HIT THE DECK
With summer’s arrival, we uncover Reno-Tahoe’s top al fresco dining and imbibing spots
WRITTEN BY BARBARA TWITCHELL
ILLUSTRATIONS BY GREG BRADY
PHOTO BY MICHAEL OKIMOTO
Summer! The word almost slips through our lips like a joyful, sibilant song! Throw in a chorus of “Ding, dong, the winter’s dead,” and we’re ready to celebrate.
It’s time to kick off our shoes, let down our hair, cast off our clothes (well, maybe not all of them), and enjoy the great outdoors to the max! And that includes eating. Especially eating.
Who doesn’t prefer to eat and sip outdoors on a balmy summer day? Let’s face it, sunshine (or moonlight) and fresh air are the magic ingredients that seem to make the flavor of food pop and transform any meal into an occasion.
And lucky us! The Reno-Tahoe area and surrounding communities abound in wonderful restaurants that offer great food along with a bonanza of lovely outdoor patios, decks, or gardens where we can enjoy it. So slather on that natural sunscreen and come along as we explore some of the best al fresco options our community has to offer.
Great local patios
The Stone House Café
Perennial winner of awards from RENO magazine and Reno News & Review’s Best Of votes for outdoor dining, this fabulous patio is like dining in a charming, old English garden, minus the airfare. Umbrella-topped tables set among beautiful trees, arbors, and gardens are artfully arranged in semi-secluded niches that afford a sense of intimacy, despite the garden’s 140-seat capacity. What’s more, there’s an amazingly diverse, huge menu, filled with all-time favorites, all-day breakfasts, and many gourmet-quality dishes. Be sure to try the signature crab cakes and The Stone House’s famous bloody mary from its well-stocked bar. 775-284-3895 • Stonehousecafereno.com
Silver Peak Restaurant & Brewery
Both Silver Peak locations offer outdoor seating. On Wonder Street, the city and mountain views from the large, shaded, rooftop deck are outstanding. Enjoy live entertainment on Tuesday nights while chowing down on the tasty, signature pizzas made with malted barley from the Silver Peak brewery. The downtown venue (called River Peak), at First and Sierra streets, features street café seating with a fun city vibe. Each location has a different menu, but both feature a few favorites, including salmon fish and chips, lamb burgers, and, of course, the brewery’s own award-winning beer. Wonder Street 775-324-1864 • Downtown 775-284-3300 • Silverpeakbrewery.com
Shore Room Patio at the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel
Formerly the Siena Hotel Casino, this property boasts a smart, stylish new look that includes a lovely patio overlooking the Truckee River. Comfortable, upholstered seating on half the patio provides a welcoming environment for socializing while enjoying libations that include specialty cocktails created just for Reno (care for an Annulment?). The remainder of the patio accommodates diners enjoying the Shore Room’s international cuisine. Expect the unexpected: a dramatic fire feature along the patio railing and the Renaissance’s signature Bar Ritual, an entertaining, educational, flaming performance by the bartender, performed on select evenings. Curious? Check it out! 775-682-3900 • Marriott.com/hotels/travel/rnobr-renaissance-reno-downtown-hotel/
The Grill at Quail Corners
This beautiful courtyard, with umbrella-topped tables, ample trees and greenery, elegant fountain, mellow music, and soft nighttime lighting, creates a tranquil setting for any meal. A popular, longtime, local favorite, The Grill is well known for its delicious Louie-Louie salad, cioppino, and fresh halibut. Be sure to try the signature Francovich Manhattan or one of the creative summer cocktails. 775-827-6262 • Grillatqc.com
Brasserie St. James
Brick, stone, and weathered wood create a lovely, rustic mood in the beautifully restored, historic 1930s building that now serves as an Old World-style craft brewery and restaurant. Enjoy a pint or a meal on the lovely, bilevel, rooftop deck. The owner of this national-award-winning brewpub and brewery is proud of producing delicate, nuanced beers. Along with typical pub fare, there are culinary offerings that you won’t find anywhere else. Be sure to try the amazing Argentinian dishes, a crazy-good mac and cheese, and bone marrow canoes. 775-348-8888 • Brasseriesaintjames.com
Wild River Grille
Nestled along the RiverWalk on the banks of the Truckee, this charming restaurant offers a lovely and lively outdoor dining venue, with a Parisian-street-café vibe. It offers live music on the patio every evening and on Sunday afternoons. The full bar specializes in handcrafted cocktails such as raspberry lemon drops made with fresh fruit. Cuisine includes steak, seafood, and pasta dishes, but longtime customers rave about the meatloaf. Guess you’d better try it. 775-284-7455 • Wildrivergrille.com
Rapscallion Seafood House & Bar
Known for great seafood and steaks, this locals’ favorite is a lively, happening place, especially at happy hour. This year, the Rap celebrates its 40th anniversary with some great dinner specials. Anniversary deals include dinner for two for $40 every Tuesday and a $40 steak and lobster special on Wednesdays. Live entertainment on the newly remodeled patio Wednesday and Saturday evenings adds to the fun. 775-323-1211 • Rapscallion.com
This Italian café, bar, and bistro specializing in modern Tuscan cuisine truly is a hidden gem. Tucked away on a quiet street, it’s reminiscent of an old, Italian, family-run restaurant. There’s a lovely patio that curves around the side of the building, offering a cozy, intimate setting, replete with a fountain and candlelight. The food — everything from pasta to sausage to bread — is authentic, made in house, and fresh. For the most variety and flavor, try the tasting menu. 775-360-5175 • Calafuriareno.com
The Fox Brewpub
Location, location, location! This place definitely has one of the best. Set in the beautifully restored, historic St. Charles Hotel across from the state capitol complex and overlooking the new Bob McFadden Plaza, this capital location can’t get much better. The large patio features a great fire pit and faces McFadden Plaza, offering endless opportunities for entertainment (e.g. a water feature for children of all ages to run through and a stage, where concerts are presented throughout the summer). A traditional, English-style pub atmosphere means great beers and fabulous fish and chips. Happy hour food specials are incredible. 775-883-1369 • Foxbrewpub.com
Sitting at the mouth of the Truckee River, just a stone’s throw from Lake Tahoe in Tahoe City, this restaurant abounds in nature’s beauty, and the business takes full advantage of that. The huge patio, with its open-air kitchen, outdoor bar, and shady, riverfront dining, is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. It’s justifiably famous for its huge and tasty hamburgers, crispy waffle fries, and excellent bloody marys. 530-583-3342 • Tahoebridgetender.com
The Cider Factory
A fun, quirky blend of the historic and the unconventional, this lovingly restored, old cider factory offers a small, charming courtyard patio in addition to its lovely dining room. It features a tiny but well-stocked bar and a surprisingly diverse menu. Tucked away on a quiet side street, it’s not easy to find, but it’s worth the effort. 775-847-0331 • Ciderfactoryvc.wixsite.com/ciderfactory-vc
4th St. Bistro Reno • 775-323-3200 • 4thstbistro.com
Bella Fiore Wines Carson City • 775-888-WINE • Bellafiorewinesbar.com
Café de Thai Reno • 775-829-8424 • Cafedethaireno.net
Feast Reno • 775-686-6969 • Feastreno.com
Js’ Old Town Bistro Dayton • 775-246-4400 • Jsoldtownbistro.com
La Vecchia Reno • 775-825-1113 • Lavecchiareno.com
LuLou’s Reno • 775-329-9979 • Find LuLou’s Restaurant on Facebook
Moody’s Truckee • 530-587-8688 • Moodysbistro.com
The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery Reno • 775-737-4330 • Thedepotreno.com
Twisted Fork Reno • 775-853-6033 • Twistedforkreno.com
* Each restaurant has its own policy regarding reservations. Best advice: Call ahead and ask.
Reno writer Barbara Twitchell plans to enjoy a lot of al fresco dining this summer. She is particularly looking forward to running through that water feature outside Fox Brewpub on a hot summer evening (perhaps after a glass of wine or two!).