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.
So if you’re in awe of the landscape then you’ll be just as impressed with these amazing fine dining restaurants. Our list below of the best dining spots in the Reno-Tahoe area will leave you extending your stay so you can try each one.
Rise and shine with a meal that’s divine. Fine dining in Reno-Tahoe doesn’t leave you without breakfast. Start the day with something magnificent like a plate of Crab Cake Benny’s or Bananas Foster French Toast from Liberty Food & Wine Exchange in Reno. Or wiggle yourself into Squeeze In’s original location in Truckee for one of the ‘World’s Best Omelettes” and a peek at their famous green mascot. Our list of favorites below will have you jumping out of bed in the morning.
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 kinds of cheese, 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.
Pine State Biscuits
Why We Love It: End your search for the perfect biscuits, this Portland-based establishment makes for a buttery addition to Reno. They offer a plethora of biscuit sandwiches such as The Chatfield piled with fried chicken, bacon, and cheese, and topped with apple butter. You’ll be hooked on the biscuits, but don’t worry, they’ll ship them nationwide!
Liberty Food & Wine Exchange
Why We Love It: A weekend brunch may be new to Liberty Food & Wine Exchange, but they arrived on the scene with a bold new menu of breakfast items such as the Green Lantern Benedict made with sautéed mushrooms, kale, avocado, and lemon ricotta. If you’re going for a lighter option, try the Ruby Grapefruit Brûlée caramelized to perfection, and served with yogurt and granola.
When lunch is more than just a pitstop, and you’re looking for an amazing place to sit for a meal, nothing beats the versatility of the restaurants in the Reno-Tahoe area. Dine on ultra-fresh sushi at Drunken Monkey in Truckee, or discover Great Full Gardens in Reno for a fresh, farm-to-table lunch such as Chicken Tinga Tacos or a Paleo Lunch Bowl. There’s no shortage of amazing spots to settle in for a midday meal, we’ve gathered up a list of our favorites below.
Great Full Gardens
The locavore scene in Reno is widely prevalent in the restaurants co-owned and operated by Gino and Juli Scala, known as Gino The Soup Man, and Cyndi Wallis. Their popular Great Full Gardens restaurants (and Express location at the University of Nevada, Reno) serve 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 Midtown District of Reno. 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.
If you’re in Reno or Tahoe, you’ve hit the jackpot for fine dining. It’s hard to choose between staying in Reno for the historic Louis’ Basque Corner’s family-style dining or heading up to Incline Village for Sage Leaf’s unique cuisine such as the Dill-Crusted King Salmon Filet. Savor our list of favorite restaurants below and treat yourself to remarkable Reno-Tahoe dining.
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 now 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 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.
Why We Love It: The owners of Sage Leaf brought the elevated cuisine of Napa Valley to Incline Village. Their unique, elegant menu will not disappoint. Settle in for the Duck Fat Fried Potato Poutine made with hand-cut steak fries, and duck gravy with white cheddar cheese curds. Celebrate the evening with a craft cocktail such as the Pineapple Sage Martini with house-infused vodka or a glass of wine from their notable wine list.
Self-taught pastry chef Don Holtzer brings European delights to his bakery in Reno. Franz’s Backstube features specialty cakes, homemade bread, 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 such as Vegan Vanilla, Carrot Cake and Coconut.
Why We Love It: The Chapel Tavern in the Midtown neighborhood in Reno was listed as a finalist for a James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Bar Program in 2022, included in an international cocktail book, and has been featured in The New York Times for its unusual spirits and inventive bartenders. This rustic yet hip tavern features live music events 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 features local 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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