Reel Foods Fish Market has been a staple for seafood eaters in this landlocked city over the years.
Back in the day, the seafood market was housed in a diminutive, tucked-away space under The Connector overpass near Rhodes Skate Park. It was definitely a hidden gem. It later moved to a more visible spot on Capitol Boulevard, kitty-corner from the Boise Art Museum. Here it set up an oyster bar and a small kitchen that pumped out seafood sandwiches, salads and chowder.
Marcus Bonilla, a local chef, purchased the business from Ocean Beauty Seafood in 2015, and he kind of made it his own by adding sushi and cooking classes to the repertoire. But after spreading himself thin with everything extracurricular to the market itself, he’s decided to move from Capitol Boulevard up the hill to Vista Village, where Reel Foods will go back to being just a market again.
“We really want to focus on the seafood market aspect, on being a neighborhood fish monger,” Bonilla said.
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The Bench Depot neighborhood seemed like a logical location to achieve that goal.
“I think it will fit well in Vista Village with the variety of restaurants and shops in there,” he said.
Bonilla, who closed the market and restaurant on Capitol Boulevard in late January, is currently remodeling the former Blimpie sandwich shop space, at 1118 Vista Ave., on the south side of the shopping center. If all goes well, he plans to reboot Reel Foods in mid-March.
“The place is quite a bit smaller than our previous location, but it’s perfect for what we want to do with it,” he said.
Seafood education is a high priority for Bonilla. Like everything else in the world of food these days, shoppers are keenly interested in the stories behind the fish, including who is catching or raising the seafood and whether or not it’s done so in a responsible manner.
“People want to know where their fish comes from,” Bonilla said.
“I still want to do occasional classes at the market, like on breaking down fish and the sourcing of fish.”
Reel Foods will soon be packing the glass cases in its new digs with a large variety of finfish, including halibut, cod, salmon and more. The market, like before, will also offer 13 kinds of oysters (primarily Pacific varieties), Dungeness crab, shrimp, clams and mussels – most from the West Coast.
After Bonilla gets the market up and running smoothly again, he hopes to add freshly shucked oysters, clam chowder, seafood stew and possibly ceviche to the lineup.
The hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. It will be closed on Sunday.
For updates, check out facebook.com/reelfoods.