It's outdoor dining season in Reno. One of the trademarks of Reno's renaissance of the past decade is an increasing number of patios, porches and other al fresco venues. Many of the trendy bars to emerge in the downtown Reno area in recent years (including St. James Infirmary, Strega and the Sierra Taphouse, among others) have made outdoor seating a focus. But as warm weather sets in, here is a list of more family friendly stops as suitable for quick brunch as a late-night bash.
The Stone House Cafe (1907 S. Arlington Ave., www.stonehousecafereno.com) offers one of the most pleasant breakfast experiences around on a large L-shaped patio flanked by trees and scattered with flowerbeds. The basic structure is nearly 80 years old, and the overall effect is that of eating on the grounds of a country estate. Favorites include steak eggs benedict, homemade hash and eggs and West Coast staple Joe's Special. The restaurant also offers excellent lunch and dinner menus, but the morning really is the best time to stop by. Reservations are recommended.
Cafe de Thai (7499 Longley Lane, www.cafedethaireno.com) is an aggressively stylish Asian fusion restaurant on Reno's south side. The patio is carefully enclosed from the more mundane surroundings and features a feng shui water pool and statues. Lighter fare such as spring rolls and fowl curries are especially suited to outdoor feasts, as are the restaurant's brightly colored, exotic cocktails.
LuLou's Restaurant (1470 S. Virginia St.) sits on a busy street corner, but trees and fountains form a courtyard that allows diners to enjoy one of the bet restaurants in the state. Fare is seasonal with an Eastern twist: Think salade Lyonnaise with ahi or a special paella. LuLou's also serves cocktails in a spare bar featuring votive candles, low slung couches and unisex restaurants. Be advised: The place is not cheap, but probably worth the expense.
The Great Basin Brewing Co.: (846 Victorian Ave., Sparks, www.greatbasinbrewingco.com) marks the center of the Victorian Square bar scene with a bustling patio adjacent to an outdoor stage. Shows include rock, country and even open mike nights throughout the summer. Great Basin also makes perhaps the most respected beers in Nevada, including the Icthyosaur IPA and and other locally-themed brews. The place can be crowded, especially during the Sparks Hometowne Farmers Market on Thursdays, but still represents the best a Northern Nevada has to offer.
The Squeeze In (5020 Las Brisas Blvd., www.squeezein.com) is an extension of a legendary omelet house based in Truckee, Calif. Dishes such as eggs, pancakes, burritos, burgers and salads are rarely fancy, but are flawlessly executed and delicious, almost without exception. The decor is eclectic and endearingly strange, and the patio is enormous. Better still, owners recently announced that they had purchased a neighboring building to expand even further.
Silver Peak Brewery (135 N. Sierra St. and 124 Wonder St., www.silverpeakbrewery.com), a Reno favorite, offers spectacular outdoor seating at both locations. The Wonder Street location features a shaded rooftop that remains pleasant from noon until well after midnight, while the Sierra Street restaurant has a patio fronting the First Street entertainment corridor. Food such as salmon fish and chips and lamb burgers make for excellent pub fare. Brews are as good as any in the region, with Red Roadster and Silver Peak IPA being among the best.
The 4th Street Bistro (3065 W. Fourth St., www.4thstbistro.com) serves French-inflected cuisine such as polenta, roasted duck and various pastas. Highlights such as watermelon, fresh herbs and rare oils make for surprising new touches on standard dishes, with most ingredients produced regionally at sustainable facilities. A white-washed deck lined with flowerpots, artwork and other country inn accents make for an exceptional dinner experience.
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Article written by Matt Farley. Farley is a Nevada native who has worked for the Reno Gazette-Journal and Nevada Magazine and been syndicated by The Associated Press, Gannett News Service and the Las Vegas Review Journal.