Reno, Nevada is home to many historic restaurants that have been serving up delicious food for decades. In a city with such a rich culinary history, one restaurant stands out as the oldest continuously operating eatery in Reno – the Gold ‘N Silver Inn.
Quick Facts on the Oldest Restaurant in Reno
Here are some key facts about the Gold ‘N Silver Inn:
- Opened in 1956 – making it 67 years old as of 2023
- Located in downtown Reno on 4th Street
- Specializes in Basque cuisine
- Operated by the same family since it opened
- Recipient of numerous awards and accolades over the years
History of the Gold ‘N Silver Inn
The Gold ‘N Silver Inn first opened its doors in 1956, making it the longest continuously operating restaurant in Reno. It was founded by Louis Erreguible, who immigrated to Nevada from the Basque region between Spain and France. Louis came from a family of Basque shepherds and wanted to bring the unique Basque dining experience to Reno.
In the early 1900s, a significant number of Basque immigrants made their way from their native land to work as sheepherders in the American West. As more Basques settled in Nevada, they missed the traditional meals they grew up eating. This gave Louis the idea to open the Gold ‘N Silver Inn as a way for Basque Americans in Reno to enjoy a taste of their homeland.
The restaurant originally started small, with just a few tables in a sectioned off part of a downtown Reno building. But word quickly spread about Louis’ mouthwatering Basque dishes, like oxtail stew, paella, and slow-roasted meats. In 1962, he was able to purchase a larger building on 4th Street to accommodate the growing customer base. This remains the Gold ‘N Silver Inn’s location today.
In 1964, Louis brought his son Frank Erreguible into the business. Frank had worked as a shepherd before taking over the family restaurant. He introduced some new menu items over the years but stayed true to the traditional Basque flavors that made the Gold ‘N Silver Inn famous.
Frank eventually passed the business down to his daughter Terri Erreguible-Ross in the 1980s. Terri had grown up working in the restaurant and was primed to take over the management role. She continued operating the Gold ‘N Silver Inn with her husband Herb Ross until 2007.
That year, they handed the reins over to their daughter Aileen Agee-Ross and son-in-law Brian Agee-Ross. Aileen and Brian had also grown up helping around the legendary family restaurant. They lead the Gold ‘N Silver Inn to this day, keeping the legacy alive for over 60 years and counting.
Basque Culinary Traditions
At the heart of the Gold ‘N Silver Inn is its authentic Basque cuisine. This type of cooking emerged from the mountainous Basque Country region and uses simple but flavorful ingredients like tomatoes, peppers, beans, lamb, beef, seafood, and olive oil. Customers at the Gold ‘N Silver Inn can enjoy dishes that span classic Basque menus from Spain and France.
Some highlights of Basque cooking include:
- Lamb/Beef Stews: Slow-cooked meat stews like lamb Navarin stew or oxtail stew simmered with vegetables.
- Seafood: Grilled fish, cod fritters, squid stewed in its own black ink, and shellfish dishes.
- Pintxos: Bite-sized finger foods similar to Spanish tapas. Common pintxos are grilled beef skewers, stuffed peppers, chorizo bites.
- Ham: Dry cured Spanish jamon serrano and French Bayonne ham.
- Wines: Basque red wines like Rioja and white wines like Txakoli.
- Cheeses: Ossau-iraty (sheep’s milk cheese) and Idiazabal (smoked sheep’s milk cheese).
The Gold ‘N Silver Inn faithfully recreates these types of traditional Basque dishes in an authentic family-style setting. Diners sit together at long community tables while waiters bring out heaping shared plates of legendary cuisine.
Signature Menu Items
While the menu at the Gold ‘N Silver Inn draws on various classics of Basque cooking, they have a few stand-out signature items diners shouldn’t miss:
- Oxtail Stew: Fall-off-the-bone tender oxtail braised in tomato broth with potatoes, carrots and peppers.
- Steak a la Plancha: Dry aged ribeye seared on a hot iron plate and served sliced with garlic aioli.
- Paella: Two types offered – seafood paella loaded with calamari, shrimp, clams and fish or chicken paella with artichokes and peppers.
- Picon Punch: A traditional Basque aperitif made with Amer Picon, brandy and seltzer.
- Platters: Dinners featuring slow roasted prime rib, grilled sausage, Basque peppers and French fries.
- Desserts: Classic Spanish flan, sweet French gateaux basque cake or cheesecake baked with cherries jubilee.
These are just a few highlights of the recipes that have made the Gold ‘N Silver Inn a dining destination for generations. All dishes are prepared in-house using family recipes perfected over 67 years.
Accolades and Impact
Over its long history, the Gold ‘N Silver Inn has racked up numerous accolades attesting to its standing as Reno’s premiere Basque restaurant. Some honors for this historic eatery include:
- Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network
- Highlighted in Gourmet Magazine’s Restaurant Guide
- Voted Best Ethnic Food by locals in Reno News & Review polls
- Earned the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence each year from 1981-2020
- Selected for “Best in the West” Basque restaurant list in Sunset Magazine
- Inducted into Nevada’s Basque Restaurant Hall of Fame
The Gold ‘N Silver Inn has also had a significant cultural impact by keeping Basque traditions alive in the Reno area. Each year, the restaurant hosts special events that celebrate Basque history and culture. This includes hosting visiting chefs from Spain for Basque cuisine demonstrations, putting on picnics for Basque social clubs, and organizing an annual Basque Festival.
The Gold ‘N Silver Inn has also appeared in various films, TV episodes and books over the decades due to its historic significance in Reno. With its dedicated owners who take pride in their Basque roots, the Gold ‘N Silver Inn figures to continue introducing new generations to the tastes of the old country for years to come.
Other Historic Basque Eateries in Reno
While the Gold ‘N Silver Inn stands as Reno’s oldest Basque restaurant, there are a few other historic Basque dining establishments in town that also offer wonderful cuisine:
Louis’ Basque Corner
Founded in 1967, Louis’ Basque Corner was started by Louis Erreguible Jr., the son of the Gold ‘N Silver Inn’s original owner. Louis’ Basque Corner is situated just a few blocks away from the Gold ‘N Silver Inn on West Street. This family-run spot also serves up classics of Basque cooking in an intimate setting. They are particularly known for their Basque green bean soup and variety of grilled meats.
The Santa Fe Hotel
The Santa Fe Hotel originally opened in 1937 and began offering Basque-style family meals in the 1950s prepared by chefs from the Pyrenees region. Located on North Virginia Street, this venue is part hotel, restaurant, and bar. Diners flock here to enjoy Basque staples like lamb chops and seafood entrees as well as one of Reno’s best steak selections.
The Martin Hotel
Operating since 1882, the Martin Hotel on West First Street is one of the oldest running hotels in Nevada. It began serving overflow diners from the Overland Hotel with its own family-style Basque meals in the 1950s. The Martin is known for its friendly atmosphere and shared plates of classics like ox tongue, chorizo sausage and spice-rubbed roasted lamb.
While the Gold ‘N Silver Inn remains the standard-bearer for Basque dining in Reno thanks to its history and pedigree, these other venues are also excellent places to get a taste of the hearty European fare Basque immigrants brought with them to Northern Nevada.
Atmosphere and Dining Experience
Beyond its legendary food, the Gold ‘N Silver Inn offers a truly unique dining experience that has become a Reno tradition. The atmosphere is a big reason why diners keep coming back to this historic Basque eatery generation after generation. Some key aspects that set it apart include:
In keeping with Basque customs, the Gold ‘N Silver Inn forgoes normal individual tables in favor of large communal tables that seat groups of 12-14 people. Diners may be joined by other parties, making for a fun, high-energy environment where food is passed around family-style.
Stepping into the Gold ‘N Silver Inn feels like traveling back in time. Details like the original red upholstered booths, vintage travel posters, horse tack hung from the ceiling and Basque art covering the walls give the restaurant old world charm. Adding to the ambiance is an impressive antique bar taken from the Hotel Nevada in the 1940s.
The most striking decorative feature is the colorful 16 foot by 50 foot cowboy mural covering the back wall. Painted in 1959 by Ralph Cowan, it captures the Western spirit of the area with images of wranglers roping cattle, sheepherders, and Nevada landmarks.
Waiters at the Gold ‘N Silver Inn wear cowboy hats, address diners as “Buckaroos and Buckarettes” and lead guests in singing Basque songs between courses. This down-home service enhances the warm, communal feel.
The Gold ‘N Silver Inn frequently hosts special events that celebrate Basque culture. These include musical performances by Basque bands, dancing, and feasts for Basque holidays. Even typical nights take on a party-like vibe thanks to the family-style seating.
The Gold ‘N Silver Inn’s setting transports diners to the Basque regions of Europe for an evening. The food, art, music and hospitality all come together to create a dining experience unlike any other in Reno.
The Gold ‘N Silver Inn is conveniently located in downtown Reno:
- Address: 790 West 4th Street, Reno, NV 89503
- Cross streets: Between Keystone Ave and West Street
- Free parking lot onsite
- 5-10 minute walk from major downtown hotels like the Eldorado and Silver Legacy
- Call (775) 323-2696 for reservations
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4:30 pm – 9:30 pm. Note they are closed on Sundays and Mondays. The Gold ‘N Silver Inn also offers takeout for those wanting to enjoy their signature Basque dishes at home.
How to Experience this Historic Reno Gem
The Gold ‘N Silver Inn stands out as a truly special dining experience in Reno. Here are some tips for getting the most out of a meal at this historic Basque eatery:
- Call ahead for reservations – Tables book up quickly, especially on weekends.
- Come hungry – With all-you-can-eat family-style portions, don’t hold back on how much delicious food to enjoy.
- Bring cash – Cash only is accepted for payment.
- Order the signature drinks – Try a Picon Punch or Spanish Coffee to start your Basque feast.
- Engage with tablemates – The communal tables make for great opportunities to break bread with fellow diners.
- Leave room for dessert – Be sure to sample one of their excellent Basque sweets at the end of your meal.
- Soak in the atmosphere – Take note of the historic architecture, colorful mural and decor touches that make this place truly unique.
A dinner at the Gold ‘N Silver Inn offers more than just outstanding Basque cuisine – it’s a memorable experience diners talk about for years after. The next time you’re looking for an iconic and authentic Reno restaurant, make reservations at this historic hotspot.
For over 65 years, the Gold ‘N Silver Inn has stood as Reno’s premiere destination for classic Basque dining in an unforgettable family-style setting. Thanks to its multi-generational family ownership, dedication to Basque traditions, and legendary dishes, this historic 4th Street eatery remains unmatched. No foodie’s visit to Reno is complete without a meal at northern Nevada’s longest running restaurant, the Gold ‘N Silver Inn.