After a full morning of jetting across town back and forth to meetings, I conveniently found Dee’s Bakery to dip into for lunch. Located on 970 South McCarran Boulevard Suite 102, Dee’s offers a full breakfast, lunch, dessert, and was the first and perhaps only place in the Reno-Sparks area with a Brazilian menu.
St. Patrick’s Day decorations adorn the cash register which happen to be right next to the dessert bar filled with treats such as eclairs, powdered macaroons, cupcakes and flan. Everything looks good on the menu from the breakfast burrito and omelets to the hot sandwiches, wraps and quiche. But since it’s nearing St. Patrick’s Day I go with the lunch special- Corned Beef & Cabbage Sandwich served with seasoned fries ($10).
It came out fast, and the sandwich was comprised of thick slabs of corned beef with shredded cabbage mixed in a light dressing and a hint of stone ground mustard between two slices of marbled rye bread. Although it was filling and delicious, it ironically also tasted like the healthiest St. Patrick’s Day meal I’ve ever had.
The guys in the kitchen are laughing and chatting; everyone seems happy to work there. Several people asked me if I enjoyed my food it was clear that they take a lot of pride in what they serve.
Owners John and Michelle Hall are living the legacy passed down from Grandma Dee Winkle, who is 80 years old now and loved baking and decorating cakes (she supposedly baked over 2000 cakes in her career). In 2017, her grandson John happened to find Dee’s Bakery at that time owned by another woman named Diana Moore. Two different women with the same nickname who both loved to bake.
“Back in the day, you couldn’t find a lot of people who baked cakes so my grandmother just did it for friends and family,” Owner John Hall says. John’s father is American and his mother is Italian/Brazilian, so John primarily grew up in Brazil with his 11 siblings. Many of them run restaurants down in South America, but John and his wife decided to come back north and bring their Brazilian specialties to Sparks. He says he likes the bakery’s current location because they’re in a business warehouse with a lot of factories around.
“We get a lot of working class people in here, a lot of regulars Monday through Friday,” John says.
As part of including some Brazilian flare, The Dee’s menu now includes Pao de Quijo (small baked cheese rolls), Brazilian Prato Feito- your choice of grilled meat with white rice, french fries, beans and John’s favorite dish, Espetinho de Camarao (seasoned grilled shrimp skewers accompanied by white rice, potato salad, and farofa- toasted cassava flour).
The couple also serves feijoada only on Saturdays because “it takes around 16 hours to make,” John says. “It was the slave food from Brazil. The would give them the parts of the pork they didn’t want, so the slaves would cook it for 12-16 hours to make all of the pig parts soft and soak up all of the flavors from the beans and spices. Some people are nervous to try it, but when we give them a sample they usually come back and order it.”
John says that they don’t use a lot of spices in their cooking, though, mainly using garlic, salt, and onions to season the meat.
“We have gotten busier since word got out about our new Brazilian menu,” Michelle says.
Dee’s Bakery & Café uses fresh ingredients and makes everything from scratch. Next time I go in I’m looking forward to trying the Brazilian Cappuccino (coffee, frothed milk, and milk chocolate), the feijoada, and top it off with a Brigadeiro (a truffle made of chocolate and sweetened condensed milk)
Dee’s Bakery & Café is open Monday-Friday 7 a.m.to 3 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.