Playfield ’76 takes over the old Imperial Bar & Lounge space
The long-awaited Playfield ’76 opens Sept. 21 in the old Imperial Bar & Lounge space in downtown Reno. Offering more than great food and drinks, the bar/arcade has created an experience for the Peter Pan in all of us.
For the 21+ crowd, rows of pinball machines, arcade basketball, shooting games, Skee-Ball and old-school video games take up real estate, available for quarter play. Across the room, drinks are served at a long wooden bar top where an eager crew concoct craft cocktails with surprising ease.
If the goal was to create an entertaining space to do more than eat and drink, Playfield ’76 has achieved just that. Cozy couches with low tables offer a place to gather and share, while another part of the open room includes high top tables that seat groups both large and small. A seat at the bar allows for good conversation and easy drink service and it’s also where you order food.
If you came for the libations, the signature cocktail list is the best place to start. For $11 each, a skilled bartender will whip up a fun and flirty Sex on the Peach (made with white tea-infused gin, peach and apricot, lemon and club soda). A colorful float and lemon garnish elevate the cocktail to the stuff worthy of our Instagram stories.
For something more brash, the My Cup of Tea combines orange-spice tea bourbon, honey, lemon and sarsaparilla bitters. For a fun name and a nod to Reno culture choose the Pimmp’s Cup (Pimm’s No. 1, tequila, raspberry, lemon and mint) or support a good cause with your order—$1 from every Nevada Daiquiri purchase is gifted to Awaken, a nonprofit dedicated to ending sex trafficking in Reno.
Often at a place like this the food is an afterthought, but here, it’s part of the concept. The menu is fairly simple but each dish is done well. Shareables include nachos topped with melty cheese and roasted cauliflower, fried pickle chips, corn dog bites that don’t resemble something on the Applebee’s kid’s menu, and decidedly not spicy Currywurst Fries topped with grilled bratwurst and served with curry-ketchup gravy.
150 N. Arlington Ave., Reno, Nev. 89501
Thursday – Saturday 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Sunday – Wednesday 4 p.m. – 12 a.m.
(Kitchen only open until midnight)
Salads, snacks, pizza and dessert are also available, but we sincerely recommend not overlooking the Nashville hot chicken. Still hard to come by on most menus, this spicy version of the Nashville classic features pickle-brined chicken, mayo, pickles and shredded lettuce on a toasted bun. Order it with a half side of fries—regular or truffle.
One more noted change is the outdoor parking. The lot next door now offers text-to-park, allowing guests to pay, add time and validate all from their phone.
All in all, Playfield ’76 is a pleasant surprise and welcome addition to Reno’s growing downtown. An entertainment center unlike any others currently open, it’s an ideal spot for weekend gatherings and after work meetups.
Nora Heston Tarte is a long-time Reno resident living on the southside of town. In addition to food, her hobbies include wine, hiking, yoga and travel. She is also the managing editor of a regional, lifestyle publication and freelances for other publications most frequently in the travel space. She graduated from California State University Sacramento with a bachelor’s in English and is pursuing her master’s in Professional Journalism as we speak. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.