The snow is melting, the air is warming — it's road trip season. And what better motivation to hop in the car than a delicious meal in a new locale? Enjoy local wine and produce in a historic home in the Sierra Foothills, cheese and charcuterie in Nevada's oldest settlement, and Japanese fare in the Biggest Little City, to name a few.
Smith Flat House / Placerville
The Smith Flat House designs its menu around the local harvest coming out of the Apple Hill region. Located in the cellar of a historic home, the restaurant serves artfully plated dishes like winter squash risotto made with local produce, mascarpone, fresh herbs and fried sage leaves or a 14-oz. New York steak topped with garlic confit served with bacon-blue cheese mashed potatoes and roasted purple cauliflower.
The restaurant also serves a variety of wood-fired pizza, makes its pasta from scratch and pours a range of wines coming out of vineyards in the Sierra Foothills, like Lava Cap, Boeger and Madrona.
Kaubōi Izakaya / Reno
Kaubōi Izakaya is a funky, Japanese-style tavern in Reno's Midtown District. To best experience the cuisine, go with a group and share an assortment of dishes. The yakitori grill, with options for skewered chicken breast, wing, thigh, heart, and a tsukune chicken meatball, is the core of the restaurant's menu.
Other can't-miss items: Hamachi with Asian pear and ponzu gel; pork-shiitake gyoza dumplings with bourbon barrel soy; ramen with pork bone, pork belly and seven-minute egg; and wicked fried rice with duck crackling and duck egg. The full bar includes a selection of sake, shochu (a Japanese spirit distilled from rice, barley, sweet potatoes and more) and Japanese whiskies.
Pianeta Cucina Italiana / Truckee
In the heart of downtown Truckee, Pianeta serves Northern Italian cuisine in a cozy, intimate environment. Start the meal with an antipasto of beef carpaccio topped with capers, dijon, shaved parmigiano-reggiano, arugula, olive oil and grilled bread.
Pasta dishes are made with fresh noodles, like the ravioli bolognese made with house-made ricotta and beef and veal ragu or the bistecca alla modenese — a filet mignon with gorgonzola, balsamic grilled onions, seared garlic potato gnocchi and grilled greens. Top the meal off with a lemon panna cotta and a glass of port.
The Pink House / Genoa
Inside a blush-colored 1855 Gothic Revival home in Nevada's oldest settlement is a restaurant worthy of a day-trip. The Pink House, decorated with ornate wallpaper and black and white photos of past residents, is a foodie haven with cheese and charcuterie counters stocked with artisanal products from around the world.
Warm up your taste buds with a cheeseboard of your choosing before diving into a specialty sandwich — think slow-roasted pork belly and tenderloin with arugula, gruyere, mustard aioli and spicy pickles on focaccia — or a flatbread with mango-habanero jam, chevre and prosciutto. Wash down the meal with a wine flight followed by a bowl of the house-made ice cream with new flavors daily.
Café at Adele's / Carson City
Café at Adele's is an institution in Carson City. The award-winning restaurant, located in a restored 1864 Comstock Mansart Victorian, has a diverse menu, with everything from Cajun and classic French cuisine, to Middle Eastern-inspired fare and Italian Riviera-style pizza.
In the café's warm dining room decorated with a rotation of local art, enjoy sashimi coated in Cajun spices before diving into a Lebanese lamb chop using all Nevada-raised products or a gourmet pizza topped with pork belly, goat cheese, provolone, spinach, arugula and egg. Don't overlook Adele's made-from-scratch cocktail list, either.
Stonefly / Markleeville
Drive down scenic California Route 89 for a taste of Stonefly's seasonal fare in quaint downtown Markleeville. The Italian-inspired restaurant serves up bright flavorful dishes, like filo-wrapped goat cheese stuffed with date and olive tapenade, pan-seared scallops with curry cream, and grilled spice-rubbed pork tenderloin with persimmon and fig jam. Cap off the meal with a cranberry and apple crostata (Italian pie) served with house-made ice cream or a bittersweet chocolate espresso tore with berries and whipped cream.