Beach meets Beastie
Beach Hut Deli6160 Mae Anne Ave.
Reno, NV 89523
This youthful, hopping little cabana with sandwiches named “Beach Bikini” and “Skinny Dipper” makes me think of my grandmother. This isn’t because of the way she fills out a swimsuit, but rather because she lives in a Northwest Florida city renowned for its white beaches and breaking surf. In her town, every coffee shop, bar and, yes, deli has a “beach” theme. There are Tiki masks on every wall, and every available surface looks waxed enough to hang 10 on. The Beach Hut Deli reminds me of a half dozen such places I’ve been to during visits to Grandma’s. And though it might seem nearly anonymous in Florida or Southern California, in this here high desert town, it sticks out like a shark fin.
The Beach Hut Deli is a Sacramento-area franchise that’s been brought to Reno by local DJs-turned-deli-owners Buddha and Dotkom. This Beach Hut combines the beach aesthetic with contemporary hip-hop style. The tables are all surfboards. The walls have vibrant, graffiti-style paintings (I particularly liked the dragon that stretched into the men’s room). There are pinball machines, and the TVs were playing skate videos. It’s all B-Boy—a little bit Beach, a little bit Beastie.
I had the Sunrise sandwich: Canadian ham, turkey breast, bacon and Swiss cheese (medium, $7.95). It was a fairly traditional choice but pretty good. Danielle voiced her customary complaint about the lack of vegetarian options (though they have a couple, clearly marked), and then she ordered the California: avocado, Monterey jack, alfalfa sprouts (small, $5.20). All sandwiches come with the usual suspects: mayonnaise, mustard, tomato, onion, pickles and peppers.
The sandwiches, though nothing revolutionary or life-changing, are good, crisp and filling. Beach Hut Deli has a fairly broad selection of them, all with beach-theme names. I advise sticking with the sandwiches, as everything else is a bit sub par. We had a side of very run-of-the-mill pasta salad ($1.50). Danielle ordered a meatless chef’s salad ($7.95) that was no fun—just a pile of sandwich fillings on top of iceberg lettuce.
Anyway, the real flavor here is the music and atmosphere. It’s not really my scene, but the mostly mellow, jazz/ hip-hop music overhead was light-years more interesting than the usual restaurant background fare. The crowd, including the employees, was mostly young and energetic. Danielle really turned her nose up after they messed up her order (French bread instead of wheat), complaining that “this is a place run by and for high school students.”
Indeed, during our lunchtime visit, the entire staff appeared to be 18-year-old girls, but I think that bothered me a lot less than it bothered her. And apparently, adults do sometimes visit; they have some good beers on tap and “daily happy hour” specials from 3 to 7 p.m. (Not that the presence of cheap beer is really a good indication of adulthood.)
The Beach Hut Deli hasn’t been in Reno for very long, but it’s already carved out a nice little niche serving sandwiches to B-Boys and B-Girls without being too hip for grandma—well, not my grandma anyway.