Stanley, Idaho, is a town of only dozens, often filled by skiers, hikers, and other explorers navigating the scenic Sawtooth Range. Sawtooth Luce’s is only a few years old, but it’s already become a meeting place for the tiny mountain town.
Locals praise the burgers. It’s no wonder, with such a simple formula: half-pound patties formed from Idaho-raised Snake River Wagyu beef. It is topped with the usual garden fixings. Eggy buns and pale skinny fries do their share of lifting, too. But beef is the star: Wagyu so tender and fat-marbled that the menu recommends medium-well for maximum juiciness. Being mid-rare types, we were skeptical, but after biting into it, we understood. The meat remains so soft and delicate. The extra cooking really does maximize its beefy flavor.
The burger is succulent enough that that we recommend topping it with nothing but simple American cheese, or perhaps no cheese at all. The blue cheese sauce and mushroom-onion ragout offered on the Blue Cheeseburger is delicious, but these dressings make it a knife-and-fork dish.
We also recommend finger steaks, which are tasty, unusually tender versions of the unofficial state snack: strips of beef that are tenderized into submission then breaded and fried. We’ve only seen these oddities in Idaho, and they are interesting to try while here. Of the several versions we’ve experienced, these are the best. They are something like beef nuggets, or deep fried steak hot dogs to be dipped in barbecue sauce. Chicken fingers are also worth a mention. They are crisp, peppery, and made from fresh chicken breast. They satisfy animal hunger after a day of hiking.
Because it’s a small restaurant in a sparse town, Sawtooth Luce’s is a slow-paced kind of place that is best for gradually recharging your batteries rather than just grabbing a quick burger. Chances are you’ll appreciate the rest.