Best tater tot ever

Chef Daniel Kumar experiments with a type of flatbread, part of the East Indian-inspired dinner menu he’s developing for the previously all-American Cozy’s.

Chef Daniel Kumar experiments with a type of flatbread, part of the East Indian-inspired dinner menu he’s developing for the previously all-American Cozy’s.

Photo By David Robert

Cozy’s Coffee Shop

2258 Oddie Blvd.
Sparks, NV 89431

(775) 359-8008

“This place is totally Sparks,” said Rail City native Danielle. It’s very true—we could be nowhere but Sparks. It isn’t really that much different over there, but I like to make fun of Sparks because it reminds me of the Springfield/Shelbyville rivalry on The Simpsons. And if anyone ever wants a concise demonstration of what differentiates Sparks from Reno, they just need to go to lunch at Cozy’s. There’s a distinct, small-town, conservative vibe; it’s very clean; people are friendly; and there are odd, surprising touches that make it all worthwhile.

The newly remodeled red exterior and the green and white interior are both quite farm-like. There’s a homespun attitude among the servers and the patrons. People at other tables nod and say, “Howdy.” The people at the table next to us were talking in slow, measured voices about how much they love Sparks. When Danielle asked for whole grain toast, our waitress said, “Well, we just have regular ol’ wheat. Everything’s just regular ol’ here.”

Danielle had the veggie omelette ($6.50). She requested, with characteristic particularness, that her omelette be made entirely with “egg beaters.” When it arrived, it was a strange orange color that looked as if it had been made entirely of yolks. She asked the waitress about it.

“It’s made with all egg whites but with a little color added.” The presence of food coloring made Danielle squirm with discomfort. The kitchen was also out of bell peppers and avocado—apparently more exotic than the usual “regular ol'” vegetables. The waitress asked if Danielle would like something else, but Danielle just opted just to have more of the available vegetables. Her omelette came overloaded with onions and tomatoes and, regrettably, American cheese.

I had a barbecue beef sandwich ($7.25). It was fair but a tad disappointing. The sirloin and sauce portions were rather skimpy. My side of cole slaw wasn’t the best either. And the soup du jour, a chicken rice, was OK but visually unappealing.

The comely service partly made up for these culinary shortcomings.

When our waitress noticed my unfinished soup, she asked with utmost concern, “Did you not like the soup, honey?”

But late in the meal, there was a huge, pleasant surprise: the best tater tot ever. I had basically come to the conclusion that this was just another run-of-the-mill, all-American, small-town coffee shop with friendly down-home service and boring fare; but then I popped in one of the tater tots that had been sitting on my plate the whole time. It was delicious. A superb little ball of shredded potato. It tasted of curry, almost like a somosa or something.

It was so good, I had to ask our waitress about it. She informed us that the chef was East Indian, and that the new dinner menu would include plenty of Indian dishes. (Cozy’s posted hours say “open until 9 o’clock” but currently the place actually closes at 3 o’clock.) Cozy’s is going to retain its all-American breakfast and lunch but will have Indian fare for dinner. Judging from that tater tot, it’ll be a dinner worth trying.