A staple becomes a staple because it’s good. And when we’re talking about classic Reno establishments, Great Full Gardens certainly comes to mind. With three locations throughout the city (plus The Kitchen), accessibility helps to make it a popular choice for locals. And a robust menu makes it easy to come back again and again, with something new to try every time.
I could go on and on about the dishes I enjoy at Great Full Gardens but we’d be here forever. (The South location is my personal stomping grounds, but you can get the goods at any of the three. Just look ahead online to see how menus differ.) So, instead I rounded up what I would eat in a day at Great Full Gardens for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Even those who have frequented Great Full Gardens for a while may be surprised to hear they serve breakfast. And it’s not a small menu either. Like the rest, the breakfast menu at Great Full Gardens includes a little bit of everything, created to meet varying diets and food restrictions as well as taste preferences. The breakfast menu offers up sweet dishes, savory ones and some that are a little of both.
If you’ve ever had a liege waffle at Great Full Gardens, you know this is hard to pass up. Originating in Belgium, the liege waffle gets its distinct flavor and texture from unevenly distributed clusters of pearl sugar. The result is a bit bitter, which balances the buttery dough. It also gives the waffle a grittier texture.
There’s more than one way to dive into this Belgian delicacy: on a Benedict, traditionally with powdered sugar, or as part of a full breakfast complete with eggs and your choice of meat. The other way is to choose one of the restaurant’s signature options. My personal favorite is The Bedazzle. A sugary waffle topped with one egg, Havarti cheese, fresh basil and maple syrup for a combo that satisfies both sweet and savory cravings.
Other ways to dress it up include with melted blue cheese and warm apples and cinnamon, finished with bananas and peanut butter a la The Elvis or as a decadent dessert topped with warm chocolate syrup from Dorinda’s and plenty of fruit.
For lunch it’s easy to get lost in the long list of seafood specials, plant-based bowls and colorful salads—and it’s hard to go wrong with any of those options. This time of year, however, the order is an easy one. Everyday Great Full Gardens offers a soup du jour, but the organic totally tomato soup is always on the menu.
Soup alone may not be enough to fill you, but that’s okay, because we’re adding a grilled cheese sandwich on the side for dipping.
The gourmet grilled cheese at Great Full Gardens uses cheddar, Havarti, provolone and mozzarella melted onto two slices of Truckee Sourdough and spread with pesto aioli. There is also a chunky slice of tomato for added texture.
When pairing these two menu items, it’s like a warm hug with all of the nostalgia of our childhoods elevated to meet our adult taste buds.
Finally, there’s dinner, when Great Full Gardens turns from your casual lunchtime stop-off to an impressive eatery with high-end dining options. Here, the seafood catches many eyes. Sesame crusted ahi with slices of juicy pineapple, flaky Alaskan cod served with succulent wild shrimp and tender and buttery Chilean sea bass.
For something light and fresh, I’m digging into a pile of pasta aglio e olio made with cavatappi pasta, sauteed in EVOO and alive with flavors of fresh garlic, crushed red pepper, basil and parmesan cheese. Added options for protein include everything from Mexican shrimp to vegan “neatballs,” and there’s an opportunity to sub in gluten-free spaghetti.
If you saved room for dessert, the menu—once again—is extensive, and nothing is bad. Our best suggestion is to ask your server for recommendations. Not only do staff have their favorites, but we highly doubt you’ll be able to make the selection on your own just based on the sheer number of options.
If I really ate like this in a day, I’d obviously be full and very satisfied. With fresh, organic and locally sourced ingredients across many of the menu items, there’s also a certain feel-good sentiment that comes over someone after dining at Great Full Gardens, knowing you helped your body, the environment and local businesses, all while enjoying a spectacular meal.
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.