The Reno-Tahoe region boasts a storied history marked by rich diversity, whether we’re talking about the Basque shepherds of the backcountry, vibrant Hispanic communities nestled in urban areas, or the Celtic peoples who manned the mines of Virginia City. Today, the international flavor continues fueled by the University of Nevada, Reno, a top-tier higher education institution that attracts talented students from all over the world.
You don’t have to look far to find incredible examples of diversity in Northern Nevada, as attested by the wide variety of ethnic restaurants and culturally rich festivals. Here’s a brief rundown of diversity in Reno-Tahoe and where you can get a taste of the world.
Taste the World at Reno-Area Restaurants
There are so many lip-smacking ways to taste world flavors in Reno-Tahoe that it’s hard to know where to start. Give Thai Lotus a try for the best in family-style Southeast Asian dining. It boasts a diverse menu featuring fresh ingredients and the best authentic Thai cooking. Must-try menu items include a mindboggling array of curries from pumpkin to pineapple, avocado to mango. Scope out their menu here. As one faithful devotee of the restaurant, Caroline K. of San Ramon, California, attests, “My annual business trip to Reno also means my annual dinner at Thai Lotus … It’s damn good Thai food, period.”
If you’re jonesing for Ethiopian flavors, look no further than Reno’s Zagol Ethiopian Restaurant. The first and only Ethiopian restaurant in Reno, adventurous foodies will fall in love with its varied and delish menu. And don’t forget to try the coffee. After all, this glorious roasted bean originated in Ethiopia, and Zagol does the perennial beverage in true style. Andy N. of Santa Cruz, California, had this to say about Zagol, “If you’ve never had Ethiopian, you’re in for a treat. It’s a great dining experience where you use your hands and the provided sour bread (injera) to scoop up the main dishes. Your taste buds will surely be tantalized.”
Reno’s Midtown contains one of the best Indian restaurants in the region, India Kabab and Curry. The restaurant boasts authentic Indian menu items in a richly decorated setting. India Kabab and Curry’s delectable lunchtime buffet has converted many occasional diners into regulars. And the establishment offers vegetarian and vegan options, too. Katie R. of Sparks, Nevada, attests, that India Kabab and Curry is “certainly my go-to Indian food in Reno. Fantastic food and quick, no-nonsense service.”
Whip Up Global Flavor With Culinary Classes
Reno-Tahoe boasts an incredible culinary scene, and you’ll find the ethnic cooking classes to prove it. One of the area’s cooking hotspots is Nothing to It! Culinary Center. Opened in 1995, Nothing to It! has become a true staple of the Reno-Tahoe foodie scene. From its gourmet deli and store selling the latest and greatest in cookware to its incredible offering of classes, this is your one-stop-shop for the best in cooking and dining.
Courses tackle Thai, French, and Italian cuisine. There are also sushi courses and many couples’ cooking classes. These take place in a 6,000-square-foot culinary center designed for maximum student participation. Burners and ovens are available to every student group, enhancing the collaborative and hands-on nature of experiences. What’s more, you’ll learn from award-winning chefs that have worked in some of America’s finest restaurants, including the Four Seasons.
Sierra Chef has been a staple of the local food scene in Genoa since 2015. Classes cover everything from handcrafting ravioli to making cheese. You’ll also enjoy opportunities to whip up Gallic gastronomic delights like coq au vin and mouthwatering Latin street tacos. You’ll find both adult and youth-oriented courses. No matter how exotic the recipes taught, all classes emphasize the value of utilizing local ingredients.
Another great place to learn how to cook food from around the world is Truckee Meadows Community College, which offers classes accredited through the American Culinary Federation. Other courses worth checking out are provided by Williams-Sonoma and The Tahoe Dinner Bell (offering private chef lessons in your home).
Mark Your Calendars for Year-Round Cultural Festivals
Celebrate the Chinese New Year at one of Reno’s premier resort casinos. Events take place annually during the first week of February at the Grand Sierra Resort and the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. You’ll enjoy outstanding authentic food, great music, and exciting giveaways at these events.
Things heat up in Reno in May. The city celebrates Cinco de Mayo festivities beginning with the Cinco de Mayo Festival at the Grand Sierra Resort. The festival celebrates Northern Nevada’s Latino heritage and provides excellent entertainment and yummy eats from noon to 8 pm daily. The ROW also hosts La Fiesta de Mayo Festival, which enjoyed its inaugural gathering in 2022, showcasing live music, great food, and tequila and beer samplings.
Every May 21st, Reno hosts the Northern Nevada Celtic Celebration and a Ceilidh (Gaelic for “celebration”) and Concert featuring toe-tapping Celtic music. The event takes place along the 400 block of East Fourth Street, notable for its dynamic brewery scene. It includes food trucks and tents filled with retail goods and takes place in a parking lot shared by Black Rabbit Mead Company, Nevada Sunset Winery, and Lead Dog Brewery. The Sons & Daughters of Erin sponsor the event.
July 16th brings the Annual Reno Basque Festival, which gives nods to the area’s Basque heritage. At the event, you’ll enjoy traditional cuisine and plenty of entertainment. Entertainment includes dances in colorful costumes and athletic competitions like wood chopping, weightlifting, and soka tira (tug-of-war). The Zazpiak Bat Basque Club stages events at Idlewild Park’s California Building (75 Cowan Drive) and the downtown brewery district (401 E. 4th Street).
Fall brings more opportunities for cultural enrichment. At the beginning of September, the Annual Numaga Indian Days Powwow takes place in Hungry Valley, north of Sparks. Vendors sell various Native American artisanal crafts, and the event includes a Numaga Princess Contest and a Three Nations Walk & Run. Every October, the Great Italian Festival takes place in downtown Reno and showcases Northern Nevada’s Italian roots. The celebration takes place in front of the Eldorado Hotel Casino and features grape-stomping and spaghetti-eating competitions. Come with an appetite because there are plenty of booths selling gelato, coffee, and Italian food.
Diversity in Reno-Tahoe
There are many ways to celebrate diversity in Reno-Tahoe, whether you’re looking for excellent cuisine, a colorful festival, or culinary classes. And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to celebrating communities from around the world. Are you ready to find out more about life in Northern Nevada? We’ve got you covered. Learn more about Fun Summer Activities to get started.
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Engrid Barnett is an award-winning travel writer and digital content marketer based in Western Nevada. Recognized by the Nevada Press Association in 2019, her work has been featured in Nevada Magazine, Northern Nevada Business Weekly, Tahoe South, Rova, American Trails, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and more.
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