Basque Food in Winnemucca!
One thing is true in life: You learn something every day.
We made our Christmas trek to Idaho to see the Parents & Siblings & Cousins for Christmas this year. Since our primary -and only – mode of transport was car – we stopped for the night in Winnemucca, Nevada, the near exact half-way point for this expedition. This year, rather than slam down some more Trucker Food for dinner, we were armed with a curious bit of information. It turns out – all of this according to a neighbor in Laura’s Los Gatos office building, but further validated by a first hand, on-site study – that Winnemucca was home to a large Basque population from the early days of mining and herding sheep.
The Basque originate from the northern-most part of Spain and over the centuries were sometimes controlled by the French and sometimes by the Spanish. Ultimately,Basque roots and political alignment are Spanish, which means that Basque food is similar to Spanish food, which means the food is damn good!
The bottom line is that much of north-central Nevada was populated by the Basque and quite a few restaurants remain in towns like Reno, Elko, Fallon and yes, Winnemucca! We were referred to Ormachea’s Dinner House, which happened to be closed the evening we were driving through. But a quick Google on the BlackBerry turned up the Martin Hotel, about a half mile down the street. The restaurant at the Martin Hotel serves massive quantities of food, all family style – soup, salad, stewed beans, vegetables, potatoes, stewed tongue (yummy) and more, and THEN the entree arrives. The food isn’t five star quality, but it feel’s authentic and it makes for a satisfying (and surprising) dinner across the desolate expanse Nevada traversed by I-80!
For future reference, there appears to be two more Basque restaurants in Winnemucca, The Winnemucca Hotel on Bridge Street, and Restaurante San Fermin on Winnemucca Blvd. We haven’t tried either, and can’t verify they are still open, but the following website has a pretty good list of Basque restaurants and served as my source: www.buber.net