Unearthing savory and sweet foods and delicious drinks for locals and visitors alike.
Written by Christina Nellemann
We asked the publisher of edible Reno-Tahoe to share some must-visit spots if you’ve got a day to spend in the Reno-Tahoe area.
Many visitors here usually expect to dine at casino buffets. While they can still be found, the food-and-drink scene in The Biggest Little City and Big Blue has erupted with farm-fresh ingredients and finely crafted brews and cocktails that dominate the area’s nightlife. Restaurant menus emphasize seasonal produce, meat and cheese from high-desert ranches, and locally distilled spirits. Lake Tahoe, just 45 minutes from Reno, is seeing its own surge of local edibles. Restaurants such as Manzanita at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe are molding menus to reflect seasonal ingredients and celebrity chefs.
Café at Adele’s
While there are some great breakfast spots in Reno, start your morning in Nevada’s capital (about 40 minutes south of Reno) and have breakfast at Café at Adele’s in Carson City. Family run and feeding the area since 1977, this restaurant and bar focuses on local ingredients for its extensive menu that includes house made sausage, House Dry Smoked Salmon Crepes and Seasonal Berry Belgian Waffles. Adele’s award-winning chef, Charlie Abowd, is a fourth-generation Nevadan and his wife Karen is the founder of The Greenhouse Project, a community-based greenhouse and garden in Carson City.
Fire Sign Cafe
Why We Love It: If your travels take you up to the pine forests of Lake Tahoe for breakfast, head to the Fire Sign Cafe. This local favorite has weekend lines out the door for a good reason. The Cape Cod Benedict with house-smoked salmon and the Nut & Seed Waffle will start your day off right.
Why We Love It: Stay in Reno and have one of the colossal omelettes at Squeeze In. This small chain has five locations and was featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. The Hangover Helper with ham, bacon, sausage, and two cheeses, and the Holy Crab! King Crab omelette are signature dishes. If you are in Tahoe, you’re in luck. The original Squeeze In is located in Truckee.
Great Full Gardens
The locavore scene in Reno is widely prevalent in the restaurants owned by Gino Scala, known as Gino The Soup Man. His popular Great Full Gardens (and Express location at the University of Nevada, Reno) serves up farm fresh ingredients, great service and a community atmosphere. The lunch menu features Gino’s Totally Tomato soup, Paleo Lunch Bowl with grilled chicken or wild salmon, Beautiful BLTA with Applewood smoked bacon on toasted naan, Wild Cod Tacos with Mexican rice, and the vegan “Neatball” Sandwich with house made marinara.
Why We Love It: Texas comes to Reno with this family run restaurant in the Wells Ave District of Reno with its Latin vibe. Brothers specializes in Texas style, dry rubbed and wood smoked barbecue using two generations of family recipes. Try the classic Pulled Pork Sandwich or the Texas Tornado with Spicy Sausage topped with Beef Brisket.
Full Belly Deli
Why We Love It: Run by two Tahoe guys, the Full Belly Deli (in both Truckee and Reno) bakes its own bread and tops it with locally sourced vegetables and meats. The deli serves up subs, wraps, soup and salad and pressed sandwiches. The Green Eggs and Ham breakfast sandwich has fresh pesto and the Dirka Dirka bursts with corned beef, pastrami, pickles and jalapeño coleslaw.
Coffeebar in the mountain town of Truckee (with additional locations in Reno) has brought the Italian art of coffee to the Sierra — with an environmental twist. Coffeebar’s locally roasted beans are organic, C1 grade and brewed in a French press. Coffeebar also sources its eggs and meat from local farms, doesn’t use plastic bottles or bags, and customers stir coffee drinks with fettuccine instead of wooden sticks. For an afternoon pick-me-up, the Espresso Con Panna or a Mexican Mocha should do the trick.
Too Soul Tea
Why We Love It: If you are a tea drinker, Too Soul Tea serves loose-leaf teas in a cute, orange house near downtown Reno. The choices range from earthy Yerba Mate Chai and hearty Vanilla Rooibos to mystical Blue Lady Black tea. Too Soul also features Coconut and Butter Rum Hot Chocolate, smoothies and bubble teas.
Hub Coffee Roasters
Why We Love It: The bicycle-themed Hub Coffee Roasters is another local favorite with three locations in Reno. The newest location is right on the Truckee River with great outdoor seating. Hub serves beautiful cappuccinos and lattes with creative milk texturing. The owner, Mark Trujillo regularly travels to South America to visit the farmers who supply Hub with its coffee beans.
Louis’ Basque Corner
People from the Basque region of Europe originally came to Northern Nevada to work in the mines, but found sheepherding more lucrative. Basque food soon followed and Reno residents savor the flavors of the nearly 50-year-old Louis’ Basque Corner. This exceptional restaurant and bar serves entrées family style with soup, Basque beans, salad, French fries and dessert. Traditional dishes include oxtail, tongue, rabbit, lamb chops, and luscious sweetbreads with red wine and mushroom sauce. In the bar of this Reno staple you can rub elbows with the city’s bigwigs, cowboys, truck drivers, and hipsters over glasses of Louis’ famous Picon Punch or Rioja Blanco.
Why We Love It: For a special night out in Tahoe, the chefs of Manzanita at the The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe serve up culinary nirvana in this elegantly rustic restaurant. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the Northstar California Resort’s mountains and the menu features organic and locally sourced cuisine.
Pignic Pub & Patio
Why We Love It: Pignic Pub & Patio is a lively restaurant near downtown Reno with an offbeat meal concept: bring your own meat. Or you can buy a few steaks from the restaurant’s fridge and the staff will give you the grill and tools to whip up your own dinner. The dishes and cleanup is on them. Time it right and you can enjoy a pop-up dinner with a local chef or a tasting night complete with live music or games on the TV.
Self-taught pastry chef Don Halter brings European delights to his bakery in Reno. Franz’s Backstube features speciality cakes, homemade breads, chocolate, and fruit croissants, éclairs, tarts, and some massive cinnamon rolls. Pick up the Mini Pecan Pie and Napoleons for an after-dinner treat. Franz’s also has some nice coffee drinks to go with your Apple Strudel.
Homage Bakery & Coffeehouse
Why We Love It: Homage has the feeling of walking into your stylish grandmother’s home. Complete with a front porch and cozy rooms for enjoying coffee and treats, this bakery serves some of the most decadent desserts in Reno. Order the English Toffee Roll, a Cardamom Snickerdoodle, a pot de crème, or the gooey peanut butter pie.
Sugar Pine Cakery
Why We Love It: This Tahoe City bakery focuses on organic baked goods and cakes and caters to the gluten-free crowd with its delightful treats. Daily baked items include scones and coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, and sticky buns. Sugar Pine’s cakes and cupcakes can be customized with various flavors like Vegan Vanilla, Carrot Cake and Coconut.
The Chapel Tavern in the Midtown neighborhood in Reno has been featured in The New York Times for its unusual spirits and inventive bartenders. This rustic yet hip tavern features a rotating events calendar and creates some of the best known cocktails in town. Try the Terra Cognita Tonic with rosemary grown at the bar, or the Mind Kontrol mixed with rum infused with tobacco. Its revolving selection of beers feature locals brews such as the Great Basin Brewing Company’s “Icky” IPA. During warm weather, Chapel’s deck or beer garden are great places to watch city life.
Death & Taxes Provisions and Spirits
Why We Love It: San Francisco should be jealous of Reno’s Death & Taxes. This black leather and chandelier decorated bar in Midtown Reno specializes in craft cocktails made with sensual ingredients. Watching the passionate mixologists behind the bar is a real treat. The D&T “Bible” is updated regularly, but some favorites are the Cala Varques with Thai chili Reposado Tequila, Green Chartreuse, honey, lemon and lavender bitters. A flaming sprig of thyme completes this cocktail.
Lone Eagle Grille
Why We Love It: Sunsets at Lake Tahoe will take your breath away. A divine way to enjoy them is with a drink at the Lone Eagle Grille’s Lounge or by one of its lakeside fire pits. The Lone Eagle’s extensive wine list has consistently won awards of excellence from Wine Spectator and a glass of the Barnard Griffin or even some Veuve Cliquot “Yellow Label” is a wonderful ending to a day in Reno-Tahoe.
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