“Teton Valley is experiencing a culinary renaissance,” says Lisa Hanley, co-owner of Forage Bistro & Lounge. “Every year, the ‘off’ seasons become shorter and the ‘peak’ season grows longer. This valley has so much to offer dependent on your seasonal desires that year-round restaurant hours have become closer to the norm than the exception.”
Few restaurants have had a greater impact on this booming food scene than Forage. With a style that could be broadly defined as New American, Forage delivers meals worthy of a fine-dining experience without sacrificing the relaxed comforts of the valley. A bevy of accolades and acclaim — including a designation as the “Best Restaurant in Idaho” by Yelp and USA TODAY in 2016 — have backed up the restaurant’s mission, helping it become a must-dine destination in the valley. This is a result of the extensive culinary experience of its owners, as well as their integral ties to the community.
Lisa and her husband, Christian, took over the restaurant in 2015. Though the two had met and married in Arizona, Christian had previously operated the Grand Old Grille in Driggs and his roots in the area brought the Hanley family back to the valley. “Christian always wanted to come home,” explains Lisa. “We wanted to raise our kids here. Five hundred inches of annual snowfall. The Tetons. The people. The list is long, but the theme is the same. Our values are represented here and the community is, hands down, one of the best in the country.”
The pair sought to deliver eclectic but high-quality dishes, offering food one will not find elsewhere in the valley. The menu varies by season — the summer season utilizes the plentiful harvests of nearby farms while in the winter months, according to Lisa, the “focus shifts to technique; slow cooking, flavor development, seasonality.” The quail and waffle, made with a delectable mandarin marmalade and haricot vert, is one of the winter menu highlights, as is the cricket crusted lion’s mane, which is prepared using a cricket chai spice rub created by Idaho’s own Orchestra Provisions.
“Menu conceptualization is a metamorphosis,” says Lisa. “The next dish or idea is an evolution. Often, we start with comforting ideas from our childhood and adapt them with a contemporary twist. Other times, inspiration will strike while traveling or over a meal with friends and family. The process never turns off.”
But so bountiful are the ideas that the Hanleys, in collaboration with Tatanka Tavern owner Kelly Williams, opened Citizen 33 Brewery in June 2019. That venture, specializing in locally brewed beers and gastropub fare, has also been a hit, attracting locals and visitors alike.
When not focusing on their businesses, Lisa, Christian, and their two children love to play and explore in the valley. “We are avid skiers, snowboarders, bikers, and trail users,” says Lisa. The kids enjoy horseback-riding and soccer, while Christian is rebuilding old Volkswagens and an International Harvester Scout. The valley’s numerous outlets help even a busy family like the Hanleys stay grounded and active.
But there is always work to be done. Forage Bistro is one of the valley’s few restaurants that is both open (mostly) year-round and open seven days a week. But, as they’ve proven over the past six years, Lisa and Christian Hanley are more than up to the challenge.
Forage Bistro & Lounge is open seven days a week, operating from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Call 208-354-2858 for reservations.