Villa Basque Deli & Cafe has been a hometown favorite in Carson City for nearly 20 years. The menus and signage proudly proclaim it to be, “Home of Pete’s Famous Basque Chorizo.” And, indeed, there are seven distinct varieties of Iberian sausage available for sale by the pound in links, coils and uncased, bulk ground. Other retail items for sale in the deli include wines, vinegars, fruit preserves, assorted delicacies and a pretty impressive selection of olive oils, with free tastings available. There’s even a collection of books and similar items for sale. But the cafe beckoned, so I put off shopping for another time.
The menu has a lot of options, so my dining companions and I chose to try both breakfast and lunch, starting with a country fried pork steak ($10.95) topped with plenty of chorizo country gravy and served with fluffy scrambled eggs, sheepherder spuds with onion and green and red pepper, and choice of toast or English muffin. We swapped out the bread for a nice, fluffy biscuit and used that to sop up that good gravy. The potatoes were tasty, and the cutlet was easily cut with a fork. Also, it’s no wonder Pete’s famous. His sausage is truly amazing. It was nothing like the Mexican varieties I’m used to, with less heat and a lot more meaty texture.
A three-egg Basque omelette ($10.95) with chorizo, ham, mushroom, pimento and onion was topped with Basque sauce and melted jack cheese and served with a side of spuds and toast. The tomato-based sauce was mild yet hearty, adding a lot of character to the dish. A huge chile relleno ($10.95) stuffed with cheese and chorizo—and topped with even more cheese and chorizo—was slathered in a fantastic ranchero sauce and served with a perfectly over-medium egg, refried beans and Spanish rice. The dish was essentially a sausage and cheese delivery system.
Moving on to lunch items, we sampled a California sandwich ($10.95) with a large patty of grilled chorizo, grilled onion, lettuce avocado, tomato, pepper jack cheese and ortega chilies on a lightly toasted sourdough baguette. It came with a choice of fries or green salad. There was a noticeable kick to this sausage—complemented by the sweetness of the chilies—which, combined with the veggies and bread, made for one heck of a good sandwich.
A Shepherd burger ($10.95) featured a large, fluffy bun that was grilled just enough to provide support for a pair of one-third-pound patties—one ground chuck, one chorizo—topped with melted cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, jalapeño and house sauce. As one friend noted, “This burger is likely to put hair on your chest.” I haven’t heard whether it worked for her or not, but I think she could be right. At first, the combination of flavors seemed a bit overwhelming, but the burger was too good to put down. The salad option is fine, but the fries were peel-on, hand cut and nicely seasoned. Besides, if you’re already eating a deliciously decadent cheese and meat bomb, you might as well go for broke.
There’s a lot more on the menu to sample, including Spanish and Mexican favorites, salads, sandwiches, tamales by the bag and what I’m told are noteworthy examples of paella and lamb stew. My mouth is already watering as I make plans to visit again—and again.