Craving steak but don’t want to spend the week’s grocery allowance on one dinner? It’s no secret that Reno is known for its abundance of high-end and delicious steakhouses, typically housed in casinos that cater to locals and guests. From one-offs to chain restaurants, it’s not hard to find a good steak in the biggest little city, but it is hard to find a good steak at a low price.
The owners of Inclined Burgers (with locations in Incline Village and Reno) decided for their new business venture that what Reno needed wasn’t another burger joint. What the city was missing was a casual steakhouse where champagne fare is served on a beer budget.
They overtook the previous Fat Cat location on South Virginia Street in Midtown to open Biggest Little Steakhouse.
When I tell you it’s possible to get a steak dinner for two complete with cocktails under $100, I know because I’ve done it.
At first, I didn’t have high hopes for a steakhouse that required me to order at the counter. Counter-serve steak? It’s not exactly the white tablecloth service I was used to. But my insatiable curiosity for all things new on the Reno food scene – and prodding from others who raved about the quality – I found myself at the counter, ordering up a filet mignon for $28.
Just like a typical steakhouse, the sides aren’t included with the meal. My filet mignon plus a 22-oz. ribeye and two sides plus two cocktails came out to a whopping $98, after tax but pre-tip.
Despite ordering at the counter, we didn’t feel starved of attention. We asked a lot of questions and for recommendations and the server/cashier quickly offered up favorites as well as drink specials. Turns out Fridays are half-off all whiskey drinks, including specialty cocktails.
He also threw in an extra side—au gratin potatoes—because they are his favorite. (I think it’s important to mention that the young man had no idea that I write a food column when he did any of this.)
It’s also important to mention that once you’re seated, a server caters to you. Additional drinks do not have to be purchased at the counter. Instead, a staff member walks around with a handheld POS system so you can order up round two without leaving your seat. Food also comes straight to you—no need to grab a number and wait to be called. The counter-serve format is really more just to get you started before it’s business as usual.
The meal starts with a focaccia bread basket and a side of a house-made chili oil concoction that was, honestly, amazing. We ended up dipping our cauliflower in it, too, since we felt it lacked a sauce, and the sweet chili flavor complimented the kick of the cauliflower well.
When the steaks came out, we were impressed. Each was topped with herbed butter. The filet melted in my mouth, perfectly cooked to the medium I had ordered. The ribeye cooked medium rare was just as delicious.
The Brussels sprouts with bacon and balsamic are an absolute must, but the au gratin potatoes, which we weren’t even going to order, were a favorite. Truly decadent, they were creamy and just slightly golden brown, melting in your mouth the way only really, really good au gratin potatoes can do.
The cocktails also did not disappoint. While you can order a glass of wine, a pint of beer or just something delicious on the rocks, the craft cocktail menu is as good as any in Midtown. I opted for a blackberry chocolate old fashioned. I’ll admit the cocoa notes were subtle enough to maybe be missed next to the strong whiskey, but the muddled blackberries shone through just enough to taste similar but different from your standard old fashioned.
The Negroni also offered a twist on the original. The gin was barrel-aged, a more common practice for whiskeys and bourbons, and therefore had a slightly altered flavor profile while still staying true to what makes a Negroni a Negroni.
At the end of the meal, hot and fresh chocolate chip cookies are dropped on your table (or at the bar where we decided to sit to chat up the staff about the new spot). Ooey, gooey and delicious, they are the perfect after-dinner treat in lieu of a full dessert menu. There’s also something to be said for getting a dessert you didn’t order, almost like permission to indulge when you may have originally turned it down.
I don’t say this often, but not only will I be back, but Biggest Little Steakhouse will also become a date night staple and one of my go-to recommendations when asked where to dine in Reno – a question that seems to come with the territory of the job.
1401 S Virginia St Ste 175, Reno, Nev. 89502
Sunday – Wednesday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Thursday – Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Nora Heston Tarte is a long-time Reno resident living on the southside of town. In addition to food, her hobbies include wine, hiking, yoga and travel. She is also the managing editor of a regional, lifestyle publication and freelances for other publications most frequently in the travel space. Nora received her bachelor’s in Journalism from California State University, Sacramento before graduating from University of Nebraska, Lincoln with a master’s in Professional Journalism. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.