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A Night on the [Mid]town starts or ends with Z Bar


You can’t miss it, housed in a bright orange building facing South Virginia Street in the southern end of Reno’s Midtown. From the back, it’s just as iconic: a yellow food truck permanently parked beyond the iron gates, lit firepits and lawn games stretched across the expansive back patio.

Inside, Z Bar has just as much to offer, but it is this outside space that truly sets it apart from nearby bars. That’s because whether you’re after an unusual Monday nightcap or a more upbeat start to your weekend, Z Bar delivers, flexing between calm weekday chill zone to party central on the weekends.

The Strawberry Balsamic at Z Bar in Reno, Nev. Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno

Inside, there are two levels. A backlit bar is brimming with liquors to choose from, including some high-end options, as friendly bartenders whip up craft cocktails on demand. 

Live music sometimes plays, and if not, a DJ tends to favor throwback jams, played both inside and out. This is where you’ll sidle up to grab a drink (the outdoor bar is open sporadically, as well, but not always) and make small talk.

Then, you can walk up the half flight of stairs and grab a seat, stay on the bar stools for easy second-round ordering, or head outside, which you’ve already gleaned is our favorite spot.

The cocktail choices are endless. A specialty list is available at the bar and includes the Strawberry Balsamic for summer sipping (vodka, strawberries, lemon, balsamic vinegar and basil syrup) or the Wrath!!!—exclamation marks included—if you can handle the heat of a habanero-infused vodka.

Other currents are the Chinese Lily (tequila, lychees, lemon, orgeat and almonds) and the B.R.B. (bourbon, rye, Benedictine and a flamed lemon).

You, of course, aren’t limited to what appears on the menu. Bartenders whip up simple favorites including G&Ts as well as more complex go-tos like a Negroni or old fashioned. If you’re looking for a shot, we recommend asking for a peanut butter and jelly, a drink we learned about from staff at Z Bar: a pour of Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey topped with cranberry juice, and yes—it tastes like liquid PB&J.



1074 S. Virginia Street, Reno, Nev. 89502
Monday – Wednesday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Thursday – Friday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Saturday 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Sunday 2 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Nora Tarte
Nora Tarte
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.