The Biggest Little City has had quite the Renaissance since we last posted a guide (2010!). As more businesses flock to the area to start their restaurants, retail stores and more, the area has become a bustling desert city and local artist and photographer Sarah Stevenson knows all about it. She spent most of her professional life as an interior designer, working in Chicago for large corporate clients. But now, Sarah calles Reno home, where she facilitates an annual women’s art retreat called create.explore.discover, while also creating and selling her own work through Redline Design. Today she gives us a glimpse into blossoming Reno with her updated guide. –Stephanie
Read the full guide after the jump…
When many people think of Nevada, they instantly think of Las Vegas, and when you say Reno chances are most people think that Reno is a suburb of Las Vegas. Reno actually sits eight hours to the north on the border of California and Nevada and is the gateway to Lake Tahoe. There is a large Basque and Italian influence in the area and it is not unusual to find families that have 4th and 5th generations here. Our climate is high desert and Reno sits at approximately 4,500+ feet in elevation. We are definitely an outdoor city and boast world class skiing, biking, hiking, kayaking, golf and mountain climbing. What most people don’t know about Reno is its current rebirth in the areas of food, art and design. Young entrepreneurs are flourishing and new shops and restaurants are opening regularly, providing the region with a bustling and lively downtown and outlying neighborhoods.
Be sure to check out the Google Map with all of the below listings!
This neighborhood is a well established area of the city. Many shops and restaurants have been in existence for a number of years and locals frequent all manor locations. This is a great neighborhood to start your day as its easy to park and get around.
E A T
Josefs Vienna Bakery: Josefs has all-day breakfast, lunch, fresh baked goods and coffee. It has been open since 1980 and is definitely a mainstay in the community. My favorite items on the menu include crepes, pecan waffles and cafe au lait.
Swill Coffee: Swill is a great place to people-watch throughout the week and is home to 1Million Cups, a program created by Kaufman Labs for Enterprise Curation and to engage, educate and connect entrepreneurs. Each Wednesday you can watch business owners talk about their businesses and hear feedback from their presentations. Swill also has a rotating art collection by local artists and all work is for sale.
S H O P
Red Chair: Owner Aryn Walker has been in business for about 11 years and has such a cool selection of antiques, mid-century modern furniture, accessories and art that each visit holds a new surprise. Her daughter, Brooklyn, is often with her at the shop and entertains customers. Aryn is also an artist and sells much of her work through the shop. A quick read in a recent article will tell you more about each of them.
Hapgood’s: Aryn’s second store location is owned in partnership with her husband, Aaron. This is the place if you are looking for mid-century modern furniture and accessories, but it is also geared toward the male shopper, and Aaron has a nice selection of menswear and accessories. Aryn and her husband often travel to Palm Springs to find their products and the selection changes frequently.
Midtown District is under a huge rebirth and is one of the main boutique shopping districts in the area. There are an abundance of new restaurants, bars and shopping. For a full guide to what’s happening in the area, the best place to look is the Midtown District website.
E A T
Midtown Eats: Midtown Eats is my favorite restaurant in the neighborhood. It has a “rustic, reclaimed aesthetic” and will remind you of many Portland restaurants. They have a great craft beer selection and many local brews on tap. Elk burgers, mac and cheese and steak round out the menu. They are open for Sunday brunch, lunch and dinner but do not take reservations so expect a line but its well worth the wait.
There are several other restaurants in midtown that also have great food: Creme for crepes and baked goods; Sup for fresh soup and salads; Wedge for European and regional cheese tasting and food pairings; Laughing Planet Cafe for fresh salads, burritos, rice bowls and great cookies for dessert; Two Chicks (owners of one of the top grilled cheese food trucks in the nation, Gourmelt), Haley and Jessie are now serving up breakfast featuring eggs and yes, grilled cheese sandwiches; Greatfull Gardens fresh, healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner; and Cafe De Luxe, housed in an old commercial laundry space, the building has such a great story as well as the food. They serve vegan, vegetarian and locally sourced breakfast and lunch.
S H O P
As mentioned above, Midtown is one of the unique, boutique shopping districts in Reno. Amongst restaurants you will find art galleries, unique shops and antique malls. One of my favorite gallery spaces is Stremmel Gallery . Stremmel has been in existence since 1969 and specializes in contemporary sculptures, paintings and drawings by European and American artists. They respresent many artists, including Tom Judd, Wolf Kahn and Phyllis Shafer. For more up and coming local artists, Neverender is close by. If you are looking for records, head down the street from Stremmel to the only record store left in Reno, Recylced Records. In addition to Recycled Records you may also try your luck at one of the many antique malls along S. Virginia Street. Start with Virginia Street Antique Mall for a great selection of Fiesta Ware and Reno history.
You may or may not realize that Reno is also the gateway to Burning Man, the international art and cultural experience that takes place in the Black Rock Desert north of Reno the last week of September each year. Two places to help you gather your costumes are Paper Moon and Junkee Clothing Exchange.
One of the newest and most unique shops in Midtown is Natural Selection, which carries: skulls, oddities, beetles, cacti, bonsai, taxidermy, succulents, antlers, carnivorous plants, butterflies, flowers and anything natural that you can imagine. The owners are very friendly and are happy to explain any of the items in the shop. They also encourage you to touch everything!
P L A Y
After all your shopping and browsing you will probably be in need of a refreshment. Midtown does not disappoint and has several really good locations to choose from. These include: Craft Wine and Beer ; Reno Public House and Chapel Tavern . If theater and art are more your pace, Good Luck Macbeth, a local theater and movie house, always has something running and The Holland Project, a young and hip gallery space, always has a show or event worth a trip.
From Midtown if you head north on South Virginia you will connect with Downtown Reno. Once you reach the Truckee River you know you are in a new neighborhood. Downtown is making a revival for places to eat and things to do. Reno boasts Minor League Baseball Champions Reno Aces, which are the Triple-A Affiliate to the Arizona Diamondbacks. If you are lucky, you may see a major league player out on injury play a game or two until they are well enough to return to the big leagues. There’s also a world class art museum, performing arts center, and children’s science discovery museum to keep you busy.
E A T
Campo, owned by Mark Estee, is a favorite for both its intimate interior and its prime outdoor seating along the Truckee River. The menu has just been revamped, but all food is made with local ingredients. Fresh homemade pasta and pizza are menu favorites. The atmosphere makes it a great outing with friends and family. Mark Estee has received numerous awards and accolades and has several other restaurants in the area.
If you really want a taste of pasta, then La Famiglia is the place to go. Family owned and operated by Paolo and Teresa Gaspari, La Famiglia offers classic and contemporary Italian cuisine. It is also located directly across the street from the Pioneer Center, which makes it a great location for a night at the theater.
A relatively new option for downtown is Heritage, located in the Whitney Peak Hotel and curated by Mark Estees. The “heritage” of the Northern Nevada region is what makes this restaurant special. Local ranches and farms provide products for dishes that are created with the founding fathers of our region in mind.
Old Granite Street Eatery provides a new take on comfort food, and a rotating craft beer and homemade cocktail selection makes this a great weekend dining spot for anyone who likes good comfort food.
In the far north corner of downtown sits Homage Bakery. Yummy coffee, tea, baked goods, salads and desserts in an old house with local art. This a great place to stop for lunch or an afternoon snack.
S H O P
New shops are opening all the time in Downtown Reno and the Nevada Museum of Art Store is a mainstay for all things art, design and architecture. There is an extensive collection of books, and local artists are also highlighted.
P L A Y
Along with the shop, a visit to the Nevada Museum of Art is a must. NMA is the only accredited art museum in the state of Nevada and was founded in 1931 by Dr. James E. Church, a professor of German and Classics at the University of Nevada, Reno. The museum is host to many traveling exhibitions, has an extensive permanent collection and hosts the Arts & Environments Conference each October. Chez Louie is the onsite restaurant. Nevada Museum of Art has a rooftop deck and is the best place in Reno to watch the sunset.
If you are traveling with children, the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum is a must-see. Hands-on exhibits including science, mining, cloud-climbing and a chemistry of the cocktail evening for grownups make this a great outing for young and old.
As mentioned, Downtown Reno is bisected by the Truckee River. Along its banks is the Riverwalk. Take a stroll along the river and watch kayaking, swimming and tubing. If you are looking for a place to stay, Whitney Peak Hotel is Reno’s newest, non-casino hotel and events center. It houses indoor and outdoor climbing walls, conference space, Heritage Restaurant and Cargo, a music and events center. In addition to Whitney Peak, there are many casinos that offer great deals for overnight guests.
Just to the south of Downtown lies California Avenue. It is home to more shopping and restaurants and is a great beginning to several walking tours around old Reno neighborhoods. Each summer, during the month of July, Reno turns into Artown, a month-long celebration of the arts. California Avenue is a great place to start your Artown adventures as many events are held in and around Downtown Reno.
E A T
The Cheese Board always has fresh salads, sandwiches and soup and can package up a to-go order for lunch on the road. Their orzo chicken salad and tri-plate lunch options are favorite menu items. Just a block down the street is a great deli, Rubicon Deli, that will also pack up sandwiches to go. If you are in need of a good coffee, Bibo’s is the place to pick it up.
S H O P
Right across the street from Bibo’s is Sundance Books, Reno’s oldest independent book seller. During the summer, Sundance hosted author David Sedaris and had lines down the street to listen to him speak and purchase his books. One of our only independent shoe stores, Shoe is also located at this end of California Avenue. It has a nice selection of designer shoes from all over the world for men, women and children.
P L A Y
There are two walking tours that are an easy distance from California Avenue. They include Mansions on the Bluff
and the Newlands Neighborhood. For a complete list of Historic Reno, you can download the Reno Historical App. After taking your walking tours, head back to St. James Infirmary for an afternoon refreshment.
Riverside Drive (Powning District)
Back on the north side of the Truckee River sits a wonderful little neighborhood that was home to Italian immigrants. It has gone through a revival and now houses several shops and restaurants. If you are walking along the Riverwalk, head west along Riverside Drive and you will come to a set of buildings that house Hub Coffee, Beaujolais Bistro and Dorinda Chocolates. Each structure has been renovated and restored and had green space added for outdoor seating. This is great for people-watching and on a warm, sunny day there is no better place to sit and enjoy the weather that Reno is known for.
E A T
Hub Coffee Roasters serves the best iced latte in Reno and has a rotating local art show and some of the friendliest baristas in Reno. Next door is Dorinda’s Chocolate, where all sorts of chocolates are made onsite. The salted caramel chocolates are a favorite.
Beaujolais Bistro serves authentic French cuisine and is one of the most romantic restaurants in Reno. Reservations are a must.
P L A Y
After the Riverwalk and a coffee, the Pownings Addition and Little Italy are a nice afternoon walk.
Mt. Rose Street is a residential neighborhood with killer coffee. A stop at Coffee Bar for espresso, lattes and tea is good any time of the day. Coffee Bar also serves breakfast pastries and lunch.
South Reno has gone through a resurgence in the last few years and Southcreek has become a new destination for eating and shopping. During the summer, a farmers’ market is held on Sunday mornings and a Sip and Stroll is held at various times throughout the year.
E A T
A Southcreek favorite is Yosh’s Unique Deli and lines are out the door during lunch. Yosh’s is a third generation family-grown business and serves fresh salads, sandwiches and desserts. In the northwest corner of Southcreek you will find Southcreek Pizza, where authentic hand crafted, wood fired, brick oven pizza is served. Dough is made from imported flour from Naples and all ingredients are the freshest possible. Southcreek has many craft beers on tap. If you are in need of a coffee break, there is also a Bibo’s location here.
S H O P
For your shopping convenience, Southcreek has many types of stores, including Whispering Vine, a local wine shop with two locations in the Reno Area. The owners are really helpful in selecting the best wine for your occasion and offer wine tasting every day. If you are looking for French antiques, stop by The Freckled Frog. They have a large selection of antiques from all over Europe and a beautiful gift selection.
P L A Y
Mt. Rose Ski Resort: Just a short, 25-minute drive up Mt. Rose Highway is all it takes to enjoy local skiing at its best. Mt. Rose boasts beginner to double black diamond runs; views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Reno area. National Geographic just named Reno one of the Top 10 Best Emerging Ski Towns in the country. Grab your coffee at Bibo’s and head to the mountain for a day of skiing.
If you are into running and want to try your hand at a 178-mile relay race, check out the Reno/Tahoe Odssey. Held each year in June, 12-member teams complete a relay race from Reno to Lake Tahoe and back again.
A trip to Reno would not be complete without a visit to Lake Tahoe. Just a short, 40-minute drive to the north shore of this stunning alpine lake is a must-do if you are visiting the area.
E A T
Lone Eagle Grill: Situated right on the northern shore of Lake Tahoe in Incline Village, this is one of the best places to grab a drink, an appetizer, sit by the fire and watch the sunset.
In Truckee, Stella is attached to Cedar House Sport Hotel and Chef Jacob Burton serves farm fresh and locally sourced ingredients from an open kitchen. During the summer months, many ingredients are selected from onsite gardens.
In downtown Truckee you will find Trokay. Owners John and Nyna Weatherson relocated to Truckee from New York City in 2011 and opened their restaurant Restaurant Trokay. John is a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and has received numerous accolades for his culinary genius.
S H O P
Shopping in Lake Tahoe is varied among the small towns, ski resorts and Truckee to the north. Front Porch has always been a favorite for mountain antiques and fabric and the items change often, so there is something new on each visit.
Bespoke is the best boutique shop in the region. Heather River and her partner, Brian Hess, have created a beautifully curated shop with items by many local and regional artists, fashion designers and one-of-a-kind items from independent artists.
Riverside Studios is owned by five local artists and highlights work from many artists in the region. They have art openings often, so make sure to check their schedule to see who they are highlighting on your visit.
Finally, High Camp Home is a high-end interior design studio specializing in contemporary mountain interiors. Many items can be customized for your needs and they also carry several local and regional artists’ work.
P L A Y
Each year in October, create.explore.discover art retreat comes to the Cedar House Sport Hotel. Founded by Sarah Stevenson of Red Line Design, this women’s art retreat has a teaching lineup that has included: Mati McDonough, Marisa Anne of Creative Thursday, Lisa Congdon, Andrea Jenkins, Courtney Cerruti, Alessandra Cave and Anne Weil of Flax and Twine; 30 women come together to paint, knit and explore with their cameras.
Of course, coming to Reno/Tahoe is also all about the skiing/hiking/biking.
Aryn Walker and Aaron Hapgood, entrepreneurs and business owners of Red Chair and Hapgoods
Mark Estees is a prestigious local chef and restaurant owner
Heather River and Brian Hess, creative minds behind Bespoke, Truckee
Casey Sibley, 2014 Martha Stewart Handmade America Finalist
Lisa Kurt, artist and illustrator
Sarah Stevenson, photographer, mixed media artist, registered interior designer
Mary Burrows, artist
David Wise, Reno Olympic Men’s Halfpipe Gold Medalist 2014 Winter Olympics
Maddie Bowman, South Lake Tahoe, CA Women’s Skiing Half-Pipe Gold Medalist 2014 Winter Olympics
Jamie Anderson, Lake Tahoe, CA Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle Gold Medalist 2014 Winter Olympics
Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, CA Women’s Super Combined, Bronze Medalist 2014 Winter Olympics
Dawn Wells of Gilligan’s Island was born and raised in Reno, NV, although she now lives in Los Angeles.