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REVIEW: Reno’s Lunch Box Will Remind You of Home

By Kyle Young
Published: Last Updated on

Lunch Box is a fast-casual breakfast and lunch restaurant on Longley and McCarran. The concept of the restaurant is to serve you an affordable Mexican or American entrée plus a drink for only $6.50 plus tax.

Breakfast entrées include bagel, English muffin, breakfast burrito, breakfast sandwich, chorizo burrito, chilaquiles, and huevos rancheros. Breakfast sides are available for certain dishes with options including tater tots or rice and beans.

Mexican lunch options offered are four tacos, burrito, quesadilla, three enchiladas, four taquitos, two flautas, two gorditas, and two tacos. Rice and beans come with all these options minus the tacos, torta, and burrito.

American lunch options offered are the burger, nachos, chicken sandwich, chicken strips, chicken wings, BLT sandwich, club sandwich, and the taco salad. All these options minus the nachos and taco salad include a side of fries.

I skipped breakfast this morning, so I selected two entrées for carry-out: the chilaquiles and the taco salad. The two entrées came with two drinks. I opted for a Dr. Pepper and a root beer. I’m unashamed to admit that the limited edition Jurassic Park can of Dr. Pepper made my day. Also available in the refrigerator were sports drinks, teas, water, and other sodas. Their beverage choices are, wait for it, dino-mite.

Chilaquiles is my favorite Mexican breakfast. Image: Kyle Young

Chilaquiles are tortilla chips that get tossed around on the grill with salsa. The salsa flavors and slightly softens the chips. You choose your salsa, red or green, and your choice of protein including eggs, al pastor (spicy pork), beef, or chicken. Sides include beans topped with salty cotija cheese and two halves of grilled toast. I selected green salsa and al pastor for the dish. The chilaquiles were garnished with white onion and crema (sour cream).

I suspect that the chips in the dish lost a little bit of their crunch on my 17-minute drive home. The flavor of the chilaquiles was mild, but pleasant. I enjoyed that the bread was grilled instead of thrown in a toaster.

According to Yvonne Suarez of Lunch Box, the al pastor is made from pork chops that are chopped and then simmered to produce a very tender final product. I normally enjoy al pastor most with crispy bits, but the tender variety at Lunch Box was satisfying. The white onions added a little bite and crunch. The flavor of the dish was greatly enhanced by the addition of their mild green salsa. The salsa was bright, citric, a touch salty, and pretty tasty.

Hoping to sample their more traditional American offerings, I made my second entrée the taco salad. The house-made tortilla was fried to a beautiful crisp. The bowl-shaped tortilla was crispy and chewy in all the right places. The bottom layer of the bowl was filled with beans and rice. The next layers were chopped iceberg lettuce, shredded chicken, cheddar cheese, crema, green salsa, and a bit of pico de gallo. The chicken was mildly seasoned, but moist and abundant.

A food that’s also a dish? You better believe it. Image: Kyle Young

The taco salad was okay before the addition of extra salsa, but it became great after a couple ramekins of the “hot”, roasted, arbol salsa. I’d characterize the heat of the salsa as medium and the flavor as smoky and delicious. The dish was tasty and I consider it a great value at $6.50 with drink.

The restaurant normally serves a habanero salsa for those seeking extra heat, but they ran out today. I don’t fault them at all for running out, as I ordered my food about an hour before they closed. The day I picked up my food was also $1 taco Tuesday, so it’s no wonder the high heat habanero went fast.

Other lunch specials are available during the week for $5 plus tax and include a drink. Mondays offer the club sandwich at $5; Tuesdays offer $1 tacos; Wednesdays offer gorditas at $5; Thursdays offer taco salad at $5; Fridays feature the nachos for $5.

Suarez, who rang me up, explained that her sister, Veronica Gomez, owns the restaurant. Gomez walked out of the busy kitchen while I awaited my food. She said that she and her team make everything in-house. Lunch Box operates in a cozy and welcoming space. Yvonne and Veronica will serve you tasty and affordable food that just might remind you of mom’s.

Lunch Box is located at 5255 Longley Lane, Suite 135 in Reno. Make special note that the only entrance into the business complex is on the Longley side, and you cannot enter on the McCarran side. Lunch Box is open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m on weekdays. They are closed on weekends. Call in your take-out order at 775-737-9289. Visit them online at lunchboxreno.com.