Editors’ choice

Best of Northern Nevada

Illustration by FRANZ SZONY

Goods & Services

Best place buying a pretty gift translates into free diapers

Des Idees Nouvelles

148 Vassar St., 772-1267

This boutique carries a carefully edited selection of kitchen, bath and home décor—all of it chosen with environmental and social sustainability in mind—which is reason alone to drop in for a shopping trip. Making it all the more worthwhile is the fact that proceeds from the store help support the Women and Children’s Center of the Sierra, which oversees programs that help at-risk or vulnerable women and families. One of their most popular programs is their Diaper Bank, which provides free diapers and incontinence supplies to those in need. Learn more at www.waccs.org.

Best damned food deal in town

Chef’s Sunday night special at Sezmu

670 Mt. Rose St., 327-4448

Sezmu is a favorite in our readers’ choices. This year, it’s one of our readers’ top three Reno restaurants, most romantic restaurants, and they claim it has one of the best wine lists in Northern Nevada. We know that. Here’s one thing you probably didn’t know. On Sunday nights, there’s an elegant three-course chef’s special (salad or soup, hearty main course and dessert). This is rustic comfort food at one of Reno’s finest restaurants for only $25 per person. And yeah, when this gets out, you’ll want to make reservations.


Best exploratory mission

Vya, Nev

Try a trip to northern Washoe County, not on the way to Oregon or someplace else, but for its own sake. Formerly called Lake County and Roop County, the area is an explorer’s paradise, with few people but plenty to see, including wildflowers and animal life and marvelous rock formations. If you become bewitched and want more time, there’s a 4,300-acre working guest ranch in Vya called the Old Yella Dog Ranch and Cattle Company. The Y Bar D is around 200 miles north of Reno and 25 miles east of Cedarville, Calif. More information on the ranch can be found at www.oldyelladogranch.com.

Best place to pamper your puppy

Bark Avenue

538 W. Plumb Lane, 824-3647

There are few pleasures in life as rewarding as adopting some hairy little beast and spoiling him rotten. This locally owned ma-and-pa boutique specializes in luxurious dog beds, plush toys and dog food fancier than most of what editors eat. And the owners’ dog, Cocoa, a chocolate lab, is an ever-gracious host to the less well-behaved canines that frequent her store.


Best DJs to kick it old school

DJ Andrew & David Bruce

These guys drop needles on those old school sounds that shake rumps and raise spirits with equal ardor: gritty soul, vintage R&B and early funk. They often DJ separately, but it’s best to see them egg each other on at various “soul nights” around town—usually at bars like Lincoln Lounge, St. James Infirmary or Chapel Tavern (not the most conducive places to dancing, but after a few drinks, it doesn’t matter). Their styles complement each other well: David Bruce plays obscure, gritty Southern jams sure to weaken knees, and DJ Andrew plays rare stuff, too, but sprinkles in the Motown hits that elicit immediate sing-a-longs.

Fun & Gambling

Best casino value

The meat buffet weight loss system

Sure, you can buy Jennie Craig. You can pick up a SlimFast at almost any independent grocery store in the Truckee Meadows. But have you heard about the meat buffet weight loss system? It works like this: Participants go to any of the fine buffets in Northern Nevada and pile up your plate with the finest protein-based foodstuffs. Where else can you get all-you-can-eat prime rib for less than $10?

Best casino nostalgia

Change Exchange at Circus-Circus

Imagine, if you will … you’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of wealth. A journey into a mysterious land whose boundaries ring with the sound of coins clanging loudly into metal trays. That’s the sign post up ahead, your next stop … is the Change Exchange. Remember those days when the clanging coin trays echoed down Virginia Street? There’s a place in town where you can relive your gambling glory days. It’s on the main floor at Circus-Circus. Just follow your ears.


Best cheap date

West Wind el Rancho Drive-In

555 El Rancho Drive, 358-6920

Load up the back of the truck with pillows and blankets. Grab a Blizzard (around $3.50-$4) at the Sparks Dairy Queen (1501 Prater Way). Then head to the West Wind El Rancho Drive-In for a double feature ($6.25 per adult) and the experience of a fading but classic form of entertainment. Total cost of a two-person date: around $20. Can’t beat it.

Best black-and-white celebrity collage

St. James Infirmary

445 California Ave., 657-8484

If you crave a place to debate the relative merits of, say, The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II while enjoying flavorful Belgian beers with difficult-to-remember names and listening to a jukebox full of great, handpicked discs, here is the cure for what ails you. The black-and-white collage of classic movies and music icons along the east wall could inspire a potential slogan like, “St. James Infirmary, where the wallpaper is more exciting than most bars’ happy hour specials.”


Best place to walk your dog

Steamboat Ditch

Winding across miles of the “newer” part of Reno’s Old Southwest (the South McCarran, Cashill, Skyline Boulevard area) is the Steamboat Ditch. While “ditch” doesn’t typically summon ideas of beauty or worth, don’t let the name fool you. The ditch, which flows with water during warmer months, runs alongside a gravel road lined with native plants. This road occasionally hosts a service vehicle but is mainly populated with trail runners, dog walkers—with dogs both on-leash and off—and mountain bikers. Sweeping views of Reno are a definite bonus. Numerous trailheads can be found throughout this area, such as at Horseman’s Park off Skyline Boulevard.

Food & Drink

Best meal for people who like surprises

Daughters Café

97 Bell St., 324-3447

This is not a restaurant for diners who like plenty of options or predictable regularity. The service is slow and goofy, but if you want to spend a lazy Sunday lingering over coffee and a unique, wonderful, homespun meal, this is the place. The menu changes every week with the foods in season. The cooking manages to seem simultaneously ancient and innovative. The Sunday brunch appeals equally to families fresh from church and hung-over revelers just waking up from a long Saturday night. If you must see the weekly brunch menu in advance, you can visit www.daughterscafe.com. At press time, it lists shirred eggs with sautéed mushrooms, brown sugar bacon, thyme roasted potatoes, black pepper pears and apple oven cake.


Best green guru

John Sagebiel, manager of environment affairs at UNR

Ever wonder the greenest way to drink beer? Or the best restaurants to scrounge for biodiesel ingredients? Or maybe what happens to plastic after you recycle it? Ask John Sagebiel, who heads UNR’s recycling program, among other things. Sagebiel is happy to pontificate about water rights issues, where your trash goes, solar panels and all issues green. The only thing he asks is that you drink beer out of a can—aluminum recycling is much better for the environment than glass.

Best sustained flight

The Truckee River rope swing

So you had a staycation this year. For purely Earth-friendly reasons, you chose to drift the Truckee River rather than driving to San Francisco. (Let’s be honest, you were broke.) You stopped just a little west of Idlewild Park, where two ropes hung off sturdy tree branches. Boulders served as stepping stones on the steep slope launch zone. You hurled yourself into the wild blue yonder before you plummeted into the river. The Truckee was just deep enough to provide some cheap, easy and sustainable thrills. And while you flew through the air, you dreamed of a go-away vacation to an eco-tourist paradise.

Kids & Family

Best place to stab your friends

Reno Silver Blades Fencing Club

2500 Valley Road

There are some of us who are just constitutionally opposed to television team sports, but we’re competitive. We just don’t consider sitting home on the couch, watching other people play games while we drink beer and eat chicken wings competition. We’d rather attack, parry and riposte. The Reno Silver Blades Fencing Club is a great place for anyone who’d like to learn the only skill necessary to walk into Reno’s Best Sports Bar and say, “Professional football sucks”: sword fighting.

Best way to see the Sierra


For a truly memorable outing, take the whole family over the Sierra on Amtrak. The stunning scenery and the engineering triumph are a sure way to be impressed by both the accomplishments of nature and the achievements of the Chinese in building the route. A one-way trip on the California Zephyr will get your family all the way to Emeryville, Calif., and could only set Mommy, Daddy, Jack and Tiffanee back $33 to $160, depending how far you go.


Best place to eat fried yuca

El Tumi Peruvian Restaurant

585 E. Moana Lane, 284-8610

If there’s one thing Peruvian cooking has down, it’s starches. El Tumi Peruvian Restaurant serves up crispy fried yuca—little golden fingers of yumminess—like nowhere else in Reno. And really, who else would be frying yuca? For the uninitiated, yuca is a tuberous root of the cassava plant, which is found primarily in South America. It tastes like a chewier version of another root vegetable, the potato. Be sure to dip it in El Tumi’s avocado mayo sauce with a dash of spicyaji.

Best cultural day trip

Oats Park Art Center

151 E. Park St., Fallon, 423-1440

It’s a goddamned miracle in the desert is what it is. The Oats Park Art Center is a real cultural oasis in the otherwise faux oasis of Fallon, Nev. It’s a converted and restored school, which was designed by Frederick J. DeLongchamps in 1914, but now has two changing galleries, a permanent collection gallery, a 350-seat proscenium theater and the understatedly named ArtBar, which could just as easily be named “Home to the Super-sized Wine Glass.” More information about upcoming concerts and exhibitions can be found at www.churchillarts.org. This facility must be seen to be believed.