Fuel up for adventure at these small-town eateries.
Whether you know them as cafés, diners, hash houses, or greasy spoons, rural restaurants are the oases of the highway. Yes, they provide essential, good-mood-food for road trippers, but that’s not the only reason they’re beloved. The fact is that diners are a universal part of American culture. Everything from the white mugs to the laminated menus and breakfast counter chatter is welcomingly familiar no matter how far from home we are. So, as you make your way across the Silver State, keep these excellent options in mind: Your stomach and your spirit will thank you.
Whether you’re finishing up or embarking on your journey across the Loneliest Road in America (Highway 50), a plate of delicious Americana cuisine is well deserved. With a wide menu featuring everything from chili and burgers to salads and fish and chips, everyone in your group is guaranteed to find something they love. After the meal, treat yourself to a stroll because the Roadrunner Café is next to some of the oldest structures in the state.
WIGWAM RESTAURANT & CASINO
If Pyramid Lake is on the itinerary, make plans to break bread at the Wigwam. For 40 years, this Fernley staple has served all-day breakfast, burgers, sandwiches and wraps, towering pasta entrees, and decadent homemade pies and milkshakes. If you’re not sure what to order, get a local favorite: chicken fried steak served with homemade gravy. While you wait for a table, be sure to check out the on-site gallery of tools, baskets, beads, and arrowhead artifacts from Nevada’s Northern Paiute Tribes.
DORA’S SMOKEHOUSE AND BBQ
Opening just this summer inside what was formerly the Cowpoke Café, Lovelock’s newest restaurant is already tempting hungry travelers off I-80. This excellent eatery features a charming interior, friendly staff, and a mouthwatering menu that specializes in on-site smoked meat and barbecue. Along with seven burger varieties, guests can enjoy sandwich specials like the pastrami, tri tip, pulled pork, ribs, and Philly cheese steak—all accompanied with homemade side dishes.
This 1960s-era time capsule might be one of the best diners on Interstate 80. In fact, it is so popular that it has even branched out to four locations in Idaho. You’ll find all the breakfast and lunch favorites here, but The Griddle’s menu also offers gourmet dishes that read like a fancy metropolitan bistro. When you sit down to enjoy that plate of raspberry crepes, pecan-crusted French toast with bacon, slow-cooked corned beef Reubens, or quinoa tacos—don’t forget you’re still in the middle of cowboy country.
HISTORIC SILVER CAFÉ
The family-run Historic Silver Café has been filling bellies for more than a century. And after a day exploring in and around “Nevada’s Liveliest Ghost Town,” that’s exactly what you’re going to deserve. Start the day with fresh-cooked delights like berry-slathered French toast, omelets, and country fried steaks, or grab breakfast burritos to-go for a day of exploring. In the afternoon, gorge on burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, ribeye steaks, and all the comforting fried sides. Got more mouths to feed? Order a few homemade pizzas—they’re a local favorite.
Nestled in the heart of quiet Beatty, Gema’s Café offers fresh, made-to-order classics but with a Mexican American twist. As you sip your freshly roasted coffee, you’ll be selecting from a menu featuring favorite family recipes passed down from Gema’s abuelita. For breakfast, we recommend you try the Spanish Omelet or enchiladas. If you stop in closer to dinnertime, try the nachos supreme, taco salad, or chicken Diablo.
GOLDEN WEST RESTAURANT & CASINO
Open 24/7, Golden West offers a huge menu for every meal of the day. This tiny diner punches well above its weight with unbeatable breakfasts and house specials like the New York steak sandwich, clam or popcorn shrimp basket, and Navajo tacos. After your meal, enjoy an ice-cold beer at the full bar, hit the casino floor, or burn off some calories on a walk around Mesquite’s historic downtown.