By Jordan Russell
Reno is supposedly a 24-hour city, but anyone who has scoured Yelp for late-night dining options can tell you that after a certain hour it becomes a veritable wasteland. It’s a Cinderella story, really — by day, Reno is home to a burgeoning food culture, but once the clock strikes midnight the glittering stagecoach that travels through Midtown and downtown vanishes, and diners are left with a few old pumpkins. While casinos offer a few options for night owls, those who prefer their meals untainted by the smells of cigarette smoke and broken dreams tend to avoid them.
This small list of options dwindles even further for those of us who avoid eating animals. We vegetarians and vegans find little comfort in places like Archie’s that cater to our carnivorous counterparts. (Archie’s does offer Gardenburgers to replace their beef patties at no additional charge, but why pay upwards of $10 for something you could microwave at home for a fraction of the price?) While our friends wolf down hamburgers and hot wings, we are left with a basket of fries and a side order of dissatisfaction.
But for my fellow herbivores about to give up on finding a late-night dining spot, all hope is not lost. Two restaurants stand apart from the bevy of late-night restaurants offering little more than deep-fried appetizers, and offer vegetarians and vegans the opportunity to refuel on quality food that won’t break the bank.
There are few foods more comforting on a frigid winter night than pho. The popular Vietnamese soup is a specialty at Golden Flower, which is open until 3 a.m. every day. Loaded with fresh vegetables, rice noodles and tofu, the No. 18 on Golden Flower’s menu is a hearty option for those looking to fill up on “real food” after a long night.
The No. 18 only comes in the large size, but for less than $9 the portion is big enough to have leftovers for another meal. Unfortunately for vegans, all pho is served in a bone-based broth and is not free of animal products. However, spring rolls can be made vegan (ask your server to leave out the shrimp). Though they are only appetizers, spring rolls filled with veggies make for a more healthful and substantial option than the deep-fried carbs served at American eateries.
The one area Golden Flower lacks in is ambiance. The interior is simple and somewhat unappealing — an arrangement of plastic-covered tables and chairs in a space sparsely decorated with generic Asian art. However, the opportunity to enjoy wholesome food at a reasonable price more than makes up for it.
Noble Pie Parlor
Open until 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Noble Pie Parlor will feed your late-night cravings for quality handcrafted pizza. Vegetarians have several options, from whole pies and slices to calzones, and vegans can order calzones and whole pizzas with dairy-free “cheese.” Whole pizzas can also be made on a gluten-free crust for those who can’t tolerate wheat.
NPP is a bit pricier than Golden Flower, but the food quality and wealth of options make it worth the small splurge. Individual slices start at $3.49 for cheese only, and each vegetable is an additional 29 cents. Whole pizzas start at $14.99 with an additional 79-cent charge for each veggie topping. However, smart planning can go a long way in making the trip affordable. A medium (14-inch) three-topping pizza split between two, for example, would cost each person around $9; a large (16-inch) three-topping split between three people would cost less than $7 per person. NPP also offers a student special every day and at all hours — one slice, three garlic knots and a 24-ounce soda for $6.50.
What Golden Flower lacks in ambiance, NPP has in abundance. Nestled downtown between Triumph Tattoo and Tonic Lounge, NPP is a hip restaurant that manages to maintain a laid-back vibe equally appropriate for group dinners or sobering up after a long night of partying.
Jordan Russell can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.