Dining out in Reno for less than $12
Reno’s getting more expensive. Rents are increasing faster than inflation, and restaurant prices keep notching upward, but it’s still possible to find local grub on the cheap. Whether its donuts on Damonte, bahn mi in downtown, or a hot slice in midtown, this lineup of restaurant deals can carry diners through the day on just $12 (tax and tip not included). Since this is a community newspaper, this story abides by a few rules to keep things as local as possible while still finding the best options for budget-friendly diners: No fast-food chains and no table service restaurants that require tipping (but throwing your change in the tip jar is always good karma). The options are also broken up into breakfast, lunch and dinner for ease of access. As a disclaimer, vegans, the gluten-intolerant and the waistline-conscious might as well stop reading here.
5115 Mae Anne Ave., 57 Damonte Ranch Parkway or 5272 Sparks Blvd.
DoughBoys Donuts has three locations: one in Sparks, one in South Reno and one in Northwest Reno, all with the same classic doughnuts made fresh daily. Its star deal is the $2 doughnut and coffee combo. The deal applies to everything but “Doughboy Fancies,” but Bavarian cream, jelly-filled, old fashioned, traditional glazed and the signature “Wolf Pack Paw” are all fair game. The buttermilk bar has a moist, tangy center with a sweet glaze that balances out the bitterness of coffee. They also sell breakfast sandwiches for $3.95. A couple of other places in town with $1 donuts are Holey Schmidt (490 Center St.) and Jelly Donut (1750 S. Virginia St.).
641 E. Moana Lane
Commuters can get their morning meal and fill their tanks at the Shop-N-Go on Moana Lane. Made from scratch biscuits and gravy are served fresh daily at this “not your typical convenience store,” as stated on their website. For eats on the cheap, heaping pours of sausage gravy on top of buttery biscuits are served in Styrofoam clamshells for $3.
The Daily Bagel
485 Morrill Ave.
Refills on drip coffee are always free at Daily Bagel, and dough lovers can sip a cup with an order of one of their 16 bagel varieties toasted with one of seven different types of cream cheese for $3.25. The tomato pesto cheddar bagel with chive cream cheese is a pure and simple pleasure.
Another option is Truckee Bagel Company (538 S. Virginia St. and 18130 Wedge Parkway), where a bagel with simple cream cheese is $2.95, and a bagel with peanut butter, jam or honey is $3.50.
Tacos Las Campesinos
1555 Vassar St.
Hidden in a strip mall on Vassar, Tacos Las Campesinos is a gem for authentic Mexican food. The small restaurant makes a fantastic gordita for $3.25. Choose from asada, al pastor, fajita de pollo, buche, lengua or tripa. They come topped with lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream. Otherwise, plain cheese or bean gorditas can be found for $2.99.
Bazaar European Deli and Café
3652 S. Virginia St.
Reno’s spot for traditional Russian fare is Bazaar European Deli and Café. The place is half grocery store, half café. The budget-conscious should try the belyash—fried dough shells stuffed with beef and onions—or the pirozhki—baked, boat-shaped buns filled with ground beef with rice, cabbage, or potato and mushroom—both for $2.99. Another option under the $4 mark is a cup of the hearty borsch. Their version of the Ukrainian bright maroon soup has a beetroot base with potatoes, carrots and finished with sour cream and dill.
Chavelita’s Cocina Mexicana
2080 Mill St.
Concealed slightly behind fast-food chain Wienerschnitzel, Chavelita’s is known for its slow-cooked pork carnitas. Customers can try it inside one of their tacos ($1.50 to $2). The cheesy pupusas are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and they come in chicharron, frijole, and chorizo for $2.75. A few other “pricey” options for $5 are the spanakopita or Greek salad at Nick’s Greek Deli (600 S. Virginia St.)
Los Cuatro Vientos Stand
1507 Wells Ave.
If it’s Thursday through Sunday, hungry diners can find this taco stand that pops up in front of 1507 Wells Ave. that sells tacos for $1. The pop-up is an affiliate of Los Cuatro Vientos restaurant on Casazza Drive. The street meats are cooked on an open grill and served on warm corn tortillas, and the salsa bar has several choices, from mild to scorching. Purchase a house-made agua fresca for two bucks to ease the burn. There’s also a seating area in the building behind the stand.
2309 Kietzke Lane
999 Pho is named after the quintessential Vietnamese rice noodle soup, but their banh mis are also on point. The filling Vietnamese sandwiches come stuffed with meat, carrots, radishes, cucumbers and cilantro for $4.50—making them a bit of a splurge for this list, but well worth it.
190 S. Center St.
Any discussion of cheap meals has to include pizza. Reno’s got a few places with well-priced slices, but Sizzle Pie wins for the best combination of size and price. The plain cheese slice costs $3.50. Getting one of their creative combos, like the “Queen” with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, crushed garlic and tomatoes costs $3.75, and half-slices are available between $1.75 and $2. Other dinner options are a grilled cheese from Juicy’s Giant Hamburgers (301 S. Virginia St. or 3981 S. McCarran Blvd.) for $4.45, or the $4.95 all you can eat spaghetti and at Bonanza Casino (4720 N. Virginia St.) The endless spaghetti bowl is available on Wednesdays from 4–10 p.m. Budget-conscious foodies can mix and match these options for a few days worth of dining on the cheap, but they should indulge with caution. The fruit and vegetable intake in this lineup is pretty dismal. Partakers should eventually stop at a grocery store for a piece of fruit or a maybe a carrot or two.