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Best Reno Restaurants

AOL PICK from our Editors

As a casino town, Reno is often known for its all-you-can-eat buffets, but you'll find more than mounds of pre-cooked and mass-prepared meals here. Until recently, fine dining was a relatively new concept. When two top-notch bistros, LuLou's and 4th St. Bistro, opened their doors around Y2K they set the stage for a number of innovative restaurateurs to try their luck in Reno. The town also welcomed its first and only celebrity chef restaurant in 2007, when Charlie Palmer Steak opened at the Grand Sierra Resort. The food scene has been blossoming in nearby Lake Tahoe—Truckee area over the past decade as well. Some restaurants have been providing delicious cuisine for decades, such as Wolfdale’s in Tahoe City. But most good restaurants are newcomers that are here to stay, including Manzanita at The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, open since December 2009 and headed by celebrity Chef Traci Des Jardins. The list below offers a mix for different tastes, moods and pocketbooks.

Manzanita

Neighborhood: Truckee Price: Expensive

Renowned Chef and James Beard Award winner Traci Des Jardins offers cuisine that is inspired by the seasons and complements a day in the mountains. You'll find things like squid ink tagliolini, grilled Thai snapper and citrus panna cotta. A welcoming bar and lounge, focused wine list and modern space complete the experience. The organic, seasonal food is the star. But the Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe provides a stellar, open location with beautiful views. The hotel restaurant, nestled in the mountains at Northstar Resort, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Manzanita  

Moody's Bistro

Neighborhood: Truckee Price: Expensive

When coming to Moody's, be sure to bring a thirst for libations and a hunger for healthy food created from fresh, honest, artisan ingredients. That's just what you'll find, and talented and charming Executive Chef Mark Estee lives by the moniker “Fresh. Seasonal. Simple. Local.” That's all served up in dishes like crimson snapper with sweet corn and antelope with tempura cauliflower. The bar usually offers live jazz, and people pack in the place because it's just such a cool spot to hang.

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Moody's Bistro  

4th Street Bistro

Neighborhood: Downtown Reno
Price: Expensive

Chef Natalie Sellers and General Manager Carol Wilson have been serving outstanding contemporary cuisine since June of 2000. All of their dishes are created with market-driven, fresh, sustainable, local, seasonal, organic, and farm-fresh ingredients. Meats and poultry come from Niman Ranch and Sonoma County Poultry, and fruits and veggies hail mostly from local, organic and sustainable farms. Try the duck leg confit or the pan-roasted Halibut.

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4th Street Bistro  

Roundabout Bistro

Neighborhood: Downtown Reno
Price: Moderate

Roundabout Bistro features high quality and beautifully presented cuisine that appeals to the whole family. The menu offers healthy comfort food with an edge, ranging from homemade pizza, burgers and salads to grilled fish and steak. The restaurant’s talented Chef/Owner Colin Smith makes most everything from scratch, including the breads and pastas (made fresh daily). The brightly colored, contemporary, open and inviting space features a bar that faces the busy demonstration kitchen.

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Roundabout Bistro  

Gar Woods & Pier Restaurant on the Lake

Neighborhood: North Lake Tahoe
Price: Moderate

As it's right on the water with a huge deck and a pier for boat docking, it's no surprise that this is a popular gathering spot. The main dining room offers floor-to-ceiling views in a comfortable mahogany decor with the nostalgic ambiance of Tahoe’s classic wood boating era. The breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner cuisine (basically sandwiches, salads and mediocre entrees) is secondary to the location and scenery. But rum lovers must get a Wet Woody, Gar Woods’ famous and deadly specialty drink. They're usually half price on Wednesdays and all day and all night throughout the summer. Grab a table on the deck if you can.

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Gar Woods & Pier Restaurant on the Lake  

Mamasake

Neighborhood: The Village at Squaw
Price: Moderate

This jam-packed Cal-Asian restaurant in Squaw Valley offers eclectic combinations that reflect Japanese, Italian and Latin American influences. Mamasake Chef/Owner Elsa Corrigan serves fresh, modern and traditional sushi, sashimi and nigiri, as well as cold and cooked tapas. The contemporary fusion approach produces distinctive and healthy food, with a focus on clean flavors. You'll find ingredients sourced from sustainable, organic growers and fisheries. Meats are antibiotic and hormone free, and many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free items are offered. It's usually filled with skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer. There's also a nice selection of wine and sakes.

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Mamasake  

5th Street Bakehouse

Neighborhood: Downtown Reno
Price: Budget

Don’t be scared of the grungy strip mall and run-down parking lot surrounding 5th Street Bakehouse. Inside it’s a cheery gem in the rough. The bakery features fabulous, fresh-baked breads, pastries, cookies and cakes, but 5th Street also serves a small and focused menu of salads and sandwiches for lunch and both savory and sweet breakfast fare. Creative grilled sandwiches include a Cuban and sweet and slightly spicy chipotle chicken sandwich. Patrons also can sip on organic coffee drinks and enjoy inventive homemade ice cream (flavors include natural mint as well as habanero). The family-run establishment also has friendly and accommodating service and free WiFi.

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5th Street Bakehouse  

Dish Cafe

Neighborhood: Downtown Reno
Price: Budget

This cool joint is famous for upscale comfort food at a budget price, using fresh, organic ingredients to create fun, festive, flavorful dishes. Chef and owner Nancy Horn creates menus with a seasonal sensibility, seeking out the best quality ingredients. Top menu items include the most luscious quiche (made fresh daily), the Irish Rose sandwich (grilled Black Forest ham and Dubliner Irish cheddar cheese), The Cowgirl panini (thinly sliced, dry-rubbed, grilled tri tip with caramelized onions, thyme, Dijon mustard and goat cheese spread on sourdough), and the Funky Chicken salad (with chopped chicken breast, red apple, toasted walnuts, romaine lettuce and homemade blue cheese dressing). Dish is open for breakfast and lunch during the week only.

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Dish Cafe  

Tacos Jaliscos

Neighborhood: Truckee Price: Budget

Cheap and tasty is how a lot of people describe Tacos Jaliscos. Try the fish or carne asada tacos for a delight in your mouth, washed down with a cold Mexican beer. It’s a true local’s hangout and popular stop for passersby en route to the lakes, mountains or slopes near the Sierra Nevada town of Truckee. There's no need for you to dress up for this hole-in-the-wall. Sweaty, dirty bikers, skiers, climbers, construction workers and other active types come as they are.

The Little Nuggett

Neighborhood: Downtown Reno
Price: Budget

This hole-in-the-wall burger joint has been delighting customers for decades. Their Awful-Awful (an “Awful big, Awful good” burger) is half a pound of meat served on top of a pound of sinfully delicious fries. The local’s favorite hits the spot for those craving a big, juicy hamburger. Beware: the diner is located inside a rundown casino filled with cigarette smoke. But most patrons are too drunk to be bothered by the smoke or notice the atmosphere. Reno’s iconic burger has been featured in books, magazines, newspapers and TV shows, including a stint on the Travel Channel’s Food Wars in the summer of 2010.

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