Simon’s Cafe & Lounge offers food and atmosphere that provides comfort during a chaotic time in U.S. and world history.
The restaurant, located on the south side of Lakeside Drive shortly before Bartley Ranch, is one that I’ve driven by many a time but only just stopped in today.
In my research of Simon’s, many a local citizen commented on the “old school Reno” feel of the establishment. Having now dined there, I tend to agree.
The restaurant is dimly lit with old photographs of patrons and sports memorabilia peppering the walls. It reminds me of a watering hole from my past – La Shay Lounge. A domino competition bracket hangs on one wall while an MLB blackout board hangs on another. A partition segregates the formal dining room from the bar where additional seats reside. The whole place is well-kept and reminds me of times gone by.
The patrons dining while I was there, probably 25-plus people, all fit a pretty tight demographic. Most diners at the bar, in the dining room, and on the beautiful patio appeared to be retired Caucasian people. This is by no means a judgement – just an observation.
I began my meal with a cup of their French onion soup for $4.00. The dish was very attractive with bubbling and browned cheese atop a brown ceramic cup. The portion was generous for $4.00. The cheese, seemingly mozzarella, had that signature stringy quality. The crouton beneath the cheese was thin and largely melted into the rich, oniony, beefy broth. I enjoyed that the onions maintained their body throughout cooking.
A small plate of three sourdough slices was served directly before my entrée. The slices were a bit dry, but had a nice sour flavor. The slices ended up being great vehicles for the sauce that was soon to come.
For my entrée, I selected the beef short ribs with mashed potatoes, one of the lunch specials, for $12.95. The rib may have belonged to a cousin of Babe the Blue Ox. The meat was especially tender. The sauce served on the rib and atop the mashed potatoes was described only as the “house sauce” on the menu. The sauce was partly sweet, very savory, slightly viscous, and full of beefy flavor. The mashed potatoes seemed more like whipped potatoes and they did not seem to be seasoned, but the rib sauce poured over them made them a nice, creamy addition to the meal.
While eating the rib with the house sauce, it reminded me of something familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it until after the meal. A gourmet version of the SpaghettiOs!™ sauce is ultimately how I’d describe it. Food snobs may think I’m insulting the short ribs, but the truth is, I love SpaghettiOs!™ more than filet mignon and other commonly revered dishes. Just to reiterate, I very much enjoyed the short rib dish.
The service was prompt and attentive despite the huge lunch rush. I had hoped to speak with the owner to learn the restaurant’s history, but was pleasantly surprised to see her serving her customers alongside her staff. It might take some time to earn a “regular customer” designation, but the comfort food and nostalgia present in the restaurant will make the journey a pleasant one.
In my research of Simon’s, some longstanding patrons commented that they have been coming to Simon’s for nearly thirty years. Any restaurant that flourishes for so long and develops so many loyal customers must be doing a number of things very right.
Simon’s is located at 6135 Lakeside Dr # 113 in Reno. They are open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to midnight. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Give them a call at 775-829-8777 for take-out orders.