Love Letter: Reno

 

You might think I’m joking but I’m totally not. If you think of buffets when you think of Reno, think again. There are places both new and old for foodies to explore. More than you can hit up in one weekend, but I’ll start you out with some tips.

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Suppose you arrive around early-bird dinnertime. If you are staying at the Atlantis (which I recommend despite the fact that it will cost you about 12 bucks + tip to take a cab to the strip), hit up the Purple Parrot. snapseed2

snapseedWe have obviously not gotten to the new foodie-type stuff right off the bat, but I am a sucker for a classic club and this hit the bill. The bacon was not too thick, just the way I like it. Avo came included. That tequila bloody mary was primo.

My husband later regretted these chili nachos. I say live without regrets! That’s a lie, I am constantly filled with regrets.

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Reno is way next level when it comes to cocktails – rivaling Portland. Look at the wall o’spirits at Chapel Tavern! I imagine this is true for the food and drink (including wine,beer and coffee) because there is such a small community of places and they are all pretty centralized. The ideas and personnel likely flow freely between the spots.

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This is a cocktail I will remember forever. It’s called a “Passed Bright Milk Punch”. There is a lengthy description on the menu (which I cadged) but I will distill it down (heh) to the important stuff: it’s an old-timey drink in which you separate the whey in milk and use the clear liquid that’s left over. Then you mix it with, in this case: tequila, aged rum, orange, lemon, oolong tea, fennel and coriander. OK, I guess I did not succeed in making this very short.

My tasting notes for the cocktail are: a hint of eggnog and yogurt, the sweetness of the rum emerges, barest hint of citrus, clean on the palate. I described it as having ghost flavors. I was trying to get at how each aspect haunted the palate yet was in balance and then disappeared – like a ghost – boo! Fuck yeah.

Other than that the new Chapel (moved from a dump farther away from the strip), while attractive, was blaring metal and was a total young person hook up spot. We were probably the oldest people there. I don’t usually care but the metal made it completely unpleasant to hang in. Next time I will visit during the day. We called it a night after this due to nacho distress.

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Next morning it was off to Hub Coffee. They roast their own. We made a not-yet-caffeinated decision to get exorbitantly expensive individually-brewed chemex cups. They were thin and had a too-bitter finish. I then turned to a regular brewed cup, which was much better.

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Right across from Hub is a spot called Midtown Eats. It opens for lunch at 11, which worked out perfectly for our morning meal. This is just a casual cafe but look at that liquor selection. See what I mean? If you will look at the website you will see they have the ubiquitous pendant Edison lights and succulents (in a mason jar no less!) Just an observation, not hating on it.

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After that cocktail the night before I was on an aged rum kick, and this cocktail has aged rum, peach, lemon and falernum. Say what? Ah, I see it’s a sweet syrup. Again, remarkably balanced and not overly citrusy or sweet. Sacramento bartenders could learn a thing or two or three.

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I got this cup of wild mushroom soup and it was one of the top 5 soups I’ve ever had. I am not just being overly effusive I swear! That’s olive oil on top and one tempura-fried mushroom bit.

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I was actually hungry for lunch fairly soon because my breakfast of salad and cup of soup was tiny. We had walked by Beefy’s earlier and it put a hamburger idea in my mind. It has been open since ’47.

reno27Tiny interior with a cute counter.

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Just went with the basic cheeseburger as is my wont. That’s what you judge a burger by – not by how much blue cheese or other crap is on it.

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I got it medium rare and I’d say that this amount of “juice” is just about right, leaning a little towards rare. Perfect for me! Perfect toppings except I like a special sauce. Perhaps I should have put a warning for the squeamish on this photo. Just pretend you are watching CSI: Miami.

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How about a visit to a superb beer and wine bar/bottle shop next? No big deal, right? It’s called Craft Wine and Beer. The wine shop is my favorite thing. I was feeling a bit broke but still got three bottles. They carry wines by two of my favorite importers: Rosenthal and Louis/Dressner. That’s an easy way to pick wine – just figure out what you like and then look for that same importer on other bottles. Thursday they are actually hosting a Dressner tasting and I’m bummed to miss it.

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We split a bottle of this Mikkeller porter with Yuzu.

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A friend recommended I try Campo, so I walked in and made dinner reservations for later (they didn’t have a spot until almost 9). Next door there was just a regular bar, but it happened to have Deschutes Abyss from 2011 on draft. My god this is an amazing beer, and really hard to get, let alone one from 2 years ago. A small miracle.

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Campo specializes in wood-fired pizza and while nothing can touch Masullo this one was quite good. It had a bit of honey dribbled on top, along with serranos, salami, mozz, and red onion.

I’m a little skeptical about barrel-aged cocktails. Or at least I was until I tried this one. The server said that the barrel-aging rounds the flavors out and that was exactly right.It cohered- I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone told me that this was just some single kind of liquor that I had not heard of.  The liquors were actually Benedictine and absinthe. She warned me that it had a strong licorice flavor. No problemo.

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Much like the coffee shops around here, Hub has parlayed its success into building a new, larger iteration. This one is in the cute river district.

reno10It was warm enough to sit outside, even at 9 am.  reno8

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Then we made our standard pilgrimage to Peg’s Glorified Ham N Eggs. There is actually one of these in Roseville now! I haven’t been. Peg’s is always crowded but they know how to handle crowds.

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Who doesn’t love breakfast in a skillet? Answer: robots and Osama Bin Laden. Especially a robotic Osama Bin Laden.

Phew! Long post. There are other spots I didn’t even get to hit up, like the Basque place downtown. Hope you enjoyed your culinary tour of the biggest little city in the world. Eat and drink it for yourself!

 

 

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