Local Food Matters
I met Zeynep Martello (“Z”) when she began selling her freshly made hummus at the Bozeman farmers markets. But it was her baklava that first caught my attention. You rarely have a chance to taste anything like it: flaky, syrupy phyllo dough and chopped walnuts, with just the right touch of sweetness.
When Z and her husband, Mark, began offering gyro and falafel sandwiches, like many shoppers at the farmers market, I stood patiently in line for Z’s outrageously good Mediterranean food.
Z came to Bozeman from Turkey when she was 14 years old. Most of her recipes are long-loved Old World family favorites, made with fresh and local ingredients whenever possible.
When Z began dishing up a menu of Turkish delights in January 2012 at her new café, Z’s Meze Market, on the corner of 19th and Babcock in Bozeman, it was exciting to know this food would be available all year round.
“Meze means small stuff like the falafels, grape leaves, and eggplant [baba ghanoush]; starters, appetizers, little plates,” Z told me. “If someone comes in, they don’t always have to get a sandwich, they can just get the eggplant or hummus, with pita, and that could be their meal.”
The “market” part of the name refers to imports from Turkey, such as gourmet foods and bars of soap. These items are few now, but Z plans to expand her inventory.
What Z calls “grape leaves” are mouthwatering dolmas: rice and spices wrapped in grape leaves, marinated in olive oil, and sprinkled with lemon juice. I love dolmas and have yet to find any to match the taste of Z’s version from her grandmother’s recipe. Vegetarian, gluten-free, and hand-rolled, these are something special. I’m hoping Z will write a cookbook someday and reveal the recipe. Meanwhile, when I’m in Bozeman I buy a large supply to bring home.
Z told me the most authentic Turkish items on the menu are the grape leaves, tabbouleh, and eggplant. Her hummus, from her mother’s recipe, comes in three flavors: original, red pepper, and lime and cilantro. Iskender — gyro meat and red sauce over rice or pita — is another
popular Turkish meal.
Each Tuesday find $5 falafel sandwiches, and on Friday, $5 gyro sandwiches. The daily special is a gyro or falafel sandwich, with either soup or salad, and a piece of baklava — all for $10.
The Meze Market opens at 11 a.m., so there isn’t really a breakfast, but all day you can order the breakfast pita, filled with scrambled eggs, gyro meat, fries, and red sauce.
I’ve tried nearly everything on the menu, and I believe I’d be happy to eat this food all day every day. If I ever move to Bozeman, I’ll get a place within walking distance.
The café is a friendly and comfortable setting to eat in, with outdoor seating on warm days. No matter how tired she is, Z has a smile for every customer.
It’s not easy running a café, but Z believes she is successful because she started small at the farmers market and works hard to provide consistently good food. “If you’re good at something, not giving up is important,” she said.
Watch for Customer Appreciation Day on February 7. Z said she might serve up fancy dolmas filled with ground beef and onions, with a yogurt topping. But whatever you get, you know it’s going to be delicious.
Find Z’s hummus at Bozeman stores: Rosauers, Town & Country, Heeb’s, and the Bozeman Co-op. Rosauers and Town & Country (at 11th and at 19th) often carry Z’s delectable handmade tzatziki sauce.
In addition, you’ll find Z’s food at the Bogert farmers market and at local festivals such as Bite of Bozeman and the Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs.
Catering and food delivery are also available in Bozeman.