Great Full Gardens salmon
Photo courtesy of Bistro Napa

The 18 Most Exciting Restaurants in Reno Right Now

Get a Taste of Northern Nevada with 18 Reno Restaurants.

Reno's reputation as a city on the rise was interrupted by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. A few sorely missed restaurants closed for good (like 4th Street Bistro and Midtown Eats), while others managed to find a loyal audience after opening to uncertainty in the market. The one thing that hasn't changed is the charm and spirit of the mountain community. There's lots of cool things to do in Reno and one of them is taking full advantage of the dining scene. This may be a casino town, but the top restaurants aren't dominated by the whims of hotel executives or celebrity chefs. Most are family-owned businesses that earn customers from the ground up via word of mouth. So use the following list as a jumping-off point for discovering the diversity of flavors and experiences in Northern Nevada's largest city. Remember to follow state protocols to protect yourself and others when dining out. Get vaccinated before mingling in public and wear a mask when not at your table.

Photo courtesy of Estella

Freight House District
The gist: Estella is a modern taqueria in a brick building that used to be a blacksmith and wagon shop back in the day. It's now part of The Jesse (a minimalist six-room boutique hotel) with a large courtyard for patrons to enjoy their food. There's lots of plants, tables, and overhead string lights to beautifully illuminate the space after sundown. Have your cameras ready. The bar serves an exceptional collection of Mexican spirits. Mezcal is the focus and tequila is well-represented, but less-familiar options like sotol and raicilla are in stock as well.
The food: The tacos are stacked with local produce for a fresh, crisp taste. The al pastor taco is especially rewarding with the sweetness of pineapple complimenting the tangy heat of guajillo peppers. Tortilla chips are served with a trio of salsas that change regularly based on seasonal ingredients. The menu expands on Sundays for brunch with an egg-topped pork chili, plantain mole with queso, and other dishes. The restaurant's agave spirits appear in an intriguing selection of cocktails. Try the Bloody Mary, prepared with mezcal and a savory house mix.
The cost: Tacos $5-7, sides $2-15, brunch items $3-15, and cocktails $10-12.
How to book: No reservations. Just show up and hope a table is free.

fourk kitchen
Photo courtesy of Fourk Kitchen

The gist: The concept at Fourk Kitchen is simple. The restaurant serves a four-course prix-fixe menu that changes with the season—for just $49 per person. There's just one 24-person seating each night and the restaurant is only open four nights a week. The experience begins with happy hour at 5:30 pm, followed by dinner at 6:30 pm. The Fourk Kitchen team guides guests through each course, offering details on how the dishes are prepared.
The food: There are no rules at Fourk Kitchen. The first two dishes can be a soup and salad—or perhaps something fun like baked mac n' cheese with ranch and bacon. The third course is usually a steak or meat dish followed by dessert to wrap things up. The recipes, selected during a taste test among employees four times a year, are designed with simplicity in mind, allowing the natural flavors of the ingredients to emerge effortlessly.
The cost: $49 per person for food with wine and beer available at an additional cost. Wine pairings to match the meal are $24 or $44.
How to book: Book a reservation well in advance on the restaurant's website.

rice box kitchen
Photo courtesy of Rice Box Kitchen

The gist: Perapol Damnernpholkul, the brains behind Rice Box Kitchen, is responsible for a tight, efficient menu of Thai-inspired cuisine based on family recipes. The idea is to pack as much flavor as possible into an environmentally friendly to-go box. You can always stick around and enjoy the meal in an intimate dining room with the owner's profile playfully illustrated on a wall mural.
The food: The Khao Mun Gai is a serving of coconut-ginger rice, topped with slices of poached chicken and a soy chili sauce. The same meat is used in a Thai-style chicken noodle soup. The menu expands dramatically on Saturday with elaborate specials—most notably tamales in red curry sauce and char siu bao (barbecue pork) wrapped in a pastry-like dough. Sunday is exclusively dim sum.
The cost: Regular dishes $2-15, dim sum $6-15, and drinks $1-5.
How to book: Order on the spot for dine-in or to-go.

von bismarck
Photo by Matthew McIver, courtesy of Von Bismarck

Wells Avenue District
The gist: Von Bismarck is full of charm and character, operating inside an old renovated gas station with two patios and an outdoor grill. The menu of German and Eastern European cuisine takes authenticity and tradition seriously, but is given a fresh set of eyes by Chef Scott Arm. Much of the seating is communal, but don't worry. It's the kind of place where you'll make new friends in no time at all.
The food: It's hard to resist the wood-fired flavor of the Schwenkbraten (pork steak), a rotating selection of brats, or even the house-fermented sauerkraut. Choose from three different kinds of schnitzel, including a playful variation with yellowfin tuna. No matter what, begin with the soft pretzel and salt-roasted beets—both served with quark, a creamy sour cheese. As expected, there's an impressive selection of European beer (with glasses served in a wheel for larger groups), but the low-intervention wines are also worth your attention.
The cost: Starters and sides $6-12 and schnitzel $14-18. Larger plates vary in price. Beer $5-15, cocktails $8-12, and wine bottles $45-150.
How to book: Call 775-622-3687 to book a reservation.

bistro napa
Photo courtesy of Bistro Napa

The gist: The top fine-dining restaurant at the Atlantis casino takes inspiration from Northern California style and sophistication. There's a heavy emphasis on seasonal, organic ingredients and the wine list is one of the strongest in Reno. The dining room is bright and energetic with an open kitchen and sky-colored rotundas.
The food: Before you worry about the food, begin with the wine. Bistro Napa has a 4,000-bottle wine cellar with a private dining room and tasting area. There's a strong emphasis on California labels, but regions throughout the world are well represented. A wood-fired oven is put to good use, whether it's a nice selection of flatbreads or the corn used in the jumbo lump crab chowder. The 28-day dry-aged steaks from Allen Brothers in Chicago are served with fingerling potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
The cost: Small plates $13-24 and flatbreads $14-16. Entrees and steaks $23-59.
How to book: Book a reservation online.

Photo courtesy of Beline Carniceria & Deli

Lemmon Valley
The gist: A small and simple operation, Beline is a tidy retail shop with a meat counter that quietly serves some of the best Mexican street food in Reno, prompting a growing number of fans from throughout the city to make the drive to its far north valley location.
The food: It's all about the tortas—traditional Mexican sandwiches prepared with a variety of marinated meats (steak, chicken, chorizo, or ham) on golden telera bread. Side orders of menudo or birria (robust, flavorful soups) are available on Saturdays and Sundays—and perfect for dunking. Wash it all down with a bottle of Mexican Coke.
The cost: Tortas and soups $7-11.
How to book: Come in, do a little grocery shopping, and order at the counter. You can also call ahead (775-657-8683) for pickup.

Photo courtesy of Arario Midtown

The gist: Arario's second-floor location is a nice perch in Midtown for enjoying Reno's best take on Korean cuisine—divided on the menu between traditional favorites and inventive forms of fusion. The dining room's contemporary touches are illuminated by overhead lantern light fixtures. If you prefer some fresh air, grab a seat on the outdoor patio overlooking the action on Cheney Street.
The food: Arario uses organic ingredients and grass-fed beef, with thin strips of grilled bulgogi meat featured in many dishes, including a fun variation on a cheesesteak sandwich. You'll also want to try the spicy Kimchi Fries and the Porky Pops (crispy pork ribs slathered in a sweet-and-savory garlic sauce).
The cost: Small plates $8-18, bowls and entrees $15-30, and cocktails $11-12.
How to book: Book a reservation via OpenTable or order online for pickup.

Shanghai Bistro
Photo courtesy of Shanghai Bistro

South Reno
The gist: Head to the corner of Virginia and Plumb and look behind the Black Bear Diner for Shanghai Bistro. It's the latest project by restaurateur Ellen Woo, whose highly acclaimed 168 Cafe occupied the same space years ago. Hong Li is back on board—a chef so good, he once prepared food for Deng Xiaoping and other high-ranking members of the Chinese government. Woo is a leading figure in promoting and nurturing Asian culture in Reno, having operated restaurants, markets, and other businesses over the years.
The food: The menu covers a variety of regional tastes, from the rich pork of Shanghai-style Lion Head meatballs to spicy Szechuan flavors in an elevated take on hot pots. Much of the menu caters to American preferences, but turn to the last page for a collection of chef's favorite recipes.
The cost: Appetizers and soups are $5-13. Fried rice, noodles, and other entrees are $10-15.
How to book: Call 775-622-3098 to ask about seating or place an online order for pickup.

Kwok's Bistro
Photo courtesy of Kwok's Bistro

The gist: Kwok Chen worked his way up from bussing tables at a casino to attending culinary school and eventually owning and operating his own restaurant. Kwok's Bistro—just two blocks west of the Reno Arch—feels even more miniscule in the shadow of the old Downtown casinos, but the front courtyard opens up for extra seating when the weather allows it. Kwok's Bistro does especially well with Chinese tourists and Panasonic employees who take a nearby shuttle to and from their Sparks facility.
The food: Yeah, you can have sweet and sour chicken if you want, but the goal here is to expose customers to traditional Cantonese cuisine, including clay pot stews and whole roasted fish. While more expensive fine dining restaurants charge a mortgage payment for Peking Duck, Kwok's version competes with the very best for a fraction of the price—prepped at least two days in advance, dry hung with a spice rub, and roasted for a candy-like skin.
The cost: Appetizers and soups $10-45, noodles and rice dishes $13-15, main entrees $15-19, and roasted duck $18-45.
How to book: Reservations are strongly encouraged by calling 775-507-7270.

Liberty Food & Wine Exchange
Photo courtesy of Liberty Food & Wine Exchange

The gist: After founding and selling off Campo, Mark Estee answered back with Liberty Food & Wine Exchange just one block away. The restaurant's modern image is balanced by the rustic appeal of the menu with vintage wallpaper and black-and-white photos that tip a hat to celebrity culture. A few tables are squeezed into a tight outdoor patio.
The food: Estee's commitment to Nevada farms and ranches is represented throughout his dishes with a heavy focus on meats and pastas. There's a woodfired oven for locally sourced vegetables and pizza made from 72-hour fermented dough. The downstairs market and butcher shop is responsible for charcuterie, sausages, breads, and pastries. An eclectic wine list is always expanding, but seasonal changes carry over to cocktails prepared with house-made syrups, shrubs, and garnishes.
The cost: Starters and salads $19-36, pizzas $16-19, and pastas $18-28. Most entree prices are based on the market price of the meats.
How to book: Book a reservation via the restaurant's website or order online for pickup.

Beaujolais Bistro
Beaujolais Bistro

Powning District
The gist: Chef Bill Gilbert is from Maine, where he grew up immersed in the French-Canadian culture that later influenced his culinary preferences at Beaujolais Bistro. The food is ingredient-driven with extensive prep work. Gilbert likes to celebrate the comradery that's associated with great food, which is why the restaurant consciously avoids a stuffy dining room in favor of a contemporary brick and glass design. When the weather is nice, tables are brought out onto the porch and a grassy front yard underneath string lights and tree branches—just steps away from the rushing waters of the Truckee River.
The food: You'll find a few French staples—escargot, French onion soup, steak frites—to draw in casual crowds, but the menu also ventures in more adventurous territory with sweetbreads, braised lamb shoulder, or duck breast enhanced with dried curry spice, vadouvan, and caramelized pineapple.
The cost: Appetizers $7-24, soups and salads $12-15, and entrees $21-45.
How to book: Book a reservation via the restaurant's website.

Great Full Gardens sandwich
Photo courtesy of Great Full Gardens

Multiple locations
The gist: If you've got diet restrictions, Great Full Gardens makes health preferences a priority without skimping on taste and flavor. Meats are grass-fed, fish is wild-caught, and pretty much anything is organic whenever possible. Gino Scala started the business with his wife Juli after he was diagnosed with diverticulitis and shifted to a plant-based diet. At the time, there were few options for vegans in Reno, but his background was in food supply and distribution. So the couple founded what would become Great Full Gardens by ordering all the healthy foods that other restaurants seemed to be avoiding.
The food: The concept began with a line of soups (that's grown to 18 recipes marketed under the Gino the Soup Man brand) and continued with burgers, pizzas, and salads. Raw bowls are popular. So are raw desserts—specifically cheesecakes made with nuts and fruit. However, the biggest crowd pleaser is the tomato soup and grilled cheese combo, also available in vegan form.
The cost: Soups $6-7, appetizers $10-13, bowls, wraps, and sandwiches $12-20, pizza $14-17, Mexican dishes $13-18, and salads $6-18.
How to book: Just walk in or place an order online for pickup or delivery.

Squeeze In omelette
Photo courtesy of Squeeze In

Multiple locations
The gist: Squeeze In actually got its start across the state line in the quirky Northern California town of Truckee. A Reno family loved visiting it so much, they bought the business and expanded the concept to locations throughout not only Nevada, but California and even Texas. Each one retains its own hyperlocal identity with pop-culture decorations and walls scribbled in crayon. Feel free to sign your name.
The food: Squeeze In is known for having the best omelettes around. So what's the secret? The eggs are folded gently around the toppings instead of being mixed together. It's a nice touch, but the menu is loaded with so many intriguing brunch-centric variations on eggs, pancakes, and sandwiches, it’s hard to narrow down an order. Just start with the chocolate-covered bacon and take it from there. Mimosas, served in goblets and other unconventional glassware, are pale in color, which means you've got the right ratio.
The cost: Breakfast dishes $11-16 (although a huge king crab omelette is $35.99) and lunch dishes are $11-13. Bubby begins at $6.49 for a glass and $24.99 for a pitcher. Cocktails are $7-16.
How to book: Just walk in. There are no formal reservations, but you can try the online waitlist.

Charlie Palmer Steak Porterhouse
Charlie Palmer Steak Reno

Grand Sierra Resort
The gist: The signature steakhouse at the Grand Sierra Resort is probably the closest Reno comes to having a standard-issue celebrity chef restaurant. Charlie Palmer Steak is really designed to make fine dining accessible for the casino crowd with an environment that effectively utilizes an open layout, modern decor, and a colorful blend of deep color schemes. The place is far from intimidating, but still feels like an event. Palmer's attention to detail and preference for Midwest cattle is felt throughout the menu with daily operations left in the hands of Executive Chef Michael Mahoney.
The food: Prime certified angus beef is cooked hot and fast on a Montague top-down broiler, trapping in the juices while producing the right amount of char. The cuts are topped with the restaurant's own salt blend of about 30 ingredients, including fleur de sel, white pepper, garlic, celery seed, and paprika. The house potato chips, fried at the beginning of every shift, playfully complement the powerful hunks of beef.
The cost: Appetizers and raw bar items $12-65, steaks and entrees $47-76, sides $10, wine by the glass $11-19, and cocktails $16-23.
How to book: Reserve a table online via OpenTable.

 Süp soup
Photo courtesy of Süp

The gist: No, the name isn't short for "what's up?" It's pronounced "soup"—because that's the specialty here. The restaurant makes about 60 to 70 gallons of the stuff each day with a selection that rotates frequently. The idea got off the ground when the husband and wife behind the venture began inviting friends over to try their homemade pots of soup. The passion carried over officially to Süp in a 1920s-era Midtown space with a large outdoor wooden deck underneath string lights. Bring your dog.
The food: Chicken noodle, tomato bisque, broccoli cheddar, and chicken tortilla are the staples, but you always get loaded baked potato on Monday and New England clam chowder on Friday. Anything else is fair game, including intriguing global recipes like West African peanut stew or a Colombian stew known as Ajiaco. No matter what you order, the recipes tend to be simple but flavorful—with no overwhelming heaviness. Beer, wine, sandwiches, and salads are thrown in to round out the menu, but every dressing, sauce, and stock is made in house. The steak baguette is just as good with chimichurri or roasted red pepper horseradish.
The cost: Soups $4-12, sandwiches $8-13, and salads $8-13.
How to book: Just walk in, but know that seats fill up fast. You can always order online for pickup.

Photo by Rob Kachelriess

The gist: LuLou's doesn't have much of a website, isn't big on social media, and the tickets are written by hand, but the restaurant is sharp and modern—in both look and feel. The dining room makes an immediate impression with an open kitchen, industrial decor, and a rotating collection of artwork on loan from local galleries. It's a formula that's worked for more than 20 years. LuLou's was born from a desire to prove Reno was ready for something more than steak and potatoes. The restaurant opened in Midtown before Midtown was a thing, reinvesting every dime into luxuries like a walk-in refrigerator and eventually, an expanded bar area.
The food: Some things are kept simple. There's a wine list, but no cocktail menu. (Ask for a classic or whatever the server recommends.) The food lineup changes roughly every month and often features game like boar, venison, or squab. There's little in the way of fusion. Global and regional influences are kept authentic, but that doesn't mean the dishes aren't playful. A tempura shrimp-stuffed chili relleno where the spiciness is balanced by grapefruit and microgreens is one great example.
The cost: Prices change frequently, but smaller plates tend to be $15-25, while larger plates are in the $30-50 range.
How to book: Book a reservation via OpenTable.

The Gold 'N Silver Inn steak sandwich
The Gold 'N Silver Inn

West Downtown
The gist: This 24-hour diner is heavy on history and one of the most iconic restaurants in Reno. The Gold n' Silver Inn is a longtime gathering spot for the governors, senators, and lobbyists who've shaped Nevada law in nearby Carson City for decades. While it might not seem like much to an outsider, the restaurant is a taste of "Old Reno" and one of those places where families return for generations—often with lines out the door on busy weekends. In case you're wondering, there's no actual inn, but you can play slots at a small casino off to the side of the dining room.
The food: There are a few fun, semi-famous signature dishes on the menu. The Lemonade Pork Chops are topped with a tangy tomato sauce prepared with a whole lemon while the boiled and sauteed tri-tip steak sandwich is served with the restaurant's secret "Mahogany Sauce" (there's definitely bacon in there somewhere). The chocolate pistachio cake is based on an employee’s recipe.
The cost: Snacks, starters, and salads $4-28, burgers and sandwiches $8-16, entrees $10-20, and pizza $10-15.
How to book: No reservations, but you can order online for pickup or delivery.

Casale's Halfway Club meatballs
Photo by Rob Kachelriess

North Reno
The gist: To some, it's a dive. To others, it's home. Casale's Halfway Club has been around since 1937 when it doubled as a roadside food stand and family residence. It eventually evolved into a classic Italian-American restaurant and even today, you can still see doorways of what used to be bedrooms separating parts of the dining room. The same family has looked after Casale's Halfway Club for generations—most notably under the guidance of matriarch "Mama Inez" Casale Stempeck, who's almost a mythological figure in Reno.
The food: The lasagna is cooked to order in single-serve portions. It's probably the newest thing on the menu—and even that was added about 40 years ago. The ravioli is legendary. Get it split between meat and cheese versions. Comfort and familiarity are felt in the red-and-white checkered tablecloths, heavy use of tomato sauce, and savory meatballs made with breadcrumbs.
The cost: entrees $8-21, pizzas $10-15, glasses of wine $5-7.
How to book: Call 775-323-3979 to book a reservation.

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Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than seven years. His work has also appeared in Travel + Leisure, Trivago Magazine, Sophisticated Living, Modern Luxury, Leafly, Las Vegas Magazine, and other publications. He believes eating your way through Reno belongs on any Nevada bucket list. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.