We are the egg men
Casino Grill in the Club Cal Neva38 E. Second St.
Reno, NV 89501
My brother introduced me to the Egg McNeva years ago. I can’t count the number of times I was woken up in the predawn hours to a blaring television in the living room, and Eric passed out on the couch just feet away. Accompanying the din was usually a lingering smell of casino and grease—a gift from the half-eaten Egg McNeva congealing in a Styrofoam container on the coffee table in front of him. Needless to say, I had mixed feelings about the item.
Sometime later, at Eric’s request, toward the end of a reckless night downtown, I had my first Egg McNeva fresh off the grill. It’s pretty greasy and hardly a work of art, but man, did it hit the spot.
When downtown in the early morning and craving food, I turn to that burger joint everyone goes awfully bonkers over or the underappreciated gem known as the Casino Grill at the Cal Neva. For $2.75, you can purchase their flagship item, the Egg McNeva—a fried egg, two slices of American cheese, and your choice of deli-style ham or sausage patty atop a buttery English muffin.
I don’t usually go to casinos anymore. However, having resumed classes in the University of Nevada, Reno’s MBA program, I got to thinking about all the undergrads descending upon Reno. I’m sure one or two will enjoy a carefree evening downtown, and no raucous night should end without a good meal. Remembering good times I’ve had at Cal Neva’s Casino Grill, I took Eric back for one last hurrah.
The biggest difference this time is we went for lunch on a Tuesday and engaged in zero shenanigans. As you can imagine, the whole Cal Neva experience, including the Egg McNeva and the tacky photos of food hanging above the Casino Grill, are more palatable after a drink, but I love ham and eggs.
The Casino Grill is a self-contained little marvel. There’s one cook working fryers, hot dog rollers, a crock pot, the grill, and cash register all within approximately 50 square feet. The diners sit just a granite countertop away from the action, close enough to make you wonder, how far could grease splatter in a nasty kitchen fire? For those of you disdaining cigarette smoke, either by act of God or amazing ventilation, it’s not bad from the stools at the Casino Grill’s counter. Though step toward the slot machines in any direction, and that’s not the case.
I enjoy watching the cook hustle about getting everything together as efficiently as possible. Also, I like seeing where my food comes from, and in this case, it’s usually from a freezer bag stuffed into a refrigerator below the grill. The word “organic” will not appear on any of the Casino Grill’s food packaging.
That aside, the Casino Grill has great onion rings ($3.50), chili cheese fries ($4.25) so thoroughly covered that no potato can be seen, and pretty decent chicken fingers (five for $4.95). The chicken fingers are spendier fare at the Casino Grill but are surprisingly moist and come with as much ranch and barbecue sauce as you want. They also serve hot dogs and hamburgers, though dollar for dollar the Egg McNeva is the ticket.
What can I say? Despite the Casino Grill’s flaws, especially the rampant use of Styrofoam products and the fact that they won’t serve minors food, I’m a fan. Long forgotten are the times I sat at the counter thinking, why didn’t I donate that money to charity instead of handing it over to a blackjack dealer. Wow, those were irresponsible times.