Local siblings bring Texas franchise to the Biggest Little City
Another taco place might not seem like something to get excited about, but we’re here to tell you that we taste-tested the newest joint, and it’s worthy of some praise.
Rusty Taco is a chain that began in Dallas. However, local franchisees Taylor and Ian Cain brought the restaurant to Reno, taking up the space that was, for a long time, Nu Yalk Pizza, on South Virginia Street.
Many may recognize the names since this brother-sister duo (along with their other brother Quinn) also owns six Sonic Drive-Ins throughout northern Nevada, businesses once owned and operated by their father.
The restaurant serves more than 20 street-style tacos, including breakfast versions beginning at 7 a.m. each day.
The Texas flair is obvious in the menu, which includes a Texican Taco made with Tex-Mex beef, lettuce, tomato and cheese; a brisket taco with smoked brisket, queso fresco, diced onion and cilantro; and a BBQ brisket taco started with smoked brisket and finished with sweet and smoky barbecue sauce and slaw.
The flavors aren’t all rooted in Texas cuisine, however. There are a surprising number of fish and seafood options including Baja shrimp (grilled or crispy) and a fish taco made with grilled or tempura-battered cod.
My personal favorites were the cauliflower served crispy (grilled is also an option) and topped with avocado crema, slaw, and pickled red onions. I wasn’t expecting it to outrank the fried chicken taco, but in my eyes, it wasn’t even a competition.
The other standout is the namesake Rusty Taco, made with Achiote pork, grilled pineapple relish (with juicy chunks of fresh pineapple), diced onion and cilantro.
Rusty Taco also offers up a not-so-secret secret menu (it’s advertised on their menu board at the restaurant) with a lot of ocean-ready items. The tropical shrimp boasts crispy hand-breaded shrimp with a pineapple relish, slaw and Thai chili sauce. The dynamite shrimp taco uses fried shrimp, slaw, jalapeño ranch, avocado and sriracha. There’s also a couple of Acapulco fish tacos, The Philly (pulling its flavors from the traditional Philly cheesesteak) and a pork Green Street taco.
All of the tacos are served with corn tortillas unless otherwise indicated but flour can be ordered instead.
Any taco can also be made into a bowl.
In addition to tacos, there are a few sides to consider. Don’t pass up the street corn, a bowl of off-the-cob corn topped with a creamy sauce, chili powder for a bit of a kick, cilantro and a thick layer of cojita cheese over the top.
For dessert, there are churros and sopapillas.
While the website is set up for online ordering, the Reno location is not currently taking online orders.
One of the most notable characteristics of Rusty Taco, however, is the margarita bar. When you walk into the restaurant, there is a full bar (with stools) to the left-hand side. Here, you can grab a margarita—frozen or on the rocks—as well as other drinks. Stay seated or take your drink to the table. They also serve beers and other cocktails.
In addition to indoor tables and an open kitchen, the outdoor patio seats plenty and has a couple of arcade-style basketball games available for kids (and adults—we’re not judging).
9780 S. Virginia St., Reno, Nev. 89511
Daily 7 a.m. to 10 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.