Your Guide to Basquing in the Old West

What are the best restaurants for authentic Basque cuisine?

Louis Basque Corner is one of the rare restaurants in Nevada that serves Basque cuisine (Louis Basque Corner)

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The standout restaurant of the region, Epi’s, is a bit of a trek from downtown Boise’s trendier eateries. The quaint remodeled bungalow in nearby Meridian is known for its intimacy and its almost excessively warm staff; as Boise Weekly describes it, “It was like having dinner at mom's.” Unlike some of the more traditional Basque eateries, Epi’s allows guests to order individual dishes from a menu—highlights include the calamari, ham croquetas and the baked cod.

Leku Ona
117 S. 6th Street
Boise, ID 83702

Epi’s Basque Restaurant
1115 N Main St
Meridian, ID 83642
(208) 884-0142

Old Basque Inn
306 Wroten Street

Jordan Valley, OR 97910
(541) 586-2800


Around 1920, a flood of young Basque men looking for new adventures inundated northern Nevada. As shepherds, life ended up being duller than expected; they spent months alone in the scrubby mountains, punctuated by visits to railroad towns to sell their sheep. Many of the signature Basque boardinghouses that housed them on these visits, like the Martin Hotel in Winnemucca and Santa Fe Hotel in Reno, are still standing. And they’re still dishing up the pioneer-style comfort food meant to buffer the long stretches in the wilderness. Following the tradition, these seasoned dining rooms churn out endless courses of lamb stews, steaks, washed down with plenty of wine and Picon Punch.

Nevada was also a major site for Basque culture rehab; in 1959 the first national Basque Basque festival was held in Sparks, Nevada, drawing more than 6,000 Basque Americans and highlighting the need for Basque cultural outlets around the country. Soon after, similar ethnic clubs and festivals started popping up in all the major Basque hubs of California, Idaho and Oregon. Elko still hosts the state’s largest Basque festival (which, appropriately, includes an event called the “Running of the Sheep”), though the town’s ethnic population has dwindled in the past century.

Santa Fe Hotel
235 N Lake St
Reno, NV 89501
(775) 323-1891

The Martin Hotel
94 West Railroad Street
Winnemucca, NV 89445
(775) 623-3197

JT Basque Bar and Dining Room
1426 Highway 395
Gardnerville, NV 89410
(775) 782-2074

About Aviva Shen
Aviva Shen

Aviva Shen is a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress. Before joining CAP, Aviva interned and wrote for Smithsonian magazine, Salon, and New York.

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