Old Southwest Neighborhood Guide: Where to eat, play and stay
Old Southwest Reno is a vibrant and historic neighborhood with roots stretching back to the city’s founding. Bordering both the downtown corridor and emerging Midtown district, the Old Southwest is a confluence of proud Nevada heritage and innovative Reno attitude. Homes in the area range from modest yet tasteful bungalows, brick and mortars and even sprawling plantation-esque manors. Containing majestic old townhouses, numerous landmarks, proximity to local business and the city’s largest public high school, this neighborhood offers the best of life in Reno – both new and old.
With some of the most characteristic and versatile homes in the city, Old Southwest also comes with a hefty price tag. The average value of a home in this area tops Zillow’s list of Reno neighborhoods at $391,800 having risen 15 percent during the last year. Demand for space in this secure, strategically located neighborhood is high, and listings in this area tend to go quickly.
Those looking to rent also will have to increase their budgets compared to other areas of the city, but square footage is more plentiful than rentals in neighborhoods like Midtown. More houses and condos make for a homier living situation, but expect to pay around $1,000 for a one or two bedroom.
Where to eat
Old southwest Reno is mainly residential, but its boundaries place it within close proximity to restaurants in downtown and Midtown Reno.
Coffeebar: Coffeebar was inspired by the cafes of Italy where people have a quick coffee at the bar in the morning and then stop by after work for a glass of wine and nibbles. It offers coffee drinks, wine and Italian-inspired cuisine. Breakfast items include burritos, panino, avocado toast and granola. For lunch, opt for a panino or salad. The atmosphere is fun and inviting, and it’s the perfect place to bring your laptop for a coffee working sesh.
Mario’s Portofino Ristorante Italiano: Mario’s Portofino is a hidden gem, serving Italian classics with local ingredients in a quiet and refined setting. The lunch menu is suited to meet a midweek craving with robust soups, salads, sandwiches and sides. Appetizers, seafood, lamb, veal, risotto and gnocchi all make appearances on the dinner menu, and the cozy dining room makes it a perfect place for a dinner where everything has to be just right. Pair your pick with a glass or bottle from the dozens of options on the wine list.
Napa-Sonoma Grocery Co.: This spot is the best of both worlds. It serves as a wine retail shop and a restaurant. So, belly up to a table, pick out a bottle of wine and have the server uncork it for you while you peruse the menu. Appetizers are priced by the piece, which is perfect if you want to taste a few different things. Lunch and dinner fare runs to sandwiches, salads and entrees like steak, seafood and chicken dishes. There also are daily cocktail or food specials, so check out the website. If you plan to arrive at happy hour, arrive early – it’ll be hopping!
Stone House Café: Family owned and uniquely situated in a historic home, Stone House is famous for its comfortable and creative breakfast menu. Serving a variety of American favorites — like fried chicken and waffles or spicy biscuits and gravy — patrons can find something unique or a new twist on an old standby. Stone House’s enchanting patio area includes spacious tables on a cobblestone walkway, secluded by lush greenery — an ideal spot for an early summer breakfast or happy hour cocktails.
Wild Garlic Pizza & Pub: One of three locations in Reno, Wild Garlic is a simple and delicious option for a quick slice. Wild Garlic is pizza with a personality, and every pie and panino is made fresh from housemade dough. With quality ingredients in their starters and salads and a few hard-to-find pizza toppings — like smoked oysters — the possibilities are endless and sure to please groups of all ages.
Where to play
Pignic: Rustic, homey and original, Pignic makes for a lively evening full of music, housemade cocktails and activities aplenty. Situated in a converted house, this bar offers a unique environment with its Victorian décor, wrap-around deck and patio and perhaps the most well maintained shuffleboard table in Reno. Pignic serves a variety of local and domestic beers, but interested drinkers should examine its original cocktail list for a change of pace. Hosting live music acts and deejays almost every week, Pignic’s defining features are the large outdoor fire pits, smokers, grills and prep tables for patrons to cook their own preferred entrees, summer cookout-style. Guests who forget to bring their own can also choose from locally raised meats and sausages in the deli case by the bar.
1864: A celebration of Nevada’s roots, 1864 looks like an upscale Old West saloon from the year Nevada was founded. Replete with Victorian day couches and armchairs, uniformed barkeeps pour modern cocktail creations as well as revivals of some old timey favorites (Picon punch, anyone?) No true Nevada bar would be complete without a rotating selection of drafts and bottles and wine poured by the glass.
St. James Infirmary: Equal parts tap house and nightclub, St. James is a Reno classic and a great bet for a late-night party. Every day of the week hosts a different theme night, DJ or live show in an up-close and personal setting — there’s no better floor to feel the music. With plenty of space around the bar, St. James is equally equipped to pour local drafts and classic cocktails for guests who know what they like. Booth seating is available if you get there early enough, but if not, check out the upstairs patio for some fresh air and a view of the downtown lights.
Royce: Simple, elegant and accommodating, Royce is low-key fun for multiple occasions. The raised patio makes for a secluded hangout spot to enjoy snacks and drink specials at happy hour, and the comfortable seating makes for an intimate space to catch up with friends, watch the game or just unwind. Standard drinks at fair prices and a niche for wine lovers make Royce an Old Southwest staple.
Where to shop
Plumgate Center: Plumgate shopping center at the corner of Arlington Avenue and Plumb Lane offers much in the way of shopping. There’s Swoon, a high-end bridal salon; Couture Closet with boutique clothes shopping; Sierra Nevada Cosmetic + Laser Surgery; Adlington Eye Center and Eyeglass Gallery; a Starbucks and more.
Where to stay
Old southwest is highly residential, so look to the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa or Peppermill Hotel Casino, which are nearby but not within the neighborhood. Outside of the traditional hotel experience, visitors looking for an authentic Old Southwest stay available can find a range of options on Airbnb. Property owners rent out rooms, guesthouses and apartments in this scenic neighborhood at a wide range of prices.
Take the kids
Idlewild Park: Idlewild Park has something for everyone, including: a public swimming pool, skate park, baseball fields, expansive grass areas and a view of the Truckee River. Idlewild is one of Reno’s most recognizable public parks and is sure to cure boredom on a hot day. Idlewild is also the host of the wildly popular Food Truck Friday event, wherein dozens of food trucks line the street every Friday during the summer, serving a fantastic array of food and desserts to the public. The city of Reno also maintains and rents gazebo areas for picnics, birthday parties, cookouts and other events.
Tahoe Whitewater Tours: With the Truckee River running healthy and happy from the 2015-16 winter, adventurous families can find the perfect stretch of whitewater to explore with a guided rafting or kayaking tour from Tahoe Whitewater. Offering half, full and multi-day trips at different river stretches and for all skill levels, experiencing the thrill of choppy water in a safe environment can make for a highlight of the summer. Tahoe Whitewater has multiple headquarters, with the most convenient for Old Southwest residents and visitors located on the South bank of the Truckee River at Arlington Street. With more than 20 years of experience, Tahoe Whitewater Tours offers an exciting and unique experience for those with big summer plans.