Lemon Tree Co. Staff

Be My Veggie Valentine

Lemon Tree Co.’s Valentine’s dinner is another plant-based thank you to Boise vegans

Lex Nelson

Jasson Parra, co-owner of the downtown Boise sandwich shop Lemon Tree Co., credits his restaurant’s success in large part to Boise’s burgeoning population of vegetarians and vegans, who flock there for plant-based entrees and sides.

“It’s always tough starting a business, but even tougher when you take over someone’s spot that was really, really popular, like Bleubird,” said Parra, “… I think really what stabilized us and allowed us to get over that hump of people who were unsure about us because of Bleubird was really the vegan/vegetarian community.”  

February will bring a Tuesday Takeover centered on “Perfect Pairs” like PB&J, but Parra’s team is also focusing on a different event: an upscale, four-course, gluten-free Vegan Valentine’s Day dinner featuring more bites from Chef Murray. As if those weren’t enough boxes to check, the $85-per-person dinner will also showcase local products, from Gluten Free Galaxy bread to, Parra hopes, vegan cheese from The Kula Connection. It’s the kind of collaboration he’s dreamed of since working with community-oriented chef Roy Yamaguchi 15 years ago.

The sandwich joint’s Tuesday Takeovers—themed dinners featuring collaborations with local chefs—began in part as a way to thank that community. A Thanksgiving vegan bite night in partnership with Jenn Williams (the Boise-based health coach behind @thisishowyouvegan) in 2018 kicked off what would become a near-monthly tradition. Though Parra took December off from the dinners, his wife and co-owner Mayra Ruiz brought the concept back Jan. 29 for those looking to eat healthier in the new year. Boise Juice Company, recipe developer and chef Christina Murray, and vegan blogger Bethany Camp (@namastevegan) all came on board for the occasion, putting out a plant- and superfoods-based menu of sandwiches, wraps, tacos and more.

“[Yamaguchi] would bring in guest chefs and they would come up with a dinner, and I thought that was just such a cool idea and a cool concept,” he said. “…I thought, well, if we ever have that opportunity, we really need to do that.”

The Valentine’s Dinner will be served on Lemon Tree’s upper level overlooking Main Street, with two dozen guests dining at a single table. The menu includes artichoke crostini, caprese salad, zucchini lasagna with wild mushroom risotto and, in a play on the restaurant’s name, a lemon tart. Each course will be paired with vegan wine.

Though it’s possible Lemon Tree will host a dinner with meat or dairy in the future, Parra said for now he’s enjoying the challenge of creating vegan dishes. He even floated the idea of a vegan/vegetarian supper club—a move that his restaurant’s base of herbivores would likely applaud.

For now, eager diners can score tickets to the Valentine’s Day dinner through eventbrite.com.