Here are the Best of Reno contest winners in Food & Drink
When it came to this year's Best of Reno contest, the Food & Drink category was one of your favorites. Here are the gold winners in each Food & Drink subcategory. Laura Longero/RGJ
When it came to this year's Best of Reno contest, the Food & Drink category was one of your favorites.
Top categories were local bartender, burger, bakery, and breakfast/brunch restaurant.
The results from this year's Best of Reno contest, powered by Reno.com and Reno Magazine, were announced Sunday.
In all, more than 190,000 votes were cast in the contest. Readers first nominated businesses, people and places for the ballot, and then voted for their favorites from that list.
Here are the gold, silver and bronze winners in Food & Drink:
Gold: DoughBoys Donuts
Ah yes, the power of the pink cardboard box. What treasures did your relatives, co-workers or friends bring to share (or hopefully didn’t forget?). That question gets answered thousands of times a week for patrons of DoughBoys Donuts. The business started in the 1980s, but didn’t begin in Reno until current owner Jay Kenny moved from Southern California to Reno. The first DoughBoys store was a hit, and he hasn’t looked back since. Among the items is the Wolf Pack Paw, a UNR-centric creation with blue vanilla icing.
Bronze: Homage Bakery
Several of the Best of Reno food and drink winners have started with one home-grown restaurant and then expanded to other parts of town (or the region). That’s certainly true of Peg’s, a Reno favorite that started with a downtown location in 1999. Always popular, especially for Sunday brunch, Peg’s serves a distinctive mix of breakfast classics, Northern California fare, some Hawaiian foods and variations on Mexican cuisine. The mix on the menu suits Peg’s fans fine, no matter which location they choose.
Silver: Squeeze In
Gold: In-N-Out Burger
Newer local favorite Burger Me and long-timers Archie’s gave the venerable former-Cali-fave a serious run for its money in this category. But, this legendary feast palace still came out on top. Based in California, this chain’s rarity in our parts led to actual front-page news (or close to it) when the south Reno location opened in 2004. Followed a few years later by the location in Sparks, at both places In-N-Out serves its simple but one-of-a-kind variant on fries, burgers and shakes, and still to big lines in the drive-through or inside during rush hours.
Silver: Burger Me
Gold:Palais De Jade
A mainstay on the Reno cuisine scene, this Lakeside-area restaurant has been in business since 1989, serving Asian food in an old-school, elegant atmosphere instead of the standard take-away place. The variety of styles, coupled with an affordability that contrasts with the tablecloth-and-prompt-service vibe, is what makes Palais de Jade earn loyal diners. Cantonese, Sichuan and Mandarin dishes all mingle on the menu of this local’s favorite which has weathered much competition to remain on top.
Silver: P.F. Chang’s
As much as local flavor was rewarded with the other two winners in this category, the national giant still hit No. 1 on the Best of Reno charts. With its trademarked Frappuccino blends leading the way, Starbucks has maintained its loyal audience with a convenience strategy straight out of the fast food business. There isn’t quite one on every corner, but darn close. With tinkering to coffee blends and ideas happening pretty frequently, Starbucks has stayed as the go-to spot for that much-needed elixir for much of America.
Silver:Bibo Coffee Co.
Bronze: Hub Coffee Roasters
Gold:Deli Towne USA
When you tell a Reno newbie about this place, there sometimes is mild consternation. “Great sandwiches from a gas station? What the heck?” Well, leave those preconceptions at the door, because this Lakeside long-timer delivers the goods and then some. Opened in 1993 in a modest space, it has since tripled in size and offerings. Sizes of sandwich range from small to the infamous “monster.” A deli case features grab-n-go options, and there also are soups and salads on offer. Here’s to the little guy (or the “monster” in this case).
Bronze: Laughing Planet Cafe
Once again, this hidden gem of the area gets some love from our Best of Reno voters. Opening in the mid-’90s, the Steak House earned its loyal diners through diverse offerings that befit a fine restaurant in a casino. Tons of appetizers and a half-dozen salad choices are the starters for extensive seafood options and steak cuts on the menu. The Steak House is particularly known for its prime rib, slow-roasted on site and served the traditional way or in a “blackened” style with whiskey butter.
Gold: Aloha Shack
The food truck scene is fully entrenched in Reno, and this rolling testament to fusion styles earned this year’s top ranking. Among the offerings at Aloha are Hawaiian specialties, teriyaki chicken, melt sandwiches and poke bowls. As with all food trucks, the place to find the Luke family and their popular truck is online, where they post up locations on their own website and on the usual social media sites. They also often feature in the various food truck events around town.
Bronze:Kenji’s Food Truck
Having opened 12 years ago, Zozo’s is run by the Ashton family, including chef Kevin, and has been a firm favorite on the crowded local Italian food scene after transforming the former Pane Vivo site in Lakeside. Items include the Zozo’s take on favorites like lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo and ravioli, as well as Zozo-named takes on items like chicken with penne or veal. The restaurant also is known for dishes with fins and shells on its fun menu, including calamari steak and polenta with shrimp.
Silver:Johnny’s Ristorante Italiano
Gold: Michael Wilson at The Trocadero
Wilson is behind the bar of the Trocadero, a club that’s been open since March in the old El Cortez Lounge space. Before that, Wilson was bartender at the Eldorado’s popular Cin Cin bar for three years. He’s been bartending or 25 years and clearly that experience and his attitude have gone a long way to gain him a following.
“If you make a good cocktail, someone is going to smile,” he said. “It can change their day.”
Silver: Francis Wierzbicki at Sierra Gold
Bronze: Anna Maye Vetter at Beer NV
Gold: Michael Mahoney at Charlie Palmer Steak at Grand Sierra Resort
Leading the voting for this category is a big name at Charlie Palmer’s Reno location: corporate sous chef Michael Mahoney. He is a Reno native and graduate of Hug High School, who studied culinary arts at The Art Institute of California in Sacramento, where he graduated in 2012. He definitely worked his way up, starting as a line cook at the Grand Sierra right after graduating. He worked his way up to his current position after being promoted at Briscola and then Charlie Palmer.
Silver: Mark Estee at Liberty Food and Wine Exchange
Gold: Kristi Jensen at Bully’s Sports Bar and Grill on Sierra Highlands Drive
Kristi Jensen’s customers at the flagship Bully’s have had plenty of time to get to know her – she’s been with Bully’s for 17 years, most of it at the Sierra Highlands Drive location. Born and raised in Reno, Jensen graduated from University of Nevada, Reno with an education degree. For her current line of work, Jensen says, “It doesn’t feel like ‘work.’” She loves that there are “a ton of regulars that I get to socialize with on my shift.” Jensen has a simple formula for why she’s gained so many fans: “I’m just overly attentive. I want everything to be right and I want their experience to be good.”
Within the past year, Miguel’s opened a second location at The Summit, adding to the profile of a business that has been open at its original location on South Virginia Street since 1959. That location can now lay claim to being in the uber-hip Midtown district, but it has kept it consistent for decades when it comes to the food. There are 26 combo plates with all your favorites from tacos to chimichangas, as well as the popular house margaritas.
The pizza offerings in Reno have expanded greatly in the past few years, but this old-school favorite still has huge fans. Plus, there have been two locations opened recently to join the longtime Blind Onion locale on Kings Row, where many a UNR student (and alum) has bought a pie. Among the specialties are Megan’s chicken parmesan, the garden of eatin’ (yes, it’s vegetables) and the wonderfully named breath buster: linguica, pepperoni, minced garlic and red onions. More salad and sandwich offerings that your usual pie house add to the Blind Onion’s appeal.
Silver: Wild Garlic Pizza and Pub
Bronze:Noble Pie Parlor
And here they are again! The Steak House’s following has outdone themselves for this edition of the Best-Of. If we are talking strictly steak and seafood here, this Western Village restaurant features the cuts everyone loves: ribeye, New York, porterhouse and filet mignon. You can also get that last one with lobster tail or king crab, or there’s the mixed grill with scampi-style prawns and a lamb chop. Seafood offerings include sea bass, halibut, roasted salmon, seafood pasta with shrimp and scallops, coconut prawns and king crab legs.
Gold: Hiroba Sushi
A one-of-a-kind feature in Reno’s dining world is all-you-can-eat sushi, and it seems that longtime Renoites and newbies are flocking to this Skyline-area outpost for the fresh stuff. Open since 2008, Hiroba has built its name on its maki rolls. Among the more popular ones are the tuna blossom, the black tiger (featuring tempura shrimp and seared tuna), the Kwan (crystal shrimp, spicy crab and cooked scallop) and Hiroba (also with crystal shrimp and crab, but with mango sauce). With another location opening soon, look for Hiroba to become a sushi mainstay.
Silver:Tha Joint Sushi and Grill
Bronze: Ijji Sushi
Gold: Bangkok Cuisine
It may have recently closed its South Reno locale, but the original Bangkok Cuisine in Midtown still serves classic Thai cuisine to locals who have learned to love it. Open since 1996, well ahead of the Thai-food hipness curve, Bangkok is known for its curries, all made in a variety of styles and heat-indexes. There’s also options for noodle dishes (including pad Thai), soups and whole fried fish among the varied menu options. Add on a lunch special that shifts each day and you have a restaurant fully entrenched in the Midtown district.
Silver: Thai Lotus Restaurant
Gold: The Golden Flower
It hasn’t always been the case with this year’s Best Of winners, but in some categories the long-standing restaurants are getting the gold win. That’s certainly what’s happened to Golden Flower, a fixture in downtown Reno for decades that is known not only for its menu but for being open until 3 a.m. on the weekends. This is Vietnamese food and drink at its most authentic, including classics like lemongrass chicken. There are also dozens of variants of pho, surely the most popular style at the Golden Flower, whether it’s past midnight or around noon.
Silver: Pho 777
Bronze:Pho Vietnamese Cuisine