Written by Jane K. Callahan
Photos courtesy of Camp Richardson
JT Basque Bar & Dining Room in Gardnerville. Photo by Jeff Dow
Visitors and locals alike who want to dive into Nevada’s history on a full belly should consider beginning where it all started: Carson Valley. It’s the oldest region in the state, which includes the first town ever established here in 1851. Holding true to its wild, western roots, the area has evolved into a prime hub for epicurean adventures. And with its proximity to Tahoe, it’s the perfect place to get your calories back.
“Carson Valley has done an amazing job of bringing new and exciting dining options to life while also preserving the history of our buildings and the traditional ways of preparing food and drink,” says Jan Vandermade, executive director of Visit Carson Valley. “Travelers can go elsewhere for bells and whistles, but for history-loving foodies, it would be hard to argue there’s a better locale for an updated but old-town feel than Carson Valley ... and it’s really good!”
Here are just a few top spots for a unique blend of the old and new, whether you’re there for a day trip or the week:
Photo courtesy of Battle Born Wine & Whiskey
Named after Nevada’s addition to the United States by way of the Union Army more than 150 years ago, Battle Born Wine & Whiskey is a decade-old business located in a historic residence, constructed in Virginia City in 1880 and moved by wagon. Despite its long history (and journey), this venue constantly is serving up new palate pleasers and boasts more than 2,000 labels on a weekly rotation. Run by sommelier Troy Philips — who always is happy to tell you what’s coming next — Battle Born carries locally made spirits, a roster of international wines and Champagnes, and more than 500 craft beers and ciders. And if you love what you taste, Troy offers a deep discount on crates.
1448 Hwy. 395, Gardnerville • 775-782-7684 • Battlebornwine.com
Open 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mon. – Sat.
If you’re making a day of it, add Bently Heritage Estate Distillery to the itinerary. Located in a 100-year-old flour mill, the building was remodeled after old public houses but as a LEED-certified structure. Here, grains are grown for distillation the old way — sustainably. Take a one-hour tour Thursday through Sunday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and enjoy bespoke cocktails during tasting room hours, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Thurs. and Sun., 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Fri. – Sat.
1601 Water St., Minden • 775 210-5097 • Bentlyheritage.com
More of a beer aficionado? Swing by Minden Meat and Deli, offering a huge selection of craft beers, with 31 varieties on tap. Wash down some burgers, which are made fresh daily using locally raised beef.
1595 Hwy. 395, Minden • 775-783-9999 • Mindenmeat.com
Open 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Mon., 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Tues. – Sun.
Photo courtesy of Genoa Bar and Saloon
History buffs shouldn’t miss a stop at the state’s oldest watering hole, the Genoa Bar and Saloon. While patrons of yore may have tied their horses up outside, today the owners have found success in their outdoor porch parties.
2282 Main St., Genoa • 775-782-3870 • Genoabarandsaloon.com
Open 10 a.m. – midnight Fri. – Sat., -Sat from 10am to midnight, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sun. – Thurs.
Genoa local Lois Wray decided to open a cheese and charcuterie outpost in the city’s landmark The Pink House, a gothic revival-style building that needed some TLC since its construction in 1855 (making it one of the first buildings to go up in the town). Wray offers a fresh take on food and drink, serving traditionally cured meats alongside goodies for modern tastes and specialty coffees. Much like eateries 100 years ago, its artisan menu is based on seasonal produce. Try the mushroom tart and cheesemonger’s grilled cheese.
193 Genoa Lane, Genoa • 775-392-4279 • Thepinkhousegenoa.com
Open 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Tues. – Sat., 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sun.
Photo courtesy of J.T. Basque Bar & Dining Room
If you’re looking for large portions of exotic food, consider venturing into J.T. Basque Bar & Dining Room, which serves up multi-course, family-style meals in the Basque tradition — a result of the significant population of the European region’s shepherds who immigrated to Nevada in the mid-1800s. Where else in Carson Valley can you share locally grown veggies, bottomless soup bowls, roasted rabbit, and pig’s feet, with a glass of picon punch? Only here.
1426 Hwy. 395, Gardnerville • 775-782-2074 • Jtbasquenv.com
Serving lunch 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Mon. – Fri., 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sat. Dinner 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Mon. – Fri., 4:30 – 9 p.m. Sat.
1862 Saloon and Bar at David Walley’s Resort marries rustic Nevada saloon culture with updated elegance in its dining room, serving three meals a day (and live entertainment most Friday and Saturday nights). Diners can enjoy aged steak or fresh salmon, to name just two of its mouthwatering menu items, amid the ambiance of a historic lodge. Digest with a dip in the nearby hot springs, which have been there for way longer than the town itself.
2001 Foothill Road, Genoa • 775-782-8155 • Davidwalleys1862.com
Open daily, 7:30 a.m. – 9 p.m., NV 89411..
Photo courtesy of 1862 Saloon & Bar
If you desire a sweet ending to your day, stop into the Chocolate Shoppe, which carries traditional goods such as butter toffee alongside a more contemporary stash of CBD chocolates. With the goal of making sure that “it looks as good as it tastes,” this family-owned spot drums up images of an old-school candy store.
Mon. – Fri. 9am–5:30pm and Sat. 9:30am–5pm. 1363 Hwy. 395, “Sweet” 7. Gardnerville • 775-267-1002 • Chocolateshoppe.us
Jane K. Callahan is a freelance journalist and Nevada resident who insists on cooking very complicated recipes and messing them up — which is why she knows so much about local dining.