A few years ago Reno was voted one of the funkiest cities in the U.S. It’s true that Reno is an interesting mix of gaming, family activities and alternative lifestyles, but what exactly makes it funky? There are some hidden and unexpected little places in Reno that cater to oddball art, interesting food and drink, and locals who verge on the edge of eccentric. Some locations are open 24 hours which brings out the late night personalities, and Reno is well known as a vagabond city where people move out as quickly as they move in. There are definitely some funky places to visit in the Reno area and these are the ten best.
The Pneumatic Diner, near downtown and the Truckee River, has been in the Reno area for decades. As one of the only vegetarian/vegan restaurants in the area, it attracts an eclectic crowd to its small space next to a a hotel/apartment building. It’s decorated with bikes on the ceiling, old street signs, graffiti and local art made from recycled materials. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee from a tiny kitchen smack in the middle of the restaurant. They only take cash, don’t allow talking on cell phones and serve up some delicious grub.
This long running community theater is right downtown in the Arts District near the river and perform entertaining and thought provoking theater and other shows. The seating consists of secondhand couches and armchairs, so lounging is encouraged. They serve drinks and snacks during the shows. The Brüka attracts an interesting mix of artsy and theater types as well as students and families.
The Gold-N-Silver, close to downtown, was recently featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and has made a name for itself for its classic food and funky atmosphere. The decor has not changed since the late 1960s and the waitress will mostly likely call you “Honey” or “Doll”. They serve up good, old-fashioned diner and coffee shop food including BBQ rib sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, chicken fried steak, burgers and steak and potatoes.
The epitome of funky Reno. The Little Nugget in downtown Reno serves up the famous Awful Awful burger and does it with aplomb. This place attracts drunken university students after the big game, casino workers, ladies of the night, the after-movie crowd, teenagers, homeless people and just regular folks. You can get to the diner quickest from the alley behind the casino, and eat at the bar for the best people-watching.
This bar and music venue is the place for Burning Man pre-Burn and after-Burn parties, concerts and alternative band shows. The Underground shares a space with the Tree House Lounge where you can twirl on a stripper pole or just grab a drink. This is an over 21 venue.
Pie Face Pizza
After a movie at the downtown theater or some play time at the casinos, stop by for a late night slice and beer at Pie Face Pizza. Pie Face is right next to the ultra-funky El Cortez Hotel (and shares a bathroom with the hotel) and looks more like a French bistro. The great staff serves up thin crust pizzas and cheap beer. It can get crowded, so get there early and get a seat against the wall.
Junkee Clothing Exchange
One of the best shopping experiences in the Midtown area of the city. Junkee Clothing Exchange is a huge mix of used and refurbished clothing and accessories plus a neighboring antique store. Junkee features costumes for Burning Man and Halloween and will take gently used clothes for cash or exchange.
If you can’t find the funky furniture you need at Junkee, head over to Red Chair in south Reno. This large store offers used, refurbished and artist designed furniture and other items for the home.
Java Jungle and Jungle Vino
One of the original coffee shops in Reno is still alive and thriving. It has an excellent location right in the middle of the downtown Arts District with quick access to the Truckee River and Wingfield Park. This colorful coffee shop decorated with mismatched tile and a jungle motif shares a space with a more reserved wine bar and restaurant. The coffee shop has couches and comfy chairs and free Wi-Fi. Jungle Vino has a great happy hour with drink and food specials.
A tiny little slip of a bookstore, Dharma Books is right down the street from Java Jungle and Jungle Vino. They carry both used and new books in a lovely little space that will enchant any book lover. The prices are reasonable and they have a wide range of subjects including Philosophy and Religion.
Photo courtesy of [Mr. Stabile/Flickr]