Eat like a Lake Tahoe local
While you’ll find some seriously good eats in South Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Village or at the North Shore waterfront grills with happy hour deals and sunset views, chances are, you’re not going to find many locals there. Whether you’re looking for date night dining or getting down and dirty with a burger, these are some of the spots that get the thumbs up from those who are lucky enough to call this place “Tahome.”
Red Truck / Truckee
Head to the Truckee Tahoe Airport for Indian fusion food that just might result in more trips to the airport than travel. Tuck into a burrito filled with your choice of protein — chicken tikka masala, coconut curry lamb or falafel, to name a few — ghar ki dal (lentil curry), quinoa, tahini, cabbage and fattoush (a salad of crunchy veg and fried pita). Cultures collide on the menu with the naan-dog: a quarter-pound all-brisket frank mingles with whole grain mustard, spicy relish, cabbage and curried onions, all served inside fluffy house-made naan. Most importantly, don’t miss the ever-changing fillings of the daily samosa, ranging from pea-potato and butternut squash bharta to bacon cheeseburger and cardamom chicken.
Pep’s Place / Tahoe Vista
Tahoe Vista locals agree — Pep’s Place is the spot to grab breakfast or lunch before a day of adventuring. With a healthy twist on familiar food, enjoy a bacon breakfast burrito beefed up with quinoa and black beans or, for a lighter fare, an acai bowl with greek yogurt, granola and banana. Basil mayo and white cheddar elevate the classic turkey club, while pit-smoked beef is the star of the BBQ Beef sandwich, alongside havarti and house-made slaw. Top off the meal with an organic hazelnut latte or a locally brewed beer.
Soule Domain / Kings Beach
For a date night or special occasion, Soule Domain is a favorite among North Shore residents. The log cabin eatery in Kings Beach has been serving up creative American cuisine since 1985 and consistently wins awards for the most romantic restaurant in the basin. Among crisp white tablecloths and a roaring fire, enjoy pepper-seared scallops with smoked pork belly; a rack of lamb grilled with garlic, almond and basil-pesto butter; or duck breast with orange, raspberry and Grand Marnier. Choose a bottle from the well-curated wine list and make sure to save room for dessert — more specifically, the Queen of Sheba, a flourless chocolate almond torte with a whipped cream filling and chocolate amaretto glaze.
Drunken Monkey / Truckee
Belly up to the sushi bar at the Drunken Monkey for mouthwatering Japanese-inspired cuisine that draws influence from a number of other countries, too. Kick off the meal with the “famous monkey calamari,” which is lightly battered and fried, drizzled in honey-lemongrass sauce and chipotle aioli, and topped with candied almonds. The real pros order a handful of sushi rolls and tapas for the table (grilled yellowtail collar with ponzu and lime? Yes, please) before diving into a piping-hot bowl of noodles. Dandan, ramen and Singapore street noodles are just a few of the options to warm you up after a day on the mountain.
Mediterranean Cafe / Tahoe City
Fresh, fast and healthful is how Tahoe City locals describe the fare at Mediterranean Cafe. Ease into the meal with the dolmas (rice-stuffed grape leaves) served with olives, feta and tzatziki, or try the polenta slices made with sauteed onions and pecorino and heaped with creme fraiche, more olives and parsley. Whether in a wrap or on the plate with turmeric rice, the chicken and lamb shawarma are succulent and served with a medley of fresh veggies, tangy tzatziki and zhoug sauce (a Middle Eastern spicy cilantro sauce). Diners will also find nods to owner Jon Ganea’s heritage with a Romanian-style Greek Salad and borscht.
The Getaway Cafe / Meyers
Cozy and comfortable is the vibe inside The Getaway Cafe in Meyers, a South Shore staple since 2006. Made from scratch in the eatery’s pint-sized kitchen, the breakfast and lunch menu features local favorites like the coconut-crusted French toast made with thick slices of sourdough topped with banana slices and drizzled with a house made coconut cream sauce. For the savory crowd, order the much-loved chilaquiles or the chicken-fried steak with hash browns and two over-easy eggs for a yolky dunking sauce. While the menu offers a number of vegan and vegetarian options, we’ll leave the garden toast on multi-grain bread to your imagination and focus instead on the cowboy meatloaf sandwich: a thick cut of ground chuck and Italian sausage meatloaf nestled between a French roll with cheddar cheese, bacon, homemade BBQ sauce and fried onion string.
Audible’s Sports Bar and Gaming / Stateline
On lower Kingsbury Grade in an unassuming strip of shops sits Audible’s Sports Bar and Gaming where bar food gets taken to the next level. And then a couple more. With menu items named for sports figures and obscure Seinfeld and South Park references, to name a few, the tone is set for food with personality. Start the meal with Bill Walton’s Boomers (mushrooms swimming in butter, garlic, chardonnay and parmesan with toast points) or The Winthorpe (pork belly lettuce wraps with farro and candied walnuts). Burgers and sandwiches are the specialty at Audible’s, where you’ll also find 18 TVs, 15 video poker machines and the self-proclaimed longest shuffleboard in Nevada. Sink your teeth into the Say Hey Sammy, a spicy buffalo chicken sandwich made with breaded chicken doused in Audible’s signature sauce and topped with blue cheese, French fried onions, Funyuns and lettuce. The Rocky Balboa is a tender philly cheesesteak made with sirloin, grilled peppers and onions, all drenched in a white cheddar queso. The chef’s weekly taco specials keep Stateline locals coming in week after week.
Bite / Incline Village
Reservations are recommended at this buzzy Incline Village eatery where small plates reign supreme — and for good reason. It’s a favorite repeat dinner spot for locals who enjoy the creative take on the traditional tapa. Dunk crostinis in burrata with guava jam, pistachios, arugula and prosciutto; bite into tender asparagus spears seasoned with ginger white miso vinaigrette and sesame; or enjoy the flavorful mix of scallops drizzled in red Thai curry sauce on a bed of house-made kimchi and grits. The quartet of slider options on the menu get the same creative treatment, including the coconut-battered fried chicken mini-sandwiches with sambal slaw and the tiny lobster rolls with roasted tomato, bacon and mayo. Don’t overlook the cocktail menu, which may have you turning to Google for clarification on the bevy of spirits, liqueurs and flavorings used in their uncommon (but absolutely delicious) concoctions. For the adventurous, cap the evening with Bite’s absinthe sampler.
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