The Coconut has roots in Sacramento with two restaurants in California’s capital. In 2021, The Coconut made its way east, landing its first out-of-state eatery in Nevada where Wild Garlic once served up slices near the Pioneer Center downtown.
It is appropriately called The Coconut Downtown, a play on the first two restaurants, dubbed The Coconut on T and The Coconut River Park, always pointing toward its relative location. There’s another place on J Street in Sac just called Drunken Noodle, which is also part of the small chain.
The restaurant specializes in Thai food. They didn’t do too much remodeling from the location’s pizza days, so when you walk in, the bare bones of Wild Garlic are still visible. A large counter offers bar seating behind a modest (and mostly unmanned) host stand, and long tables perfect for big groups are to the right.
The place gets busy, especially on weekends, so don’t plan to eat and run. You may be waiting for a bit to get seated, which is why I personally recommend a mid-week visit.
The menu features a lot of the typical Thai items. Think papaya salad, different color-coded curries and pad Thai.
A big draw for many is the vast number of vegan options on the menu, landing The Coconut Downtown at the top of many Google searches for “vegan restaurants in Reno.” The upside is you can get many of the regular menu items and simply ask for them vegan or gluten-free so you’re not limited to a small selection of dishes.
The drunken noodles are a highlight. Pan fried flat rice noodles and a hearty helping of vegetables like carrots, onions, broccoli and red bell peppers served in garlic sauce, plus basil. The dish comes out extra saucy, with not a dry bite to be found (we consider this a good thing), and the emphasis is on the taste.
No need for fancy presentation here; every dish is served in plain white dishware with little fanfare.
Some of the other specials are the pineapple fried rice and avocado curries. Many order the classic Thai soups (Tom Kha and Tom Yum). Regardless of what you decide to eat, the prices are more than fair, another draw to eating here.
If you’re thirsty, the liquor consists of wine, beer and sake. Plus, soda, teas and water. Again, no frills but done well.
Location is everything here. It’s kind of in the middle of it all, and while surrounded by other restaurants, they all offer a different cuisine so there’s not a lot of competition from one to the next. It’s also perfect for rolling in before or after a performance at the Pioneer Center, delicious enough to warrant a special evening out but still casual enough to roll in wearing a hoodie and jeans, which may be your uniform if you’re attending a comedy show at The Underground (should it ever open again).
170 S Virginia St #103 Reno , NV 89501
Monday – Friday 11:30 to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m,
Saturday – Sunday 12 to 9 p.m.
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. Nora received her bachelor’s in Journalism from California State University, Sacramento before graduating from University of Nebraska, Lincoln with a master’s in Professional Journalism. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.