Gone south

Breakfast at South Side Cafe is hot, but the service can leave patrons out in the cold.

Breakfast at South Side Cafe is hot, but the service can leave patrons out in the cold.

Photo By lauren randolph

South Side Cafe

6770 S Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89511

(775) 852-8484

I had seen the South Side Cafe from the road many times but had never stopped to try the food. On a recent Sunday, while in the area, I decided to get my feet wet. The verdict: not hot, not cold—maybe lukewarm. Basically, I was neither disappointed nor impressed.

It’s true what they say about first impressions. Entering the café, we walked into a plain and even dreary room with nothing but a haphazard bit of Christmas tinsel on the walls. A sign instructed us to please wait to be seated. So, we stood and waited to be seated. No one came. After more than five minutes of standing by the breezy door, my mom noticed a piece of paper with names scribbled on it. We read closer, and it appeared to be a waiting list. We added our names to the list and took a seat at one of the bare tables. It was another 10 minutes before someone came round to check the list. Finally, more than 15 minutes after we had arrived, we were seated.

From there, everything went much better. The eating areas on either side of the café are much more inviting than the spare entryway. There is a long counter where guests can pull up and eat a great breakfast while chatting with the cook. The walls are colorful and, that day especially, the tables packed. Our server was quick to apologize for the wait. Her service was professional and speedy throughout the rest of the meal.

The menu at South Side is typical brunch fare, offering everything from pancakes ($3.50 for 2) to omelets ($7-$9) to Joe’s Special (three eggs, crumbled burger, onions, mushrooms, green peppers and cheddar, $8.95). There is even a Workout Special (three egg whites and chicken, $9.75) for those inclined to squander lazy Sunday mornings at the gym. There are also soups, chili and salads. The lunch menu has the usual burgers and sandwiches ($5.95-$9.25): chili, patty melts, Ortega burgers, grilled cheese and the like. Someone’s club sandwich ($9.25) passed by our table and made me almost wish I ate meat.

Instead, I had the Go Veggie omelet (spinach, three eggs, onions, green peppers and cheese with a choice of hash browns or home fries, $7.95). The home fries were the biggest disappointment. I was expecting thick slabs of potato, fried crispy and ready for dipping. Instead, my plate was covered in thin shavings of what I suppose were once potatoes but were now so wholly covered in grease it was hard to tell. They looked and tasted like paper. I took a few bites, heard my arteries begging me to stop, and pushed them aside. The omelet was tasty, though, and left me satisfied.

My mom went for the pesto grilled chicken on sourdough ($8.75) and was very happy. The chicken was tender and pulled away in juicy stripes. The pesto was good and spicy, too, with that lovely garlic kick. While her order did not come with fries, I was jealous of her pickle.

There is also an extra menu that offers daily specials at a reduced rate Monday through Friday. I only hope the server in the waiting area is a bit swifter during the week.

Overall, it was a nice brunch in a conventional atmosphere. The service was good—once we got in—and everyone very friendly. The bathrooms, too, were spotless. My mom and I ate up and didn’t have any major complaints. Still, in a town full of such eateries, I’ll go elsewhere next time, even if it’s just to skip the lengthy wait and the home fries.