Our monster popularity contest

The Biggest Little Best of Northern Nevada brings

Nevada may be home to both Area 51 aliens and the Extraterrestrial Highway, State Route 375.

Nevada may be home to both Area 51 aliens and the Extraterrestrial Highway, State Route 375.

Photos/Eric Marks Original Art by Lisa Kurt

For more information and to stay up to date on The Best of Northern Nevada, please visit BestOfNorthernNevada.com

We told you it was a monster.Our annual popularity contest, the Biggest Little Best of Northern Nevada, once again has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. Five thousand and ninety-three verified voters and 121,605 votes in all categories. It’s frankly unprecedented.

This year, our 20th for this contest, we chose to highlight the contributions of women to the Truckee Meadows culture. Business owners, activists, artists and promoters all got into the act to promote their sisters and friends. Of course, there were also the impresarios who took the opportunity to raise their own profile in the community, but hey, all’s fair in love and Best of.

And while it’s a monster, it’s still not big enough. As our new method for suggesting new categories showed, there just isn’t enough room in a newspaper double the size to give a pat on the back to everyone who deserves one. In fact, we got 424 emails suggesting categories for everything from Best Magician to Best Hair Extension Stylist to Best Camp for the Kiddos. You can be sure that these results, as well as others, will result in an even bigger and better Biggest Little Best of Northern Nevada next year. And even if we had all the newsprint in the world, there still wouldn’t be enough words to express how great and unique this community is. When people complain that Reno has poor self-esteem, all anyone has to do is point to the incredible artists, world-class restaurants, majestic environment and incomparable nightlife that make up the winners of this poll to give lie to the slander.

To emphasize both our visual theme and focus on women, we chose the charming Lisa Kurt (see our interview in 15 Minutes on page 59), a Reno artist and illustrator. All these real monsters—Area 51 aliens, trickster coyote, the Stone Mother from Pyramid Lake, Tahoe Tessie, the cannibalistic Jarbidge Giant, Sasquatch, Pyramid Lake’s Water Babies, the Cornish tommy knockers or mine fairies, Chupacabra, and Tonopah’s ghostly Lady in Red—have made the annals of folklore within the Silver State.

To you, our readers, we’d like to offer you our gratitude. Just voting for your favorites requires a huge effort. And finally to all the deserving winners, congratulations to you. All of us here in Northern Nevada owe you a debt for just doing what you do naturally. Our homes and lifestyles would be much diminished without your efforts.

Goods & Services

Best place to trade books

Grassroots Books

The RN&R recently moved our office. Moving, as you probably know, is a pain in the ass. But one of the nice things about moving is that it prompts you to examine your stuff—like all those old books taking up space on your shelf—books you have no intention of ever reading. So maybe you’ll decide you should sort through those books, figure out which ones you actually want to keep, and then take the rest over to a used bookshop to trade for cash or credit. Grassroots Books is a great spot for that kind of transaction. You don’t need an appointment for less than “10 boxes” of books, DVDs or CDs, and they have a great selection of all that stuff, all of it in good shape and a lot of it fairly new. This isn’t one of those used book stores where the same beat-up, dusty, worthless mass market paperbacks have been bending the shelves for 35 years. They’re also really friendly and flexible about making deals for trades, and if you’re a first-time customer, they give you a free book just for stopping in. More info: grassrootsbooks.com

Most nostalgic movie experience

El Rancho Drive In

The movie theater at the Grand Sierra Resort may still have low prices but it has been remodeled into just another theater (the couches are gone!), so for a very traditional family movie experience, try the El Rancho Drive In. Generations have experienced drive-in movies at this site, which is under relatively new management. Though the property is now better known for flea markets, there’s no reason both can’t be enjoyed—flea market during the day, movie in the evening. Before setting out for the movie, you can also have dinner just down Prater Way at Scooper’s Drive-in Restaurant. Remember to take the young kids in their pajamas—it’s another cherished tradition. If there are no children in your life, keep in mind that that drive-in movies are also long established settings for romance. Details at http://tinyurl.com/p937rfs


Most instant gratification

Heather Lee Jones

Who knew when Happy Happy Joy Joy, that sort of random, sort of eclectic, sort of adult store opened up how incredibly handy it was going to become? Get an invite to a last-minute birthday party at a bar? Boom. Gift. Get a last-minute warning that your first six-month anniversary of the first time your eyes met has come up? Boom. Gift. Did your child just pull a wrinkled invitation to their BFF’s seventh birthday our of their Hello Kitty backpack, and you’ve got to be there in 45 minutes or risk a tantrum that’ll make the Yellowstone Caldera look like a soap bubble bursting? No boom. Gift. Heather Lee Jones and the folks down at Happy Happy Joy Joy have saved more relationships in Reno than Dr. Phil, Amy Alkon and Dan Savage combined. They’re thoughtful, so you don’t have to be.

Best place for a girls' night

Galaxy Luxury + IMAX theater

Some nights you just have to hang out with your girls and have a good time. One of our favorite places to go on these nights is the Galaxy Luxury + IMAX theater. We don’t go to the movies often because of the price and because, well, we’re kind of lazy and Netflix in bed just sounds so much easier than having to wear clothes and go somewhere sometimes. But when we do need to go out with the girls, the luxury theater is awesome. It’s got comfy chairs that aren’t so great for making out with a date but are easy to relax in, and they’ve got wine. Watch a movie—in IMAX if you want, drink some wine, relax in a recliner and hang with your girls? Seriously, need we say more?


Best gold medal win

David Wise

Many people watching the broadcast of the Olympic Winter Games on Feb. 18, 2014, probably never heard of half-pipe skiing, much less could name the top athlete in the sport. But that didn’t matter because on that day in Sochi, Russia, Reno resident David Wise made sports history when he became the first man to win the gold medal in the Olympic debut of the extreme sport, in which a skier rides down a half pipe and performs a series of jumps and tricks to score points. Prior to his gold-medal win in Sochi, Wise won his third consecutive gold medal in the Winter X Games half-pipe competition in Aspen, Colorado, in January. Not bad for a 24-year-old guy from the Biggest Little City. Wise is tops in his sport and tops in our opinion as well.

Best Dude to Buy a Drink


Reno is a great town for drinking. And sure, part of that is the 24-seven availability of liquor, and a culture in which public intoxication is more or less tolerated, but the real reason that Reno is a world-class town for boozing is the people. One of our favorite guys to bump into out and about in Reno bars is Steve Patterson, a.k.a. Xtevion, the frontman and percussionist of the excellent, long-running art rock band Schizopolitans. He describes himself as “dangerously theatrical,” but we’d just call him funny, entertaining and wildly knowledgeable about some of goofier subjects we love to discuss over pints: David Bowie, Shakespeare and Batman. Sadly, the members of Schizopolitans recently announced that the group will be playing its last show on Aug. 22 at Studio on 4th. Not to be missed. More info: www.facebook.com/Schizopolitans


Best place to get in touch with Nevada

Nevada Historical Society

This is a gem that often gets overlooked among cultural advantages in our valley. There are permanent exhibits—Nevada: Prisms & Perspectives and Biggest Little City in the World—and temporary exhibits, such as this autumn’s Nevada Miniatures Art Exhibition that will begin October 10. Also in October for younger Nevadans will be Spirited Nevada, full days of Halloween-inspired activities that include feature films. The Society regularly has lectures, sometimes as part of a lecture series, other times stand-alone talks. The next lecturer will be nature photographer Jerry Fenwick on Saturday, August 9 from 1 to 2 p.m. at the society’s building, 1650 No. Virginia St. He will give a talk called There Is Beauty All Around Us. Check the society website at http://tinyurl.com/pt8gx8k for future events. While there, browse for other Society activities that could interest you.

Casinos & Gambling

Best casino to run into drunk friends

Eldorado Hotel Casino

We swear that every single time we walk through the Eldorado on a weekend night, we run into some long lost friend from three years ago that is “so freaking excited to see us” because they miss us so much. Granted, this person is typically someone we hardly knew or would rather not know any longer, but when we’re bumping into them here, they’re absolutely inebriated and love us more than anything because we’re “best friends” and “we totally have to hang out soon.” As nauseating as this interaction can be, on some level it’s also super entertaining. That thoroughfare near Brew Brothers is at is the prime location for this—probably because everyone ends up at Brew Brothers at some point in a night downtown—but we’ve seen these old pals stumbling around pretty much everywhere in the Eldorado.


Most schizospheric bar

Chapel Bar

When you walk into the Chapel Bar, you never know who you’re going to see or what you’re going to get. It’s sort of like a box of chocolates in that way—rich, delicious, liquor-filled chocolates that pound your brain against a rock like a toddler with a bullfrog. Afternoons, in the before dinner hours, you’re likely to meet people who are just getting off work, meeting for cocktails to blow off the day’s steam, but later than that, particularly if there’s music, you may run into Reno hipsters, old school goths, fraternity bros, lawyers, sommeliers, artists, soldiers or cupcake bakers. One thing you can count on is bartenders who know their liquors and who’ll call you by your first name (or by your favorite cocktail).

Best Night School


You don’t have to enroll for classes to learn about science, nature and other other topics. Just head to the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum for a little after-work education. Adults age 21 and older can enjoy a beer, wine and appetizers while learning a new subject during the museum’s Social Science program. The next event, “Discoverypalooza” on Sept. 6, combines live music and karaoke with hands-on explorations of musical instruments, sound waves and technology used to create modern music. Tickets are $15-$25. During the Chemistry of the Cocktail event on Nov. 14, participants will learn the science behind culinary and cocktail creations. Tickets are $60-$75. Middle and high school students also get to learn about the museum’s latest exhibits, as well as explore other parts of the museum, during The Discovery After Dark program. Alcohol, of course, will not be served. The next event, “Robots and Beyond,” is set for Sept. 12. Tickets are $10-$15.


Best first mountain to climb

Rattlesnake Mountain

More than one local has been known to remark that Rattlesnake Mountain is far too strong and tough a name to be squandered on that glorified hill southeast of the Reno airport. It’s not too surprising then that our Rattlesnake Mountain is actually just one of dozens of earthly protrusions so named across the country. But our Rattlesnake Mountain, named for its coiling shape rather than the likely presence of any actual serpents, is a fun little hike to the summit, especially with young kids who might enjoy the thrill of conquering a mountain and taking in a great view of the valley. It’s only about a mile from the small parking lot to the top of the mountain and back, and the vertical incline is never very steep, so it’s a good place for a quick, all-ages evening hike. On South McCarran Blvd., a block East from Longley Lane, you turn right onto Alexander Lake Road, which takes you to the parking area about halfway up the mountain. And the rest of the climb is cake, but a great place to give a child the thrill of climbing their first mountain.

Best forested setting near Reno

Dog Valley

OK, yes, Dog Valley is in California. But just barely. The lovely area is just over the border, out of range of the city of Reno’s annexation power, fortunately. Located partly in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and partly in Tahoe National Forest, Dog Valley is a hiker’s delight, with streams and wildflowers all through the area and it’s in half-hour driving range. There are free U.S. Forest Service campsites that can be used for up to 14 days from April to October. Amenities include picnic tables and ATV, hiking, and horse trails. There may be bears, so read the cautions and take them to heart. GPS: 39.564995 - 120.065788. Directions to Dog Valley are at www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/regions/intermountain/DogValley/

Food & Drink

Best place to find a kidney


No, not in an ice-filled bathtub at the El Cortez. It wasn’t that long ago that people who favored the less-popular organ meats could pick them up in any grocery store in town, but now, just try and pick up a fresh pig’s feet or a beef’s heart in the manager’s special section of Raley’s or Scolari’s. Nope, you want a little fresh kidney the place to go is Marketon. If fresh chicharones are on your paleo diet, head to Wells Avenue. That street may be losing its Latin personality as gentrification turns it vanilla, but Marketon is still the place with the south of the border sodas, horrible wine selection and six kinds of chorizo by the pound. And brains. Brains!

Best place for drunchies

Club Cal Neva

When your night is coming to a close—or maybe you just need a bacon and eggs break before continuing to pound down another round—Top Deck at Cal Neva is your best bet. It’s cheap as hell with $4.99 breakfast, lunch and dinner specials served all hours, and they never seem to be too judgmental—even if you’ve brought along the ugly-crying, drunk girl. It’s the perfect way to soak up some of that Fireball you’ve been tossing back all night and not hate yourself in the morning when you find your receipts in your purse or pocket. At least not for the drunchies—the bar tabs are a different story.

Best Potluck

Reno Initiative for Shelter and Equality

It’s not unusual to bring a dish to share to a family picnic or an office party, but have you ever made a meal to share with hundreds of people? That’s what goes on at RISE and Dine, a giving project presented by Reno Initiative for Shelter and Equality. Three Saturdays of every month, RISE asks volunteers to make their favorite meal, side dish, dessert or beverage and serve it to our area’s hungry and homeless residents at the Community Assistance Center, 335 Record St. Volunteers can also donate food, clothing, hygiene products, disposable plates, cups and utensils and other items. To learn more about RISE and Dine, call 525-0048 or visit www.renoinitiative.org.

Kids & Family

Best place to learn about your family

Washoe County Library

There used to be a great tradition in families—going to the library. Libraries have changed and now feature much more technically advanced material and devices than they used to. But for young children in particular, there is nothing like crawling around the stacks with mom or dad, browsing through all the titles. There’s nothing like story hour. And in the case of the Center Street main branch, there’s nothing like the setting. All the libraries have special programming or galleries. The North Valleys branch, for instance, is currently showing an exhibit called Batman Legos. Time may be passing libraries by—that is still to be determined—but while they are here they still have the power to charm the young. Don’t let jaded experience of adulthood deny them that experience.

Best place to have a robot throw things at you

Tommy's Grandstand

Regardless of how we might feel about the corporate welfare the organization receives, having the Reno Aces baseball team has been a great unity builder for everybody in the valley. The team and the stadium have become a hub of the community. Baseball is great cross-generational entertainment baseball—we might not be able to relate to the music of our parents or kids, but we can all understand a perfectly placed fastball, a long, arcing home run, or a well-executed double play. But there’s a lot of ways to enjoy baseball—and this batting cages gem, 830 Meredith Way, Sparks, is still hidden. Go practice your swing, whether you’re a Little Leaguer looking to improve, an old athlete looking to get back into it, or just a dude looking for fun. And here’s the best part: the food there is actually really great. More info: www.tommysgrandstand.com