Basque Food in Nevada
- Joseph P. Wood
A friend of mind back east swears Nevada (mostly near Reno I think) has a significant Basque population, and thus has an array of Basque restaurants. Is this true? And if so, does anyone have any good recommendations. I'm from Tucson, but certainly would not mind making a trip out of it if the claims are true.
Yes, the Basques were miners and sheepherders throughout the West. In fact, I believe the U. of Nevada Reno campus has a center for the study of Basque life in America.
Basque-American style dining in the SF Bay Area and Calif's Central Valley is the groaning board cuisine of the working man. Lamb fries, oxtails (absolutely try these), tongue, brain, sweetbreads, and other goodies.
Try searching on "basque reno nevada" for specific restaurant recommendations.
The Basque restaurants in Reno are slowing fading away. Almost 3 years ago, I recommended Louis's Basque here, and I've been back several times since. It's still good, and great fun. It seems impossible not to make friends with others sitting nearby. The food is good, not great. Think of it as akin to eating at one of the better Amana colony restaurants in Iowa or Lancaster, PA offerings.
If the oxtails are available, go for them.
I wrote a magazine article about 5 years back on the Basque restaurants/inns spread along I-80 in northern Nevada. I don't which are still there and still good, but the ones I focussed on were Louis' Basque Corner in Reno, Martin Hotel and Ormachea in Winnemucca and Biltoki and Star Hotel in Elko. Also, the university in Reno has a Basque studies program which gave me background material on Basque culture, and they probably know there of other restaurants or inn dining rooms worth trying.
i have eaten at the star hotel in elko, nv, as recently as may 2000 and it is wonderful! i had the lamb chops, these sheep herders really know how to cook 'em. don't know about the biltoki, but it is right down the street from the star, you might try it as well.