Snacks to share: Cheesy bruschetta, chorizo queso and yellowfin ahi ceviche!

As a food writer, I’m no stranger to solo dining experiences. It originally took a bit of courage to ask for a table for one. Oftentimes, I sat at a bar seat as to not take up any real estate for potential groups, and so I could enjoy my food without feeling like I had to stare at my phone the entire time.  

While I now find solo dining to be a pleasant experience, I always prefer to eat with others—and I especially enjoy the opportunity to share plates. 

Shareable menu items, usually appetizers, offer a sense of community to a table. It is a simple pleasure to collectively discuss the flavors of the dish, curiously analyze its ingredients, and deliberate about what might be missing—or perhaps agree that it’s perfect as-is. I find it almost meditative to be this present while eating a meal, observing all the flavors and textures, and fully appreciating the moment with those around me. And, of course, sharing a dish creates an opportunity to demonstrate the ultimate act of love: offering the last bite. 

This month’s list features shareable dishes that I found particularly enjoyable. The best part is that all three dishes are on happy-hour menus at each establishment. 

What: Cheesy bruschetta 

Where: Great Full Gardens, 555 S. Virginia St., Reno; also available at the Sparks and South Meadows locations 

Price: $12 

Contact: www.greatfullgardens.com, 775-324-2013 

I was going through my phone the other day and saw a photo I’d taken in 2016 of Great Full Gardens’ cheesy bruschetta. I realized that I have been eating this dish for more than a decade, and it has remained consistently delicious all these years. In fact, I don’t think I’ve eaten at Great Full Gardens without getting the cheesy bruschetta—and sometimes I go just because I am craving it. 

The bruschetta is served on toasted Truckee Sourdough Co. ciabatta with garlic aioli, mozzarella cheese, marinated tomatoes, basil and a house-made balsamic reduction. It is irresistibly savory, sweet and texturally compelling; it’s one of my favorite dishes to share with others, because it’s unassumingly delicious. It can also be made gluten-free and vegan, with the addition of their house-made vegan cashew “cheeze” spread. 

What: Chorizo queso 

Where: Wild River Grille, 17 S. Virginia St., Reno 

Price: $10  

Contact: www.wildrivergrille.com, 775-284-7455 

I’ve never met a queso dip I didn’t like: Even if queso is bad, it’s still pretty good. However, there is no question about the queso from Wild River Grille being delicious. It’s a bit thicker than your average queso, making it almost a cross between a Mexican fundido and a pimento-cheese dip. The savory chorizo adds heat and texture and turns the dish into a must-order. 

The real kicker, and quite possibly the simplest element of this dish, is that it’s served with both tortilla chips and pita. I’m not sure why all dips aren’t served with a textural variety of carbs, but it really enhances the experience.  

While you can only find the queso during happy hour at Wild River Grille (4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday), it is worth a trip, because the happy-hour menu is ample and very affordable given the quality of food. 

What: Yellowfin ahi ceviche 

Where: La Condesa Eatery, 1642 S. Wells Ave., Reno 

Price: $18 

Contact: www.lacondesaeatery.com, 775-409-3000 

I usually try to order something different each time I go to La Condesa—but I always have to order the yellowfin ahi ceviche. My favorite part of the dish, aside from the fresh fish, is the “leche de tigre” sauce in which the ceviche is served—it’s deliciously bright with lots of acid. Much to the chagrin of those I go with, I seem to utter every time, “This sauce is so good, I could drink it.” The dish is so delicious that sometimes I wish I hadn’t ordered it to share. 

As warm weather starts to make a consistent appearance, it is worth noting that La Condesa’s front patio is a fabulous place to sit and enjoy a nice meal—especially when that nice meal includes their top-notch ceviche.