A Day in the Reno-Tahoe Region: Where to Eat and Drink
Many Reno-Tahoe visitors may expect to be dining at casino buffets. While they still can be found, the food and drink scene in The Biggest Little City and around Big Blue, just 45 minutes from Reno, has erupted with farm-fresh ingredients and finely crafted brews and cocktails that dominate the area’s nightlife. Restaurant menus emphasize seasonal produce, meat from high-desert ranches, and locally distilled spirits.
Edible Feast has teamed up with Expedia to offer a West Coast food and drink tour with stops in Seattle, Portland, Marin & Wine Country, San Francisco, Monterey Bay, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Reno-Tahoe. We asked the publisher of Edible Reno-Tahoe to share some must-visit spots if you’ve got a day to spend.
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, smoked salmon crêpes 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.
If your travels take you up to the pine forests of Lake Tahoe for breakfast, head to Fire Sign Café. This local’s 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.
The locavore scene in Reno is prevalent in restaurants owned by Gino Scala, known as Gino The Soup Man. His popular Great Full Gardens serves up farm-fresh ingredients, great service, and a community atmosphere. The lunch menu features Gino’s Totally Tomato soup, a Paleo Lunch Bowl with tri-tip, grilled chicken or wild salmon, and the vegan “Neatball” Sandwich with house-made marinara.
Run by two local guys, you’ll find house-baked bread and locally sourced vegetables and meats incorporated into dishes at Full Belly Deli (in Truckee and Reno). The deli serves up subs, wraps, salads, and pressed sandwiches. The Green Eggs and Ham breakfast sandwich has fresh pesto and Dirka Dirka bursts with corned beef, pastrami, pickles, and jalapeño coleslaw.
Coffeebar in the mountain town of Truckee (with an additional location in Reno) 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 meats 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.
Basques came from Europe to Northern Nevada to work in the mines, but found sheepherding more lucrative. Basque cuisine came with them, and Reno residents savor the flavors at 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.
For a special night out in the Tahoe-Truckee area, book a table at Manzanita at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. The chefs serve up culinary nirvana in this elegantly rustic restaurant. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the Northstar Resort’s mountains and the menu features organic and locally sourced cuisine.
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.
Chapel Tavern in Reno’s Midtown neighborhood has been featured in The New York Times for its unusual spirits and inventive bartenders. Mixologists at this hip tavern create some of the most popular 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 local brews such as the Great Basin Brewing Co.’s “Icky” IPA. During warm weather months, Chapel’s deck and beer garden are great places to watch city life.
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 Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label is a wonderful ending to a day in Reno-Tahoe.