There is something special about eating outdoors. Whether it’s finding a bench at the Farmers’ Market with a taco in one hand and produce for tonight’s salad in the other, or bringing a chair with you to the Northern Rockies Folk Festival and eating a slice of pizza or catching the drips off of an ice cream scoop you just procured—food just tastes better outside. There are some great vendors in the Wood River Valley who like the freewheeling (pun intended) life of working outdoors, rolling into venues and serving up some terrific fare. Here are some of our favorites:
Toni’s Ice Cream
Specialty: Idaho Huckleberry
Wheel Type: Tricycle
Toni’s Ice Cream started as a childhood dream, coming to fruition 12 years ago. A love of ice cream and the great outdoors, combined with a bike, sparked a business that has quickly developed a loyal, local following. Toni Bogue has been laughed at, proposed to (by a 7-year-old), boxed in, chased down and cheered for as she’s made her ascent over Saddle Road on her ice cream bike for Sun Valley functions. You can catch a glimpse of her on her bike at outdoor venues such as Ketchum Alive, Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival, 4th of July celebration in Hailey, Wagon Days, Sun Valley Center for the Arts Wine Auction Picnic and others. But if you don’t feel up to tracking her down on her bike, you’ll find her yummy ice cream at local grocery stores, on the menu at several restaurants in town and at Leroy’s Ice Cream (Since Leroy’s opening 5 years ago in Ketchum Town Square, they have donated $47,000 in proceeds to organizations such as: The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, Blaine County Schools, Pioneer Montessori, The Community School and the Ketchum Parks Dept.) “All of us that work at Leroy’s are really proud to be a part of something so positive,” Toni said. “The staff works really hard to make it successful.” Need more than a couple scoops of ice cream? Toni also caters special events and weddings. Contact her at www.sunvalleyicecream.com.
The Red Oven
Specialty: Traditional Margherita pizza
Wheel type: Oven on Wheels
Who doesn’t like pizza? I mean, c’mon. Not many people have heard someone say, “Pizza? Blech—all that bread and cheese—not my thing.” So when Kb Bigelow (formerly of KB Burritos) started her new venture last year, wood-fired pizza was a no-brainer. “It all starts with the crust. Because we use Italian flour and heat the oven to 800 degrees, the pizza comes out with just the right texture,” explained Kb. The Red Oven can go almost anywhere. “People throw parties in the most creative places and, because we are mobile, we can go where the party is,” explained Kb. Look for The Red Oven this year at the Ketchum Farmers’ Market and at the Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival. Kb serves up generous 10 inch individual pizzas with unusual and fresh ingredients including: carmelized onions and gorgonzola cheese; braised mushrooms, fontina cheese and thyme and fennel sausage with roasted red peppers for around $12 a pop. Last year at the Sun Valley Shakedown concert, late in the evening, The Red Oven realized the other vendors had shut down and they were the only game left. They didn’t want to turn anyone away, so they sent Alec, a devoted employee, out on his skateboard to buy up the town’s mozzarella cheese supply. Cheers to The Red Oven for serving through the night and feeding the masses. To have The Red Oven cater your event, contact Kb at www.theredoven.net.
Calle 75 Tacos
Specialty: Shrimp Taco
Wheel type: Taco Truck and Cart
Calle 75 Tacos has been slinging tortillas since 2008. The name Calle, which means “street” in Spanish, and 75, which stands for Hwy. 75, has created a bit of confusion. People seem to think it means tacos are 75 cents each. Yes, that would be nice, but we really have to be realistic, don’t we? What’s more, they’re not exactly on Hwy. 75 any more. You’re more likely to find them in the summer months every week at the Hailey and Ketchum Farmers’ Markets and in Boise at the Capitol City Market and East End Market in Bown Crossing. You can also catch them at the Ketchum Arts Festival, Northern Rockies Folk Festival, Wagon Days and 4th of July Parade. “We were at 70 events last year,” explained co-owner, Mike Weems, “and are looking forward to participating in more events this year.” Calle 75 Tacos was inspired by Mike’s soon-to-be in-laws, Carlos and Maricruz Soto. His fiancée, Rosie Soto, is his partner in love and business, it seems. So all of that backstory brings me to the good part—the food. Their authentic carne asada, slow-cooked brisket, chicken, fish or shrimp taco (corn or flour tortilla available) with homemade salsa can be had for around $3 each. These are the Cadillacs of street tacos. High-quality, locally-grown products are used whenever possible. “Don’t miss our new living butter lettuce tacos this year,” said Mike. “The leaves take the place of the tortilla, for a healthy wrap.” And don’t be surprised if you draw number 96 while waiting for your taco and everyone starts applauding. It’s an inside joke, where two days in a row number 96 was called repeatedly and no one showed up. Calle 75 also offers catering for special events and is sure to be the hit of any party. Contact Calle 75 through Facebook at Calle 75 Tacos.
Irvings Red Hots
Specialty: Original Dog with “the works”
Wheel Type: Hot Dog Stand
In 1977, Jill Rubin took a leap of faith and started her own business. A Chicago native, Jill was looking for a new opportunity and, 35 years later, she’s still all about the dog with Irving’s Red Hots. Along with friend and recruited ski bum Sharon Hudson, they opened Ketchum’s favorite weenie shack. “Two locals trying to make life work in a town we loved,” quipped Jill. No matter the season, you can grab an Original Dog, Chili Cheese Dog, Kraut Dog or Polish Dog— all recommended with “the works” (mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, pickles and peppers.) Cannon Balls (sourdough bread bowl filled with chili, cheese, onions and peppers) mac n’ cheese and pretzels complete the menu. A hangout for locals and tourists, the young and the old, you’ll see people from all walks of life in line at Irving’s, getting a fix before the next ski run or a little sustenance while window shopping in Ketchum’s downtown. Irving’s moves from the base of Warm Springs in the winter to the intersection of 4th and Main Street in Ketchum in the summer every year. (The Who’s song, “Going Mobile,” reasonates in my head as I think of them en route from one spot to the other.) Irving’s hasn’t changed much over the years and there’s no reason it should. Why mess with success? Hot dogs are the quintessential outdoor food, found in cities and towns, on street corners at carts all over the map. I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m so happy that Ketchum has Irving’s Red Hots.
The Bar-B-Que Guy
Specialty: Pork Spare Ribs
Wheel Type: Barbecue on Wheels
The Bar-B-Que Guy is easily spotted—or smelled from a distance (and I mean that in a good way.) In the summertime, the scent of barbecued meat wafts through the mountain air during the Hailey and Ketchum Farmers’ Markets. Rod and Linda Rushton have been barbecuing delicacies such as pork ribs, chicken, sausage and trout since 2003 when Rod left a day job that “was not as much fun as barbecuing.” He traveled to many great barbecue states doing finger-licking research and has been told that his ribs are the best people have tasted. Get to the market early if you want to secure your pork spare ribs ($23 for a whole rack, $12 for half a rack) or the trout filet ($7)—both are hot commodities and sell out fast. For now, Rod prefers the flexibility of his barbecue cart to a restaurant (allowing him time to hike and snowshoe with his pups Chance and Kolby in the wintertime). The Bar-B-Que Guy offers catering, too—leaving your guests with sticky fingers, full and happy. Call Rod at 208.539.7638 for more information.