On the cheap

There’s still hope for poor college students in Reno

Cheap Mexican eats are found at Beto’s.

Cheap Mexican eats are found at Beto’s.

Photo By photo/David Robert

Believe it or not, Reno’s a great place for cheap living. While madly searching for an affordable burrito and a movie ticket that won’t drain a nearly closed checking account, a few solutions to the UNR student’s perpetual budget crises presented themselves.

Dimeshop dining

Reno’s got a variety of food, some of it cheap. Beto’s, 575 W. Fifth St., offers killer Mexican food, in particular the fish tacos. Locals seem to think it’s more authentic than other Mexican places, and it’s intimate surroundings mean you get to know your neighbor whether you want to or not.

Hoa Phat’s, 440-C N. Virginia St., entire menu is less than $10 if you dig Vietnamese or Chinese food, and it’s too close to UNR to not try at least once. They’re open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and you can watch the goings-on through the huge windows facing Virginia Street.

Vegetarians fear not. Pneumatic Diner, 501 W. First St., serves hot, cold, mushy and solid food in every color for a good price—and the plates are huge. The calzone is delicious, and if you’re feeling inspired, try the elegant carrot milkshake.

For breakfast, take a longish walk to Peg’s Glorified Ham n’ Eggs, 420 S. Sierra St., near California Avenue for the “Monterey Style” breakfasts: huge skillet conglomerates with eggs, beans and hot pico de gallo. Or try the local’s favorite, George’s Benedict. Most morning meals are under $10. This place is packed on the weekends, but the lines are worth it.

In Shopper’s Square, you’ll find the Pasta Mill, 297 E. Plumb Lane,, a little old-world Italian oasis with a versatile menu. Go small and sample a few pastas, or go big and add extra meat. Either way, you can do it for less than $10.

Closer to campus, hit Fritz’s, 1305 N. Virginia St., on Thursdays for College Night, when you can get $4 chicken wings and $4 pitchers from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Food in motion

Want good food to take to the park? Try the Downtown Marketplace, 135 N. Sierra St. This small grocery store carries a lot of “natural” fare, as well as fresh fruit, ice-cold drinks and deli sandwiches. It’s also within walking distance from UNR. But for the choicest of choice, head to Deli Towne USA, 6147 Lakeside Drive, inside the Shell gas station. These sandwiches pack some heft—and major taste.

For great takeout, hit up Super Burrito, 500 E. Plumb Lane, just west of Virginia. Opt for the drive-through, and remember, these tacos-to-go are humungous. Get extra hot sauce. Or try a great pizza from Blue Moon Gourmet Pizza, 190 California Ave.,. The cheapest they offer is a small cheese for $9.50, but you’ll not find a greater cheese pizza in these parts.

For a shake, the classic is Scoopers Drive-In, 1356 Prater Way, in Sparks. Try a banana, peanut butter, or both. Or maybe you’d like a cola or lime shake. For only $2.69, medium (or $3.29, large), you won’t be disappointed.

For an another adventure, walk down to the Eldorado Hotel & Casino, 345 N. Virginia St., and wind through the disorienting maze of slot machines and blackjack tables until you find Tivoli Garden, the coffee shop many locals love. You can eat globe-crossing fare for under $10. Or order dessert to go, like a slice of their famed Black Forest cake or a few chocolate-dipped macaroons, and walk back to class eating decadence.

Here we are now, entertain us

Want to go out on the town? Let’s say, bowling? Try AMF Starlite Lanes, 1201 Stardust St., off Keystone. Two people can bowl a game for $15.50 on weekdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and for a dollar less after 9 p.m. They’re also open until midnight.

Taking it outside, a good round of mini golf on the 18-hole course at Magic Carpet Golf, 6925 S. Virginia St., only costs $7 per golfer, or make it 28 holes for $9.50. You get to check out some “Reno-chic” obstacles, like the towering Easter Island Head.

Not into active entertainment? Grand Sierra Cinema, 2500 E. Second St., recently reopened inside the Grand Sierra Resort with $3 movies—love seats and all. You’ll generally find three or four second-run, not second rate, flicks here. Or head to Getchell library on campus to watch a movie for free with the foreign language department on Mondays and Wednesdays.

For those craving the sanctuary of an art preserve, check out the Nevada Museum of Art, 160 W. Liberty St., for $8 with student I.D. The Sheppard Gallery, 900 N. Virginia St., at UNR and the Never Ender Gallery, 518 W. Second St., are free. There’s also the National Automobile Museum ($3 if you’re 18 or under, $9 for adults).

Cheapskate gift guide

With a half dozen major holidays, not to mention birthdays, the calendar year gives college students plenty of opportunities to break their budgets with generosity. Despite what they say, showing love can come cheap.

Check out Recycle Records, the nearest being 812 N. Virginia St., just south of campus for dirt-cheap tunes to send to your little sister. Or try The Melting Pot, 1049 S. Virginia St., for a bundle of incense, third-world instruments or hand-knit goodies. There’s always the Dollar Tree—95 W. Plumb Lane, next to Albertson’s—for a wacky conglomeration of gifts. For that real Reno feel, check out Wild West Souvenirs, 340 N. Virginia St., and buy a $2.99 sign reading “Beware of attack student” to send home to mom. There are lots of these Reno junk shops downtown—cruise and compare. For a nice card or naughty button try Paper Moon, 550 W. Plumb Lane,.

Thrifty threads

We might recently have been graced with the presence of a new, hoity-toity outdoor mall, but Reno still has some character. For cheap threads, head to Rad Betty’s, 141 Vesta St., Commonly found on the clothes racks are $3 and $5 T-shirts, $4 skirts, $9 dresses—most used, some vintage, all cheap. If your clean old duds are found worthy, you’ll get store credit.

If you don’t mind sifting through quite a lot of crap before finding the nugget, try your luck at Saver’s, 3800 Kietzke Lane,. Same deal, less class—but you still end up with cheap clothes. The bonus here is that Saver’s collects music, coffee mugs, exercise bikes, the works.

Keep Truckee Meadows beautiful

The cheapest haircut in town is likely found at the Deloux School of Cosmetology, 1050 Matley Lane, with cuts starting at $7. These are done by students and supervised by the instructors, so if you’re broke and feeling daring, go for it. If you’d like more assurance that your cut won’t be a practice session, try Happy Lookers, 3376 Kietzke Lane, for $12.

Use it while you can

Don’t forget, there’s always free stuff happening on campus. You just have to pay attention to the signs, and ask someone once in a while.

Check out the Sierra Spirit, the free yellow bus that should run every 10 minutes from UNR to the outer edge of downtown and back.

And use your UNR I.D. Try it everywhere to see if they’ll knock off a few bucks. You only have four years (or maybe five) to try it.