Victorian Square, Sparks

23 09 2010

Is it gilding the lily to prolong a vacation that was already a month long?  One that has now been over for almost three weeks?  Maybe so, but I’m doing it anyway.  I still have vacation food photos to share, and they’re of some of my favorite places and foods in the world.  This one leans more toward favorite places, but you know the food is good, too, or they wouldn’t be my favorite places.

Some of my favorite eating and drinking establishments
1. The Nugget 2. Blind Onion Pizza 3. O’Ski’s Pub 4. Great Basin Brewing Co.

Sparks, Nevada (the middle “a” sounds like the one in “hat,” not “blah”) has been a sort of home-away-from-home for me for a long time.  (Except for the half-year I lived there, right after moving back to the US from France for the first time.  You can imagine the culture shock.)  Victorian Square, aka B Street, was the epicenter of my life there.  I spent many a happy hour at the Nugget Casino’s Orozko bar, drinking half-price drinks and eating tapas, and a few late nights at their blackjack and roulette tables.  I worked at the Great Basin Brewing Company, and I go back for a few pints and meals every time I’m in town.

Black and Blue burger at Great Basin Brewing Co.

I always have a hard time deciding between the signature Black and Blue burger and the fish and chips.  On this particular occasion, I went with the former – a juicy burger seasoned with Cajun blackening spices and topped with blue cheese.  It was every bit as flavorful as I remembered it.  Since this was our second lunch there in a week, and I’d had a chance to chat with the head chef, Nick got a special experimental sandwich he was working on.

Guillermo Special

And was it ever good!  Chicken breast, split open and stuffed with ham and cheddar cheese, then battered and deep-fried.  It was possibly even more awesome than it sounds.  Of course, they also make beer at Great Basin, and they are some of my all-time favorite beers anywhere.  I especially like the Icthyosaur IPA, the Wild Horse Amber, and the Chilebeso Chili beer, but they’re always coming up with new seasonals, and I haven’t had a bad beer there yet.  The bad news for those of you who don’t live in Northern Nevada is that it’s currently only sold on select local taps.  The good news is that they may start bottling soon, so keep your eyes open!

Next door to the Great Basin is O’Ski’s pub, another fine drinking establishment.  It’s ostensibly an Irish-Polish bar (get it?) but really it’s just a great beer bar, with an always-changing selection of microbrews, lots of sports and mardi gras memorabilia on the walls and ceiling, and a pool table in the back.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve shut this place down.

Newer on the scene is Blind Onion Pizza, which wasn’t there when I lived there but I sure wish it had been.  Definitely a West Coast-style pizza, it has a thick, twisted crust and there are cups of ranch dressing and bottles of honey for dipping if you’re into that.  (I’m not… well, maybe sometimes the ranch.)

Pizza at Blind Onion

They serve their beers in pint jars, from a small, rotating list of microbrews on tap.  The pizza topping choices range from classic to slightly unusual, but there’s nothing you wouldn’t want on a pizza.

Several other bars and restaurants line the street, so it’s usually a pretty happening place, but the summer is when Victorian Square really jumps.  Every Thursday is the Sparks Farmer’s Market, which has just as many fair-type trinket, craft, and junk food stalls as it does actual farmers.  But that doesn’t stop the whole city from coming down and enjoying live music, good food and drinks, and the bustling scene.  And on Labor Day weekend, The Nugget hosts the annual Best in the West Rib Cook-Off, which is tons of fun.  Sadly, we missed it by a week this year.  It’s a planning mistake we hope not to repeat.

* * * * *

One more thing: a last-minute reminder to vote for me in round one of Project Food Blog.  Voting is open until 6:00 pm Pacific time today, September 23.  That’s 3:00 am on Friday the 24th for those of you in continental Europe!  If you want to go back and read my entry post, you can find it here.  A big thank you to everyone who’s voted so far – you really make me feel loved!

On this day in 2008: Oops, I Did It Again (What’s it?  I guess you’ll have to click to find out.)

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10 responses

23 09 2010
Brian Blair

Hi Camille,
What a lovely article! You writing style is delightful and your food photos are beautifully done. (Just a quick FYI – there are no links from your photos.)
Regards – Brian

23 09 2010
croquecamille

Brian – Thanks for the heads up! I fixed it, and the links are working now. Thanks, too, for the kind words. :)

24 09 2010
Hannah

I am so absolutely behind the combination of blue cheese and cajun seasoning! Dipping sauces for pizza is beyond my realm of comprehension though… also, seeing as I still have one or two photo posts to go from my travels (which ended in early April) I think you’re completely okay to keep posting about yours! :D

24 09 2010
Nate @ House of Annie

Honey as a pizza dipping sauce? I’ve never encountered that before. Interesting!

Hope you get to make it to the rib cookoff next year. Sounds like a lot of fun!

24 09 2010
croquecamille

Hannah – I appreciate the validation. :) And why would you understand pizza dipping? You don’t even like pizza!

Nate – I guess it’s so the pizza crust can double as dessert. And so do I! :)

26 09 2010
Ann

I have to admit that ranch dressing as a pizza dip sounds really good. Trashy, but good. You can take the girl out of the States but…

26 09 2010
hungry dog

I like the idea of the black and blue burger! And Nick’s sandwich sounds delicious and over the top. Great vacation food!

26 09 2010
Tammy McLeod

I love that you frequented all of the locally owned establishments! And my husband and kids would be all over that burger. Great post Camille.

26 09 2010
Andrea

I love vacation photos! Also, thanks, from the bottom of my heart, for pronounced Nevada correctly. No one here on the East Coast does!

26 09 2010
croquecamille

Ann – Exactly. :)

hungry dog – Yes it was! What is it about vacations that makes it ok to pile on the junk food?

Tammy – Thank you! I pretty much always prefer the locally owned places to the big chains.

Andrea – Just doing my part to educate the masses. :)




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