THE LATEST SCOOP
Keeping you informed of local food and drink news.
WRITTEN BY MICHAEL TRAGASH
ILLUSTRATION BY GREG BRADY
In Reno-Tahoe’s not-so-distant past, we used to wait more than six months between the openings of new businesses, but today, there’s one around every corner. Restaurants, distilleries, breweries, and even farms all are capitalizing on the opportunity to bring their own distinct offerings to our community and, in turn, provide new inspiration to locally loved favorites. It’s an exciting time for us all, and as the Yelp.com community manager, it’s my incredible honor to connect you to all of the great businesses, owners, and exciting happenings in our local food community. In the past few months a lot has happened.
Spices and teas
Let’s start on Reno’s California Avenue, where you’ve probably noticed sweet and spicy scents in the air. Salty-Savory-Sweet Spices & Teas opened its doors in June to a fantastic reception. Its long shelves are lined with jars containing more than 450 of the finest quality and freshest spices, herbs, teas, and blends for use at home or in restaurants — everything from basic black pepper to salts seasoned with the spiciest chili peppers on the planet. The in-store experience is made special thanks to knowledgeable staff members and their willingness to guide guests to the right selections, not to mention their helpful recipe cards, too.
You may also have noticed the exotic aroma of shawarma on First Street in Reno, coming from the former Pneumatic Diner space. Duncan Mitchell, owner of Chapel Tavern and 40 Mile Saloon, has brought Shawarmageddon to Reno. The restaurant — opened in August — is inspired by the Iranian immigrants Mitchell met while visiting his father-in-law on the island of Antigua. The restaurant serves a limited menu consisting of lamb or chicken shawarma, accompanied by a sauce made from labneh, a tangy Middle Eastern yogurt, and a seasonal salad dressed with a vinaigrette made with ras el hanout, an African spice mix. The menu also has nods to the old Pneumatic, with a house-made vegetarian dish and a list of nonalcoholic tea-based tonics as well.
Washoe’s Wurst, Mitchell’s next project scheduled to open this spring, will bring a German biergarten experience to the heart of the city. Duncan explained that our region has unprecedented access to wine, beer, and spirits, and the recent explosion of exceptional producers in Germany inspired this establishment. The menu will be based on handmade sausages, changing seasonally, and schnitzels that will pair well with the German beers on tap, the extensive German wine list, and house schnapps made from local fruit. Washoe’s Wurst will be at 805 S. Wells Ave., at the corner of Cheney Street.
Mitchell has a knack for breathing new life into old spaces, and word on the street is that his next concept will transform the old Hawk’s Nest Bar in south Reno into a higher-end restaurant honoring Northern Nevada’s ranching heritage.
Wine and tapas
In local wine bar news, Curtis Worrall purchased the former Washoe Steakhouse property to expand the experiences his two Whispering Vine stores offer. The Fourth Street location houses an expanded spirits selection that includes the largest collection of whiskey in the city as well as all the retail from the Mayberry location in west Reno. From that transition, the Mayberry location morphed into a bar and lounge offering 16 beers on tap, wines, and craft cocktails. Perhaps the most exciting element of the Fourth Street location is the addition of small plates inspired by seasonal, local produce that will complement the wide array of wines and spirits available by the glass or flight. More exciting news is that the executive chef was just announced. Josh Davis, formerly chef de cuisine at LuLou’s in Reno, will take the helm. Worrall has plans to expand the Fourth Street complex into a town center with new retail and residential spaces, so keep watching for new developments there.
Wine Spectator awards
In other wine news, Beaujolais Bistro, 4th St. Bistro, and Campo are among 11 Reno restaurants that received a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in August. Longboards in Graeagle also received the designation this year, and has since 2008. This award recognizes them as restaurants offering a “well-chosen selection of producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style,” according to Winespectator.com.
More wine honors
Reno-owned Double Bond winery also has been making headlines with a number of awards as well, including gold medals for its 2013 chardonnay at the 2015 San Diego Toast of the Coast, its 2010 syrah at the 2015 Orange County Wine Society competition, and a continued streak for its pinot noirs at the San Francisco Pinot Noir Shootout. Owner John Klacking says his vineyards are not affected by the California drought because grapevines thrive in low-water years, producing smaller, more intensely flavored grapes that make exceptional wine even better.
As we leave Nevada to visit this Central Coast winery, why not take a trip across the ocean to Fiji for a visit with Squaw Valley’s own Mamasake, which opened an outpost there? In June, chef/owner Elsa Corrigan took her sushi stylings to guests of Fiji’s Oasis Palms Hotel, newly inspired by the bounty of the sea available just off the beach.
There is so much happening in our local food movement, but that’s all the space we have for now. I look forward to bringing you new updates in the next issue, publishing in January 2016. In the meantime, please remember to eat, drink, and buy local!
Michael Tragash is a senior community manager with Yelp.com. He’s passionate about connecting people to all the useful, funky, and cool businesses and happenings in the Reno-Tahoe region. You usually can find him exploring the local food and drink scene or the natural beauty that surrounds us.