I have been a vegetarian for some years now. I came to this city, Reno, from a larger Amerikan city with lots of veggie cafes and vegetarian restaurants, so when I found out that Reno only had one vegetarian place - this one - the Pneumatic Diner - I started to go there at least once per month.
I actually got to meet one of the owners, Bo, or however one spelled his name, before he passed away. I found out he was involved with the liberal Reno Indymedia site - is it still up? I do believe pathetic dead things can also resurrect themselves.
Compared to the Deux Gros Nez, the other hipster, half-veggie cafe (now thankfully closed) the Pneu was a much better choice. The DGN was notorious for lousy service, really small portions, badly cooked food with steep prices, and a staff (especially some of the waitress staff) - including the owner (I won't mention any names) that just didn't care what the customers thought of them - and acted accordingly. I went there only a few times, but every time I was there, there was always some incident that took place in front of everyone. Whether it was a row between the customer and the staff, or a customer complaining about their food, either the order was wrong, or the food was badly cooked. I should say that there were a few waitresses who really cared about their work and the food (no names) - but most did not. If any place deserved to close, this was the place. For Reno vegetarians (and I think that I speak for lots of them) - good riddance.
Unfortunately, the Pneu is heading in the same direction as the DGN. First, I will say the the old cooking staff that has cooked at the Pneu for many years are good cooks (no names). I have tried their other portions (not on the menu) but the owners refuse to change the menu after so many years, so the cooking staff are tired of cooking up the same things year after year. It could drive any cook nuts.
The owners have also hire some kitchen aides to help out the old cooks. some of these kitchen aides-cooks do not know what they are doing. I imagine that these characters are hipster punk travelers passing through and need some quick cash.
The old cooks are good, but some of the new wait staff that the new owners hired (about a year and a half ago) are rude and mean. Unfortunately, they hired some local kids (and these people are kids, American white skin privilege clean and shower punks with black clothes, 22 years old going on 15) who all live in the same SW house and listen to the same hardcore kid music collection. They are not good wait staff, and they treat the customers with a standoffish and obnoxious attitude. If I am paying for a microwave nuked pasta dish for 10$ (including the tip) you had better be nice to me.
The bozos running Reno are trying to make this trailer trash town into a hipster hole with money (can one believe this?) so I see more of these 'new business owners' hiring these same kiddies in certain local cafes and new hipster-expensive joints opening up around town.
With drinks, I have had these kids pour beers - and have seen them spill them on the food counters. How can one mess up the pouring of a beer? With the food portions, one has to know the deal about the Pneu. The Pneu has been doing the exact same decor, food portion and preparation for the last - how many years now? So, if one wants a decent portion, one has to know what to order.
First, every food item - no matter what it is (except the beer and the wine) is nuked in their two microwaves. Don't worry they don't over or under cook the dishes - again, the Pneu has changed nothing over the years, so the cooks are expert in clicking the right times for each portion. One must not go to their pancake breakfasts. The portions are small and the pancakes can be quite hard. For a greasy spoon to mess up pancakes that is quite bad.
The best time to go to the Pneu is not a weekend night because small cliques of Reno hickster kids, old weirdos, and Amerikan class climber gaz-guzzler types fill up the tables. The best times are lunches and weeknights. If one wants a nuked meal worth the money, one should get the pasta dish, lasagna, or one should get the full on sandwiches. The rice 'bullard...' or whatever one calls it' is decent.
Remember, the Pneu is simply a greasy spoon with the veggie twist, so don't expect the ultimate in fine dining with different plates. One plate fits all there - and they mean it. The Mediterranean humus plate is large - but it is not good. The falafels are some times hard like rocks and some times they are cold (even after a decent wave nuking). The prices are not cheap. I, and friends of mine, have come out there still hungry after tasting a full on meal. Not every patron is a slim fast eater. The danger with trying some thing different at the Pneu is the patron might get something tasty but really small. Stay away from the drinks because they will really charge you on those. A meal with water will cost you 8-12$ - with drinks almost double that. Like I said before, the Pneu is becoming DGN II.
As for me, I cook myself, and there is now a food coop in town (with nice people who work there) that has fresh and in season veggies and other vegetarian pre-prepared items. I definitely recommend that place. So, I don't frequent the Pneu anymore. But what I can't stomach is rudeness by Green Day punk lite wait staff-kids who ought not to be anywhere near a decent restaurant establishment.