Home Features COLUMN: 7 trendy and unique places to eat in the Rexburg area

COLUMN: 7 trendy and unique places to eat in the Rexburg area

BYU-Idaho makes Rexburg unique. The University brings a variety of people from across the world, with distinct cultures and backgrounds, to the same place — a small town in Southeastern Idaho.

In 2019, almost 2,000 international students attended campus classes at BYU-I each semester. Even more students came from out of state.

With such a diverse group of students, the food culture in Rexburg has begun to expand. Within the small community, you can find Mexican tacos, Asian street foods, French-Canadian poutine, Middle Eastern steak and veggies, Hawaiian sushi, Taiwanese tea, traditional American burgers and pizza, and more.

With such incredible food options, it can be hard to know where to start. Below are seven trendy restaurants and shops unique to the Rexburg area, in no particular order.

1. Boba Luv

Boba tea drinks
Boba tea drinks
Image Credit: Ashley Seare Photography

Boba Luv began with a pregnancy craving.

When Mao Xiong, a BYU-I alumna, and her husband Tousue Xiong, a BYU-I alumnus, moved to Rexburg from California, they discovered a serious lack of boba. As a big part of the culture in California, boba became something Mao and her husband missed while in Idaho.

While Mao was pregnant, she began craving boba, but couldn’t find it anywhere. That pregnancy craving led to the opening of Boba Luv when she graduated in 2019.

“We thought it would be fun to bring boba drinks and a little bit more of the Asian culture into Rexburg because we feel like we didn’t have any of that here,” Mao said.

Boba Luv began as a small food truck in front of the Wolfe Lighting shop by the railroad tracks. After six months of success, they moved into a brick-and-mortar shop, built their own restaurant and opened the first authentic bubble tea shop in Eastern Idaho. Currently, they have one location in Rexburg but are soon opening another shop in Orem, Utah.

Boba Luv is known for its delicious bubble tea drinks. Bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, made from ingredients such as milk, tea, fruits and sugar, with tapioca balls on the bottom. Boba Luv also has additional toppings such as bursting boba, puddings and jellies.

There are over 100 flavors of boba drinks to order from, as well as smoothies, slushies and hot drinks. Boba Luv also serves Asian street foods such as bubble waffles, shrimp tempura, Taiwanese popcorn chicken and fried fish balls. Some of the most popular drinks are coconut taro, brown sugar and winter melon.

Drinks at Boba Luv
Drinks at Boba Luv Photo credit: Janai Smith

Every year, Boba Luv celebrates their anniversary with a Sushi Day where they serve rolls of sushi for customers to enjoy. This year Sushi Day was on March 20.

“I would encourage everyone to come and try it to see if they like it,” Mao said. “So many people come to Rexburg from so many different countries or different states and we are all in the same place together. It is important to embrace the different cultures we get here in Rexburg.”

As it reads on the website, “Boba is cheaper than therapy!”

2. Red Rabbit Grill

Burger and wrap at Red Rabbit Grill
Burger and wrap at Red Rabbit Grill Photo credit: Janai Smith

After noticing a lack of American-style restaurants with full service in Rexburg, Matt Smith and his wife, Jane, decided to take matters into their own hands and open the Red Rabbit Grill as the 24th restaurant they’ve built and opened.

Red Rabbit Grill first opened in Delta, Utah, in 2017 and then opened in Rexburg in April 2018.

“(Matt and Jane) wanted to create a restaurant that offered and promoted people staying and enjoying their time,” said Jacob Muller, general manager at Red Rabbit Grill. “Their phrase was, ‘Making connections over great food.'”

Muller began working at the restaurant in July 2019. It started off as his senior internship at BYU-I and he has continued to work there since he graduated in business management in December 2019.

The American cuisine restaurant serves appetizers such as spinach artichoke dip and pretzel bites, and entrees including burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, steak, pasta and more, plus a large breakfast menu.

One unique item on their menu is the French Canadian poutine with a twist.

Poutine at Red Rabbit Grill
Poutine at Red Rabbit Grill Photo credit: Janai Smith

“Instead of doing the melted mozzarella they chose to go with a fried cheese curd to bring a bit more flavor into it,” Muller explained.

Muller also created the poutine burger with fries, cheese curds and gravy poured onto a burger. While it isn’t listed on the menu, it can be specially requested as the cooks know how to put the Canadian-American combo together.

“We take elements from a lot of different dishes and different cultures,” Muller said. “We make a lot of fresh food, a lot of unique food and we take pride in the quality we give out. We always want to give you the absolute best product possible every single time.”

3. Oishii Casa

Oishii Casa Taco
Oishii Casa Taco
Image Credit: Oishii Casa

Food at Oishii Casa consists of a delicious Mexican-Asian fusion twist.

First as Fair Land, which opened in December 2017, and known for their rolled ice cream, they rebranded to Oishii Casa in January to add food to the menu. While they kept the ice cream, they added Asian and Mexican food. Oishii means “tasty” in Japanese and Casa means “house” in Spanish.

Macail Chavez, owner and founder of Oishii Casa, moved to Rexburg six years ago so her husband could attend BYU-I. Eventually they decided to stay because they loved the small town so much.

In the summers they’d travel throughout California where there is a melting pot of food. On their road trips, they’d build a route based on good food, looking for the little hole-in-the-wall places.

“We’re foodies and we travel and go to different cities and make a little route so we can taste all the food that’s trending and coming out,” Chavez said. “Most of the food items we have are from the past couple of years of going down there and seeing what is really good.”

Oishii Casa hotdog and jalapeno poppers
Oishii Casa hotdog and jalapeno poppers Photo credit: Janai Smith

Their menu includes a loaded hotdog, street tacos, ramen, hand-rolled ice cream and more.

One of the popular dishes is the loaded hotdog. The hotdog is bacon-wrapped with corn and jalapeños piled on top, then dusted with hot Cheetos.

“We have good food, so just come,” Chavez said. “We hand make our ice cream, we slow cook our meat, we cook everything fresh. It’s made from family recipes so it is something we have tried and tested and we’ve kept it to where you’re getting a really good deal. We try to make it where you leave full and happy.”

4. Pizza Pie Cafe

Desert pizza at Pizza Pie Cafe
Dessert pizza at Pizza Pie Cafe Photo credit: Janai Smith

The Pizza Pie Cafe puts traditional pizza to shame.

Their All-You-Can-Eat Buffet includes salads, pasta and, of course, pizza. Apart from the dinner pizzas, there is a wide range of dessert pizzas including Oreo, cookie dough, raspberry, apple and peach cobbler pizzas.

After moving to Rexburg, Matt and Jane Smith took over an abandoned pizza shop in 2003. Originally named Craigo’s Gourmet Pizza, the restaurant grew until they moved locations into a larger building with more parking. From the small shop, they became the Pizza Pie Cafe in 2005.

Matt began making pizzas when he was about 13 years old. He and his father opened a pizza shop in 1982 and since then, he has fallen in love with the restaurant business.

“I was probably the kid in high school who was said most likely to open a restaurant,” Smith said.

One of the most popular pizzas on their menu is the Oreo pizza.

Pizza at Pizza Pie Cafe
Pizza at Pizza Pie Cafe Photo credit: Janai Smith

“We created all the pizzas that we started with from different places we’ve worked and different things we saw online,” Smith said. “With the Oreo pizza, there was a kid in town that said, ‘Hey I got this idea. I’m going to put sugar all over a pizza and then more sugar on top.’ And sure enough, we can’t keep them in stock.”

Their employees also come up with different ideas for their pizzas and sauces.

“If you want a fun environment, a place that you can goof around and chat and hang out and not feel rushed, this is a good place to come eat,” Smith said. “There is something for everybody.”

Pizza Pie Cafe now has 15 locations within Idaho and Utah.

5. Da Pineapple Grill

Sushi at Da Pineapple Grill
Image credit: Da Pineapple Grill
Sushi at Da Pineapple Grill
Image credit: Da Pineapple Grill

Da Pineapple Grill provides delicious cuisine from the tropical Hawaiian islands.

The restaurant itself feels like a tropical get-away with a tiki-styled sushi bar and murals of white sand beaches, oceans coasts and palm trees. If you ever need to escape the harsh Rexburg winters, this is the place to go.

Steve Danielson and Ohana opened Da Pineapple Grill in 2005.

“The idea was to share our culture offering fresh, homemade, authentic Hawaiian and Asian inspired foods made from scratch and creativity,” Danielson said.

Their menu includes a variety of sushi, burgers, coconut shrimp, Hawaiian curry, Hawaiian mahi-mahi, a kalua pig plate and more. With sauces, dressings and glazes all made from scratch, their food is extremely authentic.

“We have grilled entrees to sushi, to our famous tiki burgers to decadent desserts like our mango guava cheesecake with macadamia nut crust,” Danielson added.

Food at Da Pineapple Grill
Image credit: Da Pineapple Grill
Food at Da Pineapple Grill
Image credit: Da Pineapple Grill

As the food is made by hand, Da Pineapple Grill only serves delicious, and culturally diverse food from sunny places we can enjoy in the middle of Idaho.

“(We serve) authentic fresh foods made from scratch,” Danielson said. “It’s an eclectic blend of cultures and diversity shared from the islands. Hawaii is a melting pot with so many different cultures from Asians to Polynesians residing together on one rock in the middle of the Pacific ocean, is how our menu is so diverse.”

6. White Sparrow Country Store

Southern Fried Pies
Image Credit: White Sparrow Country Store
Southern Fried Pies
Image Credit: White Sparrow Country Store

The White Sparrow Country Store serves incredible southern fried pies, macaroons and creamy, smooth ice cream.

Originally a general store built in the 1800s, Bree and Bud refurnished the old building, and brought it back to life as a country store selling home goods and delicious food in 2020.

“What started as a home and lifestyle Instagram page and a love for an old General Store … has now turned into that dream coming to fruition,” Bree wrote on the website.

White Sparrow Country Store
Image Credit: White Sparrow Country Store
White Sparrow Country Store
Image Credit: White Sparrow Country Store

The idea to sell southern pies came from Bud’s childhood. Living in Southern Oklahoma, his mom would cook and serve this delicious dessert. Bree took on the challenge to create her own recipe and they went and ran with it.

They serve both savory and sweet southern pies, made from scratch every day. The seven types of savory pie and 10 types of sweet pie keep you coming back for more. From warm Nutella and strawberries to beef, feta, red onion and Tzatziki, the southern fried pies bring the southern culture to Rexburg.

According to their website, “We believe in creating a home you love. We believe in hard work, dreams, and pursuing your passion in life. We believe in creating spaces to help you achieve the very life you dream about.”

You can follow their journey on their website and Instagram.

7. Big Jud’s

Big Jud's
Image Credit: Big Jud's
Big Jud's
Image Credit: Big Jud's

Crisp lettuce. Soft tomatoes. Oozing ketchup. Thick mustard. Spicy onions. A fat, juicy, two-pound slab of meat.

A red, woven basket. Golden, deep-fried, salty, french goodness. Greasy napkins. Sticky hands. Cool ice, a cold drink.

30 minutes.

Big Jud’s Burger Challenge stretches the strength and persistence of the average American foodie. A half-hour to shove a two-pound burger, a basket of fries and a large drink down your throat leaves one bulging gut.

As it says on their website, “Many have tried, few have triumphed.”

Big Juds Burger
Image Credit: Big Juds
Big Juds Burger
Image Credit: Big Juds

The few who succeed leave with a free meal, a T-Shirt, a place on Big Jud’s’ Wall of Fame and two extra firm pounds of body fat.

The burger challenge isn’t the only reason to come to Big Jud’s. The classic burger joint serves 13 different custom burgers, onion rings, tater gems, fried pickles, chicken strips, nine different chicken sandwiches, thick milkshakes and more.

The diner first opened in 1993 in Archer, Idaho, just 15 minutes from Rexburg. A quick drive to a delicious, fun meal.

“The descriptors ‘steak fries’ or ‘homecut fries’ come nowhere near describing the gargantuan size of these fresh-cut, skin-on fries,” wrote Deanna Darr, from Boise Weekly, in their reviews. “Between the burger and just a couple of the fries, it was already overtaxed, yet extraordinarily happy.”

In 2010, Big Jud’s was featured on TV on the Travel Channel’s Man Vs. Food. You can watch the challenge online here.

And More

With so many places to eat in Rexburg, it can feel overwhelming to know where to go. In addition to these seven options, there is also Righteous Slice, The Hickory, Millhollow, Casa De Ochoa, New Fongs, Taqueria El Rancho, Original Tai, Dong’s Sushi Bar and more, all exclusive to the Rexburg area.

The food in Rexburg tells the story of people from across the United States and across the world. Next weekend, grab a date or friend and experience the unique diversity BYU-I brings to this small Southeastern Idaho town.

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