THE LATEST SCOOP
Keeping you informed of local food and drink news.
WRITTEN BY MICHAEL TRAGASH
ILLUSTRATION BY GREG BRADY
It seems not a day goes by without word of something exciting and new happening in our food community. New concepts are opening throughout the area, bringing with them more ethnic diversity, fun trends, and new culinary experiences for us to enjoy. Meanwhile, existing businesses are celebrating decades in business, modernizing menus, evolving their operations, and expanding to accommodate increasing demand. All this activity is resulting in impressive national attention, drawing more eyes to our region, and supporting the growing sentiment that Reno-Tahoe is a fabulous food destination all should experience. Here we’ll share a few of the most recent highlights, and we hope you’ll share them with others.
Anniversaries and accolades
As each year goes by and local businesses celebrate continued success, some also celebrate tremendous accolades, and edible Reno-Tahoe is here to celebrate with them. In March, Virginia City Brewery & Taphouse celebrated its second anniversary, and, this May, Reno’s Rapscallion celebrates 40 years in business at its iconic location on Wells Avenue.
In addition to anniversaries, two local businesses brought attention to Reno-Tahoe’s food and drink scene with big awards. In January, Hall’s Honey won the Good Food Award for Best Honey. Good Food Awards recognize foods that are sustainably and responsibly produced and have exceptional flavor. The Halls’ relationships with local ranchers ensure their bees have access to alfalfa, clover, and other natural flora in Yerington, Nev., giving their honey a distinctly delicious taste.
IMBIB, a humble brewery and taproom located in downtown Reno on East Second Street, won two medals in the 2017 Best of Craft Beer Awards, a competition honoring the nation’s best breweries. For the second year in a row, IMBIB took home a gold medal for its Nevada Weisse (sour, German-style ale), and, this year, IMBIB also received a silver medal for its traditional Belgian Dark Strong Ale. This brings the grand total to five medals won in this competition since the brewery opened its doors in May 2015. IMBIB is a brewery to watch, as it continues to produce some of the region’s most interesting brews, and there’s also a rumor about plans for major expansion in the near future.
Openings and expansions
Gaman Ramen, Bowl, and Niko’s Greek Kitchen all have closed, but West Street Market now is more alive than ever with four new residents, the first being Thali, a vegetarian Indian restaurant focusing on seasonal, locally sourced produce. Thali originally shared space with Bowl as a supper club, eventually taking over the lease in March, enabling its owners to extend its hours and offer the community its homemade offerings during more nights of the week.
Rich Selden, owner of the former Café DeLuxe on Wells Avenue, who had been searching for a space after his original location was turned into condos, found the former Niko’s Greek Kitchen location and opened The DeLuxe in April. The DeLuxe keeps the Café DeLuxe ethos of fresh, organic food alive, but that’s where the similarities end. The DeLuxe is a counter-service concept with a focus on lunch and dinner, serving an Asian-inspired menu featuring organic bánh mì sandwiches, oversized spring rolls similar to the hand salads served at Café DeLuxe, pho, and signature nori wraps filled with a variety of veggies and protein options. On Sundays, The DeLuxe throws it back to the Café DeLuxe days, paying homage to the beloved brunch service, with a limited menu of some of the café classics.
Sharing the communal dining area with The DeLuxe, in the former location of Rawr, is Seeds Of Life, also known as SOL. SOL is a beverage bar serving relaxing, energizing, and detoxifying plant-based beverages, tonics, and elixirs (as well as some desserts and snacks). SOL’s menu is heavily focused on kava, a root grown in the South Pacific said to offer a number of health benefits, including reduced stress, anxiety relief, mental focus, and muscle recovery, and a mildly euphoric experience to those who imbibe it. For centuries, kava has been a means of bringing community together and creating conversation, and that’s what SOL’s creator and kava-tender, Kristen Jaskulski, hopes to do with this new concept.
Rounding out the new residents is the second location of Icecycle Creamery, Reno’s handcrafted, small-batch scoop shop started by Jeremy and Leilani DeMarzo, which opened at the market this spring. In addition to delicious versions of the classics, Icecycle has become known for its ever-changing array of extraordinary flavor combos, such as banana curry, pineapple upside-down cake (cake batter ice cream, pineapple swirl, maraschino cherries), and Home Means Nevada (sage and pine).
Reno’s culinary diversity is expanding at a rapid rate, and recently owners of two new Indian restaurants, Taste of India and Bawarchi, have opened their doors, receiving rave Yelp reviews and legions of loyal fans right from the start. Located on Stardust Street (near Keystone Avenue) in Reno, Taste of India is a Northern Indian restaurant, which is the Indian cuisine we’re all most familiar with, while Bawarchi, on Double R Boulevard in Reno, is more focused on the cuisine of Southern India.
Bawarchi’s menu has more than 100 items, including dishes specific to Indian states and cities, as well as Indo-Chinese dishes, with Chinese influences that typically are not found elsewhere in our community. Perhaps most popular, though, is Bawarchi’s biryani, a flavorful and fragrant, seasoned rice dish prepared by layering a protein — typically mutton or chicken — and a flavorful sauce of Indian herbs and spices onto basmati rice and allowing it to cook together. Bawarchi is an example of the breadth of cuisine found within India and a great addition to our scene.
Jesse Snodgrass, Tristan Hill, and Toray Manwarren are three guys with extremely diverse backgrounds who share a common passion for this community and the art of the cocktail. The three partners opened Stamp Social Club, in The Basement, quietly this past December — training staff, refining recipes, and cultivating clientele who share their enthusiasm for creatively crafted cocktails. Having studied cocktailing at top spots around the world, the trio created a menu that draws inspiration from their collective global travels, with recipes influenced by seasonality and a healthy reverence for the classics. There’s definitely a drink here for everyone.
Reno’s first container complex, The Eddy, finally has opened at its riverfront location on Sierra Street, across the river from Campo. Created utilizing 10 shipping containers, The Eddy is an all-ages complex that houses three bars, several small retail outlets, bocce courts, fire pits, and space for up to three food trucks, which will change throughout the season. Altogether, the three bars offer a combined 24 beers and 12 wines on tap, as well as specialty cocktails. Though they only have a five-year lease on the current location, owners Phil Buckheart and Kurt Stitser would happily stay longer, and if that’s not possible, they plan to make The Eddy a permanent downtown Reno resident by moving it elsewhere for us all to enjoy.
Starting as a specialty cheese shop and evolving into one of Reno’s most beloved lunch stops and catering outfits, The Cheese Board has seen a lot of change in the 36 years Debbie Branby has owned and operated this business. In March, Branby decided to pass the torch to sisters Krista Phillips and Caitlin Fletcher, two team members who have helped manage and grow the business during the past 10 years. The new owners are excited but don’t see a whole lot changing. You can expect to see many of the same gourmet comfort foods, such as the classic tuna melt, tomato soup, and best-selling pastrami and Swiss sandwich, remain on the menu, but with Fletcher’s background in culinary arts and Phillips’ love for the former Café Musee menu, you may find some fun additions and throwbacks added over time. The sisters always have believed this place was a second home and the staff members their extended family, so you’ll notice the strong and dedicated team still in place, too, including chef Kaimi Coonrad, who has been with The Cheese Board for 15 years, as well as its baker Andrea Medina, who has worked there for 10 years. With these two leading the charge, we can expect to see The Cheese Board continue to be a community staple for years to come.
And while it seems new businesses are opening left and right, there’s nothing better than seeing existing businesses thrive and expand.
From humble beginnings as a kiosk inside the original location of Rounds Bakery to becoming independent and acquiring Levi’s Pies, Mix Cupcake Co. has been a business success story in progress for almost nine years. Last November, bakers at Mix made 1,100 pies for Thanksgiving, which required its owners to purchase and fit two new ovens into already cramped kitchen quarters. When the (flour) dust settled, it was clear they needed a bigger space, and they immediately began looking. In April, they opened Mix Bakeshop, just a few spots away from their previous location. The new space is more than double in size, making room for additional workstations, equipment, staff, and improvements to the overall business process. Under the new name, owners Mary Allstead and Kristen Daters plan to expand their pie and cupcake business equally and give some much-needed attention to their custom cookie division, which has gained national attention.
With Eldorado Resorts’ acquisition of Circus Circus, a lot of attention has been paid to the food and beverage offerings on that property. After making over the famed Midway, the management team revamped the well-known sushi and Mexican concept and opened Kanpai Sushi and El Jefe’s Cantina. The space is large, open, and feels urban with street-inspired murals from local artist Bryce Chisholm. The Kanpai menu is all sushi, while El Jefe’s shows off the Asian-Mexican crossover cuisine with dishes such as carnitas pho. The food court at Circus Circus also is being redone, bringing with it beloved regional chain The Habit Burger Grill and Piezzetta, a pizza concept where guests assemble pizzas of their own design, choosing from scratch-made doughs, toppings, and sauces, which are then fast-fired and served hot in three minutes or less.
Our support for longstanding local institutions, new concepts and cuisines, and all the new food and drink to come is making our food community grow rapidly. Sharing these highlights and other great stories you hear throughout the community with friends and family members will inspire others to show their support, too. We’re all an active part of putting Reno-Tahoe on the map, and in doing so, we’re helping our local food community thrive.
Until next time, remember to eat, drink, and support local!
Michael Tragash is the local community director 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.