Teton Valley has witnessed a remarkable culinary transformation over the years, and one restaurant that stands out in this gastronomic renaissance is Forage Bistro & Lounge. As Lisa Hanley, the co-owner of Forage, aptly puts it, “This valley has so much to offer dependent on your seasonal desires that year-round restaurant hours have become closer to the norm than the exception.”
Forage Bistro & Lounge, often described as New American cuisine, has redefined the dining experience in the valley. It strikes the perfect balance, offering exquisite meals that rival fine-dining establishments while maintaining the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere that characterizes Teton Valley. This unique combination has earned Forage a wealth of accolades and recognition, including being named the “Best Restaurant in Idaho” by Yelp and USA TODAY in 2016. It’s no wonder that Forage has become a dining destination that’s not to be missed.
The driving force behind the success of Forage is the husband-and-wife team, Lisa and Christian Hanley. In 2015, they took the reins of the restaurant, bringing with them a wealth of culinary experience and a deep connection to the community. While the couple initially met and married in Arizona, Christian’s roots in the area led them back to Teton Valley. As Lisa explains, “Christian always wanted to come home. We wanted to raise our kids here. Five hundred inches of annual snowfall. The Tetons. The people. The list is long, but the theme is the same. Our values are represented here, and the community is, hands down, one of the best in the country.”
At Forage, the menu is a dynamic reflection of the changing seasons. In the summer, the restaurant showcases the abundant harvests of nearby farms, delivering fresh and vibrant dishes. When winter descends, the focus shifts to culinary technique, slow cooking, and developing flavors in harmony with the season. A winter standout is the quail and waffle, a delectable creation featuring mandarin marmalade and haricot vert. Another highlight is the cricket crusted lion’s mane, a unique dish seasoned with an Idaho-grown Orchestra Provisions cricket chai spice rub.
“Menu conceptualization is a metamorphosis,” says Lisa. “The next dish or idea is an evolution. Often, we start with comforting ideas from our childhood and adapt them with a contemporary twist. Other times, inspiration will strike while traveling or over a meal with friends and family. The process never turns off.”
The Hanleys, in collaboration with Tatanka Tavern owner Kelly Williams, expanded their culinary ventures by opening Citizen 33 Brewery in June 2019. This establishment specializes in locally brewed beers and offers a gastropub-style menu. The brewery has quickly gained a following, both from locals and visitors, proving that the Hanleys’ culinary prowess extends beyond the walls of Forage.
When the Hanley family is not managing their businesses, they wholeheartedly embrace the outdoor paradise of Teton Valley. “We are avid skiers, snowboarders, bikers, and trail users,” says Lisa. The kids revel in horseback riding and soccer, while Christian’s passion lies in restoring old Volkswagens and an International Harvester Scout. The valley’s numerous recreational opportunities help keep the Hanley family grounded and active, ensuring they remain deeply connected to the local community and the stunning natural surroundings.
Forage Bistro & Lounge is one of the few restaurants in Teton Valley that remains open (mostly) year-round, serving guests seven days a week. The Hanleys have proven their dedication and mettle, making Forage an enduring culinary treasure in the valley.
Forage Bistro & Lounge is open seven days a week, operating from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Call 208-354-2858 for reservations.