Bars & clubs, casino style

Here are 11 bars & clubs where you can party down inside casinos

Planet Hollywood at Harrah’s Reno.

Planet Hollywood at Harrah’s Reno.

Photo by David Robert

Last week, the RN&R did its annual Bars & Clubs issue. Since then, I have received numerous phone calls from people who can fit into two categories:

1. Bar owners/managers who were ticked about what we had to say.

2. Bar owners/managers who were ticked that they were not included in the issue.

Because I am a glutton for punishment, this week we will be talking about casino bars and clubs. Now, please, please, please realize that this is just an incomplete list featuring the opinions of one person. If your favorite place was not listed here, please understand that the exclusion does not mean that we have anything against said place; all it means is that:

1. I’ve been to these places, and I thought they were kinda cool.

2. I only have about 1,200 words available to me here, and I’ve already used up 145 of them.

Anyway, here’s my own personal list of 11 places. Please don’t hurt me.

Atlantis Nightclub
inside the Atlantis, 3800 S. Virginia St., 825-4700
This may be the only place on the planet where one can shake his or her groove thang under a fake octopus. Take that for what it’s worth. In any case, the Atlantis Nightclub—which is kind of hard to find in the midst of the Atlantis convention area—is a nice place that seems to cater to a not-too-young, not-too-old crowd. The club also has special nights, including Live La Vida Loca Thursdays, Babes Watch Fridays and a Saturday Night Dance Party. All taking place, let me repeat, under a fake, squirming octopus.

Bistro Roxy
inside the Eldorado, 345 N. Virginia St., 786-5700
This is probably my favorite hangout in Reno, period. I love sitting in the comfortable chairs just inside the lounge entrance, the piano playing, the nearby fountain running. The drinks are good, and the atmosphere is nice. I have only two problems with this place: First, it’s a complete and total zoo on weekend nights, because the place is so darned popular; and second, I am a dork, and I want to copy edit the typos in the menu every time I am there. Take this as a sign that I need to get a life.

The Brew Brothers
inside the Eldorado, 345 N. Virginia St., 786-5700
Another cool place inside the Eldorado. Its sign trumpets “meals, music and microbrews.” Inside, a cozy, brick motif with some of the microbrewery equipment awaits. This is a great place to grab a beer and a meal while chatting with some friends. That takes care of two of the three things the sign promises. As for the third, I’ve seen some great bands here, and I’ve seen some not-so-great ones, too. Thankfully, the beer and food are more consistent.

BuBinga at the Eldorado.

Photo by David Robert

BuBinga Lounge
inside the Eldorado, 345 N. Virginia St., 786-5700
I just realized the Eldorado likes naming places starting with the letter “B.” And the third place, alphabetically, is the first when it comes to high class. Featuring the wood of the BuBinga tree, great music and round, stylistic, shifting images on the walls, the BuBinga is the place to go to feel like an aristocrat. Not so coincidentally, the place has one of the town’s most restrictive dress codes and priciest cover charges. On the flip side, BuBinga features a happy hour from 5-8:30 p.m., with no cover and half-price drinks.

Fireside Lounge & Fish Bar
inside the Peppermill, 2707 S. Virginia St., 826-2121
These places, located almost adjacent to each other, feature low lighting, bright neon, TVs tuned to sports (when I was there) and black, reflective walls and ceilings. The Fireside Lounge features red neon and a round fountain, about 5 feet or so in diameter, with a fire in the middle. And you can feel the heat. The smaller Fish Bar features several large aquariums and blue neon. Both are nice places with cozy, comfortable chairs to plop down in when you want to take a break from your casino activities.

Gabe’s Pub & Deli
inside John Ascuaga’s Nugget, 1100 Nugget Ave., Sparks, 356-3300
This is the place where I will be on baseball’s opening day here in a couple of weeks. Adjacent to the sports book, where televisions blurt out all the sports you could possibly want, a full-service bar and cafeteria-style eatery complete the triangle of food, drink and sport. Of all the places in town, this is my favorite to catch a game or two or seven. It all makes me want to shout out: “DOES IT GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS?” Yet another sign that I need to get a life.

The Garage
inside the Reno Hilton, 2500 E. Second St., 789-2000
I’ve previously written about The Garage’s downfall from greatness. Just off of the main casino floor next to the Hilton’s new bingo parlor (which used to be the Improv comedy club), The Garage is still a hip-looking place with comfortable seats, a cool logo and the occasional music act. All it is missing is the great live music from up-and-coming bands that it featured a year ago. And that is a big thing to be missing, in my book.

Limerick’s Pub & Grille
inside Fitzgeralds, 255 N. Virginia St., 785-3300
This is a place I’ve been to only once, but I’ll be back. Located on the third floor of the Fitzgeralds near the buffet, and reachable only by a maze of escalator rides, Limerick’s is a hidden hideaway if there ever was one. It has a nice pub feel—a brick-like decor reminded me of a smaller version of The Brew Brothers, without the microbrews or loud music, but with green tablecloths. Happy hour is from 4-6 p.m., and they serve dinner starting at 5.

Planet Hollywood
inside Harrah’s Reno, 206 N. Virginia St., 323-7837
Everybody knows what to expect here: decent (if a bit expensive) food, movie-star memorabilia and drinks with names like “Sweet Death Becomes Her.” With zebra-striped booths and lots of T-shirts for sale, Planet Hollywood caters to the tourists who want to say that they were once there. I even happened to see, in an apparent adaptation to the influx of bowlers in town, a Planet Hollywood T-shirt depicting a bowling alley. Nice, but what would Bill Harrah think?

Silver Baron Lounge
inside the Silver Legacy, 407 N. Virginia St., 329-4777
This is the bar to visit if you want to imagine that you’re at one of those big mega-casinos in Las Vegas. Located directly underneath the Legacy’s faux mining rig and dome in the middle of the casino floor, the Silver Baron Lounge offers a lot for the senses—a green marble and wood décor, the rig and occasional light shows above, TVs tuned (when I was there last) to XFL and college hoops contests, with casino action all around.

Trader Dick’s
inside John Ascuaga’s Nugget, 1100 Nugget Ave., Sparks, 356-3300
This is arguably the tackiest casino bar in town, and I say that lovingly. It is tacky but cool—the big, fruity drinks, the straw and fake tropical plants combine to create an island paradise in a way that only a casino could. It’s a place where everyone seems to be having fun—when I last visited, the dance floor was alive with a mostly-older crowd groovin’ to the lounge act, which was performing hits of the ‘80s including "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles. As John Ascuaga would say, "Perfect."