Category Archives: Boise Eats

Pit Stop: Meraki’s Zeus Fries

Meraki is a fascinating greek restaurant that probably warrants its own review — maybe even its own podcast. Just to give you an idea, they put french fries in their gyros. Better yet, they serve pork gyros instead the standard beef and lamb mix. This is because pork is in fact the traditional greek meat. (You can still order beef and lamb, but they tell me that such stylings originated not in Greece but Chicago, and may soon be discontinued).

But my visit to Meraki was all about the Zeus Fries. Yep, that’s right. French fries, seasoned gyro meat, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese and tzatziki sauce — drizzled with a side of spicy feta.

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Even your cardiologist wants a plate of these to himself.

 

Pit Stop: Hyde House’s Turkey Bahn Mi

The Turkey Bahn Mi at Hyde House might be my favorite sandwich in Boise right now. It’s a brilliant creation that I have eaten twice in the last month. It’s on the pricey side as sandwiches go ($12) but I’ve been able to justify it to myself, mostly because the lime mayo makes me so happy.

Everyone knows that the success of a sandwich relies on it’s bread. Hyde House hits it out of the park here: their baguette is simultaneously light, soft and crunchy. Amen.

The turkey is equally well executed, with thick slices that really transcend the ordinary deli meat experience.

The pickled red onion is, as always, magic. (Most amazing bites of food I eat involve a sweet or acidic onion.) The jalapeño relish delivers a strong performance and adds much needed heat. And the lime-spiked mayo… shall I compare thee to a summer day?

I recommend making your way to Hyde House soon, just in case this delightful item is tragically removed from their seasonal menu. I always get their iceberg laden house salad on the side, but the choice of side is, as ever, a personal matter.

 

We Need To Talk About Campos

If tomorrow the front page of the paper reads “secret cult of carnitas wizardry uncovered in local mexican market” or “Boise food authorities confounded by the perfect Al Pastor” or even “Barack Obama initiates CIA investigation of conspicuously delicious asada”, I would barely blink. In fact, I’d probably be relieved.

At least then I could explain what the hell is happening in Campos Market.

Last week I made the trip to its hallowed ground, hidden inconspicuously on Orchard Street in a remodeled bar. Though the sign still boasts a crescent moon and a martini, the interior has been transformed into a joyful marketplace. The pinatas overhead and the mariachi music on the air make the aisles of tortillas, tomatillos, and gummy candy all the more enticing.

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In the back, there is a handful of wooden booths and a small kitchen. The menu is intuitive — on one side, a list of meats; on the other side, the possible enclosures for that meat. I was eating lunch with my girlfriend, and we ordered six tacos, two enchiladas, and the all important pineapple Jarritos.

Moments later we were greeted with two massive platters of Mexican food. We selected the asada tacos as the logical starting point for our hungry rampage.

We took a bite, then stared at each other. Dead eyed.

Perhaps it was only carne asada, cilantro and onions on a corn tortilla. Perhaps it was only a taco, purchased for $1.25.

And yet, we we’re experiencing something beyond meat. Something too perfectly greasy and seasoned to have emerged from the stacks of marbled flesh in the deli case beside us. We chewed with gluttonous delight.

“This is my favorite restaurant,” my girlfriend categorically announced.

We took another bite.

“I’m not kidding. This is my favorite restaurant.”

We added some house salsa.

“Hoooooo my god. What do they do to their meat?”

My ability for articulation had vanished with the Asada, so I merely turned with enthusiasm to the enchiladas.

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What is looovvvvveee (baby don’t hurt me)

This moment typified Campos for two reasons.

The first is that campos is very, very good. And good in a specific way — it’s a simple, authentic (or so it seems to my uncultured eyes), and delciously sautéed experience, one that does not feign the more prim and proper trappings of an upscale taco, nor approaches the gummy self hate of Taco Bell.

Yes, the salsa is tasty. Yes, the beans are delightful. But this is a meal that starts and ends with the meat. It hits you in two waves — the first wave of, wow, yum, meat — and then the second wave of, WTF THIS TASTES YUMMIER THAN I WAS PREPARED FOR AND I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY.

This of course leads us to the second part, the part where, attempting to cope with the greatness of your tacos, you ask :“What do they do?!?” The flavors are almost a little too gratifying, especially when paired with a well timed splash of jarritos.

My personal theory is the the grill has been seasoned by years and years of good cooking, so that now, upon encountering some well crafted Al Pastor, a love affair worthy of The Bachelor takes place right on the griddle.

But the funny thing about Campos is, as much as you might wonder, and speculate, you don’t really want to know. Peering back into that kitchen would be like ripping the curtain off of OZ.  The bottles of clorox haphazardly tossed next to the sinks and the stacks of pig appendages in the deli case quietly suggest a grim reality in terms of the foods cleanliness.

But ignorance, I remind you, is bliss. After eating a campos taco, you will have no regard for how it was constructed. It may not be the carefully shredded, kneecap free, white meat to which you’re accustomed (and don’t even think of asking for a hard shell), but a delicious taco, this is unequivocally.

As a man of subtlety, I am not prone to declarative statements, but I will throw aside my more political instincts to make one unabashed claim — a conclusion founded upon a lifetime of eating in my hometown:

Campos Market makes the best taco in Boise. And it is altogether possible that their dominance extends across the state of Idaho.

A statement such as that necessitates the full five stars.

5 STARS

 

Do the Splits

The banana split is a simple concept — cut a banana in half, place three scoops of ice cream on top, give each scoop a topping, then whip cream, nuts, and a cherry. It gives delicious ice cream the solid, fruity backbone that we all silently cry out for. It’s a truly excellent dessert.

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The true success of this dessert lies in the fact that it’s simple to explain but endlessly customizable. The flavors of ice cream, the toppings, and the arrangement are all subject to heated debate when I order a split. (Usually this debate arises because I am ordering with another person. You see, banana splits are a huge commitment when taken on by one man, but when you split the split, its the perfect amount of ice cream.)

I have a go to three ice cream flavors that I like to see on all of my banana splits — Chocolate, Strawberry, Coffee Bean. I like to get the sweet and light with the strawberry, the rich with the chocolate, and an aromatic middle ground with the coffee.

The toppings I go back and forth on. I almost always put hot fudge on the strawberry — it’s the classic combo. On chocolate I tend to go fruity, with a raspberry or cherry topping. On the coffee, it’s caramel or bittersweet. In the future I plan on ordering extra nuts, because I never feel like I get quite enough crunch.

But this is the beauty of the banana split. Like any work of art, it can mean whatever you want it to mean. It can be any combination of flavors you can dream up. It has as many potential permutations as the Rubiks cube (don’t fact check that).

One bite of will inevitably leave you…. with an ear splitting grin.

 

Big City Breakfast

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I got to enjoy first hand the fluffy wonder of steamed eggs at Big City Coffee yesterday. Using an espresso machine they are cooked in the same fashion that milk is steamed.  The eggs take on a very light, but also slightly chunky, quality. I’d recommend this dish to any curious diner wishing to expand their eggs arsenal. (Big City’s delicious fried potatoes are an additional bonus.)