Take me to the river

Johnny Murray, 5, considers how best to use his orange   sherbert.

Johnny Murray, 5, considers how best to use his orange sherbert.

Photo By Victoria Weiser

Truckee River Eats and Sweets

252 W. First St.
Reno, NV 89501

(775) 284-3535

My unwillingness to pay for cable means I get three channels, one being Nevada Public Broadcasting. Three weekends ago, KNPB aired a feature on hot dog eateries across the nation. I’ve never wanted a hot dog more than after watching the show. I spent the next couple days blabbering about hot dogs before someone encouraged me to shove one in my mouth down at Truckee River Eats and Sweets.

This place has everything a day on the river requires, aside from beer and a companion of the opposite sex, both of which are readily found at the Sierra Tap House, next door. The weekend recently underway, and a blues band playing a free show at the nearby Wingfield Park, my friend Afton (a 10-year veteran of the hot dog service industry), her fiancée, her future mom-in-law and I pigged-out on junk food and watched the river flow.

Truckee River Eats and Sweets is really more a broker of food and treats than a restaurant—much of what they sell is food prepared at other places. While Eric, Denise and I ate run-of-the-mill rolled hot dogs on white sesame buns (all beef $2.49 and Polish $3.99), Afton selected the super vegetarian sandwich ($6.95) prepared by Paisan’s Old World Deli and Catering. The sandwich came on a Dutch crunch roll with avocado, cream cheese, tomato, cucumbers and sprouts, and tasted far better than other prepackaged sandwiches I’ve eaten.

We all shared a peanut butter brownie and chocolate walnut brownie from the Cake and Flower Shoppe, Inc. ($3). The brownies were also fantastic—moist and rich and approaching fudge-like consistency.

Along with on-the-go food choices, Truckee River Eats and Sweets has a large selection of bulk candy, dog treats and ice cream. They don’t have the space to prepare their sandwiches and baked goods in-house. They’re starting to have a menu consisting of foods crafted locally. I’d love to see this place become even more of a clearinghouse for local foods. Maybe it’s possible to replace the Dreyer’s ice cream with a local company’s, and the dog treats from Chattanooga, Tenn. with some made around here.

And while I’m dictating how someone should run their business, nothing can turn a 7-Eleven-style hot dog into something special faster than a selection of fresh condiments, like sauerkraut, onions, tomatoes, pickles and large jugs of ketchup and mustard, with industrial hand pumps. If possible, Truckee River Eats and Sweets should lose the individual condiment packets, and let eaters cover their hot dogs with some color.

My favorite thing about Truckee River Eats and Sweets is the empty tables and seats just off the Truckee River. There aren’t that many eateries along the downtown river corridor for grabbing something quick, and relatively cheap, especially places with covered seating and candy buttons, those throwbacks to childhood when you didn’t mind eating a little candy with your paper.

I also enjoy the spectacle that is an afternoon on the river—and watching the very pleasant shopkeeper and large tattooed bouncer from next door adeptly kicking out drunken people who poach the seating area. This territory is just for customers and is patrolled vigilantly. So when downtown, buy a hot dog or pretzel, enjoy a beer in from the neighbors, check out your marvelous fellow Renoites, and then plop yourself in the river.