Ok, what do I mean by this? The vibe is elevated, the food is great, and the price-point is reasonable compared to the quality of your meal. This could be a first date, a 100th date, or just a fun spot to nosh with a friend. Even if you don't get lucky, you'll at least have eaten at a really decent restaurant.
Photo courtesy: forkmereno
Kauboi (pronounced "kah-boy," emphasis on "kah") Izakaya is arguably one of my favorite restaurants in town. Owned by the same folks that run LuLou's, one of Reno's finest gems, Kauboi is a casual yet refined approach to a Japanese izakaya (aka, a Japanese bar that serves smaller bites and snacks). Creative, well-executed dishes. No website or reservations, so check Yelp if you want to take a peek at their most recent menu.
Photo courtesy: Miles J. Beurgin via centroreno.com
With a tapas-style (aka small plates), seasonally-rotating menu delivered with excellent service, Centro is a Reno highlight. While they don't take reservations, I've never waited too long, and also always leave feeling like I've been taken care of because the service is so attentive and organized. The prices are very fair for the quality of the food, and if you go during the summer, try to sit in the front of the restaurant when they open the garage-style doors for extra al-fresco vibes.
Photo courtesy: Homegrown Gastropub
There's a little something for everybody at Homegrown, and it's always pretty darn delicious. Not only is its location on Virginia handy for post-dinner activities, but also the ingredient integrity (local! seasonal! organic!) and attention to detail make it feel a little more elevated than other casual-leaning spots in town. This is an easy, cozy date-night vibe.
Photo courtesy: restaurantjump.com
Am I really suggesting a casino restaurant/bar as a casual/cool date spot? I am. Because it's a quirky experience with overall delicious food. There's bread service, a great wine list, and a range of classic steakhouse items (note: if you order fancy, it can get pretty pricey). My favorite things to order, without fail, are the house-made mushroom ravioli.
More on the casual side ambiance-wise, Kwok's has some of the best Chinese food in town. Their clay pots, porridges, noodles, and roasted duck are all popular. This is a great date spot to share dishes and get to know each other over some delicious food.
Photo courtesy: Playfield76 on Yelp
A barcade with excellent food?! Is there anything more fun for date night? Playfield is the type of place you can pop into on a random Tuesday (they have a fantastic happy hour, btw), play some games, and leave happy. I keep a bag of quarters handy for when I know I'm going (lol, yeah), but they of course have change machines. Popular dishes include the fried pickles, cauliflower nachos, chicken sandwich, and French dip pizza.