Cozy into Fire Sign’s log cabin kitchen in Tahoe City |

Cozy into Fire Sign’s log cabin kitchen in Tahoe City

Ashley A. Cooper
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
The Fire Sign Cafe in Tahoe City offers a spread worthy of your earliest mornings — and latest nights.
Ashley A. Cooper | Lake Tahoe Action

If you go

What: Fire Sign Café

Where: 1785 West Lake Blvd., Tahoe City

Phone: 530-583-0871


Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., seven days a week

Service: Kind and patient.

Drinks: Serves beers, bloodies, mimosas and man-mosas.

Price: $$

Atmosphere: Warm, cozy, intimate. Good for pairs, groups and families. Bar seats.

A round of coffees, bloody marys and a mug of masculine man-mosa touched down on our table of four, and, as the butter liquefied into my house-baked pecan pear coffee cake, our group’s vapor of hanger dissipated into the cozy atmosphere of Fire Sign Café.

Fire Sign is no Tahoe secret. In fact, the vast procession of patrons inspired the construction of the Annex Café next door to tide them over during the sometimes long wait. During warmer months customers sip coffee drinks, play board games and laze upon the humble knoll stretched between the cafes, anticipating their turn to chow.

This day, however, dawned with the bitter winds of a forgotten winter. As we stood hairy-eyeballing those inconsiderates who keep the entrance door open whilst debating to stay or go, our hunger transmogrified us tree-hugging, yoga-doing mountain dwellers into loathsome misanthropes. One would expect the hostess to backslide into the dark side, but, an hour and a half before close, her pleasing demeanor still warmed the foyer.

Every server plays to the objective of customer satisfaction and answered our many menu inquiries with endless patience. With the seemingly infinite number of breakfast and lunch items, it’s no wonder people rush back for more.

Way back at its inception in 1978, the 19-person restaurant in Tahoe City’s Lakehouse Mall offered veggie-centric fare. Merely four years into its thirty-seven, the Young family took full doting ownership of Fire Sign. Now further removed from town, the café inhabits a cozy log cabin that reminds me of my grandma’s home with knickknacks and warm-toned decorative pots, tea kettles, lace-tipped valances and brand new and bygone photographs.

For lunch, omnivores, carnivores and vegans unite around sandwiches, burgers (including house-made tofu, garden and black bean), five salads, soup du jour and a burrito made to satiate the most ravenous of mountain bikers. The hostess suggests the chicken sandwich (teriyaki, Cajun, plain, with homemade pesto or barbecue sauce) and the grilled turkey sandwich.

Driven by escalating breakfast cravings, we ordered the Greek Omelet, Spanish Omelet, Bakers Benedict, Huevos Rancheros, a side of bacon, short stack of buckwheat pancakes with real maple syrup and upgraded all the home fries to vegetable home fries. All for you, treasured reader.

My huevo yolks burst across a mash of pinto, black beans and house made chorizo to deliver a near spiritual first bite. Shredded lettuce and tomatoes add the perfect portion of crispy cool to the warm Mexican dish that rivals those found in lower latitudes.

Over in Greece, the generous serving of spinach folded amongst tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olives and feta was fresh and juicy. The veggie home fries covered in jack cheese pulled us back to reality and the fact we were probably consuming a day’s calorie intake.

Spain delivered, although the eater didn’t, so I had no more to write down than “don’t invite him again,” but that is a sure Fire Sign that the three eggs with green chiles, jack cheese, olives, avocado and house-made ranchero sauce was ablaze.

The Baker’s Benedict, one of five, arrived with two half-inch thick sausage patties and homemade hollandaise sauce pleasing our meat lover and only clean-plate club member. Together, we polished off the pancakes with the only regret of not trying the homemade blueberry sauce.

Fire Sign’s guiding mantra, “if we can’t find a product we like, we will just create our own,” stokes everything that makes it special, and nearly every item contains some element dreamed up in its very own kitchen. Make it there whenever you can, but if it’s after a late night or a big morning, pack an apple just in case.

Ashley A. Cooper is a freelance writer residing in Truckee. She can be reached at

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