Best place to take used-to-live-
The area along the river from Virginia Street to Bicentennial Park
Remember Columbo’s on the river? Remember the Granada Theater? People who left our fair city a decade or more ago haven’t seen the improvements that were made back when the theory was that more people downtown would prop up our favorite industries sagging gambling revenues so a bunch of money was poured into the “arts” district. When your old friends finally come to town to visit, stop for a double sugar-free Snickers coffee at Dreamers, wander through Mayor Pete’s Riverwalk, over to Mayor Jeff’s movie theater, past Mayor Bob’s condos, and then down the West First Street business district, and you’ll get an actual thrill of pride as they ask again and again, “What was there? What was there?”
Best City Council to ride the end of Reno as a gambling destination
The Reno City Council
Now that what used to be the busiest corner in Reno—the one where Fitzgerald’s is closing—will soon go dark, it’s time to thank the academy. Many members of the seated City Council safely steered us down the waterfall of the closures of the Comstock, the Sundowner, the Golden Phoenix, and their changeover to liveable space for the city’s spaceless. The incredible dip in our city’s gambling fortunes led to the most beautiful, vibrant, friendly downtown that many of us can imagine. Sure, many fussbudgets would claim the Council simple changed to the pockets it resides in from the casino owners to the developers, but who cares? We can get an excellent coffee at three shops within a block of each other.
Best local, sustainably grown foreplay inducer
Lavender Ridge’s Turbinado Sugar Scrub
It comes from one of the most wholesome places in town—the purple fields of Lavender Ridge, where the owners make by hand batches of soaps, lotions, and salves from the lavender they grown themselves. But take this sugar scrub into the shower with you and your significant other, and let its aromatic massage qualities take their natural course.
Best place to find mushrooms and chicken or barbecued pork inside a sticky bun
We’ve told so many people about this hidden-in-plain-sight treasure, yet few have actually managed to make it over to this little Chinese Bakery by Sundance Bookstore on Keystone Avenue. Go inside, walk up to the counter, lay down $1, and come out with a sweet, surprising treat. We’re telling you, it’s good stuff.
Best place to forget you’re in the United States
Casuelita’s Maribel, 865 S. Wells Ave., 324-1952
The storefront housing Casuelita’s Maribels features handpainted fruits and vegetables over a bright green background. This little tienda off Wells Avenue reminds us of those we’ve seen in Latin America. Humble, rustic and straightforward, there’s a smiling woman at the front to whom you’re better off speaking Spanish and a room of wall-to-wall produce—platanos, tomatillos, tomatoes, peppers, avocado, oranges and more. If you want more than produce to round out a good Mexican meal, better try King Ranch Market just down the road.
Best porch to consider the future
Strega, 310 S Arlington Ave., 348-9911
This little bar only opened a few months ago, but it’s already developing a crowd and character of its own. When you’re under the gun, and the evening breeze is silky like butter, get a glass of the bar’s selection of fine red wine and pull up a seat on the porch behind the bamboo curtains. More congenial company and groovier music can’t be found, and the passing traffic on Arlington Avenue will lull you into slower, more Zenlike piece of mind.
Best historic bar
Genoa Bar and Saloon, 2282 Main St., Genoa, (775) 782-3870
The Carson Valley has much to offer: wide, open spaces, David Wally’s Resort Hot Springs & Spa and this colorful Old West saloon. Billed as “Nevada’s Oldest Thirst Parlor,” the building opened in 1853 and has allegedly seen many famous characters inside its walls, including humorist Mark Twain, U.S. presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt and countless actors, musicians and politicians. The tavern has changed hands many times over the decades, and is now run by Willy and Cindy Webb. Stop by sometime and enjoy a pint of Genoa Bar Pale Ale as you scan the bar’s walls, which are covered in memorabilia and fixtures that go back to the bar’s earliest years in business.
Best place to beat the heat
West End Beach, West end of Donner Lake on Southshore Drive, Truckee, CA, (530) 582-7777
Donner Lake’s West End Beach is an ideal spot to escape the hot, dry summer heat of the Truckee Meadows. The beach offers picnic areas shaded by tall pine trees, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, two playgrounds and a swimming area with certified lifeguards. You can also rent kayak and paddleboats if you want to get in the water but don’t want to get completely wet. The beach doesn’t get as crowded as some Lake Tahoe beaches, but it’s usually best to arrive early if you want a good parking spot. Admission is $2-$3 and free for babies under age 2.
Best Place to Touch a David Bowie Replica
Recycled Records, 3344 Kietzke Lane, 826-4119
It sucks for folks born in 1980. Stuck in a horrible black hole between Generations X and Y, they get the short end of the music format stick. If they’d been born five years later, they would’ve grown up baptized with the sonic clarity of digital downloading. Born five years earlier, they’d have grown up with the sonic purity of vinyl records. But instead they collect a format now universally derided—by LP-collecting purists and iTunes-happy casual fans alike—as a cheap, flimsy sliver of plastic: the Compact Disc. Thankfully they can find solace, along all the other musical misfits, at Recycled Records. After nearly 25 years on South Virginia Street, Recycled Records recently moved to a bigger, brighter location. But there’s the same knowledgeable, entertaining cast of employees and the same labyrinthine stock of secondhand musical objects.
Best place for Rex to hide
Zephyr Books, 1501 S. Virginia St., 322-6657
Zephyr Books with its rows of used and collectable books at Mt. Rose and South Virginia streets has attracted many of the same book buyers who once frequented the old Black & White Books. There’s even at least one former B&W worker who came over to Zephyr. Unfortunately, there’s one thing missing from Zephyr that B&W had—the bookstore cat, Rex.
Best place to wrap your lips around a long, tubular object
Sinbad’s Hot Dogs, 418 McCarran Blvd., 331-4762
Given how simple a food it is, the hot dog can be produced in many different ways and then prepared as many more, all delicious. Sinbad’s Hot Dogs has a dog with a strong skin that is a delight to bite through to the tasty meat inside. Sinbad’s, a onetime California chain that had several outlets in the Truckee Meadows, has shrunk down to just one store anywhere. It is tucked into a little Sparks strip mall at 418 McCarran Blvd.
Best place to get in touch with your true nerdiness
Great Basin Film Society
Movie buffs can express themselves just by going to movies, of course, but if you crave a more structured expression of your love of film, try the Great Basin Film Society. In just the last couple of months the society has screened The Remarkable Andrew (filmed in Carson City and starring William Holden), 1988’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and the classic 1941 animated Mr. Bug Goes to Town (a magnificent color feature-length cartoon that had the poor luck to be released on Dec. 5, 1941, with the result that it took years to be rediscovered and appreciated). To join the society, see www.gbfs.org.
Best place to ruminate on how summer is like youth
The kayak park on the Truckee River
Remember the variety of people who went down to the river on the weekends last summer? Some were fat, some were thin, some were black, white, brown and pink. Some were old, some young. Some were beautiful, some had nice personalities. Some looked like they landed on the rocks on the way down. They carried beer bottles, pop cans, plastic water bottles, inner tubes, wake boards—even some kayaks. Be that as it may, during the summer, the river was active as an ADHD teenager, as wild as the look in your high school sweetheart’s eyes and as fertile as a Palin. Now, as autumn fades into winter, the river is as weak as an octogenarian’s shaken fist.
Best place to meet people who were paying attention
Washoe County Registrar of Voters
Maybe you remember the Hurricane Katrina response. Maybe you remember your 401 (k) before it lost 70 percent of its value. Maybe you remember how important it was to run all the illegal immigrants out of the country. Heal Social Security. Weapons of mass destruction. Credit crisis. Foreclosure crisis. Smaller government. Shock and awe. Bin Laden. Prescription drug “benefit.” Energy deregulation. Financial market deregulation. The last date to register to vote was Oct. 14. While we will fight for the right not to vote to the end of our strength, people who don’t vote lose without a fight.
Best Restaurant with a Funny Name
Sezmu, 670 Mount Rose Street, 327-4448
Says, “moo?” What, like a cow? There are a couple of options if you want take somebody out for a big, romantic dinner: you can blow a fat wad of cash at a fancy-pants joint with mediocre food and a condescending waiter who talks through his nose, or you can go to Sezmu. It hits the right notes: elegant without being pretentious, hip without being snobby. And the food is innovative, with an incredible attention to detail. The seating can be a little intimate, so be prepared to make new friends. You’ll spend some money, but you won’t need a second mortgage. And they do a hell of a pork chop.
Best Presidential Beer-Swilling Club
Abe’s Mug Club, Lincoln Lounge, 306 E. Fourth St., 323-5426
Do you want to enjoy a wide variety of beers while relaxing in a faux 1860s setting? Then there’s only one place for you, Lincoln Lounge. Abe’s Mug Club is a happy challenge for beer-lovers: drink one of each of the 60-something beers that they have in stock, and win a mug and a T-shirt. The prizes might be paltry, but the glory is priceless. You can enjoy the beers lounging in their antique furniture, or out on their new patio, or while you indulge in that favorite sport of our 16th president, shuffleboard.
Best name to type in irrelevant categories in RN&R’s Biggest Little Best of Northern Nevada
The Pirate Ship, 495 Greenbrae Drive, Sparks, 331-7203
Sure, it’s great to be the best. It’s even better when you’ve earned the title. But Best restaurant worth the long wait and Best family outing and Most kid-friendly restaurant? We’re no experts, but we’ve seen what happens when kids get long waits in line for dinner. Ooh, their poor little tummies. Can you say “cranky”? How about “not very pleasureable for customers who don’t have children”? The only category The Pirate Ship didn’t place votes in was “Best place to inspire friends, customers and employees to log in and vote on RN&R’s Biggest Little Best of Northern Nevada.”
Best place to eat with your hands
Zagol Ethiopian Cuisine, 855 E. Fourth St., 786-9020
If you’re an adventurous diner, you have to hit up Zagol. It’s the only Ethiopian place in town—but, no kidding, it’s as good as any Ethiopian place in San Francisco. You’ll want to go at dinnertime and with a group of friends, because the lunch portions are a little meager and half the fun of Ethiopian food is how communal it is. All of the dishes—beef, lamb or vegetarian—are served on one big, round plate of this sour flatbread called injera, and everybody eats with their hands. Fun stuff. Be sure to wash up before dinner.