THE PLACE: Los Gallos Taqueria is located deep in downtown Reno on Virginia Street between Fourth and Fifth streets across from the Silver Legacy Resort Casino.
The restaurant has many patrons who work in the casino industry, as well as people who work in downtown offices.
THE LOOK: “Los Gallos” means “roosters” in English, and the restaurant pays tribute to fights between the animals. A 5-by-6-foot mural of roosters fighting in a ring occupies the center of one wall. The menu depicts two roosters fighting. It’s unusual that the restaurant celebrates animal fighting when many people oppose it.
The restaurant has piñatas hanging from the ceiling, and its rectangular shape makes it look and feel like an old dining hall or lunchroom.
THE MEAL: My buddy introduces this place to me, and he orders what he always gets — a carnitas quesadilla.
I snag a bite and quickly realize why he keeps coming back. The quesadilla has enough cheese to make a nice, gooey impact on each bite, but the chunks of shredded pork are big enough to take center stage. The chunks come apart in my mouth and are a little dry, but sour cream and fresh guacamole moisten them nicely. The guacamole is mixed with a small amount of pico de gallo (which translates as “rooster’s beak”).
For $6, the quesadilla is plenty filling.
Since I’m a typical gringo, I order the super burrito with carne asada for $6.50. Again, the meat is a tad dry, but with salsa, sour cream and pico de gallo, it’s tasty.
Throw in a lime Jarritos soda and some horchata (a chilled, light brown milk beverage made with ground almonds, sesame seeds and rice), and the total comes to a bit more than $16 for two. It’s a perfect low-budget lunch.
KUDOS: I love the salsa bar. While we wait for the food, we help ourselves to chips and four different types of salsa. I go back for seconds to add spicy red sauce to my burrito.
QUIBBLES: Parking is a hassle, like at other downtown venues. We get lucky on a Monday and find a spot near a hotel. The whole rooster fighting thing is almost overwhelming, but I won’t let that change my stance on the food, which was great.
ALTERNATIVES: Los Gallos has everything a standard authentic Mexican restaurant in Reno has, including birria (goat stew), menudo (soup made with cow stomach lining), lengua (beef tongue) in green and red sauce and tortas. The most expensive combo plate is $10.50, and a lot of the seafood in less than $10. The restaurant’s house specialty is a caldo de res (beef soup).
RETURN TRIP?: It’s not my first stop for downtown dining, but it’s certainly in the rotation.