Culinary metamorphosis taking place in Carson City
In 2006, Roger Brooks, an expert on travel, tourism, downtown branding and destination marketing, was hired by the Visitors Bureau to assess some of Carson City’s assets. After spending a few days here, he concluded one of our marketing assets could be our dining scene.
The tourism community then did not embrace his assessment and ignored his findings, though the then Visitors Bureau director, Candy Duncan, became a culinary critic writing in the Nevada Appeal, to introduce locals to the dining diversity at the time.
Brooks may have been a bit premature. If he were to do the same presentation in the next few months, his findings may be better accepted, for Carson City’s culinary scene is about to explode.
There are myriad restaurants across the city — many of them well-known chains — but it’s the downtown that is attracting experienced and novice restaurateurs to provide culinary choices not seen in this city for a long, long time. Once the primary ethnic foods were confined to Mexican and Chinese. Today, there’s fine Indian, Italian, Basque, Mediterranean, French, eclectic, and other choices for those who prefer more variety.
In keeping with all that is fresh and new in the downtown core, there will be a diversity in restaurants, from today’s emphasis on farm-to-table to old-fashioned Basque fare and everything in between. Within the next few months, Squeeze Inn fans will enjoy those huge omelettes and sandwiches served in the small space for which this funky small chain — started in Truckee — is known. Fans of The Martin Hotel Restaurant in Winnemucca will be happy to know their second restaurant will be sharing the first floor of 308 N. Curry with the Squeeze Inn.
This all means we’ll soon have our own restaurant row, for within about two blocks, we will be able to enjoy all sorts of food from down home cooking to small bites. Beginning at the corner of Telegraph and Carson streets to the corner of Proctor and Carson and one block behind on Curry and Telegraph, you’ll soon have about a dozen dining options from which to choose.
Recently opened in the space once occupied by the Horseshoe Club at the corner of Telegraph and Carson Streets is Gather, serving fresh locally sourced foods. The setting is classy, and the hostess is the owner, Angelina Bullentini Wolf, who oversees all aspects of the restaurant. The chef is Howard Jachens. You will be pleasantly surprised at the transformation of this once blighted corner.
The Union has proven to be quite the success story, currently the only outside dining option in these blocks. Battle Born Social rocks after 8 p.m. Just around the corner from Gather is the iconic watering hole, Westside Pour House.
Across the street, the always favorite Garibaldi’s continues to serve excellent Italian fare and for those who crave authentic Thai food, The Basil is a popular spot. Around the block on East Telegraph you can find sushi and Chinese.
Mangia Tutto has opened in the former Divine Wine location at 200 N. Stewart St. They’re offering a full Italian menu including Chicago-style deep dish pizza. In the Carson Mall, Bella Vita Bistro continues to serve their fresh fare and awesome home made potato chips. Flavors of India offers authentic Indian cuisine and is conveniently located at the north end of the mall complex. Red’s Old 395 still has the happiest of all happy hours and tasty barbecue. McFadden Plaza, too, has a variety of restaurant offerings.
Those are the prime restaurant areas in the downtown core that runs from William to Fifth streets.
Just to the north of William Street is the iconic Adele’s and Heidi’s. LA Bakery serves breakfast and lunch daily and is the place to go for beautifully decorated baked goods.
Though not in the downtown anymore, the eclectic Sassafras has found a wonderful home in what is becoming a hot — literally — destination at the Carson Hot Springs, home of the Shoe Tree Brewing Company and the hot springs. There’s lots of plans afoot there to make this the place you will want to spend all day.
There are now so many food offerings that to mention them all would require far more space than allotted. The current choices are seemingly endless. If you’ve got the craving for fast food, there’s still plenty of that around. Of course, the best margaritas are still found at El Charro Avitia in south Carson.
Support our local eateries. The owners have invested heavily in bringing new culinary opportunities to our city and, for many, this is a long-time dream come true. Those that have weathered the economic storms should not be forgotten as we flock to the new eateries.
Perhaps Mr. Brooks was right in determining that food could be an integral part of the reason why visitors will come to enjoy Carson City’s history and the outdoors. As this city grows, so do our food choices!