10 Best Casual and Relaxed Dining Restaurants in Reno

By Christina Nellemann, Reno and Tahoe Local Expert

Unlike Las Vegas or other large cities, Reno is happy to be a casual town. Here there is no shortage of laid back but tasty dining and you can still dress up if you want to and no one will look twice.

If you are on the lookout for a hearty breakfast or brunch, try the healthful Laughing Planet  near Downtown. Another great breakfast and brunch spot with a full menu is Great Full Gardens. For lunch, try Bab for their Korean rice bowls, Midtown Eats for their unique spins on burgers and sandwiches or Süp for their...well...soup.

Dinner is fun and casual at Miguel's Mexican or Bangkok Cuisine which serves the best Thai food in town. The Depot brews their own beer and Miguel's Mexican is a Reno mainstay. For a slice of classic Reno, visit the Little Nugget Diner downtown for an Awful Awful Burger–the epitome of casual in Reno.

10. Miguel's Mexican Food
Photo courtesy of Miguel's Mexican Restaurant

Miguel's has been a central part of downtown Reno for decades. The fresh, classic Mexican dishes are delicious with just a right amount of heat and spice and the decor is warm and inspired by central Mexico. The margaritas are great and they offer both lunch and dinner specials. Try the delectable Flauta Encantada ($10.95) piled with guacamole or the rich Chile Verde ($10.75) in tomatillo sauce. Miguel's also has a great selection of fresh seafood and shellfish including the Siete Mares ($15.95) with shrimp, fish, clams, scallop and baby octopus. The friendly bar serves beer, wine, cocktails and Miguel's massive margaritas.

9. Brothers Barbecue
Photo courtesy of Brothers Barbecue

Bring a bib, 'cause this place will get you nice and sticky. Brothers Barbecue, in Midtown Reno near the Wells Avenue District, is a casual paper plate and plastic fork type of establishment that features traditional St. Louis and Texas style BBQ. The menu features ribs and brisket, meat by the pound, pulled pork, sausages and side items like Mac & Cheese, beans, Kicked-Up Coleslaw and regular slaw and potato salad. Specialty items include the Texas Tater, a baked potato stuffed with pulled pork, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Brothers also serves up some great BBQ sandwiches like the Memphis with pulled pork and their Kicked up Coleslaw or the Texas Tornado with spicy sausage topped with beef brisket. Both lunch and dinner is accompanied by various BBQ sauces if you need them.

8. Great Full Gardens
Photo courtesy of Great Full Gardens Facebook

Great Full Gardens Cafe & Eatery in MidTown Reno offers a casual and healthful menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a full coffee, beer and wine menu. The restaurant features items from local farms, vendors and their own greenhouse. The menu also caters to vegan, gluten-free and Paleo diets. For breakfast, try one of the Liege Belgian style waffles with fruit or eggs. The Elvis Liege waffle has bacon, sliced bananas and peanut butter drizzled with honey. For lunch or dinner Chef/Owner Gino's Totally Tomato soup goes well with the Paleo Lunch Bowl ($12.99-$14.99) with grilled chicken or wild salmon on a bed of kale, onions, broccoli, mushrooms and cabbage, sauteed in organic coconut oil. Other dishes include Wild Cod Tacos or Pizza ala Bismark.

7. Southcreek Pizza Co.
Photo courtesy of Southcreek Pizza Co./Facebook

Creating quality homemade wood fired pizzas is the goal of this beautiful restaurant in South Reno. The menu not only features classics like the Margherita ($14) but also signature pizzas and a few guest pizzas from other restaurants. While eating in this cozy place with wood details and copper lighting, you can enjoy an appetizer of Mama's Meatballs ($6) with homemade tomato sauce, the Wedge Salad ($8) with iceberg lettuce and house-made blue cheese dressing. For pies check out the Linda ($15) with smoked mozzarella, ricotta, sliced lemon and finished with arugula and honey. For dessert, the dessert pizza has Nutella and bananas.

6. Laughing Planet Cafe
Photo courtesy of Laughing Planet/Facebook

Laughing Planet Cafe is a small regional chain that brings healthful, organic and sustainable food to the Midtown area. Laughing Planet's menu is chock full of fresh vegetables in global dishes like their spicy Thai Bowl ($8), Cuban Bowl ($.7.50) and Southwestern Green Chile Burrito ($5.95). The restaurant also serves items like the Amaizin' Grace Quesadilla ($5.95) with Food Alliance certified corn, Tillamook jack cheese, mild green chiles, pico de gallo, and cilantro-pesto sauce or chimichurri sauce or the Highway to Kale ($6.95) with fresh Lacinato kale tossed with Cotija cheese and organic carrots with a lemon-parsley vinaigrette and topped with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Laughing Planet has a great outdoor space for people watching and their indoor space features bicycle posters and toy dinosaurs you can play with while waiting for your food.

5. The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery
Photo courtesy of The Depot Brewery Distillery

The Depot is Reno's first brewery and distillery that serves some excellent pub food with a local twist. The brewery portion serves up a selection of Nevada-inspired beers and the distillery creates spirits for purchase or for use in the bar's numerous cocktails. The lunch and dinner menu features salads and main dishes like Poutine with oxtail gravy ($8), various burgers and sliders and an excellent beet salad. Their snack dishes are great to share and include items like Shrimp Ceviche ($11) Steamed Cockles ($13) with beer broth and bacon, and a four cheese Mac & Cheese ($7.50) that will remind you of your cool Mom's dish

4. Süp
Photo courtesy of Süp Facebook

This small cafe in Reno's Midtown District is heaven for soup, salad and sandwich lovers. The ingredients are fresh and the tomato bisque is divine. Other menu items include the Cajun Egg Salad Sandwich ($7.99) with Cajun spiced egg salad, local pea shoots and green leaf lettuce on 13 grain bread and the Steak Salad ($11.99) with grilled sirloin steak served on a bed of romaine and mixed greens topped with gorgonzola cheese, strawberries and finished with white balsamic vinaigrette or chimichurri. The young couple that owns this restaurant hires a friendly staff and is center to the revival of the Midtown area of Reno. There are a few tables on their deck for roadside dining. Get there early for lunch since this place tends to fill up fast. S�p is also available for catering.

3. Bangkok Cuisine
Photo courtesy of Bangkok Cuisine Express/Facebook

An elegant and classic Thai decor will welcome you to this local favorite. This family run restaurant in Midtown serves authentic and delicious Thai food. They have the classics like Pad Thai and some excellent red, yell and green curry dishes. Their appetizers ilke Coconut Prawns, Shrimp Rangoons and Spring Rolls are excellent. Their Thai Salad with the peanut dressing is delicious with a hint of honey and spice. Their popular entrees include their soups like Mixed Vegetable Coconut Soup and Tom Kha soup. Their noodles include Spicy Basil and Wide Noodles with Chili Sauce. You can also get a variety of stir fry veggies and meat with your choice of sauce. The Bangkok Seafood Pot is also good with Fresh Crab, Cod fillets, Large Shrimp, Scallops, Calamari, pineapples and mushrooms, cooked with a chili sauce, coconut milk, lemon grass and kefir leaves. Save some room for dessert and get the Sticky Rice and Mango or Green Tea Ice Cream.

2. Midtown Eats
Photo courtesy of Midtown Eats/Facebook

This little place in Midtown, just south of downtown, serves up salads, soups, sandwiches, burgers and tacos during lunch and items such as Steak and Frite, Berkshire Pork Belly and Duck Confit during dinner. Their Sunday Brunch has Brioche French Toast, Huevos Rancheros, a Classic BLT, Fresh Squeezed Juice or Mimosa and Coffee from the Hub Coffee Roasters just down the street. The Atomic Burger is making a name for itself with its Habanero, Avocado and Charred Tomato Salsa and people are raving about the Tri-Tip or Snapper Tacos with Tomatillo Avocado Spread for $2 each. Most lunch items run about $10 each and dinner items run about $15-$24. Midtown Eats also serves up housemaid drinks such as the Chupacabra with Tequila Blanco, Chili Infused Ginger Liqueur and Watermelon.

1. Bab Cafe
Photo courtesy of Bab Cafe/Facebook

Bab is a traditional dish that means "meal" or "rice" in Korean. This contemporary and popular lunch spot in the Downtown area serves a healthy version of the rice bowl. Choose from Bibim-bab, a bowl of rice or noodles topped with vegetables, sauce, and your choice of meat or items like sushi, kimchi or Korean sweet and spicy chicken wings. The tangy Bokkum-Bab contains Korean spicy cabbage and fried rice with pork. Each of the bowls are around $10 each and drinks like tea or soda will run you another $3. Bab has plenty of seating on both the inside and their patio. Check out their wall of Korean cookbooks.