Drinking good in the neighborhood
Get the most out of your bar hopping
You’re all cozy on your bar stool. The conversation has moved from the distant to the personal. You’re getting a second wind on the second wind that’s blowing the three sheets. Then someone says, ‘Hey, let’s go next door.”
And why not?
A steady stream of bars and clubs run all over this town. But when it comes to getting on foot and bar hopping, some areas offer more than others. Here are some of our favorites.
Come St. Patrick’s Day, South Wells Avenue fills up with a crowd of green-beaded, drunken revelers. At one end of the crawl is Lucke’s Saloon (1455 S. Wells Ave.,324-9432), a small, Irish saloon with video poker and pool across from Speedy Burritos. A couple blocks south to Vesta, and you’re at Corrigan’s Bit O’ Ireland (1526 S. Wells Ave., 322-1977). There’s no food here, but if it’s Guinness, Irish coffee or an Irish car bomb you want, you’re in luck. Directly across the street is Rapscallion Seafood House (1555 S. Wells Ave., 323-1211), which serves surf and turf as well as alcohol. Work through the crowd, belly up to the bar and try not to let anyone bump you and spill your drink. If you’re up for more, turn right at Vesta, and cross Virginia Street. You could turn right to Miguel’s Mexican food (1415 S. Virginia St., 322-2722, see “Best margaritas”, page 13). Or turn left into the South Virginia Plaza at the corner of Mount Rose and Virginia streets for Si Amigos, Sushi Pier II, the Polo Lounge, Mario’s Portofino and Supper Club Zulu, all of which have bars.
Cal Avenue to Arlington
At the intersection of California Avenue and South Virginia Street is the new, pleasant surprise of an Irish pub, Ceol (538 S. Virginia St., 329-5558). It’s clean and cozy with live Irish music and a friendly staff. Head west on California to Satellite Cocktail Lounge (188 California Ave., 786-3536). This is a small, dark, hipster lounge of long, white cushioned chairs, a curvy bar, an outdoor patio and strong drinks that are mostly cocktail-oriented. Satellite draws in surprisingly good live music from Reno and touring bands from across the United States. You may be hungry by this point; Blue Moon Gourmet Pizza (190 California Ave., 324-2828) next door to Satellite serves some of the best gourmet pies in town, and you can, of course, drink a beer with that. If it’s still light outside, try the Cheese Board & Wine Cellar (247 California Ave., 323-3115) about a block west for some fine wine and gourmet sandwiches. The tour’s final stop is at the corner of California and Arlington avenues: Chocolate Bar (475 S. Arlington Ave., 337-1122). This place is like no other in Reno, a trendy chocolate and cocktail bar where you can get drinks like white chocolate raspberry cocktails and chaitinis along with rich truffles, cake and fondue. It’s a great place for a date, a night out with the girls, or to drag your boyfriend.
It’s a pretentious little blend of letters, sure, but let’s go with it. The region that encompasses West and First streets (WeFi) boasts some of the most popular bars and clubs for Reno hipsters. There’s no one way to do it. But let’s start at the Sierra Tap House (253 W. First St., 322-7678), alongside the Truckee River. In warm weather, sit outside and watch the river go by, or head indoors for the bar’s broad selection of microbrews from Sierra Nevada Brewery. No food, but a great, relaxed ambience. Head to the north side of the building, and enter Jungle Vino (247 W. First St.), a colorful, intimate wine bar where you can also get tasty cheese and sandwiches. There are also weekly wine-tastings. Head west along First to Arlington, and turn right for Se7en Teahouse (100 N. Arlington Ave., 348-9526). By day, this place is a quiet study zone serving the best selection of looseleaf teas in Reno. By night it becomes a lively bar with poetry readings, open mic nights and drinks like “Mind Over Muddle,” which is basically raspberry ice tea with vodka, along with wine, beer and other cocktails. Next door is the consistently popular Imperial Bar and Lounge (150 N. Arlington Ave., 324-6399). Make your way past the wall of yellow-shirted bouncers and enter a room full of cologned-young males and mostly 20-something women in halter tops, high heels and blue jeans. With high ceilings, partially brick walls, fantastic “frites”—that’s French Fries, fools—and panini, and some of the most stylish bathrooms in Reno, this place is packed every weekend. Turn right and head into Tonic (231 W. Second St., 337-6868), an urban bar and dance club with pool tables, DJs, and occasional live music. Hang a right onto West Street for the Five Star Saloon (132 West St., 329-2878), a gay bar with free wifi, live music, DJs and pool tables. Then turn left to the corner of First and Sierra Streets for the Silver Peak Grill & Taproom (135 N. Sierra St., 284-3300), an absurdly popular spot in the warm weather months due to its sizable outdoor patio, great people-watching location, good pub food and tasty microbrews. About a block north is the aptly titled 210North (210 N. Sierra St., 786-6210). This sizable night club seems more like Miami than Reno, with topnotch DJs, an ornately trendy, colorful and tactile design sensibility of cascading chandeliers, plush chairs and couches, a large dance floor and plenty of beautiful people. Divine Ultra Lounge (95 N. Sierra St., 329-8088) is a lot like it, except they serve sushi and are about 1/32 the size of 210North.
East Fourth Street
In a world of polish, shine and insincerity, places like East Fourth Street are delightfully, sometimes frighteningly, real. Many of the bars lining this street are quintessential dive bars, and they revel in it. Others are pure, old-school charmers that have managed to survive the decades. One of the latter is Louis’ Basque Corner (301 E. Fourth St., 323-7203). Start with a hearty, family-style Basque dinner here and a glass of the unofficial Nevada state drink, the Picon Punch. They’ve been making them here for 41 years. Then head to Davidson’s Distillery (275 E. Fourth, 324-1917), a biker bar that nonetheless welcomes all sorts and is a good spot to find live Reno rock ’n’ roll. Head east and cross the railroad tracks to the neon sign of Abby’s Highway 40 (424 E. Fourth St., 322-9422), a place of live music and zero pretension, where grime meets a creative and reckless spirit. Next to Abby’s is a vaguely barn/cathedral-like building painted by Jim Zlokovich in the colors of a soft Nevada sky at sunbreak or sundown. It’s Studio on 4th (432 E. Fourth St., 786-6460), a low-key drinking establishment that’s also host to plays, films, visual art, musical and cabaret performances. Nearly any artist with an idea but nowhere to do it finds a welcoming space here. The Underground (555 E. Fourth St., No. B, 786-2582) is a few blocks east, where live music is its largest appeal. Keep heading east for about a mile to be rewarded by a unique piece of Reno history at Casale’s Half Way Club (2501 E. Fourth St., 323-2979) and Coney Island Bar (2644 Prater Way, 358-6485), where Reno meets Sparks. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.