Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Tundra Café Serves Fresh, Inventively Prepared Food
Chef David Cruz said his goal is simply to prepare and serve good food.
Monday, November 26, 2018


He calls it Tundra—a nod to the vast permanently frozen Arctic region of North America and Europe.

But Joel Shinkle’s new Tundra Café is not “out there” when it comes to taking its place in the  burgeoning restaurant scene in Hailey.

Located at 516 N. Main Street, its offerings are hardly reminiscent of the tundra, either, as dishes are fresh and zesty featuring fresh fruits and vegetables and baked locally daily.

The Tundra Café is located in a new building that recently opened on North Main Street in Hailey.

 “It’s a neighborhood restaurant for all of us,” said Shinkle.

Shinkle has long had a stake in the food and wine business in the Sun Valley area. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio, but came here to ski and escape the hubbub of the city, working at the upscale Evergreen Restaurant in Ketchum, then following Chris Kastner to CK’s in Hailey.

He also worked in the wine business with Tastevin Wine in Ketchum, specializing in Italian, Spanish and Northwestern wine.

“Italian and Spanish wines are both great wines. And Northwest wines, like those from the Willamette Valley in Oregon or the Walla Walla area of Washington have good value,” he said. “They’re killing it right now.”

Joel Shinkle’s own art hangs on the wall of Tundra Café.

When it came to landing just the right chef for his new café, Shinkle handpicked David Cruz, whom he worked with at the Evergreen Restaurant in Ketchum 12 years ago.

Cruz is an international chef who cooked in Europe, South America and Canada before returning to the States, settling in Las Vegas where he worked as a consultant. It didn’t hurt that he has family in the Wood River Valley when he accepted Shinkle’s invitation to return to Sun Valley.

 “There are good chefs and there are great chefs, and he’s a great chef,” said Shinkle. “I still haven’t  figured out his secret. I’m a good cook, too. But we can cook something that looks exactly the same and yet his dish tastes better.”

Breakfast, served from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, features such dishes as Eggs Benedict with smashers, house made biscuits and gravy, frittatas and a breakfast burrito with crispy smashers and scrambled eggs, black beans, avocado, jack cheese, chipotle crema and salsa verde.

Jessika Larsen mans the counter, which features fresh pastries such as chocolate coffee muffins and baklava, along with Lizzy’s Coffee.

Lunch, served 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., features such dishes as a seared filet sandwich with shaved fennel, carmelized onion, gruyere and salsa verde vinaigrette; a roasted chicken sandwich with walnut raisin sourdough bread; a veggie high stack sandwich, fish and chips served with citrus tartar sauce, a roasted beef salad and a picturesque grilled cheese sandwich guaranteed to get mouths watering .

It also features the signatureTundra Chop Salad, a fresh, full and flavorful  bowl featuring roasted chicken and pickled egg, crispy bacon, avocado, apple and gruyere.

The Tundra Café serves brunch from 8 a.m to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

“I love that they prepare healthy food in creative ways. They serve big portions and everyone’s super nice,” said Brooke Bonner, who has become a regular at Tundra.

Joel Shinkle built the coffee table and bar in his wood shop.

The restaurant is casual, with a large array of hot sauces and other condiments on a wooden bar that Shinkle made himself.

Customers can take their coffee or sandwich on a sofa or bar looking out onto Main Street or at tables in the back of the cafe.

Shinkle built the bar, coffee table and tables himself. He also built the floor using recycled wood to give it an older more comfortable look.

Then the Renaissance man hung his own art on the walls.

Once he gets his feet planted under him, Shinkle plans to offer five-course wine dinners paired with his favorite wines. One evening might feature Spanish food; another, Indian.

“We’ll start out with cocktails and bubbles. It’s an opportunity for David to do what he does best,” said Shinkle. “We want it to be something we can have fun with. We’re foodies at heart and we want to cater to those who love food and who love wine.”


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