The drive gets easier

For a long time now, the 450-mile drive between here and Vegas has been pretty doggone brutal when it comes to food and lodging. As in, it’s been a drive dominated by (1) fast food joints, (2) jerky, factory muffins, wretched coffee and desiccated chicken at gas stations, and (3) fairly crummy $40 rooms that more often than not have lame wi-fi and strange insects (centipedes, windscorpions) hangin’ out in the tub.

Things are improving.

If you travel via alternate 95, going from Fernley to Yerington, you’ll now find Sherry’s Steak House. It’s a few miles south of the Wabuska Bar, heading towards Y-town. The joint is a keeper, a handsome, spacious cafe run by a couple of nice folks who know how the heck to eat—especially meat, which you might rightly infer from the name. I stopped in one Sunday drive, and had the 12 ounce ribeye lunch, which came on its own sizzling platter, perched atop a bed of caramelized onions, and it was good. Real good. They do all kinds of stuff there—burgers, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. So for lunch, dinner or just a break for coffee and tiramisu (my, we’re getting civilized around here!), Sherry’s is definitely worth a stop.

Next, there’s Tonopah. T-pah, for me, has always been a mean-ass little town on the downside, a place to get gassed up and jacked up on bad coffee and little chocolate doughnuts. But now, things have taken a very positive turn with the re-opening of the good ole Mizpah Hotel. Revived by California vintners Jim and Nancy Cline, the newly gussied up Mizpah is looking good and fully restored as both hotel and eatery. In fact, two eateries. There’s the casual Pittman Cafe—breakfast wasn’t just passable, but excellent—and the fine dining Dempsey Room. The rooms are going for 90-110 a night, and are historically stylish, unique, and just plain fun.

So now, you have a reason to break that butt-grinding drive to Las Vegas in two. Leave Reno and spend the night wining and dining and snoozing at the Mizpah (great bar in the lobby!). Then get up in the morning and cruise the remaining 200 miles to Vegas, well-rested and well-fed as opposed to being a caffeinated psycho screaming into LV at midnight all raged and ragged after a nine-hour skullfuck on 95 wired out on Red Bulls and Baby Ruths.

And yes, you can even have some fun pounding your piehole in Beatty. There’s the little joint next to the Sourdough Saloon that serves only chili and Budweiser. Classic. The new Firepit Barbecue in the heart of downtown is worth a shot. And of course, for glucose fiends, the Death Valley candy and nut emporium is one awesome sugar shack, and a place worthy of Visa card abuse if your sweet tooth is prone to running totally amok.