Lex Eats Local: Grocery Shop Around the World — Without Leaving Boise | Food & Drink

If you think Boise’s food scene lacks ethnic diversity… well, think again. There are close to 20 international markets scattered across the City of Trees selling ingredients imported from all over the world.

Many of these grocery stores also have restaurants tucked in their back rooms, serving up falafel, sambusas, Mekong River noodle soup, goat meat on rice, and more to those in the know. Read on for a list of 13 unique markets to taste-test this spring.

Shankraron stocks goods from across Africa, and offers packaged foods, clothing, and personal care products as well as a bustling Somali restaurant serving sambusas, grilled whole tilapia, and halal goat meat on rice.

“Most of the people, they come here to find ethnic spices which are very hard to find here in mega supermarkets. We carry a lot of East African spices [and] Middle Eastern spices,” said Mohamed Ahmed, who co-owns the store with his wife, Shankaron. Berebere brings in customers along with harder-to-find flours like teff (for injera) and cassava (for fufu).

While many African families frequent the shop, Ahmed said people from “a big demographic” come in to try new things.

“You know how it works, people go on YouTube and they find that recipe, and they want to make that dish and they find out ‘Oh, I need this kind of spice and this kind of spice,’” he said.

10387 W. Fairview Ave., Boise

Diana is a small mom-and-pop Korean market specializing in fresh and frozen foods, packaged goods, and spices. Visitors rave about the kimchi, bulgogi, gochujang and Korean chile pastes.

Idaho Capital Asian Market

This large, well-stocked market includes snacks and fresh foods from all over Asia, with aisles for Indian, Japanese, and Korean ingredients. Venture to the back for meat and seafood counters featuring live Dungeness crabs.

Namaste Markets and Restaurants

7100 W. Fairview Ave., Boise

Namaste focuses on ingredients from India, Nepal, and Tibet. The in-store restaurant offers Himalayan favorites including momo (dumplings) and thukpa noodle soup, and staff will even help with international calls and money transfers.

TradeViet Asian Specialty Foods

10539 W. Overland Road, Boise

This warehouse-sized grocery store specializes in Vietnamese ingredients. At the food court, shoppers can find specialties like pho, crab meat vermicelli noodle soup, bánh bò hấp (Vietnamese sponge cakes) and more.

This downtown Boise landmark is stocked with imported olives, meats, and cheese from The Basque Country. Order Spanish-style pintxos (tapas) at the counter; enjoy a glass of wine; ask about catered paella; or come in on Saturdays for sheepherder’s bread. Note: The shop’s staff is currently vacationing in the Basque Country. The retail shop is open, but the restaurant won’t be fully operational on Tuesday, May 10.

BoEx or “Bosnian Express” has it all: a grocery store, sandwich shop, and wine bar. Visit for a huge selection of European chocolates and other treats from Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Italy, or to enjoy a panini on bread made fresh daily.

Das Alpenhaus Delikatessen

Jamie Webster and Greg Hanson opened Dal Alpenhaus in 2016, launching Boise’s first German market and deli.

“We carry a niche market of German, Swiss, and Austrian products. We really like to keep it to German-speaking countries,” said employee Jordan Nelson. “Our claim to fame has been our schnitzel sandwich.”

Webster is of German descent, and at least five employees in the shop speak German, Nelson included. Customers come back for the deli selection, imported German breads (delivered par-baked and finished in-store), and impressive beer and wine selection.

Central and South America

5234 W. Fairview Ave., Boise

This no-frills Mexican meat market, restaurant, and grocery store is known for its arrachera preparation (pre-seasoned carne asada), quesadillas, and its fine selection of Mexican groceries and piñatas.

413 N. Orchard St., Boise

Past the bright red awning, visitors to Campos will find aisles jam-packed with Mexican snacks and treats like fresh chile-covered mangos on a stick, as well as a meat counter and fresh tomatillos, cactus paddles, and other hard-to-find ingredients.

Viva Brazil owner Geralda Hunter affectionately calls her shop “a little piece of Brazil.” She grew up there in the coastal state of Alagoas and has imported her home country’s goods since opening Viva Brazil Market in November 2021.

“We have sausage, we have linguica from Brazil. This special cheese spread that is very delicious from Brazil. Also we have the best soda, it’s called Guaraná. it’s kind of [like] cherry, it’s a fruit from Brazil called guaraná and the brand is [also] guarana It’s our best seller here in the store,” she said, adding that Brazilian cheese bread is another “very delicious” favorite.

The shelves are also stocked with Brazilian chocolates, fruit concentrates, potato sticks, and beans, and a Brazilian flag hangs proudly behind the counter.

710 N. Orchard St., Boise

Food Land’s is perhaps the Treasure Valley’s most beautiful international market, designed in light wood and kept meticulously organized by Iraqi owner Hana Absolute and her staff. The front of the shop houses a cafe serving Turkish coffee and Middle Eastern pastries, and the back boasts a “bistro” dishing up chicken tikka, meat kebabs, and more. Don’t miss the rosewater, date syrup, and freezers stashed with Middle Eastern favorites.

Ishtar Market and Restaurant

4516 W. Overland Road, Boise

At Ishtar, shoppers will find packaged foods imported from the Middle East and Europe along with a case of fresh Middle Eastern pastries like pistachio baklava and fried qatayef (sweet dumplings) stuffed with pistachios, walnuts, and cinnamon.

Sam, an employee who asked to go by his first name, said most of the shop’s customers are from the Middle East, and they’re drawn in by Ishtar’s three impressive racks of Sadaf spices.

“Some stuff they cannot find here [in Boise], but we have it. The cumin we have here you can see we have spices have cumin, and there is cumin everywhere but the cumin we have has a rich flavor,” he explained. “It’s more tasty.”

The market’s in-house restaurant serves falafel, shawarma, and more.

.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.