It seems appropriate that Gar Woods Grill & Pier is named after the boat designer Garfield Wood, the man responsible for bringing us the ultimate pleasure craft of the 1920s. The view here – from the pier to the shore to the deep blue of its Carnelian Bay location – is all about pleasure. The interior is warm woods and massive windows and walls, which seem to bring the outdoors inside, but there is ample deck seating for the real, up-close and personal, lake-view experience.
In fact, the opening of the Gar Woods deck has signaled the start of summer for locals and visitors for more than two decades. Well, the deck and their signature Wet Woody cocktail, a slushy, fruit-and-rum-based drink that has sold more than 2,000,000 to date. The Wet Woody, which is also available at the Riva Grill at Lake Tahoe’s South Shore, is a blended drink using no ice, the trick being the Taylor Distributors mega-machine that freezes the ingredients in their entirety. The end product is a smooth, creamy cocktail with a hidden kick (look out!) of white rum tempered by peach schnapps.
But don’t let the Wet Woody experience distract you from the menu. For appetizers I am a fan of the Ahi Poke Stack, which is sesame-marinated tuna with Thai chili, wontons, mango-ginger relish and a wasabi cream. It’s incredible and served on both the lunch and dinner menus. The Crab Chili Relleno topped with an avocado-tomato salsa and lime sour cream for lunch or as a dinner appetizer is also unusually good. It could almost (almost) distract one from the view of Lake Tahoe.
For dinner I start with my favorite steamed clams and then go with anything from the grill – land or sea. The menu is flavorful and a perfect summer experience, especially when shared with a sunset. My recommendation here would be the Seared Diver Scallops served with a Dungeness crab risotto and a blood orange buerre blanc.
The great thing about dining and playing at Gar Woods is you really are doing both. You are enjoying a day at one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, maybe boating or maybe kicking back with the kids (they have a very-appreciated children’s menu). You are wind blown and tan, and then you get to experience some fine dining to boot. Now that, my friends, is a vacation – even if you live here. On weekends you can get there early for breakfast, served Saturdays and Sundays, and make an entire day of it. The staff is friendly and efficient and genuinely happy. Hey, I’d be happy too if I looked like the girls at Gar Woods.