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Reno Visit - Foodie Birthday Dinner & More

I'll be in town from Florida prepping for Burning Man for a couple of days. I want a special place for my birthday (and other non-special-occasion options). I'm an adventurous eater and lean toward ANY Asian - or French, but I love almost anything that's well-prepared (except BBQ - unless its a proper churrascaria.) The only place I have been in Reno was an Ethiopian place we were happy to trip over a couple of years back.

After reading through allot of posts I was thinking of the following as some good birthday options. All suggestions appreciated!

Sezmu - Was my first choice - But, now I see it may be closed?? Heart-break... Has it re-opened?
La Vecchia
LuLous is under consideration, but seems really pricey.

Also, is El Tumi still around and yummy? We LOVED the food in Peru!

Is the Ethiopian place still there?

Thinking about Naan & Kabab or 775 Gastropub to round things out?

We will probably get some to go items from 5th Street Bakehouse on the way out of town.

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  1. Sezmu is closed but they have opened Bowl and Rawr (two different places.

    http://thatbowlrestaurant.com/menu.html

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/907230

    Our favorite place and great for a celebration is Campo, downtown on the river.

    http://www.camporeno.com/

    The Ethiopian spot, as far as I know is still open. Zagol.

    http://zagolofreno.com/

    It's great, isn't it?

    We really like 775 Gastropub. There's really something for everyone there.

    We haven't been to El Tumi in too long but appears to be open when we've driven past.

    BTW, how does one "prepare" for Burning Man?!?!?! :)

    For Asian, we love 168 Cafe. We used to live in SF and we can be fussy about Chinese food. It's terrific.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/810416

    Also 101 Taiwanese. Love it.

    http://101taiwanese.com/

    Have fun and HYDRATE!!!!!

    5 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      Thank you, thank you! I'm getting hungry just looking through your links!

      And, we do hydrate when we're out there. Especially coming from Florida. (We are not used to dry conditions!)

      Prepping for Burning Man is 1 part pragmatism 1 part whimsey with a dash of each - weather related anxiety & bike purchase anxiety.

      Pragmatism = Schematics for shade structures, etc... and lists and lists of items needed from different places (you cannot buy anything except ice and coffee there, so you need to be prepared. That gets tricky from a distance...

      Whimsey = Digging though the back of the closets and Halloween boxes and trying to decide between the bowler hat, the tutu and angel wings. Prepping our "gift/project". And, getting enough glow wire to light up yourself and your bike so the mutant vehicles and other bikers can see you at night.

      LBNL, you hope for very few sandstorms and PRAY you can find you and your crew 6 decent used bikes in Reno...

      You really should check it out. It is an extraordinary experience. And, we have traveled allot...

      1. re: Chow Harbor

        We're too old AND we hate heat. But I loved reading what you wrote. You're quite talented. And I know you'll eat well before, during and after. A meat person at the Reno WF said last year a guy came in a bought almost $5 of food to take to Burning Man!!! Have fun.

          1. re: c oliver

            $5K - WOW! He must have had a large group camp (or served food to other Burners on the playa). We only have 7 people coming from Tampa Bay and 4 meeting us from San Francisco. I'm guessing our bill will be substantially lower.

            1. re: Chow Harbor

              I got the impression that he was going to be sharing.

    2. Sounds like Rawr is your kind of place. Excellent food and a good wine list. The guy who owned Sezmu opened it.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/907230

      Fifth Street Bakehouse is gone. They tore down the shopping center.

      Just about all the Thai places are good. My favorties are probably BAngkok Cuisoine and Tha Baisil.
      168 Cafe and 01 Taiwanese Cuisine are also good.
      Most of the pho places are good. SK Noodle in Sparks has good Vietnamese food as well as Americanized Chinese food. And some authentic Chinese dishes.
      Momija Ramen has two locations, in Reno and Sparks. Authentic ramen. The Sparks location is probably better.
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/883895
      Brassiere St. James is a brewery and restaurant. The food is good. If you're a meat eater, consider the Brazilian platter for dinner.
      The Italian restaurant LaVecchia has absolutely been kicking ass and taking names.

      2 Replies
      1. re: SteveTimko

        Thanks Steve!

        I REALLY appreciate all of your suggestions and info. I'm looking forward to some lovely meals in Reno. - And, if you or any other Reno chowhounds are ever in the Tampa Bay area, please let me know!

        Under normal circumstances I would book Rawr for an inventive meal. But, since I'll be camping at Burning Man for 7 nights following this meal, I'm going for a big plate of steaming hot cooked food :)

        So, I'm down to Campo & LaVecchia for my birthday dinner options. It sounds like both are good options?? t's time for me to print menus and get really hungry!

        1. re: Chow Harbor

          Campo and LaVecchia are both really good restaurants. We prefer Campo cause the variety is huge and is ever changing. They make almost everything in house. We generally get a bunch of apps and maybe the kale salad (which gets a ridiculous amount of love!!!) And the owner/executive chef, Mark Estee, sources as much as he can locally. The blackboard currently shows 15 or 20. Pretty impressive. Either one, you're sure to get a good birthday dinner.

      2. I agree with those who like Campo, I think it is wonderful.

        I also really love Bowl. The chef from Sezmu, as has been noted. So delicious and casual...and a nice bonus is to be able to get wine from the wine bar next door. They have their own wine, and the wine bar has great options.

        I think of that little west street market area as kind of like a very high end food court, options ranging from Bowl, Raw, the greek place, Z-pie, and Beaujolais bistro all available to order from and you can all eat from different wonderful restaurants at the same table.

        I also love that you can meet friends in the courtyard area, and just keep adding tables yourself to the table based on who shows up. Really an inviting and delicious food community!

        1 Reply
        1. re: barbara k

          Old post but wanted to add a plus one :) to that area. We did a food walk a few months ago and discovered Z-pie. I'd have guessed pizza so was surprised and pleased that it is POT pies :) We went back for lunch and it was really, really good. Saw the Greek place. Have you eaten there? And, of course, Beauolais Bistro has moved now. Great nabe.

        2. So where did you eat, what did you get and how did you like it?

          1 Reply
          1. re: SteveTimko

            Since Burning Man just ended yesterday, OP is probably recovering and rehydrating :)

          2. I'm back at home after 2 days in Reno, 7 days at Burning Man and 2 days in South Lake Tahoe. Thanks again for all of your great advice! We made it to Campo, El Tumi, 775 Gastropub and Zagol. Details below.

            CAMPO - Birthday Dinner:
            Ambiance is great (we sat outside - which got cold for this Florida crowd - but it was a great spot.)

            Pickle Plate - These might be too spicy for most diners, but we loved them.

            Crunchy Pig Parts - A miss for us - Not interesting or well-seasoned.

            Salumi & Cheese Grand tasting - I could live on this - Yum & Yum & Yum (except for the pate which was under seasoned -- which I bet is the same as the inside mixture in the crispy pig parts.)

            Kale Salad as great as previously reported - with lots of acid/lemon to keep it bright.

            Robolitta (sp??) - White Bean Soup - OK, not great. The woman that had it was too polite to say anything but it was clear she was not overwhelmed.

            Cannelloni Special - Super ground veal filling and a simple very fresh tomato sauce (I wanted more of this!) The fresh pasta was drying out a touch, but this was still a stellar dish.

            Scallop Special was also a hit.

            Trio of desserts were too sweet for my taste, which is not unusual (I preferred my glass of tawny port :)

            The wine and beer selection was small but good.

            Service was very good.

            Overall, this was a GREAT meal. In fact, I would like to do it all over again!

            ZAGOL: Ethiopian Lunch
            Our group of 4 shared 2 beef dishes, 1 lamb dish and greens (Gomen). They all went over very well. Ambiance is nice and service is good (a little slow for American standards, but normal for the rest of the world.)

            EL TUMI: Peruvian Dinner
            We had high hopes for this place since the food in Peru was so stunning. It did not live up to our expectations. However, it was solid decent food at very reasonable prices. The couple we were with were very happy (they have never been to Peru.)

            We were disappointed off the bat that they did not have any quinoa dishes (we ate quinoa soup in at least 10 restaurants around Peru - it was always different and always delicious.)

            And, they were out of the antichuchos (beef hearts). - We were looking forward to having them again.

            2 people got Beef Encebollado which was tasty but cannot be prepared at different temperatures since their beef is sliced so thin.

            1 person got Chicken with the yellow cream sauce that is often found in Peru (Huarancia??? sp??) This was filling and delicious.

            The biggest hit was the Ceviche Mixto.

            They do not serve beer or wine.

            The service was good. The ambiance was not great (but we care more about the food...)

            This was a worthwhile meal, once my expectations were managed.

            775 GASTROPUB: Lunch
            Ambiance was good - especially for a mall! We sat on the patio.

            GREAT beer selection.

            Venison burger was great
            Curried Mussels over rice noodles were yummy
            Sauteed spinach with bacon was bacon heavy - so it was perfect.

            I don't remember what the rest of the orders were - I'm going to blame that on the GREAT beer selection ;)

            Thanks again and happy eating!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chow Harbor

              Wow, you got a lot of dining in before you hit the desert! 775 Gastropub IS kind of a surprise isn't it? A mall restaurant? But we've always enjoyed it. We haven't been to El Tumi in a few years and sorry it wasn't a big hit. We drive by at lunch time fairly often and it doesn't seem busy. We don't go out to eat very often and when we do we really want a glass of wine or beer so that was a minus for us. It's probably just too expensive for them to get a license. I REALLY wanted a Pisco Sour!!! Campo's 'pig parts' vary from day to day. The last time it was trotters where the meat had been removed from the bones, seasoned with 'good stuff', formed in patties and fried. I SO did not want to share.

              Anyway, glad you had a good time and look forward to hosting you next year if you return. We flew back from Seattle on the Weds. before Burning Man and there was a man on our plane who had been the last 17 years!!! And his young son had been three times. I can't even imagine. Best wishes.