Old 395. 1862. The folks in Nevada’s Carson Valley seem to have a thing about numbers. Curious?
Red’s Old 395Grill just happens to be my favorite restaurant in this part of Nevada. About 10 years ago, we happened upon it by accident, attracted by the funky windmill out front. Not long ago we found Red’s again, this time on purpose.
The restaurant is named both for a man named Red and Old 395, the highway running through Carson City where it’s located. From the moment you step through the doors, you’re in for a treat. First comes the quirky décor. You can’t miss the huge circus-type poster proclaiming Red’s as “Home of the Greatest Meals on Earth.” Next, check out the ceiling. Is that a New York taxicab hanging from the rafters? Then there’s a cart once seen in “Planet of the Apes.”
There’s more. The railings dividing various seating sections are made of recycled steel wagon wheels. Table cloths are red and white checked. Would you believe this is a casual, family place?
That said, Red’s does feature an amazing bar. There are 58 tequilas on offer at last count, not to mention 101 beers. Of these, 52 are draft beer. “We live up to being a world famous bar,” boasted Sam, who worked his way up from bussing tables to general manager.
We would agree with Sam, but it’s the food that brought us back. Just about everything is made from scratch. The word Grill in the name (and the big BBQ sign outside) is a clue to the scope of barbequed and smoked meats on the menu. I chose a wood-fired salmon that was outstanding.
While I was enjoying my fish, another unexpected side of Red’s unfolded. Remember that circus sign? Well, a juggler started tossing rings, then balls, then knives. Another entertainer did card tricks that had kids at a nearby table awe-struck. By the end of dinner, everyone in the place was smiling—and extremely well fed.
Look for Red’s Old 395Grill at 1055 S. Carson St. (aka Old 395). www.Reds395.com. Prices are reasonable, especially if you consider the large portions. Wines are in the $20 a bottle range.
Now for 1862. The full name is 1862 David Walley’s Hot Springs Resort & Spa. The original spa and 40-room hotel were built in 1862 by David and Harriet Walley. With its mineral hot springs, it was a natural spot for a stage stop on the Emigrant Trail.
These days, if you drop into the spa for a few hours, you’ll have the pleasure of soaking in five mineral pools and swimming in the large heated pool. All are set outdoors in a grassy lawn with views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The $30 charge for the day includes access to men’s or women’s dry saunas, steam rooms and locker rooms.
Walley’s also offers a range of spa treatments, best booked in advance.
You’ll find 1862 David Walley’s Hot Springs at 2001 Foothill Rd. in Genoa, the oldest town in Nevada and named for the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. www.1862hotsprings.com.
With all this eating and relaxing, you’ll need a place to hang your hat. Try the Carson Valley Inn in Minden, a short drive south of the hot springs. All guestrooms have been renovated since 2011, and Katie’s Country Kitchen serves a dynamite breakfast.
If you time your visit right, you can walk from your room to an evening of music—country, western or otherwise. The inn has an open-air stage, TJ’s Coral, at the far end of the parking lot.
The Carson Valley Inn is located at 1627 Highway 395 North, Minden, Nevada. Call 800-321-6983. www.carsonvalleyinn.com.