SHOSHONE — Grilled onions smothered in melted Swiss cheese, a generous portion of sliced ham, lettuce, tomato and a pickle — all served on a grilled hoagie.
This mouth -watering mishmash of ingredients comprises the Manhattan Melt at Shoshone’s Manhattan Café.
So how did this now-popular sandwich come to be?
Back in the ‘90s, one local customer requested the special order, cook Ron Wyant recalled.
“He’d always order it whenever he came in,” Wyant said.
Other customers grew interested in the sandwich and began requesting it, too. Eventually, it caught on, and the Manhattan Melt became an official part of Manhattan Café’s menu. It costs $8.99 — plus extra for fries.
That’s all Wyant could tell me about it June 7 as he took a quick break between making meals. He’s been a cook at the restaurant for 37 years, but the café’s roots go back to 1890.
Manhattan Café sits alongside the railroad tracks, which once offered passenger train service. Ernest Hemingway and other famous people stopped in at the café regularly before taking their car or bus connection to Sun Valley.
“There used to be passenger trains, and it used to be 24-hour,” Wyant said.
The Manhattan Café now serves food 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. As one of the few eateries in Shoshone, locals and visitors alike come through its doors for breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts. The café has specials Monday through Thursday, and a buffet on Friday.
While the restaurant has been remodeled several times, it still displays mementos of its historical charm. Train-themed décor along its walls, a brief history of the train station and even a small gift shop were still conspicuously placed around the cafe.
But behind-the-scenes, another employee was participating in aManhattan Café tradition. Gladys Carpenter, 76, carefully measured and weighed rounds of dough for that evening’s dinner rolls. She’d been doing this for 17 years, and said the café makes its own dinner and cinnamon rolls and biscuits — as the restaurant couldn’t find a supplier and a recipe it liked to order these in.
Carpenter said she needed to keep working because she didn’t earn enough income from Social Security; but she was doing what she enjoyed.
“Even from a child, I’d bug my mother to let me do what she was doing,” she recalled of her memories in the kitchen.
The restaurant also boasts of its own hand-breaded chicken fries.
In the dining area, customers waited at tables and at the bar for their food as a waitress busily assisted them. Wyant was back in the kitchen, busily preparing orders.
I paid for my sandwich and, taking one last look around at this quintessential piece of Shoshone, headed out to my car parked near the quiet train tracks.
These are just a few of the sights and smells to experience inside Mi Pueblo, a Mexican market, restaurant and bakery at 449 Washington St. N. The market opened 15 years ago when Esidoro Nieto Jr. couldn’t find anything like it in Twin Falls, and wanted to bring a part of Mexico here — “mi pueblo” means “my town.”
Today, Mi Pueblo produces about 24,000 corn, flour and wheat tortillas — and 3,000 pieces of bread — each day, manager Yesenya Nieto said. It distributes to stores across the region, from Jackpot, Nev., to Ontario, Ore. and east to Aberdeen.
Visitors can see the tortillas being made through a window by the baked goods. A 24-count package of flour tortillas costs $3.79 — or for that same price, you can get 70 corn tortillas. Nieto warns that they may not last as long as other store-bought tortillas.
“We put in as minimal preservatives as we can,” she said.
Here’s some other foods and ingredients available at Mi Pueblo:
Meats: “We have a butcher who comes in every day and slices it up, traditional style,” Nieto said. A few tidbits you can find at the counter: chorizo, pork skin, beef small intestines, and carne asada (which can be ordered pre-seasoned and pre-cooked, if desired).
Treats: Mi Pueblo bakes and decorates pan dulce (sweet bread) every day — many of which, at 49 cents apiece, cost less than your typical doughnut. And speaking of doughnuts, they have those, too. Colorful cookies cost a bit more, and customers can also order personalized cakes. Another party supply: pinatas.
Chilies and produce: Looking for chipotle chilies, pasilla chilies or pickled jalapenos? Mi Pueblo has all of these, and more. It’s also got other desired produce, such as nopal cactus.
Restaurant: Customers at Mi Pueblo can order food from the kitchen and enjoy tacos or traditional soups like posole.
TWIN FALLS — At Emma’s Café, a side-room market contains a display of colorfully packaged meats that could pique your curiosity.
The chicken sausage, staff member Samia Pendic will tell you, is similar to bologna and popular for making sandwiches. It’s one of the store’s top-selling items.
Smoked veal, skinless sausage and pickled cabbage are also on display, imported for Bosnian cooking. But if you’d prefer to try them out before you commit to taking some home, several are featured in the restaurant’s menu.
The southeastern European restaurant and market is known for bringing some new flavors to Twin Falls cuisine.
“I need diversity because I grew up with it,” said Gabrielle Burton, who moved to Twin Falls from Las Vegas.
She came across the café at 669 Blue Lakes Blvd. N. because she works nearby. Now, she’s in love with the restaurant’s cabbage rolls, which are made largely of imported ingredients (except for American beef — plus a sprig of parsley from owner Eschef Jasarevic‘s garden).
Burton isn’t alone. The rolls are also a favorite of Twin Falls resident Rick Beem, who stopped in for lunch on Friday.
“I’m just into the food scene,” he said.
But the cold meats sampler plate is Neil Silveira’s usual order when he comes to Emma’s Café with his girlfriend. Silveira grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and is also accustomed to eating a variety of international cuisines.
The cold sampler plate is $10 for a selection of smoked beef and sausage with feta cheese.
“It’s a good shareable item, too,” Silveira said. “It’s definitely worth it.”
There’s also a Bosnian mix plate of hot sausages — $15 for a half order, or $25 for a full order.
While you’re eating, you’re likely to be entertained by the owner as he jokes around with customers. Jasarevic is from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and he cooks most everything on the menu himself. He opened the restaurant three years ago, naming it after his newborn daughter, Emma.
Silveira discovered the restaurant while browsing through reviews on Yelp. As of Monday, Emma’s Café had five stars, out of 64 reviews.
“You very rarely see that many reviews and five stars,” he said. “It’s a hidden little treasure here.”
It was on her list of Mexican food she wanted to try in Twin Falls.
“I haven’t tried it yet, because I am also picky about my Mexican food,” she told me, referencing my Juanita’s story in which I outed myself as a Mexican food snob.
I try not to be too snobby, but having eaten good, authentic, homemade Mexican food, it’s hard to accept mediocrity.
I told Chapin I was in the same position as her: I’d been meaning to try Jarrito’s for a while, but had yet to get around to it. My wife even bought an online coupon deal more than a year ago, but it expired before we ever went.
Chapin and I left the conversation at that, but late last month, she messaged me again. She had dined at Jarrito’s and shared with me a great review that finally pushed me to try the place.
With Angela’s permission, I’m printing her (lightly edited) review, and my own.
Our consensus? Jarrito’s is terrific, and anyone looking for a delicious, home-style Mexican meal should try it out.
‘The flavor had depth’
Chapin: Finally tried Jarrito’s Mexican Restaurant on Washington Street North. We were a party of four — my in-laws were treating me to dinner for my birthday.
I loved that there was plenty of parking and the restaurant was so clean. The server was a young woman and seemed shy, and the food took a bit to arrive.
We had homemade tortilla chips and salsa (so-so) and refried beans (made with love, because the flavor had depth) to nibble on while we waited.
When the food did arrive with the green blended salsa and the roasted blended salsa: Wow.
The rice was so fluffy and flavorful — it reminded us of paella rice. Again, the refried beans made me want to lick the plate! The tacos we had — fresh tortillas — so much better than my homemade ones. The meat was beautifully seasoned, but not hiding behind seasoning. My husband’s burrito was huge and the green sauce on it was rich and delicious.
The salsas reminded me of my mom’s blended salsas — still warm from the stove — and took me back to my childhood.
On the way out, we noticed that Jarrito’s opens at 7 a.m.; we will be going back again soon to see what they offer so early.
Like eating at abuela’s
Riggins: Angela Chapin was right. The beans here are excellent, flavorful and made lovingly by owner Jovita Ocampo, a sweet abuelita who treats her customers like her nine grandchildren.
Before she knew I was reviewing her restaurant, she came to our table to ensure our visit was going well and shower affection on my 3-month-old son.
Later, after sharing with her the reason for my visit, Ocampo gave me two big hugs. This story, she said, could be the blessing from God she’s been praying for. Jarrito’s, which Ocampo opened about two years ago, is on the brink of closing because business has been slow. She’s finding it hard to compete against established Mexican restaurants that have been in town much longer.
If Jarrito’s closes, it will be a huge loss for Mexican-food lovers in the Magic Valley, because the food is outstanding.
My wife ordered the carne asada — a thin grilled steak — that came with beans, rice, avocado and tortillas; she chose flour over corn. She reported her food was just as flavorful and authentic as the food she’s had while travelling with her mother in Mexico.
I ordered the alambre, a dish not unlike fajitas, made with grilled beef sautéed with onions and green peppers. The key difference between alambre and fajitas, though, is the cheese. Jarrito’s adds cheese and sour cream to the meat and vegetables that melts and binds it all together.
I had only ever tried alambre at my wife’s family reunions in San Diego — we call it Mexican pizza — and the alambre at Jarrito’s reminded me of home. It was outstanding by itself and even better when loaded into both corn and flour tortillas. It also came with more of Ocampo’s delicious beans and rice.
I also tried a carnitas taco, just to test it out. The pork was moist and flavorful and paired great with the green salsa. My only wish is that it would have come with guacamole, but that’s not just a Jarrito’s problem. I’ve yet to find a Mexican restaurant in the Magic Valley that serves street tacos with guacamole, the way I grew up eating them in San Diego and Tijuana.
If the reviews by Chapin and I aren’t enough to convince you Jarrito’s is serving up authentic, home-style Mexican food, then consider this: When I stopped in for lunch Thursday, there were patrons eating at three other tables. All were Spanish-speaking Hispanic families.
That’s not always a tell-tale sign of authentic Mexican food, but it certainly was at Jarrito’s.
Two months ago, I wrote about experiencing Magic Valley with a newborn in tow; my son, Felix, was about 3 weeks old, and my conclusion at the time: It’s easy!
What a fool I was.
At a doctor’s appointment around that same time, Felix’s pediatrician told Ana and I that babies start to get fussier at about 2 to 3 weeks old, and it continues about three months.
“Felix will be the exception,” we assured ourselves.
We were wrong, of course. And as the weeks wore on, we felt like we couldn’t get out of our apartment because Felix cried at almost every waking hour. Even his car seat — where he would sleep soundly the first few weeks, allowing us to eat out and grocery shop — became a glass-case of emotion for him as he got older.
All of this made it extremely difficult to experience much of anything around the Magic Valley over the past few months, but not for lack of trying.
A big part of the problem in trying to get out with Felix was the weather: We didn’t want to needlessly expose him to the snow, wind and harsh winter elements.
When the weather finally improved, we took several walks using the only trick that worked: One of us wore him strapped to our chest in a carrier, where he would sleep soundly. This allowed us to walk the canyon rim even when he was at the peak of his fussiness.
As Felix has grown, the crying and fussiness has improved — partly because he’s learning to adapt and adjust to the world, but mostly because we’re figuring out how to parent an infant. As first-time parents without family in the area, we’ve had a steep learning curve but finally have a better grasp on how and when to feed him, burp him, change him and put him down for naps.
His fussiness improved so much, in fact, that the beautiful, sunny Saturday before Easter, we walked for several hours around Rock Creek Park with Felix content in his stroller. On Easter Sunday, we walked the canyon rim for another two hours.
Felix loves movement, which I’ve been told isn’t unique. He wants to be rocked, bounced or held as we walk. When he’s in his stroller, he likes when I push it back and forth or swerve as we walk. If he gets too fussy, I pull his car seat out and swing him until he calms down.
Movement is great when we’re out trying to exercise and be active. But when we want to eat out or do anything else, it can prove quite tricky. Because of that — and because the doctor has ordered Ana to cut out dairy, soy and eggs from her diet to help Felix’s sensitive digestive system — we’ve rarely dined out.
We did eat out twice when Ana’s mother was in town again in March. At Slice, I wore him strapped and sleeping in a carrier, and at Jaker’s, Ana wore him sleeping in a wrap. We did brave one restaurant with him in his car seat — Blue Island Grill, when I was writing another Experience story — that went well for the most part.
Here’s to hoping that as the weather continues warming up, our growing baby will get to see even more of what the Magic Valley has to offer.
TWIN FALLS — Set back from Addison Avenue West behind a chain-link fence, a local international market may pack a few surprises.
During my first visit to Asian Food Market on Friday, a bespectacled man greeted me as he examined receipts behind the half walls of the restaurant dining area. I introduced myself and poked around the shop while Yip Tse casually joked about how “the boss” worked him very hard.
I soon learned this was none other than his wife, Sokry Heng, who owns five businesses under the same roof: Asian Food Market, Pak N’ Ship, Addison U-Haul, Little India Restaurant and Pho Taki Restaurant.
“Normally Asian grocery doesn’t have an Indian restaurant,” Heng said, explaining that a former chef at the restaurant inspired the idea. She’s since used her love of cooking and invention to alter the recipes.
But while the restaurants are well known for their beef pho and butter chicken dishes, the food market is just as intriguing. Among its many shelves, you’ll find items such as Beijing Royal Jelly, dried sardines, African corn flour, Ukrainian bread and Russian beer.
There’s also a diverse selection of sauces, spices, noodles, rice, teas and eggs — including quail, duck and goose eggs, and salmon caviar.
“Whatever you can’t find at the grocery store, I probably have it,” Heng said.
And if she doesn’t have it, she can order it.
Asian Food Market carries items from Japan, Thailand, China, India, and Middle Eastern and African countries.
“I have like 100 items from (each) country.” After all, she added, why would she bother with just one?
Heng moved here in 2000 from Cambodia, where she met her husband. They opened Asian Food Market two years later. The business moved to 404 Addison Ave. W. in 2009 and gradually expanded with the restaurants, U-Haul rentals and FedEx center.
Heng said that when the FedEx facility in Twin Falls moved out to the airport, she decided to bring the shipping service to accommodate people who don’t want to drive that far.
“We do pretty good overall,” she said.
At her suggestion, I agreed to return later for the butter chicken lunch special (definitely worth it). But before I left, Tse asked me if I was married. When I said no, he said I just hadn’t found a victim yet — and to let him know when I had.
Grinning, I decided it was the fun-loving and passionate owners, perhaps more so than the contents of its shelves, that characterized the Asian Food Market.
GLENNS FERRY — It’s hard to pass up a glass of wine — especially, if it’s one of the best in the Northwest.
Crossings Winery in Glenns Ferry was recently named Idaho’s winery of the year by Wine Press Northwest magazine.
The winery was selected for the honor based on results from an annual wine competition in December. Two of Crossings’ wines won a platinum award, among 11 total platinum awards given out.
One of the winning wines, the Bleu Noir, is made using Austrian grapes blaufränkisch, grown at the Glenns Ferry winery.
“It is just a very smooth red wine — very similar to pinot noir, but a different version of grape,” winery spokeswoman Phylicia Stitzel said.
The winery also won an award for its Cabernet Franc. Judges noted it’s one of the smoothest of its kind they’ve tasted in the Northwest, Stitzel said. Its grapes are grown in Hagerman by Zabala Vineyard.
Want to visit the winery? Tours, which run 40 minutes to an hour, are 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The cost is $15 per person.
“That just kind of takes you through the cellar and the wine process of what we do here,” Stitzel said.
A winemaker leads weekend tours and talks about “how wines are made and what makes them special,” she added. “It’s a very informative tour for people who may not know much about wine.”
If you have a large group, you can also call to request a tour at a different time.
Crossings Winery has been up and running since 1985. Previously Carmela Vineyards, a new owner took over about four years ago and renamed the business.
There’s a tasting room and restaurant at the winery, as well as a golf course.
The winery is already gearing up for one of its biggest annual events, the Grape Stomp Festival Sept. 16-17. Visitors have a chance to stomp grapes, listen to live music, visit vendor booths and take a tour of the winery.
If you’re looking for a weekend getaway, the winery has 16 RV spots and two cabins close to the Snake River.
Each rustic cabin has a queen-sized bed, Stitzel said, and has a “very romantic atmosphere.”
*This story was edited April 24 to correct information about where grapes are grown for the winery's Cabernet Franc.
I walked into 4 Roots Juice Bar and Cafe in Twin Falls not knowing what to expect; when I left, I knew I would be back soon.
Everything on the menu sounded good — except for the meat options and the kale chips — so I asked server Lauren Peters to order for me.
She chose the Caprese panini, with mozzarella cheese, spinach, fresh tomatoes, basil pesto and gluten-free bread, for $8. The menu said wraps and sandwiches are all served with kale chips.
The meal is a good starting point for any carnivore making a transition to vegetarian meals, Peters said. I’m no beginner, but I wanted to hear her suggestion.
I also chose a protein bar with dates, organic peanut butter, agave, coconut, raw almonds, gluten-free oats, vegan protein powder and vegan chocolate chips for dessert for $3.50. The bar gave me the guilty pleasure of eating cookie dough, only nutritious. I ate it while waiting for my panini.
The soup of the day was tomato bisque — one of my favorites. Other soups include Thai coconut, sweet potato, Moroccan chickpea, split pea, and white bean and organic kale. Soups cost $4.50 for an eight-ounce cup of soup, $5.50 for a 16-ounce bowl and $10 for a 32-ounce tub to go.
Salads ranged from spring mix greens to a taco salad — made with walnut and mushroom “meat” — for $8.50. An avocado chicken salad, with “paleo mayo,” onion, celery, walnuts, cilantro, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and cilantro lime vinaigrette, costs $10.50.
To my delight, I learned breakfast is served all day. Some breakfasts had meat — uncured, no-nitrate smoked ham and organic pork sausage — but I wasn’t interested in any of that. I did, however, like the idea of the cage-free eggs that come with some of the breakfasts.
Other breakfasts are various combinations of oatmeal, cinnamon, raisins, pecans, chia seeds and streusel, or yogurt and fresh berries topped with granola, for $4.75.
Regular customer Lisa Engel of Boise sat down to eat an acai bowl.
“It’s nice to be able to swing in and get real food,” said Engel, who travels for work.
The acai and rice bowls both cost $7.50 and for an extra 75 cents you can have chia seeds or other “boosters” sprinkled on top.
My panini arrived with a surprise: carrot sticks. But I was disappointed that my kale chips had been replaced by some wavy, dark green plate decoration. I had really wanted to try the chips, just to show how brave I am.
The panini was excellent; the basil pesto was an especially nice touch. I gnawed on a few carrot sticks, then used one to play with the wavy plate decoration.
“Wait,” I thought to myself. “Maybe I’m supposed to eat that.”
Sure enough. The plate decoration was oven-baked kale leaves with sea salt and pepper. And I ate every one of them.
I stopped eating meat a very long time ago for no particular reason.
Actually, I was born a vegetarian, but I never had the opportunity to abstain. You see, my father was a cattle rancher.
On my 16th birthday, however, I realized I could say “no” to meat.
And I did.
My dad told me I would be dead in six weeks.
Dining out was difficult for any vegetarian 44 years ago. Salads were limited to a tiny plateful of iceberg lettuce and dressing — the concept of a salad bar hadn’t made it to southern Idaho.
Except for a grilled cheese sandwich, few meatless dishes were available. And rightfully so — only 1 percent of the population then was vegetarian.
But while the combined vegetarian and vegan population may now be as high as 13 percent, finding veggies in meat and potato country remains a challenge.
I remembered just how challenging it is Monday as I hunted for lunch. Then I found Blu at 1986 Addison Ave. E. in Twin Falls.
I was torn between Blu’s meatless appetizers. As I expected, the Parmesan garlic mushrooms consists of small button mushroom caps sauteed in garlic Parmesan butter sauce. And the garlic and jalapeno bread bowl is stuffed with pepper jack cheese and served with jalapeno jelly. Both cost $8.
But I was in a hurry, so I chose fast food: a house salad with loose-leaf lettuce, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and red onions, served with blue cheese dressing, and a small bowl of jasmine rice and black beans, topped with diced tomatoes.
It was the best $4.77 meal I’ve ever eaten. I can’t even get my favorite bean burrito for that price.
Nearly anything on the menu can be cooked without meat, server Krista Kulhanek told me. And, the servers knock a few dollars off the price of the meatless version.
Here are a few meals served at Blu that can go meatless:
Carnitas Verde salad (minus the pork) with red onions, diced tomatoes, sliced jalapenos, chopped cilantro, topped with an avocado verde dressing — $10, less a discount
Mediterranean salad (minus the chicken) with pepperoncini, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives and feta cheese, topped with feta dressing — $10, less a discount
Mac and cheese plates (with the seasonings but minus the tri-tip steak, pork, buffalo wings or blackened shrimp) — $10 to $12, less a discount
Here are a few of the meatless sides:
Sweet potato waffle fries — $4
Sea salt and black truffles — $4
Steak fries — $2
And, yes, they do serve grilled cheese sandwiches.
HANSEN — Nothing compares with a cafe that feels like home. But that kind of cafe can be tough to find when you’re a vegetarian.
But I’m an old pro about finding meatless meals. I’ve been a vegetarian for 44 years.
The T-and-T Cafe in Hansen fits the bill — which may sound strange for a place known for its hamburgers.
“We can provide many options,” said Tiffany Sanders, who has run the cafe since 2010 with her husband, Thomas, and her sister, Kari Nelson.
This threesome has been feeding me since the Sanders bought the cafe — and has never once served me meat.
It doesn’t make much sense to go out of the way to offer vegetarian specials, she said. Only two customers have ever shown interest in meals without meat: me and one other customer who actually does eat meat.
Ninety percent of T-and-T’s business is repeat customers.
“We pretty much know what everyone wants to eat,” Tiffany said, “and where they will sit.”
I was born into a family of carnivores, and I married into a family of carnivores — I know through experience that the concept of vegetarianism is a real mystery in meat-and-potato country. But it needn’t be.
I don’t eat meat or poultry. I’m not vegan. I sometimes eat eggs and dairy products, and, very rarely, fish or seafood.
My favorite meal is breakfast, served all day at T-and-T until closing time at 2 p.m. Thomas will whip up a cheese omelet for $7.29. Or make it with veggies for $7.99.
Thomas can also turn a $6.09 breakfast burrito into a veggie breakfast burrito by leaving the sausage out.
French toast is $5.29 and a full stack of pancakes are the same price. A cinnamon roll is a meal in itself.
See? It’s not rocket science.
Any greasy spoon can leave out the meat, but you won’t find many places “where everyone knows your name,” Tiffany said.
Guests make the rounds shaking hands with others before finding a seat or after paying their bill.
“How am I supposed to remember your name?” I asked Tiffany when I met her.
“Just remember, breakfast at Tiffany’s,” she quipped.
That was Nick Hansen’s straightforward answer last week when I asked the owner of Blue Island Grill what his restaurant’s specialty is.
It’s that easy, really. The restaurant that opened in August on Falls Avenue specializes in Hawaiian food, particularly the classic Hawaiian plate lunch that features rice, macaroni salad and your choice of meat.
Kalua pig is the most traditional choice for the plate lunch, and many people trying Hawaiian food for the first time go with the safe choice of teriyaki chicken, Hansen said. But the owner suggests those who are unfamiliar with Hawaiian food try the three-meat mixed plate so they can taste an array of his grilled meats.
On prior visits, I’ve had the teriyaki steak, kalua pig, chicken katsu and short ribs. They’re all excellent, especially the kalua pig and chicken katsu paired with a hefty serving of katsu sauce.
But last week, I was on assignment, and I had one goal: I wanted to try Blue Island Grill’s specialty, or its most authentic Hawaiian dish. And it doesn’t get more authentically Hawaiian than the Loco Moco, an island version of comfort food.
At Blue Island Grill, the Loco Moco is served in a large wooden bowl packed with a huge serving of rice. On top of the rice are two teriyaki hamburger patties, each topped with a fried egg. And it’s all smothered in brown gravy.
The combination seems strange at first, but it works. Though I’m no stranger to Hawaiian food, this was my first time trying the Loco Moco, and I wasn’t disappointed. I could imagine it really hitting the spot on a snowy winter day, after a long hike or as a hangover cure.
For those eaters looking for something a bit lighter than the Loco Moco, Hansen has been experimenting.
“Twin Falls is really missing out on some good food,” Hansen said.
But the native of Salt Lake City — Hansen grew up with Hawaiians and Polynesians, but has never actually been to Hawaii — is trying to change that. And he’s trying to introduce new foods to locals who might not have the most refined palate.
To that end, he’s created several Hawaiian-inspired burgers and other Asian-fusion dishes, including Asian taquitos. The “little tacos” are actually egg roll wrappers filled with two types of pork — kalua pig and Char Siu — and deep fried.
Served with an avocado and cilantro dip, the Asian taquitos are definitely one of Hansen’s successful experiments.
TWIN FALLS — Authentic European food is closer than you think.
Bumpin Bernie’s, 139 Shoshone St. N., has more than just night life. The bar, grill and dance club is becoming increasingly known for its European dishes. So what’s the story behind the beef and lamb gyros?
The business — which also has beef cevapi and burek on its menu — is owned and operated by a family of Albanian refugees who’ve made Twin Falls their home.
“We came here literally with our birth certificates and the clothes on our backs,” said co-owner Burhan Hetemi, who was only 6 years old when his family arrived from a war-torn country in 1999. “We just moved here so we didn’t die.”
His parents, Afrim and Fatushe Hetemi, took up jobs and started businesses as they had the opportunity. About nine years ago, they purchased Charlie’s Bar & Food Store, which later became Bumpin’ Bernies.
“To me, it’s like a blessing,” Hetemi said. “It blows my mind.”
Fatushe Hetemi said she learned to cook when she was a young girl.
“My mother cooked all the time,” she said. The gyros, she said are “a specialty from my country.”
Her gyros are made from homemade bread and sauce with slow-cooked beef and lamb. Also popular with customers is her beef cevapi, a kind of skinless sausage dish. Each costs $8 and is plate-sized, but can also be requested as a half-order with fries.
“It’s so big,” Burhan Hetemi said. “I think that’s why most people come here.”
The burek — a meat or cheese filled pastry — costs $4.
When she isn’t preparing food at the restaurant, Fatushe Hetemi is busy at her cleaning business. Burhan also has multiple jobs, working for Jayco and coaching basketball at Robert Stuart Middle School.