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Festive food & drink: Reno bars and restaurants go all in on holiday decorations

By Nora Tarte
Published: Last Updated on

It’s the time of year where many of us string lights and put up Christmas trees, hang stockings and blow up inflatables on our front lawn. But Reno residents aren’t the only ones getting into the holiday spirit; local business owners are spreading holiday cheer with their own collection of inviting decorations. So instead of having lunch in your same old digs, perhaps opt for a place with a little extra oomph this month.

We’ve rounded up a list of some of the best holiday decorations at restaurants and bars throughout Reno so you can enjoy a warm cup of coffee and a hot meal with twinkling lights, strings of garland or a life-size Jack Skellington in the backdrop.

Breakfast stops

What better way to start your day than with a little holiday magic? Coffee ‘n’ Comics is embracing the season with more than décor—although there is plenty of that, too—with a 12 drinks of Christmas special running through Dec. 23. So far, a Christmas Tree Frap and The Pink Nightmare (a peppermint-heavy concoction) have both graced the list.

Devin’s Candy Cane and Emily’s Elf in Paradise, drinks at Superstition Java. Image: Provided by Superstition Java

Superstitions Java, a North Reno locals spot opened in 2020, took a different approach to their holiday décor. To embrace the season and their spunky attitude, the veteran-owned coffee shop put up a life-size Jack Skellington, a wreath monster (complete with teeth) and other creepy but still family-friendly décor.

Known for decorating year-round, even the Halloween pumpkins at Superstitions got a merry makeover with Christmas hats and scarves to brave the recent influx of snow storms. Their holiday drink specials include everything from a kid-friendly Baby Grinch to a Gingerbread Man Latte, complete with a gingerbread cookie on top.

The Cup Café takes advantage of its South Virginia Street location with festive windows to draw customers in from the cold. Serving a diner-style breakfast, it’s another locally owned gem ideal for starting your day.

One last breakfast stop worth a merry mention is Doughboys, ideal for a quick donut pick-up. (Don’t forget to ask for red and green sprinkles.)

Local spots worth a mention

At Bighorn Tavern, stepping onto the back patio, most popular during Reno’s warmer months, feels like transporting yourself to the North Pole. The wooden deck has been painstakingly wrapped in lighted garland with poinsettias and other small touches on display. As the storms roll in, the snow will only add to the ambiance.

Napa Sonoma lets its retail section double as décor at its two Reno locations (South Virginia and Plumgate). Stock up on pieces to outfit your own home while enjoying fondue and a glass of wine at the decorated bar.

Bangkok Cuisine jumped on the window art bandwagon with an extra creative display of Santa Claus grubbing on noodles using chopsticks. The artwork comes from Custom 775 Art (@custom775art) who has also thrown up appropriately themed pieces on other Reno businesses’ windows, including Elite Boxing and CrossFit and a local dentist’s office.

Another artist painting the town for Christmas is Katie K. Anderson. On the outside of Great Basin Brewing Company in Sparks, she’s responsible for the friendly yeti waving to passersby as well as the other wintery décor.

Looking for more? Taiwan Restaurant, Old Southwest Social House and Boulevard Pizza are all donning festive additions this month.

Drink spots and bars

If you’re looking for a midday or late-night spot to enjoy a local brew or themed cocktail with friends, Reno is not short on bars embracing holiday joy. 10 Torr turned itself into a winter wonderland with strings of festive garland, pinecone accents and giant red bows to accompany lighted trees. Seasonal drink specials include the Snoop Noggy Nog, which we feel is pretty self-explanatory.

The Grinch is part of holiday decorations at Engine 8. Image: Provided by Engine 8.

At Engine 8, the theme is The Grinch. In addition to a fun and festive green cocktail, a giant blow-up Grinch is taking up temporary residence at the urban winery and other small Grinch-themed touches are on display throughout. Stop in and pick up bottles of their blueberry cabernet dubbed Holliberry before snapping photos with the family in front of some of the more exuberant displays.

Also in Sparks, it’s raining twinkling lights inside of Packs & Pints. The Victorian Square sports bar, known for its all-you-can-eat-and-drink specials, hung layers of sparkling white lights from the ceiling for the holiday season to add a little magic to their game days (and every other day). On Dec. 23, they’ll play host to a holiday fundraiser benefiting Casa De Vida with a coat drive, raffle tickets and drink discounts.

Davidson’s Distillery, a dive bar off of Fourth Street, went all in on holiday decorations. The most eye-catching piece, however, is the bone throne—a Game of Thrones-esque chair outfitted with glittery candy cane garland. Stop in, order a drink and take a seat.

In Midtown, Wonder Aleworks has added quite the collection of Christmas panache to its already colorful interior, and if you’re into bar hopping, Rum, Sugar, Lime next door has taken the time to transform its space as well.

Looking for more? Honorable mention goes to Piñon Bottle, making after-dinner drinks feel a little extra festive this December, and Vino 100, with wine and drink trinkets perfect for stuffing stockings.

Casinos

In Reno, casinos are our community landmarks, and all of them get in on the holidays at least a little. Whether you’re hitting up the Grand Sierra Resort with its outdoor ice-skating rink and light display or stepping into the Silver Legacy downtown to take in a meal with a little extra Christmas flair, there are sure to be decorations scattered throughout.

The Atlantis Casino Resort has added a specific display to honor veterans and their families. In partnership with Honor Flight Nevada, there are two trees outside of Bistro Napa on the casino’s second floor.

“The Gold Star Tree honors the families of our brave men and women that paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country,” said Joel Villanueva, communications manager for The Atlantis. “The Blue Star Tree honors the mothers of the active service men and women from our area.”

In addition, the hotel has various decorations throughout.

While the GSR is littered with ornate Christmas trees, the hotel’s restaurant row is minimally decorated with a spattering of poinsettia arrangements and other small details. The Crystal Lounge, a bar near restaurant row, is the exception. A large nutcracker and tree welcome you at the bar’s entrance and inside clusters of ornaments and strands of lights hang from the ceiling for an extra festive space to have a drink before heading off for the day’s activities.

Inside Whitney Café at Whitney Peak there are small decorations on tabletops to accompany strands of lights. The holiday effort was instead focused on turning out a menu of holiday drinks for the season.

The Village at Rancharrah

Perenn Bakery at Rancharrah is decorated inside and out. Image: Provided by Perenn Bakery

This little slice of Reno feels like a Christmas village all its own. Host to events such as a Sip ‘n’ Shop earlier this month, it feels like just about every business has gotten in on the fun whether you’re dining in, getting a massage at Dolce Vita or shopping for holiday gifts.

Restaurants open at the village include Centro, Mari Chuy’s and Grafted Wine Bar. Perenn Bakery has decorated with upscale décor that matches its usual aesthetic with long strands of real garland and other wintery plants. If the decorations inside are limited, you’ll still feel like you’re living in a Hallmark movie as you stroll from spot to spot in the chicly decorated village.

Pro Tip: If you’re a member of the Club at Rancharrah, you’re in for a treat when it comes to dining, drinking and hanging out this holiday season.

The Summit

A towering Christmas Tree (lit at the end of November) is the centerpiece of The Summit’s holiday décor, but the surrounding eateries are echoing the trappings inside their dining rooms.

Noble Pie Parlor had community help setting up its display. The outdoor patio sits under a halo of sparkly lights and the railings are wrapped in garland. Inside, smaller Christmas lights illuminate the bar and stockings are hung with care. Most of the décor was in preparation for the pizzeria’s kid-friendly, ticketed, pizza making classes held two Saturdays in December, including this upcoming Saturday—Dec. 18.

The family behind Miguel’s Mexican Food (with a second location in Midtown) spared no expense when it comes to holiday décor. The lighted pathway includes huge wreaths, an ornament the size of a small child and other jovial touches. Inside, the theme continues with snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, life-size nutcrackers to greet you in the lobby and plenty of lights tacked onto garland and additional wreaths.

At Burger Me, a lighted tree and blow-up Santa wave to you inside of the shop. And the team serving you just may be donning Christmas hats, too.

While we’ve certainly rounded up a list long enough to keep you busy for the rest of the holiday season—and we promise we’ve checked it twice. We also know this isn’t all-inclusive. If you know of a local business with décor worth mentioning, spread the cheer and drop us a note in the comments.

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