today’s city guide belongs to “the biggest little city in the world”: reno, nevada. whenever i think of reno my brain sadly goes immediately to these guys, so i was happy to see that reno local ashley of paisley ann design could show me a side of the city that’s full of culture, shopping, creativity, and great places to eat and drink. if you’re headed out to reno, i hope you’ll check out ashley’s guide when you’re planning your visit. thanks to ashley for sharing her local’s guide to reno!
CLICK HERE for the full reno guide after the jump!
The Biggest Little City in the World (Reno, Nevada)
After having grown up in Orange County, attending college in Manhattan and a short grad school stint in Seattle, I was a bit surprised to find that my favorite place of all is where I currently reside. Surely I wouldn’t have ever made it here had it not been for marrying my geek chic husband who was born and raised here. In fact, I, like most people, thought that Reno and Las Vegas were one in the same. As it turns out, they are about as far apart as Reno and L.A. Yes, Reno has casinos, and I am proud to say that I drive by them everyday before I cross over the Truckee River and enter the Old Southwest, a neighborhood with mid-century charm and good eats. But surrounding the Washoe Valley are mountains and hills covered in white snow. It is a breathtaking view, and provides us with plenty of outdoor activities all winter long, enough snow to build snowmen, and a rushing river to tube on in the summer. Not to mention there is an indie art scene that is roaring to go. If you want to make a name for yourself as an artist, photographer, designer, writer, or web designer, this is the place to be. The barriers to entry are low, and the sojourners are welcoming and worthy of collaboration.
1. Pneumatic Diner -501 West 1st Street. A casual indie cafe with a 90’s punk movement feel. Serves the best raw, vegan, and vegetarian cuisine.
2..Sezmu -670 Mount Rose Street. Nestled in the charming neighborhood of the Old Southwest. A bit expensive, but very special.
3. Cafe de Thai -7499 Longley Lane. A modern Thai restaurant. A gem architecturally. The staff has to memorize an extensive list of specials and ingredients. You can almost never remember any of it, and neither can they. You just know they take really good care of making sure every ingredient is fresh and necessary, and, frankly, outrageous. Very yummy. On the pricey side.
4. Sup -719 South Virginia Street. They do soup, salad and sandwiches. Hard to find a flaw anywhere. Everything including the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie they include with your lunch, is spot on.
5. Freeman’s Hot Dogs-100 California Ave Suite 106. Cute, locally owned all-natural/vegan hot dog joint.
6. Louis’ Basque-301 West 4th Street. Louis’ does Basque family style and does it extremely well…like about to be featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives–well.
7. Pegs Glorified Ham and Eggs-420 South Sierra Street. The best eggs benedict in town. Not to mention, their signature breakfast is delivered to the table in its own skillet. What it lacks in decor, it makes up for on size and taste. Don’t forget to order some fresh squeezed o.j..
1. The Chapel -1495 South Virginia Street. My favorite bar to walk to and from. An old dive-bar conversion. The walls are exposed brick, the owner–Duncan– is a whiskey snob, and you can get a specialty drink that will make you feel like you are back in the 1940’s. My personal fave: The Greyhound made with fresh-squeezed grapefruit. Bonus: It’s right across the street from The Stremmel Gallery. You can walk across the street after an opening.
2. St. James Infirmary-445 California Avenue. This mid-century styled bar has lush white leather booths, black and white movies playing on the tele’s, a vintage picture booth, and best of all, a gorgeous rooftop that makes summer evenings something to look forward to.
3. Biggest Little City Club-188 California Avenue. On the cutest street in town. Comfy weathered leather chairs, black crystal chandeliers, antlers on the wall, and a film projector with throw-back movies playing on the front window. All of the things I like about the recent design trends–in a bar. Bonus: a black silhouette on the men’s restroom door of a man donning briefs. A picture is worth a thousand words.
4. Vino Jungle -248 West 1st Street. This is a little wine bar down by the River. It is in the heart of Reno and serves to a variety of different clientele. The bartenders are mostly girls who are sweet and accommodating and lack the arrogance of most wine servers. This is the bar you go to when you just want to have a long talk, and people watch. Surprisingly it is both busy and quiet.
5. Lincoln Lounge- 306 West 4th Street. An old Jazz club/dive bar turned awesome. The inside is chalk-full of paintings of Abe Lincoln in ornate gold frames, and plenty of dollar-bill green and burgundy accents. Another hipster habitat. It is on 4th Street (Historical Highway 40) which in my opinion will be the next new thing in Reno. Old brick buildings, yum.
1. The Red Chair -6135 Lakeside Drive. Owner/buyer, Aaryn Walker is a designer who is both creative and organized. Difficult to come by. The store is styled with vintage suit-cases stacked to the ceiling and mid-century modern furniture that is reasonably priced. Aaryn is also a painter and odes numerous commissions for her loyal interior design clients.
2. Junkee Clothing Exchange – 960 South Virginia Street. A very reasonably priced clothing exchange owned and ran by local interior designer, Jessica. Jessica’s staff can and will style you for any occasion– especially for Burning Man–the art festival and the third largest city in Nevada for over a week. Jessica is also the talk of the town with her newest project, “Reno Style” Magazine. This business-women is on fire this year. She is sort of a younger version of the lady on the Old Navy performance fleece commercials–with a little vaudeville in the mix.
3. The Paper Moon -550 West Plumb Lane. Yes, they do custom invitations for all occasions. The place to go for unusual gifts-including the UtiliKilt, a Burning Man favorite.
4. Rockabye Reno--538 West Plumb Lane. An eco-friendly children’s store. Owner, Emily Reid, brings in the coolest wooden toys. She hand-picks every item you see, from baby carriers to books, and puts on wildly popular puppet shows for free every week.
5. Pickled Tink -39 E. Taylor Street. Shabby chic boutique with great craft classes.
6. Shoe -104 California Avenue. The hottest shoe store in the West. A great pair of boots can cost you upwards to $300. Fresh and funky, and a bit 5th Ave, but worth a browse.
1. Java Jungle-248 West 1st Street. This is probably the most popular coffee house in Reno due to its longevity as well as the diverse clientele it serves to. There is always fresh art being displayed, mosaic tile floors, and a giant mural of a tree on the wall that will make you wish you knew what to do with a can of spray paint.
2. Bibo Coffee Co.-680 Mount Rose Street. Home of the hipsters in Reno’s Old Southwest. This is in a small sense Manhattan’s version of The Village. Most of the employees are local artists or musicians, and they are just stuffy enough to make you think that this job is not where their inner genius is unleashed.
3. 7 Teahouse – 100 N Arlington Suite 102. A tea house by day, a bar by night. They have an incredible selection of loose leaf teas.
The white ambrosia is my favorite.
1. Sierra Arts Gallery - Suite 120 (Riverside Artist Lofts building) 17 South Virginia Street. A non-profit gallery that houses some of the best artists in Northern Nevada as well as others who are not from the region.
2. Stremmel Gallery -1400 South Virginia Street. A contemporary art gallery established in 1969 show casing mid-career and established American and European Artists. They also provide restoration services and are housed in an architecturally award winning building. Get on their mailing list and make sure you show up for an opening. Reno is small. You will be sure to run into the “whose who” there.
Casinos are where all of the action is, and where you get the best value for your money. Most of the casinos have at least one restaurant that has great food, and the recent trend has been to update the look and feel of the rooms. So any of the big hotels are a safe bet.
1. El Dorado Hotel Casino -From $59. 345 N. Virginia Street. Comfortable, centrally located accommodations, with an art-deco martini bar, Roxy’s, in the lobby. A great place to dance cheek to cheek with your main squeeze.
2. Grand Sierra Resort and Casino – Rooms from $69, tower suites from $139. A little touch of Vegas on the outskirts of downtown, with elegantly refurbished rooms. 2500 E. Second St.
3. Peppermill Hotel Casino.- From $49. 2707 S. Virginia Street. A newly renovated Tuscany theme make this hotel very popular.
Things to Do
1. Nevada Museum of Art (NMA) - 160 West Liberty Street. Their website changes colors depending on the temperature outside and the museum developed the internationally known Center for Art & Environment. This museum is of the quality that you would find in a major metropolitan city, not a mid-size city in the West. They have an excellent Sunday Jazz brunch and First Thursday talks which are always intellectually stimulating. Recent exhibits include a Rafael, a Rembrandt, and the Gee’s Bend Quilters. They recently landed a new buyer for the Museum store who previously owned a great home boutique. I’m expecting the Museum Store to become a hot spot for modern design and jewelry.
2.Wilbur D. May Museum- 1595 N Sierra Street. Wilbur D. May was a world traveler, philanthropist, and rancher. His museum houses an incredible international collection of art and relics from his travels.
3. ArtTown The whole month of August in Reno is dedicated to Art Town. Everyday of the month there are several art related shows, exhibits, concerts, and dance performances. Weekly movies are shown in Wingfield park, the chillest place downtown where the Truckee River meets the casinos.
4. National Automobile Museum- After the death of Bill Harrah in 1978, avid car collector and gaming pioneer of Harrah’s Casinos, his collection of 200+ rare and unusual cars was donated to start a non-profit museum. It also has an active research database library that spans 100 years of Automobile history.
5. Vintage Neon Motel Signs- One of the best kept secrets of Reno, is the sheer number and variety of different vintage neon motel signs-especially on Historic Route 40 Part of the pleasure of living downtown is that I get to drive by them on a regular basis. Several albums on Flickr are dedicated to these neon motel signs, because they are just that rad.
6. Holland Project- 30 Cheney Street. Attend a workshop or show at Holland Project–try screen printing, the ‘fix your own guitar’ workshop, or something more esoteric like circuit bending (electronic music jargon for re-wiring something like a speak-and-spell to sound like a musical instrument) or just stop in to see some local music acts play for the all-ages crowd. Local professional artists and musicians teach most of the workshops. Holland is an all-ages art and music initiative made for and by the young people in Reno and beyond. Holland strives to empower young people through access to music, art, diverse workshop opportunities, and community service and activism. They also happen to have a rad logo and design great posters for all of their shows–and it is all done in-house.
Please, Reno’s finest, feel free to add to this list. It is certainly not comprehensive, focuses mainly on the downtown area, and is sort of centered around designers and geeks.