A trip to South Lake Tahoe is an experience in itself; however, there are so many other things to see and do if you travel just a short distance from the popular Heavenly Village area. First, if you haven’t gone around the Lake, then I suggest you do take the all-day trip . . . or at least a good part of the day will be spent riding around the Lake Tahoe shoreline at 45mph. We had done that before so we were looking for something new or different. This vacation, our stay in the area included a couple of quick gambling trips to just the other side of the Nevada/California border where gaming is available and bountiful in the local casinos or, as in our case this time, a quick trip to Reno.
Reno is about 1 hour from South Lake Tahoe if you make your way back over the hill and drop back down to California Interstate 395 . . . and yes, there is an “Old 395” in that part of the state as well. I say “Old 395” because just beyond the outskirts of Carson City, Nevada a fresh multi-lane interstate has sprouted up. We used that expressway to travel to Reno, but returned along the path that started it all. I have also experienced growth and progress and have succumbed to an expressway improvement in my area as well. Yes, I live directly along a section of the “Old 395” in San Diego County and have watched and suffered as the multi-lane expressway I-15 was built to the now “autobahn” viewable from my back yard. I call it the autobahn because of the 4.5 mile strip of uninterrupted interstate that is frequented by high-speed wannabe’s evading police radars or just racing someone else with the same delight for speed.
Our trip to Reno was to be a quick ordeal as we just wanted to see the city and the gaming area that is known by business travelers and vacationers alike. The historic entry sign into the city of Reno had this awesome (biggest I’ve seen) climbing wall on one side of the building. I think I’d have to do it just say I did. Anyway, we stopped through many of the casinos in the downtown area and happened upon a restaurant name we have known for years in Baja California, just south of the United States/Mexico boarder in a little town called Ensenada. Being somewhat surprised when stumbling upon Hussong’s Cantina in Baja (the original is literally a tequila shot and Mexican beer watering hole in the wall) located in Ensenada, B.C. We were seemingly just as surprised when we found Hussong’s inside the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino. And don’t ask me why we were in the Silver Legacy . . . not even a name I recognize while writing this. Anyway, We were hungry and decided to giver ‘er a try. We figured worse case scenario is we end up eating some really bad Americanized south of the border imitated slop. What you must realize is Hussong’s in Baja doesn’t serve food if I remember correctly. Hussong’s in Baja was nothing more than a place for the weary off-road enthusiast to stop and get a cold one and a shot before continuing the journey to a race area like the San Felipe, B.C. or another town for viewing the Baja 1000.
The Hussong’s in Reno was decorated similarly to that of the original in Baja with a shit-for-décor appearance, several Mexican mementos and a few off road pictures signed by race entrants that appeal to the Baja enthusiast. I remember the hood of a race truck hanging from the ceiling above me while I ate. My guessing is the only patrons inside were those Southern California residents that understand the traditional Hussong’s theme. I guess there’s another Hussong’s in Vegas as well, and rightfully so. I tried to follow some kind of historical linage about Hussong’s but really found no corporate affiliation between any of the locations . . . . and knowing a bit about the history of Hussong’s, it doesn’t suprized me that this Reno location may or very well, may not be owned by some kooks not associated with the original, or maybe they are the same kooks. I really am unsure as to who owns or operates what, and/or where. The Hussong’s in Reno was no different than the original other than the drink prices were now big city high and the other thing . . . they serve food here. Ok, let’s see what gives being we were hungry and our hunger was steering us toward Mexican food.
First thing’s first, “I’ll have a traditional margarita and the special Chili Relleno”. I didn’t know it was the “special” Relleno, but I saw that it was filled with marinated skirt steak (in that area it’s called skirt) inside of a roasted, not fried, green Poblano (in that area it’s called Poblano) chili with cheese , topped with more cheese and probably an enchilada sauce. I happen to have an affinity for roasted Rellenos. I think the wife had the fish tacos. Her tacos were obviously shy on the amount of fish inside but my Relleno was very full of chopped or cubed steak and quite delicious. The fish tacos were not bad either. All of the dishes we saw on the tables were large portions but lacked any familiarity of color. I don’t know if it was their themed cuisine, but pale colors were abundant. Tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cilantro, sauce, steak, fish and tortillas all looked about the same color. Similar pale looking food that you would find on the streets of Mexico, so I almost think it was on purpose. Flavors were fine, if not rather good, just there was no excitement from the colors on the plates. The palate was not stimulating the palette. Something like that.
On the trip back from Reno along the Old 395 we had an alternate mission having evacuated all chocolate from our hotel room the night before, was to return home with some chocolate. My son and I are huge chocolate fans and we must have underestimated our consumption needs and just ran out. We found the Chocolate Nugget Candy Factory in a small town outside of Carson City along the Old 395. The search for chocolate that morning had us grab some pre-packaged stuff from the local Village store, so we basically had to stop in because we were out of good chocolate. Inside to our delight was every imaginable candied treat of dark, mike and white chocolates made into bars, nuggets, creams and fudge. The nice staff inside allowed us to try so much stuff, we were comatose for the remainder of the ride home that day. The Chocolate Nugget Candy store also had fresh, made on site, taffy. If I remember, the fudge was also made on site . . . and pretty satisfying.
Making our way back to the South Lake Tahoe area we passed the Safeway super market and needed some supplies for the hotel room. Upon passing the meat counter area I noticed some very fresh-looking California Halibut. The butcher got it in that Tuesday morning. No smell . . . and, come to find out, no taste. I had prepared an in-hotel meal (remember we’re staying at a nice time-share) that took me down to the newly installed BBQ grills located just below my room’s window overlooking the pool area. The whole time I was there I saw only the kid-type meals being burned by the drunken fathers being told to “go and cook the hot dogs”. I, on the other hand, had prepared the basil-crusted Halibut, with fresh-grilled garlic bread (with fresh butter and garlic). The Halibut was also cooked with a compound-herbed butter. Unfortunately the fish had ZERO flavor. Perhaps some would rather it be that way . . .
So off for another night . . .