THE PLACE: Silver Peak Grill & Taproom, one of three offerings by locals Trent Schmidt and David Silverman, is a downtown mainstay. Schmidt makes the beer, Silverman heads the food. The restaurant sprawls on its corner of First and Sierra streets, serving good local beer and elevated pub fare.
THE LOOK: In the summer, the patio features throngs of al fresco diners — couples, women with babies, packs of frat boys — swilling brews and partaking of the restaurant’s delicious black-bean nachos. The patio is especially jam-packed during dinner service in the summer.
Inside, the atmosphere can be a little more subdued — a long bar occupies the west end of the restaurant, behind which lies the kitchen. Standard tables and a long bistro bar table offer plenty of seating.
THE MEAL: Although a starter doesn’t fall within the two-for-$20 guidelines, my husband and I opt to begin with chicken wings: At $6.95, they’re a great deal, and they arrive plump and dripping in their sauce. Freshly cut celery sticks and ranch dressing come along for the ride. We order the wings medium hot, and they are spicy enough for me but not so hot they tongue.
For dinner, I try the roasted turkey breast sandwich and substitute a house salad for the fries for an extra $1. The sandwich comes on toasted focaccia, which is the perfect vehicle, soft on the inside and toasted on the outside.
The sandwich is stuffed with layers of roast turkey, white cheddar and avocado slices, housemade roasted red peppers and pesto mayonnaise. I am notoriously picky about my turkey sandwiches and this one does not disappoint — the opposite, in fact. I love the punchy, thick red pepper slice, generous amounts of avocado, not too much cheese, swipes of pesto mayo and perfect focaccia.
The accompanying salad comes with baby greens topped with giant beet chips and tossed with housemade creamy-style balsamic.
My companion opts for the crawfish jambalaya, which teems with crawfish, shrimp, chicken and sausage, along with rice, tomatoes, peppers and Cajun seasonings. The kitchen will make it extra spicy if you like, but it has plenty of kick just the way it comes.
KUDOS: The menu is priced very fairly. Sitting on the patio is really fun during the summer — great for eating and people-watching. Also, our server is friendly and efficient and refills my iced tea several times without me even having to ask.
QUIBBLES: It can get a little rowdy during the later evening hours — college kids come out in force. In my younger days it was fun; now, it just seems loud. Earlier in the evening is my favorite time to go.
ALTERNATIVES: I really want to try the lamb burger, but our server, Katie, recommends the turkey instead, which I enjoy, as I described above. The grilled five-cheese sandwich is delicious, as is the Santa Fe chicken sandwich and chicken tacos. I also like the potstickers and turkey burger.
RETURN TRIP?: Yes. Despite the restaurant’s newish neighbors Campo and Bowl, Silver Peak remains a solid downtown establishment offering great food and tasty brews — with a view.