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.

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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.
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