February 7, 2013

Tango's (Review)

The last time I was in the building that now houses Tango's (701 N. Orchard St., Boise, ID 83706 (208) 322-3090) it was a rundown donut shop catering primarily to the bums who'd made their way to the neighborhood by bike and bus to get to the two day labor centers within a block of the place.  I'd seen the area change in passing; as I moved from being one of those bums on the bus to an employed father of two with a car, I didn't often have need to be in that part of Boise, but I did notice the day labor centers move, one just down the street, the other gone completely.  I noticed the donut shop shutter it's windows, and after a long period of dormancy, Tango's take it's place.  Still, I was surprised when I asked the man working the counter how long they'd been open and found out it had been six years.
  Time flies, I guess.  Unfortunately for me, a lot of that time was time wasted, not knowing that Tango's was an option.  My father-in-law had mentioned it in passing a couple of years ago, but on it's own, his recommendation wasn't enough to get me to try and break Wife's pizza stalemate.  In fact, it was the most innocuous of things that finally got me to drive there this last Tuesday.  A child of one of Wife's coworkers came into the daycare bursting with excitement.  Somebody had brought empanadas in to his school for show and tell, and he couldn't stop raving.  When Wife came home that day, she suggested we buy the stuff to make empanadas--which we still might--but it triggered the memory.  There was an empanada restaurant right here in town, just a short drive away.

Now, before I start talking about the food itself, one of my favorite things about Tango's is that it's so affordable.  Every empanada is between $2.50 and $2.75 for a fairly hefty little pie.  That way, when you end up staring at a menu full of indecision you can do what we did; order a pile of empanadas and split them, trying a wide array of flavors.
In the end, we each ordered one Gaucho (the traditional empanada, it contains eggs, ground beef, onions, olives, and potatoes), and split El Puerco, Moleh, and Rafi empanadas.

The first one I tried was the El Puerco, a combination of shredded pork and salsa verde.  The empanada crust was hot and flaky, and just perfectly fried, and the salsa verde (which they make on site) had a pretty decent kick.  Of all of the savory empanadas, this was my wife's favorite.

My favorite was the Gaucho.  The seasoning they used on the beef was slightly sweet, which was strange to me at first, but once I got used to it the big bites of crisp potato and salty olive were a good counterbalance. It was fantastic, and I wanted another.

The only disappointment was the Moleh.  The empanada itself was still perfect--I don't know if they know how to do that part wrong--but the chicken had gotten dry, and the mole sauce leaned a bit too heavily towards chocolate and not far enough towards chile for my liking.  And I still enjoyed it; even though I was no longer the ravenous hunger beast I'd been when I started eating, I never wanted to stop.  It just didn't inspire the same passions as everything else.

While I've mentioned that Wife and I each had a favorite savory empanada, I have to say that it was dessert that was transcendent.  I usually prefer the savory, skipping pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving to have just that much more room for stuffing or turkey, but the Rafi was full on amazing.  Cherry pie filling intermingled with a rich caramel, nut, and chocolate concoction that tastes like a high-end Nutella.  It was all I could do to keep everything from falling everywhere, the sauce was so runny, but even if it fell on my shirt I scooped it up with a finger; I wasn't willing to miss a bite.  The empanada shell itself was lightly dusted with powdered sugar--not a huge pile like most places try to use, but just a tiny bit--and the experience was as sublime as any I've mentioned involving fry bread.

In addition to empanadas, Tango's has a small selection of Argentine subs.  Regrettably, the only sides they offer are standard fast food French fries, but I think they are little more than a concession to children and people used to routine consumption of drive-through fare.  I know I can't picture wanting to waste my money there on anything that wasn't an empanada, except maybe one of their small selection of Mexican beers.  I really loved Tango's, and will be eager to eat there again.  Wife was slightly less impressed, giving more weight to the Moleh empanada we liked least than to the amazing Rafi, but we both agreed that really, Tango's is great to have around as just another option, and I'm glad to add empanadas to the list of things I can eat when I don't want to cook but a burger (or pizza!) just isn't cutting it.

Tango's Subs & Empanadas on Urbanspoon  


  1. Oh wow, How did I not know it was there? That is my old stomping grounds. That McDonalds down the street was the first one in Boise in the old days (before any Burger King came along). It was actually built on the lot next to it, and the tore it down (American style) and built a new one.
    Back to your location; that used to be a wood shingled two story building in the 70’s that was a macramé shop called Brandy’s. I used to buy my Macramé books and supplies there.
    I have seen buildings/businesses come on go on Orchard for years. Further down the street a building had a chocolate shop that took a nose dive and became H & R Block; now that AIN’T right! We watched the restaurant by the railroad tracks go through several hands. My favorite was when it was the Cazbah Greek restaurant. Then, they consolidated downtown where there was no parking and lots of flies. Miss the neighborhood.
    Thanks for the tips on the empandadas. Who knew?

  2. Wow you have a lot of spam comments on here.

    That sucks.

    But the article was great! I've checked out their website and if they were open on Sundays, I would go tomorrow. Unfortunately not, so it's on the plan for next Saturday!

    Btw check out my website at.....haha!!!! j/k!!!!!