Unique Restaurants in Reno: 12 Off-Beat Dining Spots in The Biggest Little City in the World

Jon Miksis Jon Miksis clock Updated December 10, 2023 tourism Dream Destinations
by Jen
Unique Restaurants in Reno
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Explore the most unique restaurants in Reno with our detailed guide. We’ll take you through a variety of extraordinary dining experiences, from hidden gems to culinary landmarks. Prepare to discover the flavors and atmospheres that make Reno’s food scene truly special.

Reno, a city known for its vibrant energy and colorful history, is also a hidden gem in Nevada for food lovers. Imagine a culinary journey where each stop is an adventure in itself, a place where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Whether it’s a journey through the flavors of the Silk Road, a dive into a pirate-themed Italian feast, or a step back in time in a retro arcade-bar, each restaurant brings its own magic to the table. They are the corners of Reno where creativity meets the plate, where the ambiance is just as important as the taste.

As we embark on this list of Reno’s most unique dining spots, prepare to be whisked away into worlds you never imagined could exist within a restaurant’s walls. Each spot we’ll explore is a testament to the city’s flair for the unconventional and its ability to turn a meal into an unforgettable experience. So, let your taste buds lead the way and get ready to discover the quirky, the unusual, and the utterly delightful dining experiences that Reno has to offer.

The top restaurants to visit in Reno right now

Unique Restaurants in Reno: 12 Incredible Reno Eateries

Reno’s unique restaurants offer a feast for the senses, each with its own flavor and flair. From cozy cafes to upscale dining, we’re showcasing the spots that make Reno’s food scene one-of-a-kind. Join us as we explore the city’s most distinctive eateries,

1. Playfield ’76

Playfield ’76 stands out as one of the most fun places to eat in Reno, offering a unique blend of nostalgia and modern dining. Located in the heart of Downtown Reno, this 4,500-square-foot space has been transformed into a vibrant arcade-themed restaurant. It’s a place where the joy of arcade games from the past meets the pleasure of contemporary dining.

Inside, guests are greeted with an array of 30-35 classic arcade games, including top-rated pinball machines. This creates an atmosphere that’s both lively and reminiscent of a bygone era. The interior, designed with a 70s vibe, adds to the charm, making it a perfect spot for both game enthusiasts and food lovers. The menu, crafted by Chef Johnny Dolan, features a variety of dishes like pizza, wings, sandwiches, and salads, ensuring that there’s something for every palate.

As one of the fun restaurants in Reno, Playfield ’76 isn’t just about great food and games. It’s about creating memories in a setting that’s both unique and inviting. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, Playfield ’76 is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a fun and unconventional dining experience.

Playfield '76 is one of the unique restaurants in Reno.
Playfield ’76 merges nostalgic arcade fun with modern dining in a vibrant space. | Source: https://restaurantjump.com/

2. Bundox Bocce

Have you ever imagined playing bocce while savoring delicious food? Bundox Bocce in Reno turns this unique idea into reality. Nestled inside the Reno Renaissance Downtown Hotel, this venue is a standout among unique restaurants in Reno. It’s an adult playground with indoor and outdoor bocce courts, shuffleboard, and skee ball, inviting guests to engage in playful competition while enjoying their meal.

The place buzzes with energy, as patrons learn the ropes of bocce from friendly staff. The menu at Bundox Bocce is as enticing as the games, featuring a range of appetizing options. You’ll find wings, fries, calamari, sandwiches, burgers, bowls, and flatbreads. It’s a culinary haven where food and fun go hand in hand, making every visit a delightful experience.

As one of the coolest restaurants in Reno, Bundox Bocce stands out for its unique concept. It’s a perfect spot for those seeking a dining experience that’s out of the ordinary. Whether you’re a bocce pro or a curious newcomer, this place promises a memorable time filled with good food, laughter, and a bit of friendly competition.

Bundox Bocce offers delicious food while engaging in playful bocce competitions.
Bundox Bocce offers delicious food while engaging in playful bocce competitions.

3. Silk Road International Market

Imagine a place in Reno where the flavors of the Silk Road come alive. Silk Road International Market is your culinary gateway to Persian, Turkish, and Afghani delights. It’s a journey through tastes and traditions, making it stand out in the list of best food in Reno. Located in the bustling Costco shopping center, this unique establishment offers an array of kebabs made with Halal meat, alongside a treasure trove of imported fruits, spices, and candies.

The market is a vibrant mosaic of cultures, where each item tells a story of distant lands. The owners, passionate about their heritage, have created a space where authenticity is the key ingredient. The best-selling 85% beef and 15% lamb kebab, served over rice with cucumber salad, fresh bread, and green dipping sauce, is a testament to their commitment to bringing genuine flavors to the table.

As one of the unique restaurants in Reno for dinner, Silk Road International Market invites diners to explore a world of flavors. From traditional lamb kebabs to an assortment of imported candies and spices, every visit is an opportunity to indulge in something new and exciting.

Silk Road International Market offers Persian, Turkish, and Afghani delights.
Silk Road International Market offers Persian, Turkish, and Afghani delights. | Source: https://www.checkle.com/

4. Biggest Little Steakhouse

What happens when a classic steakhouse gets a modern twist? Biggest Little Steakhouse answers this with its unique approach to traditional steakhouse dining. Located in the vibrant heart of Reno, this restaurant is redefining what it means to enjoy a steak dinner. With a focus on delivering delicious food and amazing craft cocktails at an affordable price, it’s quickly becoming one of the best places to eat in Reno.

The atmosphere at Biggest Little Steakhouse is casual yet lively, perfect for those who enjoy a relaxed dining experience without compromising on quality. The menu boasts a variety of steak options, each cooked to perfection, alongside other mouth-watering dishes. The fillet, known for its perfect medium-rare cooking and excellent sear, has become a favorite among patrons. The restaurant’s commitment to quality and flavor is evident in every dish served.

As a unique restaurant in Reno, Biggest Little Steakhouse stands out for its innovative approach to the classic steakhouse concept. Unlike traditional steakhouses that often have a formal ambiance, Biggest Little Steakhouse provides a more relaxed and vibrant setting. This casual atmosphere makes it a great spot for various occasions, from family dinners to casual outings with friends. It’s a place where food lovers can indulge in top-notch steaks and creative cocktails, all in a setting that’s both welcoming and unpretentious.

Biggest Little Steakhouse redefines classic steak dining with a modern twist and affordable craft cocktails.
Biggest Little Steakhouse redefines classic steak dining with a modern twist and affordable craft cocktails. | Source: Biggest Little Steakhouse on Facebook

5. Gambi’s

Gambi’s brings this fantasy of dining in a pirate’s cove to life, setting itself apart as one of the most popular themed restaurants in Reno. This Italian eatery, nestled in Town Square at Somersett, transports you to a dimly lit world of plush red booths and treasure maps etched on glass. The pirate theme is unmistakable, with details like mermen in the bathrooms and shiny silver skeleton heads as napkin holders.

Gambi’s menu is a treasure trove of Italian classics with a twist. The restaurant offers a new take on date night, featuring dishes like scallops with risotto and asparagus, crispy calamari with Calabrian chili aioli, and fried artichoke hearts. The focus on quality ingredients and authentic flavors makes every meal a delightful escapade.

As a unique Reno restaurant, Gambi’s stands out not just for its food but for its captivating theme. From the carefully curated decor to the meticulously prepared dishes, Gambi’s offers a dining adventure that’s both enchanting and memorable.

Gambi's is a popular pirate-themed restaurant, offering an immersive dining experience.
Gambi’s is a popular pirate-themed restaurant, offering an immersive dining experience. | Source: https://gambisreno.com/

6. Kauboi Izakaya

In the heart of Reno’s Midtown, a unique culinary fusion takes place at Kauboi Izakaya. This establishment is a vivid example of the best restaurants in Reno, blending the informal, sociable atmosphere of a Japanese izakaya with a touch of American cowboy flair. Opened in June 2016, Kauboi Izakaya presents a small but vibrant space. It is adorned with bright red colors and hand-illustrated placemats that double as menus. The seating even includes chair clips for cowboy hats, adding to the unique ambiance.

The menu at Kauboi Izakaya is an adventurous journey through Japanese cuisine with a twist. It features small plates meant for sharing, ranging from dumplings and tempura to yakitori and kushiyaki. Each dish is a work of art, like the giant squid with togarashi and yuzu mayo. The hamachi served atop Asian pear with ponzu gel is another noteworthy addition.

As a unique place to eat in Reno, Kauboi Izakaya stands out for its creative fusion of cultures. The combination of Japanese culinary traditions with an American cowboy twist makes it a one-of-a-kind dining destination. With its intimate setting and innovative menu, Kauboi Izakaya offers a dining experience that’s both memorable and distinctly Reno.

Kauboi Izakaya is one of the unique restaurants in Reno.
Kauboi Izakaya blends Japanese izakaya vibes with American cowboy flair. | Source: Kauboi Izakaya on Facebook

7. Rattlesnake Club

At Rattlesnake Club, dining is an experience that transcends the ordinary. This Reno gem, nestled in the Arlington Gardens Mall, is a testament to culinary innovation and resilience. With a $3 million renovation that includes a 6,000-square-foot addition and a unique 600-square-foot greenhouse, the restaurant has transformed into the coolest restaurant in Reno, offering more than just a meal. The greenhouse, a standout feature, is the only large on-premise restaurant greenhouse in the city, supplying fresh herbs and vegetables for the kitchen.

The menu at Rattlesnake Club is a seasonal celebration, changing about six times a year to showcase the freshest ingredients. Dishes like crispy duck breast with wild rice pilaf, seared diver scallops on arugula, and bourbon-marinated bison steak exemplify the restaurant’s commitment to quality and flavor. The pizza selection, featuring ingredients like heirloom tomatoes and Humboldt Fog goat cheese, has already become a local favorite.

Rattlesnake Club stands out among unique places to eat in Reno, not just for its food but for its commitment to a holistic dining experience. The stunning interior, with 25-foot ceilings and iced-gray Oregon granite, complements the exquisite menu. The outdoor patio and greenhouse offer a perfect setting for summertime dining and special events.

Reno's Rattlesnake Club redefines dining with culinary innovation and a standout greenhouse.
Reno’s Rattlesnake Club redefines dining with culinary innovation and a standout greenhouse.

8. Fourk Kitchen

Fourk Kitchen in Reno turns a meal into a journey, one course at a time. This unique dining spot in Reno, created by restaurateur Paul Jansen, offers a four-course dining experience that’s both approachable and extraordinary. His vision for Fourk Kitchen is to transform the traditional four-course meal from an intimidating, expensive affair into a regular, enjoyable experience.

At Fourk Kitchen, the dining experience is interactive and engaging. The evening begins with a happy hour, followed by dinner service starting promptly, featuring an introduction by the executive or sous chef. This introduction includes insights into the restaurant’s origins, the artwork, menu, and a team introduction. The menu, changing monthly, features mainstream ingredients in innovative ways, keeping the dining experience fresh and exciting. For instance, a recent menu included an arugula and watermelon salad, flank steak crostini, homemade meatloaf, and a savory s’mores brownie.

Fourk Kitchen has established itself among Reno’s best restaurants by offering a unique twist on the dining experience. The restaurant’s commitment to providing a memorable and affordable four-course meal makes it a standout destination.

Fourk Kitchen redefines upscale dining with an approachable yet extraordinary four-course experience.
Fourk Kitchen redefines upscale dining with an approachable yet extraordinary four-course experience.

9. Moon Rabbit Cafe

Looking to dine for a cause? Moon Rabbit Cafe stands as a hidden gem among restaurants in Reno, offering more than just a dining experience. This unique cafe, nestled within the Reno Buddhist Center, represents a blend of community spirit and culinary delight. It operates on a “pay what you can” model, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their financial situation, has access to a wholesome meal. This approach not only makes it a unique dining spot but also a beacon of inclusivity and community support in Reno.

The menu at Moon Rabbit Cafe is a reflection of its community-centric ethos. It features a variety of dishes, often vegetarian or vegan, made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The cafe provides a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for those seeking a meal in a more intimate and meaningful setting. The experience of dining here is enhanced by the knowledge that your presence supports a greater cause.

Moon Rabbit Cafe is a unique dining spot within the Reno Buddhist Center.
Moon Rabbit Cafe is a unique dining spot within the Reno Buddhist Center. | Source: Moon Rabbit Cafe on Facebook

10. Churrasco Brazilian Steakhouse

Churrasco Brazilian Steakhouse in Midtown Reno is a celebration of flavors and culinary craftsmanship, making it one of Reno’s best restaurants. This steakhouse offers a unique dining experience that goes beyond the traditional steakhouse concept. Here, the essence of Brazilian cuisine comes alive with an array of flame-grilled meats served rodizio style, where Gauchos slice the meat right at your table. The restaurant was recently nominated for the Best Steakhouse in Reno award.

The ambiance at Churrasco is unlike any typical steakhouse. With an open layout to accommodate the constant flow of hot meats from the kitchen, the restaurant features a fresh market table shipped directly from Brazil, beautiful chandeliers, and a wood-burning grill. This setting creates an inviting atmosphere, perfect for indulging in the variety of high-quality steaks and other meats on offer. The steak options include Filet Mignon, Picanha, Fraldinha, and Beef Ancho, each prepared with authentic Brazilian techniques.

Serving the best food in Reno, it’s an experience that immerses you in the heart of Brazilian culture. From the impeccable service to the diverse menu that includes pork, chicken, lamb, and even salmon, every aspect of Churrasco is designed to provide an unforgettable dining experience.

Churrasco Brazilian Steakhouse showcases Brazilian cuisine through flame-grilled meats served in rodizio style.
Churrasco Brazilian Steakhouse showcases Brazilian cuisine through flame-grilled meats served in rodizio style.

11. Zagol

In Reno, a single person orchestrates a symphony of flavors at Zagol, the only Ethiopian restaurant in Northern Nevada. For 15 years, Shita Yenenh, the owner, server, cook, and dishwasher, has single-handedly run this establishment. Her dedication to providing an authentic Ethiopian dining experience places Zagol among Reno’s best restaurants.

Zagol’s menu is a vibrant showcase of Ethiopian cuisine, featuring dishes like Gored Gored, Zilzil Tibs, and Ye Beg Tibs, all made from lamb. A key aspect of the dining experience here is the use of injera, a traditional Ethiopian flatbread, instead of utensils. This unique approach to eating not only adds to the authenticity but also enhances the communal and interactive nature of the meal. Shita prepares all the injera fresh daily, ensuring the highest quality for her patrons.

As a unique restaurant in Reno, Zagol stands out for its commitment to authenticity and the remarkable story of its owner. The restaurant’s ability to transport diners to Ethiopia through its flavors, coupled with Shita’s dedication to her craft, makes Zagol a must-visit destination.

Zagol is the only Ethiopian restaurant in Northern Nevada.
Zagol is the only Ethiopian restaurant in Northern Nevada.

12. Estella

Housed in a historic brick building, once a blacksmith and wagon shop, Estella has transformed into a modern taqueria. It’s part of The Jesse, a minimalist boutique hotel, offering a large courtyard where patrons can savor their meals under the enchanting glow of string lights. This space, alive with plants and rustic charm, invites diners into a world where history meets contemporary flair.

The bar at Estella is a treasure trove of Mexican spirits, with a special focus on mezcal. Tequila lovers will find their favorites here, but the adventurous can explore less familiar spirits like sotol and raicilla. Each drink is a testament to the bar’s commitment to quality and diversity. The food menu complements this spirit selection perfectly. The tacos, a highlight of the menu, feature local produce for a fresh, crisp taste. The al pastor taco, with its harmonious blend of sweet pineapple and tangy guajillo peppers, is a must-try.

Estella’s approach to dining is as refreshing as its menu. With no reservations required, it offers a spontaneous dining experience. Just show up and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and flavors.

Estella is one of the unique restaurants in Reno.
Estella is a modern taqueria in a historic brick building-turned-boutique hotel. | Source: https://estellareno.com/

Frequently Asked Questions About the Unique Places to Eat in Reno

This Reno restaurant guide is here to help you find the best spots for every taste and occasion in the city’s dynamic dining landscape.

What is the oldest restaurant in Reno?

The oldest restaurant in Reno is the iconic Casale’s Halfway Club, established in 1937. It’s renowned for its rich history and traditional Italian cuisine. This family-run establishment has been serving generations of patrons, offering a nostalgic glimpse into Reno’s past with its classic decor and time-honored recipes.

What food is famous in Nevada?

Nevada, particularly Reno, is famous for its diverse culinary scene. However, the state is particularly known for its Basque cuisine, a unique blend of Spanish and French influences. Dishes like lamb stew, Basque beans, and sweetbreads are local favorites. Additionally, Nevada’s steakhouses and buffets are also quite popular, reflecting the state’s love for hearty, indulgent meals.

Are there scenic places in Reno to eat?

Reno offers several scenic dining options. Restaurants like La Strada and Roxy at the Eldorado offer elegant settings with beautiful views. For those seeking a meal with a view of the Truckee River, places like Wild River Grille and The Shore Room provide stunning riverside dining experiences. These spots combine great food with picturesque settings, perfect for a memorable meal.

The Shore Room is a beautifully decorated restaurant with stunning river views.
The Shore Room is a beautifully decorated restaurant with stunning river views.

Where can I find cheap eats in Reno?

For cheap eats in Reno, explore areas like Midtown and the Riverwalk District. Here, you’ll find a variety of affordable dining options, from food trucks serving up gourmet bites to cozy cafes with budget-friendly menus. Popular spots include GourMelt for their creative grilled cheese sandwiches and Noble Pie Parlor for their delicious, reasonably priced pizzas.

What are the best fine dining options in Reno?

Reno’s fine dining scene is vibrant, with top choices like Atlantis Steakhouse and Sterling’s Seafood Steakhouse. These establishments offer exquisite menus, exceptional service, and an upscale ambiance. For a unique fine dining experience, Charlie Palmer Steak and Bimini Steakhouse are also noteworthy for their high-quality steaks and elegant settings.

Can I find international cuisine in Reno?

Absolutely! Though Reno doesn’t have any of the worlds best restaurants, it’s still a melting pot of international cuisines. You can enjoy authentic Italian at Campo, savor French delicacies at Beaujolais Bistro, or indulge in Asian flavors at Pho 777 Vietnamese Restaurant. The city’s diverse culinary landscape includes options from Mexican and Indian to Thai and Japanese, catering to all taste preferences.

What are some family-friendly restaurants in Reno?

For a family-friendly dining experience, Squeeze In is a great choice with its fun atmosphere and extensive menu that caters to all ages. Peg’s Glorified Ham n Eggs offers a homely feel with a menu full of comfort food. Additionally, The Cheesecake Factory and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse are popular for their diverse menus and kid-friendly environments.

Are there any unique dessert spots in Reno?

Reno has several unique dessert spots. Batch Cupcakery offers a range of gourmet cupcakes, including gluten-free and vegan options. For ice cream lovers, Icecycle Creamery provides inventive flavors made with local ingredients. And for those who love pastries, Homage Bakery is a must-visit for its delicious, handcrafted baked goods.

Final Thoughts On Unique Reno Restaurants

Exploring Reno’s culinary landscape is an adventure in itself. From historic establishments to modern culinary marvels, this city offers a dining experience for every palate. Whether you’re seeking scenic views, budget-friendly meals, or the luxury of fine dining, Reno’s diverse restaurant scene has it all, making it among the best places on the West Coast. Our journey through some of the most unique and delightful eateries in the city is just a glimpse of what Reno has to offer.

This Reno restaurant guide is your gateway to discovering the flavors and stories behind each establishment. It’s not just about the food; it’s about the experience, the history, and the community that each restaurant brings to the table.

The top restaurants in Reno for all types of travelers
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