‘No way!’ New restaurant finally opens (sorta), Boise gripes about paying for chips, salsa

It’s fiesta time, Boise.

After delaying its opening for months, much-anticipated Garibaldi’s Mexican Restaurant finally debuted earlier this week at 5697 W. Glenwood St. in Garden City.

Well, partly. The City of Trees newcomer is open at “half capacity,” as it explained on Facebook.

Garibaldi’s is a well-known Idaho brand. The first one appeared in Twin Falls in 1994. A second then opened in Jerome. A third, launched a few years ago, operates in Elko, Nevada.

But be warned. Saying that Garibaldi’s is open at half capacity might feel like a generous way to put it. Seating is “really limited,” according to one diner who ate lunch there Friday — my wife.

As you enter the newly renovated space, you’ll notice drywall over the entrance to the main dining room and along the side dining room, she said. The available tables are in the bar area, along with some additional seating at the actual bar. A sign in the lobby asks patrons to check in with the hostess and to hang out in your car or outside — not in the lobby — if there is a wait to be seated.

‘Fantastic’ food

Is the food worth that potential inconvenience? Customers exiting claimed that their lunch was “fantastic.” My mother-in-law felt the same way about her shredded beef chimichanga ($12). My wife? Satisfied, not blown away, with the sopes ($12). They were more exciting after being doused in housemade hot salsa, which was brought to the table on request. She did get a serious case of diner’s jealousy over a plate of fajitas on someone else’s table. “They looked amazing,” she said.

Garibaldi’s in Garden City aims a bit higher than typical family-style Mexican restaurants. That includes some of the prices. The lunch menu stays in a modest $10-$14 range. Entrees get somewhat spendier. Birria tacos are $17 for two. An order of fajitas ranges from $20/$36 to $24/$42 (or $45 for the two-person, three-meat “fajita trio.”) A carne asada plate is $24. Chili Colorado is $22. Camarones a la diabla is $23.

Facebook commenters mostly seemed pleased with the food and service — although not everyone gave them high marks.

But there is one little sticking point already.

Chips, salsa, drama

Rather than offering chips and salsa free, which is customary at many Mexican restaurants, Garibaldi’s charges $7.

Uh-oh, Idaho.

Garibaldi’s has opened in the former Chapala restaurant space in Garden City.
Garibaldi’s has opened in the former Chapala restaurant space in Garden City.

I count five comments already on Garibaldi’s Facebook page noting the charge. But I’ve been laughing too hard to guarantee my math accuracy.

“No way!” one commenter exclaimed. “Cannot believe you have to pay for chips.”

My wife could not disagree, although she chuckled along with me.

“It is kind of weird,” she admitted. Garibaldi’s might want to step up its salsa quality if it’s going to charge seven bones, she suggested. To her, it had little flavor and zero heat — and nothing spicy was offered as an option, she added.

But still! Look, amigos. It’s been a long, difficult road for Garibaldi’s just to get open. Since it’s not even entirely open, let’s cut the place some slack, OK?

Take advantage of Garibaldi’s liquor license. Order a margarita.

Heck, order two. You’ll find everything at this new restaurant probably seems tastier by the minute.