Fact: some of the best Basque food in the world (outside of certain regions in Spain and France) can be found right here in the Silver State. It’s a bold claim, we know, but there’s a reason for it. One of the nation’s largest Basque disaporas is found right here.
No one exemplifies the traditional Basque family sit-down meal more than J.T. Basque Bar & Dining Room in Gardnerville, Nevada, which is part of the greater Carson Valley. Building momentum as a cornerstone of the Gardnerville community for decades, J.T. Basque has transcended to the lofty heights of the statewide dining icon it is today. Originally founded in 1896, a Gardnerville entrepreneur bought and moved the building from its original location in Virginia City. Having been originally owned by the Jaunsaras and Trounday families, the J.T.’s success skyrocketed and, through the past century, has served as a hotel, saloon, and dining hall.
During the 1940s, a couple of Basque brothers immigrated from the French side of the Basque Pyrenees mountains to Gardnerville. With only a few bucks to their name, one of the brothers, by the name of Jean Lekumberry, turned to what he knew well: sheepherding in the heavy agricultural and ranching community of Gardnerville. By 1960, the brothers were able to purchase the J.T., and have kept the traditions—along with the name—alive.
While Jean tended bar, his brother Pete took over as cook, working to deliver hearty family-style meals in true Basque boarding house form. Jean’s wife Shirley took over the dining room, and although hard to imagine, served each multi-course meal for a whopping $1.50! Amid the liveliness of the J.T., Jean and Shirley brought up their three children in the restaurant, who have now taken the establishment.
The Lekumberry family raises beef locally in the Carson Valley, producing natural grass-fed beef for the dining room’s kitchen. The J.T. Basque Restaurant is committed to purchasing local products whenever possible, including Winnemucca potatoes, Smith Valley onions, and meat from other neighboring Carson Valley ranches. Voted Best Basque Restaurant in the Carson Valley for more than a decade running, the family establishment is open Monday through Saturday for lunch, dinner and drinks.
J.T. Basque is open for lunch Mondays through Fridays from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM and dinner from 5:– PM to 9:00 PM. On Saturdays, lunch is served from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM and dinner from 4:30 PM to 9:00 PM.
There is no cost for admission. Menu items are individually priced.