Surf’s up

Photo By David Robert

Man, do I miss the ocean. One of the few hard things about living in Reno is the serious lack of beaches. The sound of the pounding surf, the salt air and the wafting aroma of Coppertone are good for the spirit. With summer surely on the way, thoughts of sun and fun occupy my imagination more often than thoughts about work or the fact that it has been years since I even seriously considered trying on a bikini.

While it is barely warm enough outside to go without a jacket, Beaches keeps the summer alive all year. Wall-sized murals depict trade wind sunsets and bodacious, bikini-clad beach bunnies, while a tin roof awning over the bar gives the place an outdoor cabana feel. The enormous room also plays host to a couple of pool tables and a giant gong for the karaoke contests (à la The Gong Show). The tables and chairs are awash with colorful paint jobs intended to look weatherworn.

My husband, Tony, and I met at Beaches after we both got off work. Clearly, we were not the only people to have this idea, as the place steadily filled with folks dipping in for an after-shift cocktail. The location is great for the scores of offices in the South Meadows area. We even ran into a few of Tony’s coworkers, one of whom enthusiastically belted, “Hey, Stacie, are you going to review this place?” before being summarily silenced to avoid blowing my cover as an anonymous diner.

Our server brought us our Newcastle brown ales ($3.25) and gave us a minute to ponder the menu.

There is a healthy dose of typical bar food here in the form of many things that go in the fryer, but that isn’t all that the menu has to offer. There is a selection of soups and salads as well as burgers, kabobs and even steaks (served after 5 p.m.). No bar menu would be complete without hot dogs, and there is a selection of those as well, with chili no less. Hot and cold sandwiches round out the choices.

Tony ordered the tacos (three for $5.99). They arrived flowing over the basket, stuffed with their contents of meat, lettuce, red onions, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream. The cup of freshly made salsa barely had room to squeeze in. There is a choice of beef, chicken or fish tacos, and Tony got one of each. The beef and chicken were chopped and flavorful but could have used a touch more spice. The fish was battered and fried, yet still crisp enough to hold its own among the condiments and the fried corn tortilla shell.

I went to the old bar standby, the fish and chips ($6.99, $9.99). Decent-sized strips of Icelandic cod were beer-battered and a lovely, crisp golden brown. The fish tasted fresh, and the coating was only a little greasy. A healthy dose of shoestring fries put me well on my way to junk-food junkie paradise.

The service was friendly and helpful, but as the bar filled, it tended to slow down a little, as our server had to cover tables all over the room. As a result, we had a short but noticeable wait for our check to arrive.

Overall, the visit was pleasant and Beaches is a cool place to hang out after work and soak your work stress in the nearest pitcher of beer. That the kitchen offers such a wide variety of things to munch on doesn’t hurt either.

Now, if only eating the fish and chips would actually help me get back into that bikini …