Independents (non-chain stores)

Editors’ choices

Illustration By Rick Sealock

Best place for caviar

Ofishal Aquarium
3434 Lakeside Drive, 825-3434
The employees at Ofishal know their water creatures. More than one person working at the shop has actually worked at an aquarium. They’ve got a handy fish-fact-filled book that customers are encouraged to peruse while making their fish selections. And the range of freshwater, saltwater and brackish fish, anemones, corals, clams, etc. feels surprisingly representative of all the world’s water sources. The friendly and helpful staff won’t mind if you just want to come in to look around. Any animal-curious child aged 4 to 14 would probably be content spending an hour or more just examining the wildlife—everything from grown-up sharks to baby sharks still swimming around inside their eggs to the genetically engineered Glo-fish. Ofishal is also the only place in town to offer a full range of fish-related trinkets and antiques. You can buy a Charlie Tuna hand-held radio and a snowflake eel in one quick stop.

The best little-known Mexican restaurant

Mi Ranchito
500 Denslowe Drive, 337-8411
Sterling Village, between the university and the fairgrounds, was one of Reno’s first shopping centers, surrounded by homes thrown up in the 1950s for baby-boom families (some of them are flat-topped houses, a short-lived fad of the postwar era). Today it’s mostly a line of those kinds of stores that change every six months. But one of them is Mi Ranchito, a terrific restaurant that caters mostly to the folks who live in the neighborhood. It’s not fancy, but the food is very tasty, and it’s served in a setting of friendliness and courtesy. The huevos rancheros will knock your calcetines off. Best of all, the store doesn’t have a Chihuahua or talking taco or a corporate logo for a spokesnoun.

Best uncategorized sandwich

725 S. Center St., 329-7673
Part of the reason we have this Best of Northern Nevada contest every year is to remind folks of some of the great things in Reno and Sparks that add a pleasant esthetic touch to life. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough pages in the paper to include a category for every group, business or individual that contributes something great to the Truckee Meadows palette. While we didn’t have a category for Sandwich Shop this year (we got tired of people voting for chainstores like Subway and Port of Subs), there are only a few places in town that would make the grade. At the top would be the independent sandwich shop Rose’s, whose friendly service, artistically named and made sandwiches and kick-back décor encourage another sip of tea. This is simply the best sandwich shop in Reno.