Road trippers shall not live by bread alone — at least not in northern Nevada. Fresh, inspired meals as well as locally brewed and distilled libations are on offer throughout the Reno-Tahoe area. Discover the region’s food culture on TravelNevada’s Reno Bites Road Trip, a loop route from Reno through Fallon, Carson City, Carson Valley, Stateline, Incline Village and back to the Biggest Little City.
MAP: 218 miles/350 kilometers
A quick walk through Reno’s Riverside District in downtown Reno reveals such gems as Campo, known for its locally sourced menu; Noble Pie Parlor, where the pizza sauce recipes have been handed down through generations; and Wild River Grille, offering traditional, innovative dishes. Your caffeine fix is a quick walk east of downtown at Hub Coffee Roasters. This coffeehouse along the Truckee River is dangerously close to Dorinda’s Chocolates, home of all-natural, hand-dipped sweets.
Just south of downtown, Reno’s Midtown District offers locally owned shops and restaurants, including Süp, serving up everything from gazpacho to miso; Two Chicks, a breakfast-and-lunch eatery whose two owners also started the popular local food truck Gourmelt; and Laughing Planet Café, where the food is healthy and there is a plastic toy dinosaur on every table.
Reno also has caught microbrew fever, with a batch of locally owned breweries opening their doors over the past few years: among them, The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery, set inside a historical train station; Brasserie Saint James, winner of the Great American Beer Festival’s Mid-Size Brewpub of the Year for 2014; and Silver Peak Grill & Taproom, a longtime local favorite. For a more extensive list of breweries, check VisitRenoTahoe.com. Drink and bike: The Reno Brew Bike offers tours to area brew houses on its 15-passenger party bike.
Complement your meal with a visit to a Reno museum — a few are within walking distance of the downtown core. The Nevada Museum of Art exhibits the work of national and international artists, the Discovery science museum features hands-on educational galleries and the National Automobile Museum boasts a collection of 200+ cars. For more on Reno attractions, events and lodging, see TravelNevada.com or VisitRenoTahoe.com.
About 60 miles/97 kilometers east of Reno is Fallon, one of Nevada’s agricultural areas. Here, sample local bounty at such restaurants as the Slanted Porch (the New York steak is hand-cut) and the Courtyard Café & Bakery (the Tasteful salad is a mainstay).
See how local produce is grown at Lattin Farms, a family-owned organic farm that has a year-round produce stand (open Monday through Saturday) and a fall festival every Saturday in October. Also check out Frey Ranch, home of the Frey Ranch Distillery and Churchill Vineyards. The distillery produces gin, vodka, bourbon, whiskey, absinthe and other spirits using grains grown on-site; grapes for Churchill Vineyard’s selection of white wines also are grown here. The tasting room is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
While in Fallon, check out the petroglyphs — ancient rock art — at Grimes Point Archaeological Site, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of Fallon on U.S. 50. Plan your trip to include a free, guided tour of Hidden Cave, about 1.5 miles north of Grimes Point. Tours beginning at the Churchill County Museum are offered on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. For more on Fallon attractions, events and lodging, see TravelNevada.com or VisitFallonNevada.com.
Nevada’s capital city, about 32 miles/55 kilometers south of Reno, has time-honored eateries of local provenance, including The Café at Adele’s, dating back to 1977 and serving up everything from duck confit to the classic hamburger; The Basil for pad thai and other authentic Thai dishes; and Red’s Old 395 Grill for barbecue.
Joining those august establishments are such newcomers as The Union (menu items include the spiced popcorn starter and pizzas finished in a wood-fired oven); Shoe Tree Brewing Company (serving up the Shoehorn Double IPA and other suds); and L.A. Bakery and Café, (tempting pastries with some gluten-free options).
Gain an appreciation for Silver State’s history at Carson City’s museums. The Nevada State Museum has exhibits on the state’s geology and history, including an underground mine. Train buffs may want to check out the Nevada State Railroad Museum, which features railroad artifacts as well as rolling stock. During summer weekends, short train rides are offered on the property. For more on Carson City attractions, events and lodging, see TravelNevada.com or VisitCarsonCity.com.
Just south of Carson City, and about 49 miles/79 kilometers from Reno, are the Carson Valley communities of Gardnerville, Minden and Genoa. Some of the state’s first non-native settlements were founded here, and that history is reflected in some local restaurants and bars.
J.T. Basque Bar & Dining Room in Gardnerville serves up the hearty meals once enjoyed by the area’s Basque immigrants, and the Genoa Bar offers a visual feast of Wild West ephemera — mounted animal heads, old framed pictures and a freestanding vault inexplicably filled with bras. Enjoy duck confit deviled eggs or a curry chicken sandwich at the Pink House, a historical building built in 1855.
After you’ve eaten — or maybe before — check out the Carson Valley and environs from 3,000 feet. The area’s geography makes it one of the best places in the country for glider plane soaring — the art of flying in a motor-less craft. SoaringNV in Minden offers glider plane rides and serves as a base for glider pilots from around the world. For more on Carson Valley attractions, events and lodging, see TravelNevada.com or VisitCarsonValley.org.
On the border of Nevada and California, this Lake Tahoe town is about 60 miles/97 kilometers from Reno. Resort-casinos dominate the cityscape, but there are some locally owned eateries here. Red Hut Café on Kingsbury Grade is one of four Red Huts in the region: these eateries offers all types of waffles (bacon waffle, chicken & waffle, coconut waffle, etc.) and an assortment of burgers, including the peanut butter burger. For house-made ravioli, pasta and pizza, check out Capisce? Italian restaurant. New on the block: Bella Tahoe Catering & Deli. The catering part of this business has been around for years, but now Bella Tahoe’s gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads, as well as to-go dinners, are available at the deli.
Once you’ve filled up, head to the beach: Zephyr Cove Resort in Zephyr Cove, four miles north of Stateline, rents watercraft on its beach and offers horseback riding in the summer, among other activities. For more on attractions, events and lodging in Stateline and environs, see TravelNevada.com or VisitingLakeTahoe.com.
This community on the northern tip of Lake Tahoe, just 37 miles/60 kilometers from Reno, is an easy getaway for mountain recreation and dining. Try Jack Rabbit Moon, known for artfully presented seasonal selections; Koi Sushi, serving up nigiri, maki hand rolls and temaki; and Bite American Tapas, featuring small plates of sweet chili-glazed baby back ribs, vegetarian tostada bites and more.
Work off every delicious calorie swimming, paddle boarding or kayaking at Sand Harbor State Park or — if you’re an extreme mountain biker — on the Flume Trail, a high-elevation route that overlooks Lake Tahoe from 7,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level. For more on attractions, events and lodging in Incline Village, see TravelNevada.com or VisitingLakeTahoe.com.