Where can you go in Boise if you are hankering for Argentinean empanadas, Mexican chicharrones, or warm gyro sandwiches? What if you need Thai curry paste, yerba mate or Bosnian cookies?
Head over to the intersection of Emerald and Orchard streets on the Bench and you’ll find all of this and more at four specialty markets and eateries all located within half a block from each other.
Orient Market (4870 Emerald St., 208-342-5507) carries ingredients for Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines. The small, immaculate grocery store features a fresh fish counter that gets stocked with clear-eyed specimens on Saturday mornings, as well as a fresh produce section with hard-to-find perishables like kabocha squash, rambutan and galangal.
In the same strip mall the Bosnian Express Market (4846 Emerald St., 208-433-9955) features jams, hams, cookies and other packaged goods from the Southern European region in the tiny storefront market. Hidden behind the shop is a cavernous bar and dining room where gyro sandwiches are served daily for lunch.
Argentinean empanadas are the specialty at Tango’s Subs and Empanadas (701 N. Orchard St., 208-322-3090). The original Gaucho empanada is stuffed with ground beef, eggs, olives, onions, bell peppers and spices, but there are also 13 other meat varieties, six vegetable versions and 14 delectable types for dessert. Yerba mate is to Argentineans what coffee is to Americans, and Tango’s stocks several imported varieties of the caffeinated tea.
Campos Market in Nampa has been the go-to shop for Mexican specialties for many years. They opened a second store in Boise (413 N. Orchard St., 208-658-0644) where, at the rear of the store, beyond the stocked grocery shelves and tidy produce section you’ll find an immaculate taqueria where you can order lunch platters of carnitas, carne asada and pollo as well as fresh, crunchy chicharrones. They also have a carniceria stocked with fresh, marinated beef that you can purchase to prepare al pastor at home.
Each store offers far more than I can include here. If you’re seeking to satisfy an exotic hankering or need a special ingredient for an ethnic dish you want to cook then look no further than this Boise Bench intersection.