Does Reno have good dive bars? Hell, we practically invented the concept.
A dive bar can be defined as a well-worn, unglamorous bar, often serving a cheap, simple selection of drinks to a regular clientele. But the truth is, most of us don’t need a definition to know when we are in a dive bar. There are usually no windows, dim lighting, trashed restrooms, disgruntled working class locals and bartenders who tend to only serve whiskey and beer. What better place to unwind after a long week for half the price?
In one night, I dedicated myself to traveling to five of Reno’s lesser-known bars to showcase that this town is full of dive bar spirit.
Knucklehead’s Sports Bar and Grill
323-6500; 405 Vine St.
Open 8:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Wednesday;
8:30 a.m. to 4 a.m. Thursday through Sunday
Pennywise blares out of the jukebox at Knucklehead’s as I order my first beer. The cute, tattooed female bartender smiles at me and asks if I want a menu. The number of specials overwhelm me. $1.50 wells drinks. $10 for two Jägerbombs. Free draft beer with every shot. A variety of people fill the large bar: a couple enjoying chicken strips at the tables, businessmen after work watching sports highlights from the wooden bar, friends playing pool, a few kids paying pinball. It all seems pretty laid back. The wooden bar fills a corner of Knucklehead’s, and the rest is open space full of pool tables, video games, and other tables where you can sit and drink. I think I even saw a stage tucked in the back corner. It feels like a good place to begin my night. My friends and I order a round of kamikazes. Let the dive bar tour begin.
322-8298; 706 W. 2nd St.
Open 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily
The quote above the bar in Brickie’s Tavern reads, “There is nothing which has been contributed by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.” I understand why I am the only woman in the bar. The bartender greets me and debates my age. He obviously doesn’t get a lot of younger people in here. I order my Jack and Coke.
“I’m here to write an article about dives,” I say.
He responds, “This is not a dive.”
He demands I try the cheeseburger. He scurries across the checkered floor to bring me the juiciest burger I’ve eaten in a while. Delivered on a toasted bun with fresh veggies, I am grateful for the snack. Brickie’s is a small room covered in vintage sports posters, with a few big screens playing sports and a grill firing in the corner.
I ask one of the unshaven men in a flannel shirt and baseball hat sitting at the bar, “Why do you come here?”
He replies, “I come here to get away from my wife.”
324-9853; 1074 S. Virginia St.
Open 4 p.m. to close, Monday through Sunday
A good dive bar is dark. The inside of the Zephyr is lit by a few dim red lights. I order a white Russian.
“We don’t have cream. Nothing fancy here, just beer and whiskey,” the bartender responds.
I change my order and sit on a broken bar stool. The Zephyr is shabby-chic. Stenciled mirrors, grimy curtains, and bizarre art covers the walls from local artists, a small stage sits in the corner and a pool table in the center. A small crowd of drinkers huddles around a space heater in the corner. I love Reno. The Zephyr hosts a variety of rock talents performing here every week, and the place is usually full for the music.
The Hideout Lounge
324-4955; 240 S. Park St.
Open 3 p.m. to close, Monday through Sunday
Tucked away behind Caesar’s Beauty World, The Hideout is hard to find. A one-room bar with a few pool tables and foosball, I am surprised anyone even knows this place exists. The bartender pours my beer and goes back to his game of Soul Calibur on the corner TV. No one seems to mind that he is playing. Every once in a while he asks if you want to battle him. The wooden bar is covered with punk band stickers, and every stool is filled. Every Tuesday night, the Hideout Lounge features Trash-Rock, where a DJ plays rock ’n’ roll, punk and a few surprises on vinyl. The Hideout has a great jukebox, friendly bartenders and a low-key atmosphere.
Corrigan’s Bit O’ Ireland
322-1977; 1526 S. Wells Ave.
>Open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily
On the far south end of Wells Avenue sits the tiny Corrigan’s bar. Even smaller than The Hideout, Corrigan’s holds one pool table and about 30 people. Irish memorabilia covers the walls, and the bartender knows his job is to help you forget all worries.
“Don’t sit down at the bar, you’ll never get up,” advises a regular.
I ignore his advice, and the bartender begins pouring me shots of Jameson and Guinnesses. I feel welcome in this cozy space. The friendly regulars strike up a conversation and sing along to the juke box. My boyfriend drags me out after an hour for a water break and a nap.