Best of Northern Nevada.
Best Sparks used bookstore
The Book Gallery
1203 Rock Blvd., 356-8900
The Book Gallery gets taken for granted among the area’s used bookstores, but it has a collection unlike any other, along with videos, vintage vinyl and other novelties. An online reader review at yelp.com proclaims, “This place is pretty much exactly what you think of when you think ‘used bookstore.’ Towering wooden bookshelves crammed to bursting with a wide variety of genres, scary and heavily worn carpet, that dry-musty smell of old books. Their inventory stretches into several rooms.”
Best way to find a daycare provider
Child and Family Research Center
University of Nevada, Reno
It’s hard enough to leave your bundle of joy and sleep deprivation in the hands of another while you go to work. It can be harder still to find a care provider who is both someone you can trust and is available during the times you need. One of the best first steps in what can be a frustrating process is to call Marci Hosier-Behmaran, child care coordinator at UNR’s Child and Family Research Center, at 333-5127. Hosier-Behmaran will listen to your needs and even indulge your anxious new-parent concerns before offering a list of daycare providers—both in-home and centers—with available spots for your infant or toddler, depending in which parts of town you hope to find them.
Best save of a great local radio show
Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot’s
move to KUNR, 88.7
When out-of-state corporate administrators at 100.1 “The X” decided to give Don “Dondo” Darue’s popular “Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot” the boot, you could almost hear little banjo strings breaking in the hearts of local fans. They’d grown accustomed to listening to the blend of Americana, bluegrass and alt-country music every Saturday for the past 20 years. Luckily, in a sort of coup by default, the show found a new home at KUNR, 88.7, where it plays Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., for folks who like their biscuits homegrown and piping hot.
Best underappreciated category
People often complain about, patronize or praise a business based on the qualities of cleanliness, odor and comfort of its restrooms. And yet, some businesses seem unappreciative of the honor bestowed upon them when they win our readers’ choice of Best Restrooms. Well, that’s absurd. When some 500 people vote in any single category, it means there’s a high level of interest and appreciation on the part of customers. The bottom line? For cleanliness, opulence and—dare we say—beauty, the restrooms in the Peppermill are a royal flush. And if you haven’t tried them, it’s worth the visit.
Best downtown empire
Ryan Gold, Justin Owen and Ravi Anne are the owners behind some of the best options for food and drink in downtown Reno. It’s not entirely coincidental that their first local joint is called Imperial Bar & Lounge, which is to downtown bars what Jupiter is to planets. It gets a little nutty on the weekends, overrun by ball caps and tramp stamps, but it’s a great place for a beer-friendly lunch during the week. They also own Lincoln Lounge, a bar with old-school flavor and an excellent outdoor beer garden. This year, they started two new ventures: Calvin’s Sausages, a mobile food truck that takes first-class grub to hungry drinkers throughout downtown’s kitchen-less bars, and Old Granite Street Eatery, which mixes down-home charm with haute cuisine.
Best casino to preserve jobs
1 Lake St., 327-4362
The troubled Siena Casino got a boost from Aces games, but now it’s winter, and the place needs help. The casino is temporarily closed, but its hotel, restaurants and sports book are open. Lexie’s On the River remains one of the best restaurants in a casino and the fitness center/spa is a nice alternative to better-known facilities here.
Best example in tough times
11 N. Sierra St., 323-2121
Discology is what we mean when our newspaper preaches “Buy local.” It started up in a poor location, thrived enough to move to a better location, held off the recession by sharing space with another business, and keeps plugging away in difficult times. It’s what free enterprise should be all about.
Best dude to bump into at a rock show
Holland Project music director
Clark Demeritt, 20, is the music director at Reno’s Holland Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing local young people access to art and music. Demeritt is a sweet, goofy, teddy bear of a guy. He’s boisterous and nerdy. He’s like the little brother you love but feel compelled to give noogies. He’s a constant, enthusiastic presence at Holland’s music events. But it’s also not unusual to bump into him standing outside of local bars during cooler rock shows. “I couldn’t get in to the bar,” he’ll say, “But I really wanted to see this band, so I just decided to listen out here.” It’s real dedication to music and a perfect demonstration of why an organization like the Holland Project is necessary in the first place.
Best first link
Port of Subs No. 1
Port of Subs, the chain of sub shops, began here in Reno, founded in the 1970s by Reno High grad John Larsen. It has since spread to seven states. The original store still operates. Check in at historic Port of Subs No. 1 at 1195 N. Rock Blvd., now operated by Brent and Kathy Bryan.
Best place to eavesdrop
945 Record St., 348-8087
Bibo Coffee Company, over on Mount Rose Street, has been a favorite place for locals to get their milk steamed for the last five years or so. A couple of years ago, they opened a second location at 50 W. Liberty St. downtown, but this year they really upped the ante with Bibo 3, on Record Street near the University of Nevada, Reno. In addition to great coffee, this location also functions as an art gallery curated by artist Jen Graham. On a monthly basis, the gallery exhibits work by some of the region’s best artists, including Dean Burton, Nick Larsen and Ashley Westwood. Strong, delicious coffee, excellent artwork, and close proximity to a university—if you want to hear overly caffeinated grad students discuss modes of perception, this is where you want to go.
670 Mount Rose St., 327-4448
What does “best” mean, anyway? In the context of the Biggest Little Best of Northern Nevada, it means “most popular.” It’s about numbers. While restaurants like 4th St. Bistro, the Stone House Café, and LuLous are fantastic restaurants that can seat and move a lot of people, there’s a little restaurant off the beaten path called Sezmu. For quality of food and drinks, wait staff attention to detail, and bottom-line value, Sezmu, is at the top of our list. No, it’ll probably never be the most popular restaurant in town—it’s small, only open Thursday through Sunday and doesn’t exactly have a name that sticks to the roof of your mouth—but it’s better not to have to fight the crowds. (But don’t forget to make reservations.)
Best heart of chocolate
Sweets Handmade Candies,
4991 S Virginia St., 827-8270
A beloved young woman in our life had to stop eating chocolate because of a heart problem. Her favorite non-chocolate candy is peppermint bark, which used to be just peppermint bark. But in recent years candymakers have begun gilding it with a layer of chocolate. Sweets Handmade Candies agreed to make a batch without the chocolate for our pal.
Best place to find a cheap rug
Home Fabrics & Rugs,
900 E. Plumb Lane, 826-4544
The designs offered for area rugs may not be the hippest available, but they’re handsome and with prices tough to beat. A new, decent-looking, 5-feet-by-8-feet rug could run $75, or $50 for some on clearance. Cover a room for the cost of a bathmat at other rug showrooms. While you’re there, take a look at the rolls of fabric, which actually are quite attractive and ready for a range of reupholstery projects.
Best place to buy jeans
Savers and stores like it actually have a better selection than the big department stores. One staffer here discovered he can buy silk shirts for one-twentieth of what he’d pay for a new one—not that he could ever afford to wear a silk shirt before now. But the true value is blue jeans. You know how you spend $60 on a new pair of jeans only to have a tiny bit of the seam come apart on the fifth washing? Too late to return them, but the coming-apart seam grows like Islamaphobia. That never happens with preworn denim. You can get them for $13, and you can look closely for signs of poor quality.
Best homemade ice cream
5th Street Bakehouse,
953 W. Fifth St., 323-1885
We’re pretty impressed with nearly anyplace that makes its own ice cream, but 5th Street stands out. Maybe it’s because, if you’re so inclined, your cone can be preceded by a sandwich—say a Cuban, or pulled pork, or fluffy eggs over avocado—on fresh-made bread. But probably it’s because the ice cream itself is offered in intriguing, ever rotating flavors like habañero, Cracker Jack, or mango lime. And it’s good. Yeah, that must be it.
Best new food business idea
One World Kitchen,
615 Spice Island Drive, Sparks, 722-6572
Now why didn’t anyone think of this before? Say you are ready to market your famous (at least among your family and friends) double chocolate gooey butter cookies or spicy peach salsa. Or maybe you’d be a knockout caterer if only you had a licensed kitchen to make food in before selling it the public. That’s where One World Kitchen comes in. You can rent one of its two commercial kitchens by the hour. There will still be some pesky paperwork to sign and costs involved, but less than if you had to revamp your own kitchen.
Best place to bop your head
St. James Infirmary,
445 California Ave., 657-8484
Every Tuesday night, around 9 or 10, some of the best jazz musicians in Reno gather at St. James Infirmary to show some flex on their instruments. Prolific Mingus-like bassist Mike Mayhall is the anchor of the event—both musically and organizationally. The revolving group of musicians is billed as Mike Mayhall & Friends, and regulars include multi-instrumentalist Tristan Selzler and drummer Justin Kruger. The music ranges from cookin’ hard bop to abstract post-rock, with the occasional Tom Waits cover or something odd thrown in. By midnight or so, the group is nicely warmed up, and there’s an eclectic crowd—artists, business owners, standup comedians, and, of course, other musicians.
Best place to buy “instrumental rock”
1155 W. Fourth St., 786-1188
As has oft been reported, the brick-and-mortar record store is nearly extinct. Reno just has a couple of record stores left, and they primarily focus on selling and trading used discs. Sundance Bookstore is one of the very few places left for music fans intent on actually browsing a new CD rack. The selection seems targeted toward a very cerebral niche market—it’s heavy on jazz and “instrumental rock”—and it’s really great if you’re interested in that kind of thing. But there’s at least one inexplicable, disappointing oversight: The store doesn’t even have a hip hop section.