Winnemucca, NV


From the outside, Winnemucca, Nevada appears to be like most other small Nevada towns–not much more than a mini replica of Vegas. While it boasts casinos on every major corner of the main street, it is also home to four traditional Basque restaurants. The Basques came to many parts of the Western US, including southern Idaho and northern Nevada during the goldrush and were integral to the herding industry of the areas. Today, many towns still have strong ties to the old world, and have successfully kept the culinary traditions alive.

I tried out the Martin Hotel (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) which offers several long tables and family-style dinning. I was seated with three strangers–two locals, and another, like me, who was passing through town. The four of us introduced ourselves and then tore through the ample side dishes, which arrive first, including a spicy hominy with homemade chorizo, sweet carrots, herbed mashed potatoes and the most delicious, homemade baked beans with tender, slow-cooked pork. A carafe of tasty house red wine was also part of the meal.


For the main course I chose the lamb shank braised in a wine sauce. The meat was tender and sweet, and lacked the gamey flavor often associated with the animal. One of my dinner companions ordered the Picon punch and was kind enough to let me taste. Indeed, it is a strong concoction of Picon liquor and Brandy with a splash of soda and grenadine. And after I warned the table that I would be taking pictures for my blog, my dinner companions offered me a taste of their dishes. The lamb chops were cooked to a perfect medium rare, and though I hate to say it, the chicken fried steak was the best I had ever tasted–much better than the versions I’ve had in Texas. This chicken fried steak was smothered in a spicy white gravy with bacon. At least for me,  it was a huge improvement to the very bland gravies I’ve had every other time I’ve tasted this dish.


Martin Hotel

While I could have extended my evening with a trip to one of the local bars or casinos, I was exhausted and choose to sleep off my food coma until morning.  It’s a tiny town, but I’m glad I made a short stop, if only to eat dinner.

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