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the ethnic markets of reno

Airstream road trip to Alumafiesta, Reno, NV, ethnic markets


I have the distinct privilege of having in-laws in Reno. Aside from the fact that they are delightful, warm, supportive people, no Burner underappreciates the luxury of a hot shower in a normal family home after a week on the Playa. But Reno is more than just a place to powerwash your vehicle upon return to the default world, or to buy bottled water, top ramen, and liquor. (Though liquor prices, especially at Save Mart, are the lowest in the West.)


I’ve been to Reno many times and I’m always surprised to see how it morphs. Suddenly there’s a mega mall where an empty lot just was (and vice versa), and long-standing businesses fade away. One particular megacasino has changed hands six times since 1974. But the Gold ’N Silver is always the same, and it will be a sign of the apocalypse when that disappears.


Always opening and closing are an assortment of ethnic markets, which reflect the surprising cultural diversity in Reno. You can find ingredients for any recipe: Asian, Hispanic, African, French, Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Pakistani, and more.


The restaurants too, offer foodstuffs you might have never tasted before. If you like loud rowdy fun with your sweetbreads, I recommend Louie’s Basque Corner, my favorite eatery in Reno for the very reason some people hate it. As a one-star Yelp rater posted, “If you don’t come with a big group of friends, you become stuck sharing food with a group of strangers.” That’s the best part! Carafes of wine and bowls of steaming ox tail soup are passed family style, hand to hand, among the diners at your long table: conventioneers, newlyweds, busted gamblers, actual Basques. The food is meaty—lamb, tongue—and the high octane house drink, the Picon Punch, allegedly packs a wallop. I’m sad to say I haven’t had one, as I’ve been restricted from visiting Louie’s for a very long time (my FIL deems it “dirty” and the atmosphere is far too socially aggressive for the hubs). If you go, let me know. I’ll meet you there.



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