Creating a buzz, new Boise pub to do plant-based food that’s ‘big,’ ‘sloppy,’ ‘satiating’

Kris Price didn’t always adhere to a strict, plant-based diet.

“I kind of tiptoed around it,” he says.

Price started as a vegetarian, a health choice intended to complement his enthusiasm for running and mountain biking. Then, in 2019, he took the next step. Cutting precious cheese from his diet, he went vegan.

“I just felt so much better,” remembers Price, who founded and co-owns the local Alchemist Coffee chain. “I had more energy, (felt) more aware. So I started cooking a lot through the pandemic. And then I was working on developing recipes, trying to create pub fare.”

Price’s journey soon will culminate in a new downtown Boise restaurant and bar. Alchemist Plant Pub is slated to open in March, inhabiting part of the former Louie’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant building at 620 W. Idaho St. It will serve only vegan cuisine. Or plant-based food, as Price usually prefers to call it. No meat. No dairy.

In doing so, Alchemist will cater to a segment of the dining public that has grown globally, including in the Treasure Valley, Price says.

“I feel like there’s a lot of movement and interest in it,” he explains. “… Especially the Gen Z, the millennial generation — everybody’s interested in either full diet or incorporating it into their diet.

“Idaho just continues to grow. The influx of individuals that came into the state during the pandemic … kind of brought in that clientele.”

About 99% of the menu will be gluten-free, too, Price says. Conveniently, that will exploit another diet trend.

‘Scratch-made, plant-based’

Alchemist Plant Pub won’t be downtown’s only purely vegan dining destination. The nearby High Note Cafe, 225 N. 5th St., flipped to an all-vegan menu in 2019. And other restaurants such as Mai Thai, Wild Root and Diablo & Sons Saloon have standout options.

But Alchemist’s pub vibe and food should help it earn a following, even among choosy plant-based diners. There will be no Impossible Burger on the menu at Alchemist. No Beyond Meat products.

“The concept is all scratch-made, plant-based pub fare,” Price reiterates.

“We want someone to walk off the street that doesn’t necessarily eat vegan and not even know or feel that they are missing out through the offerings.”

Alchemist will evolve throughout the day, opening at 7 a.m. with a cafe personality. Without dairy products, coffee drinks will be concocted using six alternative milks. There will be breakfast burritos and quick, straightforward food options.

The proudly messy Philly Cheez-Shroom ($17) is portabello mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, vegan queso and “mushroom jus” on a hoagie.
The proudly messy Philly Cheez-Shroom ($17) is portabello mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, vegan queso and “mushroom jus” on a hoagie.

“Lunch is going to be kind of like a soup, salad and sandwich option deal,” Price added, “either pick two or pick three, kind of casual lunch fare. And then we’re going into full-blown dinner service at 4 p.m.”

Alchemist will offer veggie dishes and salads as cold starts. Hot appetizers will include variations on familiar bar temptations such as Cauliflower Wings ($13), Nachos ($17), a Plant Pub Pretzel ($12) and Fried Kalamari ($14) made with shimeji mushrooms. Or grab an order of french fries loaded with mushroom gravy and “notz-arella.”

Dinner menu

Sandwiches will include meals such as the Backwoods Burger ($18), a black bean and brown rice patty topped with “facon,” among other goodies. Or plunge your fork into a Lentil Shepherd’s Pie ($19), made with red lentil, mirepoix, tomato and mashed potatoes.

“We want these dishes to be, like, big, satiating, take (food home) in a to-go box,” Price says, “because it’s going to be this big-ass burger that’s sloppy and falling all over you. Not the cliche, dainty vegan food — like cutting a pea with a knife.”

If you still have room? Yes, there will be multiple desserts.

Alchemist Plant Pub plans to feature eight beers on tap and a decent wine selection, Price says. Canned cocktails will be sold, too, along with scratch-made sake cocktails. “We don’t have a liquor license,” he clarifies. “We’re still on the hunt for something.”

At roughly 2,500 square feet, Alchemist will have about 70 seats. There’s also a patio out front — bordering the one at Western Proper, a bar, restaurant and entertainment center next door.

Boise is ready for Alchemist Plant Pub, Price says. He’s optimistic.

“I do think it’s going to go over well,” he says. “We’re getting a lot of hype on it. People are excited about it.”