Varity is the spice of life, so why eat the same foods day in and day out? There are a lot of culinary adventures in the Sierra just waiting to be explored. Whether you’re naturally the daring type or just want to do something different during your visit, here are some of the most adventurous meals in the region. Try at your own risk!
The South Shore is a great place to relax and try something new without worrying about the dress code.
If your idea of adventurous eating involves testing your spice tolerance, then The Lucky Beaver Bar & Burger has your flavor. Ghost peppers haunt their menu. Known as the hottest pepper in the world, ghost peppers are said to be 400 times the heat of tabasco when eaten raw. The Lucky Beaver has harnessed this heat in cheese form, which while admittedly making the infamous pepper more palatable also makes it more delicious. The Hot Hand is a ½-pound blackened burger, covered with ghost pepper cheese and deep fried jalapenos. We’re sweatin’ just thinking about it. Ghost pepper cheese also makes an appearance on a chicken sandwich and sliders. luckybeaver.com
Feeling indecisive or just REALLY hungry? Go ahead and take the Menu Burger Challenge at Fox and Hound Smokehouse Grill & Bar. Yes, it basically comes with everything on the menu. That’s one burger piled high with bacon, cheese, barbecue pulled pork, a couple fried eggs, chili cheese garlic fries, Philly cheesesteak, teriyaki chicken with pineapple and jalapenos … and a bun. It also comes with a side of six hot wings and a “healthy side salad.” And there’s a pizza thrown in there somewhere. It’s so enormous that if you can eat the whole thing in under 60 minutes, then it’s free, plus you get a T-shirt and your picture on their website. foxandhoundtahoe.com
If one food challenge is not enough, Chimayo just launched The Fat John Cusack Taco Challenge. If you can eat one of each of their 20 tacos under an hour, then you will receive (you guessed it) a free T-shirt, half off the meal, and social media fame. Be prepared for a wide variety of flavors. Taco ingredients include: Wagyu ground beef, chipotle, spicy pickles, seared blacked tuna, seaweed salad, guajillo mayo, cactus, corned beef brisket, sauerkraut, smoked salmon, roe, pickled onions, and lobster, just to name a few. chimayotahoe.com
If you prefer your foodie escapades a little more gourmet, then head to Carson City.
Café at Adele’s is farm-to-table goodness. Here you can have a culinary adventure with your pinkies up. They offer classic French favorites with a modern twist such as beef liver with butter and a sherry-wine infused demi-glace, topped with fried onions and pork belly. They also feature an old staple on the adventure list, escargot, those tasty little gastropods soaked in butter. At Adele’s you can try your snails on a pizza with a white cream sauce and goat cheese. adelesrestaurantandlounge.com
Sometimes a good food adventure means stepping out of one’s own cultural bubble. Reno offers a diverse assortment of ethnic cuisines to challenge your taste buds.
Reno is home to one of the largest populations of Basque Americans in the U.S., so it’s an excellent place to try traditional sweetbreads. Of course, you don’t want to confuse sweetbreads with something like bread pudding or a donut. “Sweetbreads” is the delightful, though discreet, term for thymus or pancreas glands, typically from lamb or veal, served a in myriad of ways. At Louis’ Basque Corner, you can have your sweetbreads either sauteed with garlic, peppers, mushrooms and onions or prepared in a red wine and mushroom sauce. They will soon be a new favorite. louisbasquecorner.com
Traditional Chinese food tends to be one of the greatest challenges to the typical American palate. If you’ve only ever tried orange chicken or Kung Pao beef, then it’s pretty safe to say you’ve never really had Chinese food. China East is a little hole in the wall that offers up some of the more unusual Chinese dishes, in addition to the familiar ones, on this continent anyway. Pig intestine is one option. No euphemisms here. And those can be prepared sauteed or fried to your liking. You can also try sea cucumber (not a clever name for a pickle) with a side of abalone. Or try one of the most enjoyed delicacies in China, preserved duck egg, also known as “century eggs.” These are eggs that have been cured for weeks to several months in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls, turning the yolks a deep, translucent green. This gives a whole new meaning to the Dr. Seuss classic. renochinaeast.com
What’s life as a foodie without a little adventure? We hope to have expanded your horizon into new culinary territory. But don’t take our word for it. Have yourself a dining adventure here in Reno/Tahoe. Good luck!
By: Rae and Troy Matthews