I always hated going to Reno when I was a child. We had a family friend who used to live there and we could make the trecherous drive in the winters to visit them and day-trip to some ski resort near the beautiful Lake Tahoe areas. My memories of Reno were confined to cheesy outdated casinos, creepy motels, and little old ladies blowing cigarette smoke into my face as we made a B-line to the casino’s arcade. However, this month we made the trip over to Reno on a business trip. I was sent there to cover the Third Annual CANFEST (which was a totally awesome event). Before heading to the Silver State, I made it a point to do some research online to see where the younger locals go, and luckily (with the help of Yelp), I was able to find some awesome places just within walking distance to casino-land that really made me like Reno.
The first place on our Reno 411 adventure is an awesome coffee shop called The Hub Coffee Company. This relatively young coffee shop and roaster is the perfect way to start your day with locally roasted beans and artfully made espresso drinks. We liked this place so much, we came here each morning we were in town. Small, cozy, and hip with a very strong local vibe. The baristas were knowledgable and friendly. On our first visit we had cappucinos courtesy of Ashlyn; perfect, well-rounded, and delightful while sitting out in the morning cold. The next day we met Ian and Mark (the owner), who were a dream team if we ever did see one. You can’t go wrong with anything on their menu, nor can you help but love the sense of community here. Laptops, dogs (on the patio), and lingering is welcome. www.thehubcoffeeco.blogspot.com
Just a minute drive away (or a short walk, really), we grabbed a late breakfast at a cute little creperie called Creme. This little house reminded me a lot of places that I used to frequent in Phoenix, AZ. The prices here and the quality of food are out of this world. With nothing over $6, we were very pleased with our crepes and the freshly cut fruit (which they can customize for you if you have any allergies). Ryan went with the Ranchero crepes (eggs, black beans, guacamole, onions, and bacon) and I opted for the Spinach/Bacon/Cheese crepes. Two rolled filled with fresh ingredients were perfect for a filling yet light brunch. Their crepes were on the eggier side with what tasted like a touch of citrus in the batter. Make sure to plan ahead though, they close at 2 p.m, but are open daily. www.cremecafereno.com
Our next stop was just another few blocks away at a fairly new shop called Craft. Specializing in craft beer and wine, this place is one of the better bottle shops I have seen on this side of the country. While the wine selections aren’t much, it’s their incredibly well-stocked beer fridge that is the star. They had an incredible amount of international selections- better than most larger stores with ties to major distributors. I came home with a few prized bottles including 3 Belgian gems including a beautiful farmhouse Saison from Fantome. Prices were reasonable and there is also a tasting area for those who want to open up their bottles or try any of their wine and cheese pairings. www.craftreno.net
Lastly, we dropped in on what could possibly be one of my favorite new bookstores in the west. Sundance Books & Music is a beautiful old home restored and converted into a giant independent bookstore. Similar to the Old Julian Book House, this store was well-stocked with popular titles and smaller-press indie authors as well. The used sections were a little bare, but room after room, we fell in love with the atmosphere and the vast selections. Prices were competitive with other major bookstores and the staff we encountered were very friendly. www.sundancebookstore.com