burger. I will have to do another dinner-time post about The Snake Bite featuring their gourmet entrees. For now, just do yourself a favor and try a burger.

Wallet-Friendliness: Two burgers and a Coke to split ran us right around $20. We shared with our kids because they had just come from a play date and had eaten lots of snacks, but their kid's meals are priced at $5 each, including a drink. This is near the Fast-Casual price point, but in a sit down setting. Considering that you can get a burger and fries at an aberration like Applebees for just a dollar less, this is the (much much much) better option. The service is lightning-quick, too, so it's a great idea for a week-day lunch! Important to note: They only accept Cash or Check!! There is an ATM in the restaurant, but it charges an arm, leg and your first-born, so be sure to have cash on hand!
Kid-Friendliness: While they have high chairs and a kid's menu, this place is definitely more geared toward Date Night than it is Family Night. While we were there for lunch this time there was a table of Senior Citizens next to us, which always makes me nervous with my (ear-splittingly loud) 16-month-old in tow. A man at the table, however, immediately turned around and started talking with my preschooler. He wound up telling us about his life; how he spent it traveling all over the country as a cartoonist at fairs and markets. He then took my little girl's menu and began to draw her picture on the back. So we got lunch AND a show!! My little one ate it up. I'm preeeetty sure that guy doesn't  live at The Snake Bite, however, so bring your kids for lunch or bring them some quiet activities so you can enjoy your meal without wondering how long the guy in the expensive suit two tables over will last before smoke actually pours from his ears.
Waistline-Friendliness: With a lunch menu full of options like the "Middle Fork Salmon Sandwich", the "Garden Burger", "Portobello Sandwich" and "Hoback Chicken Sandwich", not to mention their array of fresh and delicious salads (the grilled Caesar is my favorite!), you can successfully navigate The Snake Bite without fudging on your diet. However, when faced with the perfect burger, your will power just might crumble. Tread lightly, friends.
Friendly-Friendliness: Besides Mr. Carl Fredricksen Waiter Guy, the staff of The Snake Bite is efficient and friendly. ...okay, even that guy is not that bad. BONUS: It's super fun to make up stories about what made him so crabby and whether his Ellie is still around and whether he will ever travel anywhere by balloon. 
My favorite waiter, though, looks like a mix between a biker and a Michael Bolton clone, and he is oh-so-sweet to us and the kiddos.

Snake Bite on Urbanspoon
Check out The Snake Bite and their deadly burgers the next time you are out to lunch. 
You won't regret it.

1 comment:

  1. So I found your blog when I googled snake bite fry sauce recipe...I wasn't expecting to find anything, but I was going to try anyway. Lo and behold, your review appeared. I'm pretty sure we're secretly best friends. Also, I think I perfected the sauce.
    2 parts mayo (not miracle whip)
    1 part sour cream
    1/2 part ketchup
    1/2 part chopped roasted red pepper -- or fresh red pepper, whatever
    slivered chopped almost not even there red onion dash garlic powder
    and the secret amazing ingredient a dash of balsamic vinegar

    This is so close!