Harrah's is at 219 N. Center St. Soon after opening in 1946, this became one of the most innovative and profitable casinos in northern Nevada. It was Reno's first fully carpeted casino, the first one to have bells and lights installed on slot machines to announce jackpots, and the first to line the walls and ceilings with one-way mirrors, which enabled casino managers to not only watch for cheaters and spot overly inebriated or problem-causing patrons but to keep the club immaculate by reporting overflowing ashtrays and spilled drinks to floor staff via walkie-talkie.
And today? Harrah's feels old school all the way. There's no massive parking lot to negotiate or maze of hotel corridors to sidetrack you on your way to the casino; just step through the doors right off the sidewalk. And as soon as you walk in you smell smoke. This is a small casino, with an equally small table games area, low ceilings and old-fashioned ceiling lamps. For non-high rollers there are plenty of $1 slots and even 1-cent games like “Penny Frenzy.”
Serious eaters will want to try the Big Bowl Food Challenge at the Joy Luck Noodle Bar. For $24.99 you get a 2-gallon bowl loaded with 2 pounds of meat, 2 pounds of noodles and three quarts of broth and vegetables. Anyone who manages to consume this feast within an hour is added to the restaurant's Wall of Fame. Then waddle over to see who's appearing at Sammy's Showroom, named for the master entertainer himself, Sammy Davis Jr.