Best Food in Boise

The Kilted Kod - A Mighty Fine Cod Piece

If you don't believe in the power of the fish wagon, just go to the Overland Market parking lot and watch for awhile. If the red Kilted Kod trailer is in the lot, the people will come. Those who have been there before and sampled the royally-fine fish 'n chips are coming back to get the good stuff. Other people driving by do double takes and feel compelled to turn around out of sheer curiosity. That's the way it is with the Kilted Kod. The red on that trailer is like a tractor beam, and it is futile to resist its pull.

The sad fact about the Kilted Kod, however, is that you'll only find owners Greg and Kelly Gempler fishmongering on Fridays and maybe Saturdays. Believe me, I'd been trying to write this article for a month and a half after my first lucky visit, and I can tell you that they always seem to run out on Fridays because, like I said, the people just keep a-coming. As you can imagine, those of us who don't have easy access to the Overland Market location on Fridays can become quite depressed when we get our Saturday hankering for a proper fish lunch and we come up empty handed. But the Gemplers aren't doing it to tease you. Greg says it takes almost a week to properly thaw the fish, and in order to always serve it at its best and not waste any fish, they play it conservative. They'll prepare about 90 pounds or so of cod filets during a normal week, and when it's gone the Gemplers pack up their toys and go home. If you're not lucky, no fish for you.

The Gemplers have operated this way since they first set up shop across the street from the Overland Market in January 2008, on a side road bordered by an empty lot. It didn't take long for them to be discovered. A curious group from the MacLife store and the neighboring stores ventured across the road and became instant fans of the kilt. Those folks then talked the Gemplers into moving across the road into the the big parking lot so they wouldn't have to risk life and limb to get their Friday fish fix. Since then, Greg says, the property owner has been gracious enough to let them stay.

The Gempler's success with the Kilted Kod can be attributed to their willingness to keep things simple. In addition to only appearing one or two days a week, their menu is short and sweet. They've got fish 'n chips, and they've got chicken 'n chips. The batter is Greg's own recipe, formulated with help from a British friend, of course. The fish comes with tasty Litehouse-brand tartar sauce, and malt vinegar and seasoning salt are available on the single table they set up near the trailer for people who don't want to grab their fish and go. Soda is sold by the can. It's a cash-only operation. The Gemplers know what they do well, and they're not afraid to stick to it.

Greg, who's in the mortgage business for the rest of the work week, says they got into the fish 'n chip business because they wanted to replace another side business that didn't quite make it. The flexibility of a mobile business has turned out to be a big plus. In addition to their usual parking spot at the Overland Market, they'll also drag the fish wagon to special events such as the Highlander Games or the recent Boise Bike Project. And they do it year round, which means they might be wearing the ski pants in winter, and in summer they might be melting from the heat coming off the fryers.

"I looked at the thermometer one day and it was 127° in here," Greg says. "That was hot, but we keep it in perspective. We've got military personnel working in the same kind of heat overseas, so this is nothing."

Remember, the sumptuous treasures of the Kilted Kod might take a little work and luck to obtain, but your persistence will be rewarded. I'd bet my codpiece on it.

Local Food: Fish & Chips at The Kilted Kod

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Prices: Best deal in town
Family Friendly? Yes; just keep your little ones away from the busy road
Fun Fact: The Gemplers give a free drink to men and women in uniform: military, police, fire, EMT, Manchester United, etc.
Our rating: 4 fillets out of 5