by Jack Rieger
According to a Villanova University study, about 80 percent of students experiment with alcohol at some point in their college career. Bars located around the University of Nevada’s campus have flourished for over a century thanks to this fact, except for the Wolf Den (turns out serving $5 pitchers of hard alcohol to minors is not a good idea).
College bars are designed to act as institutions where you and your friends attempt to make out with people and pay for cheap, disgusting drinks. If you find a bar that allows you to do both of these things regularly, keep going there. In an attempt to steer future generations in the right direction, I’ve listed the three best and worst college bars in Reno. In order to add some diverse perspective, I asked two well-respected bargoers — Ryan McCarthy and Gabi Lucas — to add their own review.
The Three Best
Despite looking like a homeless shelter from the outside, Imperial is the most consistently fun bar in Reno thanks to its convenient location, spacious interior design and cheap drink prices. Many students mock Imperial for its centralized bar design, and going to Imperial has been dubbed “doing laps” because of the racetrack created by students walking around the bar. The line to get into Imperial on Wednesday is longer than the Joe’s Panda Express line at lunch, but Jeremy Renner was once spotted at Imperial, which more than compensates for all its imperfections. If you’re trying to drink for cheap and run into people you know, Imperial is the most reliable option.
Ryan McCarthy: Absolutely hate it. Its always super packed. I like it on a Friday, but I refuse to go on Wednesday because almost everybody in there is underage and it’s hard to get a drink. I’d much rather go to Our Bar.
Gabi Lucas: Imperial to me screams underage. I don’t like going there because I feel like I’m 58 because everyone else is 19.
St. James Infirmary
St. James epitomizes what it means to be a college bar: great dance floor, good-looking bartenders and a sketchy building. It’s the best place to dance to old-school hip-hop, and the upstairs deck offers a nice escape from the sweat-filled war zone downstairs. I suggest pre-gaming St. James harder than most places because you have a better chance of acquiring an STD at St. James than a drink (by the way, the UNR Health Center offers free STD tests from 8 to 10 a.m. Thursday mornings). The lines to get in on Saturdays are ridiculously long, but if you’re feeling brave you can scale the back wall and sneak in through the upstairs door. As an added bonus, Rubicon Deli — an incredible sandwich shop open until 4 p.m. — is attached to the building.
Ryan: Personally, I think it’s the best college bar in Reno. I know it gets packed, but it’s a great environment. The people that work there do a really good job of handling it, and I love when they open the upstairs deck.
Gabi: Honestly, I don’t love St. James unless it’s a Saturday and you know the entire bar. I’m not really a fan.
Ole Bridge Pub
Located on the Truckee River (in case you need to dispose of a body while drinking), Ole Bridge is a smaller bar that prides itself on a quality beer selection and intense games of shuffleboard. It’s not a stereotypical college bar; in fact, Ole Bridge would probably be ashamed to be on this list. At any given time, a bearded guy wearing a beanie could break out into spoken word, but the high quality of the bar and the ample seating is worth it.
Ryan: I like Ole Bridge a lot, but if you don’t like beer I wouldn’t suggest it. Ole Bridge is a great place to grab a few beers and hang out with a few friends.
Gabi: I’ve never seen more than like two of my friends in there. It’s like all young professionals. You wouldn’t go party there. They do have battle shots. I love that.
The Three Worst
The Little Waldorf
The Wal went downhill faster than Steve Nash after he was traded to the Lakers. Just two years ago, the Wal was the premier spot on Thursday nights for mobs of students to drunkenly dance to terrible Ja Rule songs. Underage students used to show up before the bouncers would monitor the door, and they would hide in the bathroom stall until employees stopped checking people’s IDs (I did this for six straight glorious months). The Wal is now just a shell of its former self, as competing bars have transformed the former king of Thursdays into simply a decent spot to watch the UFC fights.
Ryan: I love it just because they actually card at the door, so you know the people in there are 21. Very rarely do you get someone underage, which is nice.
Gabi: I like it. It’s very college-y, it’s inexpensive, there’s a ton of room. They have different themed nights every night, and they have the most TVs, so you can watch all the sports you want.
A bar dedicated to San Francisco sports teams, The Stick has the worst floor plan in the history of drinking. Despite having two stories, The Stick is always crowded and buying a drink is a 30-minute ordeal. The upstairs bar and dance floor look really nice and let people look over the first level, but the area is typically too crowded to walk around. There are plenty of other good options near The Stick, including Silver Peak and Sierra Tap House.
Ryan: Hate it. It’s really packed all the time, especially Thursday. I feel claustrophobic when I’m there. I’m not really a fan at all.
Gabi: I like The Stick a lot. It has a good vibe; a lot of young people go in there. Their prices are also decent for drinks.
In the past few weeks Our Bar has become the most popular pub in Reno, but its petite bar area can’t handle massive amounts of foot traffic. It’s basically the place people resort to when Imperial becomes too crowded on Wednesdays. However, Our Bar does have a sweet dual dartboard and a decent pool table. If you’re looking for a drink order that’s worth your money, order a PB&J (PBR and one shot of Jameson).
Ryan: Unless it’s a Wednesday I wouldn’t start there, but Our Bar is a great starting point before going to another place. They have a great shot and beer combo, which I really like.
Gabi: I like Our Bar the most out of all the ones you’ve named. Really fun environment, and they have great drink deals. The only drawback is it’s pretty small and tends to attract some homeless people.
Jack Rieger studies finance and economics. He can be reached on Twitter @JackRieger or at email@example.com