Downtown Reno’s West Street Market, windswept and nearly vacant on many days, is about to offer two more culinary attractions, with the debut of a new restaurant and the more permanent presence of another.
Café DeLuxe is planning to open sometime in the spring as the DeLuxe, in the old Niko’s Greek Kitchen spot off West Street Market’s inside common area.
Cafe DeLuxe served top-notch vegetarian and vegan food on Wells Avenue until May 2016, when it closed to make way for new housing development.
Thali (pronounced TAL-ee), a pop-up serving organic Northern Indian cooking from a market storefront that once housed Bowl and Rawr, is continuing its Friday through Monday dinners, adding regional menus, and looking ahead to possible lunch hours and neighborhood delivery.
Both restaurants recently strengthened their connections to West Street Market when the Reno City Council approved the DeLuxe’s assumption of Niko’s lease and Thali’s assumption of the Bowl-Rawr lease.
“We’ve been looking for a spot this whole time,” said Rich Selden, owner of Café DeLuxe, on the search for a replacement location for the restaurant. After DeLuxe, “we wanted to keep things small and manageable. This was easy to get into financially.”
We've been “refacing the whole spot,” Selden said of the former Niko’s order counter and kitchen. “We’re gutting the whole kitchen, putting up walls, putting up art. We cleared out a nook beyond one of the prep tables, and we’re bringing in some of our booths from Café DeLuxe.”
WEST STREET MARKET
Address: 148 West St.
The menu, Selden said, will combine “elements from the old Café DeLuxe” with new influences, many of them Asian. At the counter, folks can order items like organic banhi mi, super-size summer rolls, organic slaws, rice and quinoa bowls, “maybe even giant sushi rolls like burritos.”
To a certain extent, the size of its space dictates what kind of restaurant the DeLuxe can be. That said, “it’s also a concept I’ve been thinking about for a long time, a fast-casual model,” Selden said. “That was the direction I wanted to head in. My ideas work in a limited space.”
Tentative days for lunch (or brunch) and dinner service are Thursday through Monday.
Thali — the name, roughly translated from Hindi, means “combination plate” — began its dinners about a year ago as part of the Reno Supper Club, a successor to Bowl-Rawr presented by those restaurants’ owners.
Thali specializes in family dishes from Punjab state in Northern India. The restaurant’s strong support for Northern Nevada farmers is in keeping with Punjab’s agricultural heritage.
“We are the California of India,” said Serj Singh, whose family owns Thali. “In Punjab, we grow lots of crops. All the water comes from the mountains and gets into the plains, and we are in the plains.”
Besides its commitment to organic ingredients (Thali is all vegetarian), Thali’s focus on the home cooking of a single region also sets it apart from the pan-Indian mishmash found at many local Indian restaurants.
The set menus that celebrate this Punjabi food will still be served four nights a week at Thali, Singh said. But for a week at the end of February, the restaurant will introduce dishes prepared by a guest cook from Southern India.
Singh said he hoped this guest cook would be the first of regular monthly cooks from across India. But no matter the region, “we want it to be home-style cooking, showing people what real Indian home cooking is like, home-cooked meals you usually don’t get in restaurants.”
Singh said lunch and expanded dinner service and downtown delivery are possibilities for the future. “We’re going slowly,” he said. “Testing the market.”