Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chiz's

Published in the Post Register October, 2009.
I lured Kathleen into yet another photo shoot with the promise of dinner at Chiz's.

In truth, Kathleen willingly goes with me pretty much whenever I want to take her to some mountain, prairie, wetland or historical site and take a few pictures, drink some wine from the cooler and probably suffer a few mosquito bites. But dinner at Chiz's doesn't hurt.

You don't know about Chiz's? Tragic.

Chiz's is an Asian-American restaurant unpretentiously hidden in a residential neighborhood outside the edge of downtown St. Anthony, Idaho, (pop. 3,401). St. Anthony is known mainly for its Fishermen's Breakfast every spring at which thousands of people eat pancakes, ostensibly before heading out to the nearby Henry's Fork river to fly fish. A lot of people eat breakfast and then go home for a nap.

The formal name of the restaurant is Chiz's Cougar Cave, in honor of the local high school mascot. Known as much for their catering as the restaurant, the folks at Chiz's don't put on any airs -- the seating at the U-shaped bar is first come, first served, and if all the seats are full you just stand behind the people eating and stare them down until they finish and leave. Part of the fun is turning to the person waiting behind you, saying something like, "Oh, this is soooo good," and slowly turning back to your food while noticeably dropping the pace of your intake. It's all in fun, honest.

Don't go to Chiz's looking for a wine list or even a Coors Light in the cooler. Chiz's is pretty much run by Mormons for Mormons (closed on Sunday), so get over yourself and enjoy the food and the company. Kathleen particularly likes to chat at Chiz's, so she'll sort of go up and down the bar asking people where they're from and if they subscribe to the Post Register. Then she'll point at me, explaining that I'm the publisher of the paper, and people will nod in vague recognition, too polite to say to my face that they wouldn't read my liberal rag if they were paid to.

On our last visit, we found people who had come from as far away as Blackfoot (a good hour's drive one way), and there was no one from right there in St. Anthony. Kathleen ordered the prime rib but the last of it had been served, so she settled for the ribeye, which, as always, was delicious. I had my usual Chiz's meal -- the "finger dinner" of three finger steaks and two huge fried shrimp. We have to save up on our cholesterol and calories for a week before eating at Chiz's.

Oh, and you can find Chiz's salad dressings and fruit dips in most eastern Idaho grocery stores.

Even many people who have heard of Chiz's don't know that its real specialty is Asian food, particularly cha shu (barbecued pork). They'll put it in a sandwich for you or serve it with fat Chinese noodles -- highly recommended.

If you get to Chiz's and the seats are full (there are no tables -- just seats at the bar), don't be discouraged. Waiting is half the fun. Service is fast and friendly and all the food is wonderful. Kathleen and I guarantee it.

Got a story or information about Chiz's you'd like to share? E-mail me at rplothow@postregister.com and I'll weave it into the story.

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