The Mug Shot Coffee & Eatery opened about three weeks ago near the courthouse in downtown Reno. The café serves nitro cold brew, baked goods, waffles, bagels, fresh fruit, sandwiches, salads, soups, Tex-Mex fare, tea and hot coffee against a jailbird theme. Despite the eccentric theme, inhouse craftsmanship and thoughtful details make for a gorgeous breakfast and lunch spot.
A Café Worthy of a Life Sentence
My wife and I popped into the shop midmorning on a Sunday. Archie Wood, co-owner and operator, warmly greeted us. He graciously shared some of his time with us.
Wood shared that he has long wanted to open a coffee house. Originally, he and his business partner, Anthony Ruiz, sought out a smaller space with the hope of operating a coffee counter instead of the big and beautiful eatery that they ultimately settled on. Anthony’s wife, Lilly, runs the eatery’s kitchen.
Mug shots from actors, activists and musicians line the walls. It’s pretty cool to see Rosa Parks, Keanu Reeves, Steve McQueen, James Brown and Tupac enshrined in the same space. Admittance into the jailbird club isn’t usually desirable, but once you’re in, it’s fun swapping stories with other ‘cardholders’. The shop even features a ‘mug shot backdrop’ that eagerly awaits your selfies. The shop crew appreciates it when law enforcement officers pose for selfies against the backdrop.
The aesthetic of the café is highly attractive and equally interesting, so it’s no surprise that Wood also owns Battle Born Tattoo. Burnt orange, black, white and dark wood tastefully paint the eatery.
Plenty of bar tables and standard tables occupy the space. Wood crafted the counter tops himself. The front counter is stunning, and it features burlap coffee sacks and actual coffee beans laid into multiple coats of epoxy. Wood and his team also crafted the wooden, sliding door in front of the kitchen. That sliding door will soon feature a cutout populated with jail bars.
Local Vendors and Innovative Appliance Use Make for Great Eats
It seems like Wood was shooting for a coffee shop that features tasty eats but given the scale and high quality of the menu, I think the shop more closely aligns with the ‘café’ designation.
Wood sources his coffees, teas and food from local purveyors. Glory Cloud Coffee Roasters created a custom bean blend for The Mug Shot Coffee & Eatery called the Mug Shot Blend.
Lilly operates the kitchen without a hood, so nothing in the café is prepared via frying. Lilly prepares the waffles and the eggs in waffle irons.
The café bakes many of the baked goods themselves, and they also serve specialty macarons made by Totally Baked.
The menu will soon feature new items. I’m excited to try the chai pudding!
Breakfast and Lunch Like Mom Used to Make
We ordered the avocado toast for $6, the chicken burrito for $7.50, the Sticky Situation quesadilla for $8.99, a mug of drip coffee for $2 and a small cup of peach, ginger and honey tea for $3.
The drip coffee we ordered was brewed with the Mug Shot Blend, and it’s damn good! It seems to be a medium roast with citric and caramel notes.
Glory Cloud is also the source for the black tea that we ordered. The shop purchases the tea in loose leaf form and then bags it for orders. The tea, just like the coffee, was excellent. Both types of drinks seem to be made from exceptional ingredients and then brewed with care.
The avocado toast came with our choice of bread. We opted for sourdough. Other options included white, wheat and great seed. The dish featured a side of locally sourced cantaloupe and blueberries. The fruit was fresh, ripe and delicious. The avo spread included shredded carrots and chickpeas. The well-toasted sourdough was topped with the spread and then tomatoes and sprouts. With the addition of some freshly ground salt and pepper, the dish is fantastic and well-priced at $6.
The Sticky Situation is a quesadilla featuring chicken, jack and cheddar cheeses and avocado. Diners can select a standard flour tortilla or specialty tortillas. The dish is served with sour cream, pickled jalapeños and a chunky red salsa. My wife opted for a plain flour tortilla. We were pleased to see the tortilla crisped up well and the cheese nice and melty. The chicken was mildly seasoned and well-cooked. We enjoyed the mild salsa. A garden salad with a spinach vinaigrette accompanied the quesadilla. My wife and I both loved the well-emulsified, sweet and tangy vinaigrette. This is an enjoyable, no frills dish.
The chicken burrito isn’t yet on the regular menu, but it soon will be. The burrito included chicken, pinto beans, rice, sour cream, onions, cilantro, tomato and what seemed to be melted jack cheese. It was served with a citric, green salsa, pico de gallo and lentil chips. The portion size was generous, and the flavor was solid. Here, too, the dish was mildly flavored with the composite parts well executed. I didn’t expect to enjoy the lentil chips, but they’re actually great. They’re like a better version of Bugles. I also don’t normally prefer pico over other salsas, but this variety was fantastic; I finished it with a fork.
The café features free Wi-Fi, prompt and friendly service and an aesthetic you won’t soon forget. Government officials and building tenants receive 10% off!
The Mug Shot Coffee & Eatery’s Details
Visit The Mug Shot Coffee & Eatery at 205 S. Sierra St., #104, Reno, NV 89501. They are open daily from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., but Wood advised that he may soon change the hours to 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call the shop at 775-622-0328 or visit them online at themugshotcoffeeeatery.com.
Kyle Young is a local freelance writer. He offers content writing, blog posts, copywriting, and editing services. His current writing foci are food, cooking, and the oddities native to Reno, Sparks, and Tahoe. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a bachelor’s degree in English writing. He gained some food chops while working as a dishwasher, line-cook, and food-truck operator. He learned quality control, imports/exports, and logistics at a local spice and seasoning manufacturer. When not hustling as a writer, he plays Scrabble, cooks, wrangles three pups, and attends live music/comedy with his wife.