A food essay about Snakebite Restaurant Idaho Falls, Idaho by James Bonner

Savoring the Flavors of Idaho Falls at SnakeBite Restaurant

On the corner of one of the busier intersections in the heart of Idaho Falls, Idaho, SnakeBite Restaurant is a well-rounded dining experience. Serving traditional American fare such as burgers, steaks, sandwiches, and a wide variety of specialty dishes, with vegetarian, and gluten-free options; SnakeBite has been a local favorite since its opening in 2002.

Housed in a historic building in downtown Idaho Falls, originally an early 1900s bank, the restaurant offers a rustic atmosphere with exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, and a cozy fireplace. The eatery also offers a full-service bar with a wide selection of beers, wines, and spirits, for those looking for something a little different, there are specialty cocktails that combine unique ingredients with fresh fruit and herbs.

When I think of Idaho Falls, I think of three things: The Villa coffee shop, the Snake River, and the SnakeBite Restaurant. I was in IF at the tail end of COVID and would be in town for three days. I wanted to spend my first evening at SnakeBite. I rounded the corner on foot, nearing the restaurant, and was disappointed to see that it was closed, not permanently, but situationally. At least once a day for the three days I stopped by SnakeBite hoping to get an open table. I was beginning to get discouraged.

On a side note, I was aware that my ex-wife was living in Idaho Falls, and knowing that I would be in town I debated reaching out to her—she was newly remarried, and we hadn’t talked much in the previous few years—and because I didn’t have the time to coordinate a meetup and manage any unexpected awkwardness, I decided not to tell her that I would be in town. Over the same weekend, there was an art market along the Snake River, and walking around the market was a pleasant distraction from the empty restaurant just a couple of blocks away.

Idaho Falls, for me, is a small town; it was when I started visiting in 2006 and will continue to be forever, even though the city has been one of the fastest growing in the country. Regardless of how much the town may have grown, there are still only a small handful of spots in Idaho Falls that I care to visit, it’s an incredibly commercial town, and I’m not particularly fond of the McDonaldization of America (which, I imagine, makes a place like SnakeBite that much more welcoming). On my last day in IF, on this particular visit, I again stopped by SnakeBite, and this time the restaurant was bustling with hungry patrons, it was the middle of the day, and there were few available tables.

Luckily, a table became available outside, along the sidewalk. As I walked toward the front entrance I noticed, sitting at a table directly outside the front doors, was my ex-wife, her new husband, and her grandmother. I didn’t join them, nevertheless, I sat outside, only a few tables down from where the trio was dining. I ordered the Blue Snake River Burger—a favorite of mine—and sipped on a Lager. The universe can sometimes make a habit of putting us—me—in interesting positions, nevertheless when happening at a restaurant as good as the SnakeBite, at least the experience is enjoyable. 

The main dining room is a small open space with wood floors and exposed brick, and there’s a fireplace at the rear center of the room, the room is surrounded by bay windows so that you can enjoy the happenings of the developing downtown area, and on one of the more prominent city blocks. I prefer to sit in the back, or outside, weather permitting. The back room has always felt more comfortable, and less formal. The bar is at the back of the restaurant, and although it’s a small bar, there are four, maybe five stools, the two adjacent rooms have scattered high-top tables and nook seating, which feel friendlier than the main dining room.

On my most recent visit to Idaho Falls, I stopped by SnakeBite immediately after checking in to my hotel and sat near the fireplace. I ordered the Cowboy Burger—it was delicious, as always—and the SnakeBite: a ½ Lager, ½ Cider, concoction with a bit of a dramatic bite. I’m not sure I would order the drink again (at least with the evening's choice of Ciders: a Chai Spiced Cider), although it did pair fairly well with the burger. After dinner, I walked around the downtown area, and along the river. It was dark by then, the night was cool but comfortable, I could feel the moisture from the Snake River and hear the nearby falls—the sound of water has always been a favorite sound of mine—before walking to my car and calling it a night.

The next time I was at the SnakeBite, I was meeting a friend at their bar. We each ordered a margarita (and a second) and sat there talking. It was mid-afternoon, and we didn’t order anything to eat, instead we sat there for hours enjoying the ambiance and one another’s company, in what would become a pleasantly memorable day. Idaho Falls is a rather bland town, there’s very little you can do there that you couldn’t do anywhere else.

However, like anywhere, moments can be noteworthy, regardless of your location or situation, and between walking around the river, sitting quietly in the Japanese Friendship Garden, grabbing a coffee at the Villa, and sitting with a good friend at SnakeBite eating or simply having a drink finding a way to make the days enjoyable isn’t too difficult.

The food at SnakeBite is always fresh and cooked to order, and the prices are reasonable. The portions are generous, and the flavors are bold and flavorful. Whether you’re looking for a casual lunch or an intimate dinner, SnakeBite Restaurant is one of the best places to enjoy a delicious meal in the heart of Idaho Falls, Idaho; with its unique atmosphere, friendly service, and great food, SnakeBite, whether you’re running into your ex-wife, meeting a friend for drinks, or biding your time on your way out of town, is sure to be a memorable dining experience.

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