Words & Deeds

South American cuisine — in Meridian? New restaurant opens serving real Argentine food.

What’s your favorite Idaho food? (Besides potatoes.)

Idaho is known for a lot of things, including some special food.
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Idaho is known for a lot of things, including some special food.

If you’re tired of the ocean of chain restaurants in the Boise area, take a local detour — to Argentina.

The Empanada Club recently opened at 1580 N. Stonehenge Way, off Fairview Avenue west of Locust Grove Road in Meridian.

Co-owners Cecilia De Paoli and Tom Torkelson debuted the baked-goods eatery in July. They’re offering “a true from-scratch experience,” according to a news release, “as they are making 100 percent of their dough and fillings in-house.” De Paoli, a native of Argentina, developed the recipes.

Idaho foodies are familiar with pasties. An empanada is a similar stuffed pastry that’s a staple of Latin America. The Empanada Club serves nine varieties — at $3.50 each or $38 for a dozen. You can dine in, grab a few to go or order online.

New to empanadas? Grab the Traditional, filled with ground beef, onions, hard-boiled egg and olives. Or spice up your life with a Carne Picante, packed with beef chuck braised slowly in red wine with hot peppers and onions.

At the Empanada Club, diners can sit down and enjoy Argentine food, order to go, or order online. The Empanada Club

The menu also includes several versions of tartas ($6.50) and mini-tartas ($4.50) — pies with satisfying fillings. The Zuchini and Goat Cheese tarta is exactly what it sounds like. (Sometimes nothing beats simple.) Or remind yourself of a traditional American morning meal with the Breakfast All Day mini-tarta, made with ham, eggs and cheese.

Dessert sweets cost $4 and include two types of alfajores and a pasta frola. “But be warned,” the news release says, “these generally sell out soon after they hit the display cases.”

The Empanada Club also runs daily specials — such as two empanadas and a Coke for $8, or an empanada and pint of craft beer for $8.

De Paoli and Torkelson, who are married, came to the United States five years ago from Mendoza, Argentina. De Paoli grew up there and has operated other food-related businesses.

“More than anything,” she says, “I want people to know that comfort food exists everywhere in the world. This is mine, and I want to share it with everyone here.”

The Empanada Club is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Soda and beer are available. And naturally, there’s a list of Argentine wines.

Online: myempanadaclub.com.

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and opinion columnist at the Idaho Statesman. Since starting at the Statesman as a news intern in 1991, he has been a sportswriter and features/entertainment editor. Deeds also has freelanced for The Washington Post, Relix, Country Weekly, Velo News, Beer Advocate and more.