The bite mark — no, the Bites mark — is now twice as big.
That’s because Reno Bites, the annual celebration of the city’s food and drink culture, has grown from one week to two weeks this year, running Oct. 8-21. Why the bigger Bites?
“We decided to expand based on popular demand over the years," said Natasha Bourlin, co-founder of Reno Bites with longtime Reno chef Clint Jolly.
"Many of the people going out to dine shared that they wished they’d had more time to explore the restaurants and the specials the chefs had created,
“We’ve also heard from restaurateurs this year that they wanted two full weeks for people to come in and try their offerings.”
Reno Bites, now in its seventh year, features two signature events, a new healthy eating partnership, and nearly 25 restaurants serving up specials. Recently, Bourlin shared with @RGJTaste the highlights of Reno Bites week — oops, two weeks.
This year, Reno Bites is joining with Renown Health to launch Healthy Bites, designed to help folks dine out more healthfully.
The Healthy Bites portion of the Bites website offers an interactive map with suggested healthy dining options from participating restaurants, like pan-seared swordfish at Sierra St. Kitchen & Cocktails, or roasted butternut squash hummus at Wild River Grille.
Healthy Bites also provides healthy eating tips (including some short videos) from chef Chris Wyatt, Renown’s community culinary and wellness manager.
“Renown Health is excited to join restaurants around the community offering Healthy Bites” Wyatt said, and “we look forward to seeing even more healthful sustainable menu options here in the Truckee Meadows."
The 23 restaurants participating in Reno Bites are offering $10, $20 and $30 menu specials. Bourlin touched on some of them, suggesting folks try at least one at each price for their Reno Bites experience.
Bam Dog Righteous Hot Dogs, for instance, is sending out smoked bratwurst topped with stone ground mustard and sauerkraut, all nestled in a housemade pretzel roll for $10.
For the same price at Moo Dang Thai food, you’ll get a red roast pork and noodle stir-fry paired with a 22-ounce Chang beer.
“That’s a big beer,” Bourlin said. “You’re set for the evening.”
The $20 special at SouthCreek Pizza Co. features two draft beers or tap wine and the either a cheese steak or Joe pie blistered and bubbling from the wood-fire oven. Chihuahua’s Cantina, new to South Reno, is serving meat fajitas and a margarita, also for 20 bucks.
Several restaurants are doing $30 dinner specials.
At Bistro Napa in the Atlantis, look for a poblano chile stuffed with Dungeness crab, chorizo and habanero Jack cheese. The chile rests on a succotash of heirloom beans and chayote. Roasted tomatillo salsa comes along for the ride.
The Shore restaurant in the Renaissance hotel is showcasing the most elaborate $30 special. It’s a Greek-inspired three-course menu with three to four choices for each course.
Among those choices are Greek meatballs or braised beets and skordalia garlic and potato spread for the first course, beef moussaka or braised lamb shank for the second course, and Metaxa blueberry cheesecake or flourless chocolate cake to finish.
“I thought this was a really thoughtful menu,” Bourlin said.
The Chef Showdown at Czyz’s Appliance once again caps off Reno Bites. This year, seven chefs are competing using a box of secret ingredients revealed just before the cook-off.
Three chefs — Jessica Marrufo-Shapiro of the Cheese Board, Brett Moseley of Washoe Public House and 2017 champion Christian Christensen of Süp — are returning to the Czyz’s model kitchens. The other four chefs are new to the contest.
Yours truly is judging, along with chef Wyatt of Renown and a representative from Sysco, the national food distributor and Reno Bites sponsor.
“The Showdown gives chefs a terrific opportunity to show their stuff,” Bourlin said. “To release their creativity constrained only by ingredients and time.”
The Showdown begins 2 p.m. Oct. 20 at Czyz's, 9738 S. Virginia St. Admission is free.
It’s going to be a tasty two weeks.