Eating in Tahoe on a budget |

Eating in Tahoe on a budget

Ashleigh Goodwin /
The Truckee Full Belly Deli Nacho Pollo Loco was a featured sandwich on Diners, Drive Ins, & Dives.

Lake Tahoe is known for crystal clear water, sought after mountain slopes, endless hiking options and some gourmet dining experiences. But what about finding quality food without emptying the wallet? Tahoe has that covered as well.


Looking for delicious carnivorous or vegetarian options? Empanash has all bases covered, no matter the size of appetite. Located behind Chevron, adjacent to Ski Run Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe, Empanash offers handmade Argentinian empanadas.

Flavorful meats or veggies wrapped in a thick flakey crust. This lunch bite is priced just right at just $6.25 each. Get just one or snag a couple to mix and match seven fillings with a fresh chimichurri or criolla sauce.

As their menu says, “Empanadas are like a good ol’ game of Jenga; the more you pile up, the better.” Order six and get one free, or better yet, grab a full dozen and get two free. And don’t forget to save room for the “Sweet Heaven.” Apples, crumbled graham crackers, cinnamon and brown sugar in the same thick crispy dough will surely have everyone loosening their belts for the trip home.

Tahoe Keys Deli

Tahoe Keys Deli has been serving classic and specialty subs since 1984. With decades of dedication, both hot and cold sandos are handcrafted and layered with delicate perfection.

This South Shore sub shop adds custom-made, quality subs to this list of grab and go bites at an affordable price with large sandwiches topping out at $15 and smalls as low as $9.50. Double the meat and grab a fountain drink and the total will be just about $20.

By joining the deli’s new loyalty program the 11th large sandwich and fountain drink combo order can be free.

West Shore Market

Craving a sandwich in Tahoe City but Tahoe Keys Deli is just a little too far away? West Shore Market offers a full service deli in addition to groceries and coffee bar. During blustery winter days they also offer a soup or two to grab and go. “Our soups and sandwiches are made with the finest and freshest ingredients, sourced from near and far,” totes the market.

The market’s website boasts a menagerie of “local, sustainable and organic” items in addition to classic name brands folks know and love. If the market’s specialty sandwiches aren’t tantalizing enough, choose some fresh ingredients, and cook up a cozy afternoon lunch the family can enjoy together. According to the website they have all the essentials from artisan jams, crackers, yogurt, ice cream, olive oil, vinegar and even pasta that have been “carefully selected from small producers across the United States & around the world.”

Truckee Full Belly Deli

For those shredding the slopes in the morning at Northstar California, lunch is just a few minutes away. Truckee Full Belly Deli is a 14-minute drive from the lodge. One review says it’s where the “best sandwich in Truckee” lives.

FBD is known for friendly staff providing consistent quality and fast service. According to their website, “Full Belly Deli was born over a freshbaked loaf of jalapeño-cheddar bread and two PBRs. Co-owners Eric Barton and Tom Marrin have a few things in common but the strongest bond is their love of a good deli sandwich.” Guy Fieri, host of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives said, “Talk about living up to your name — this sandwich shop is known for serving up inventive sandwiches in huge portions. Their biscuits and gravy burrito is stuffed to the brim with cheese, hash browns, sausage and chorizo gravy, and an entire house-baked biscuit. It sounds intense, but it’s definitely a must-try.” Full salads and subs range in size and price with the lowest priced option ringing in at $6.50 and the heartier servings are under $16.

Mountain High Sandwich Co.

Five minutes from the slopes of Diamond Peak “Fresh Healthy Organic Sustainable” lunches under $20 await at Mountain High Sandwich Co. No matter the weather this North Shore sandwich shop touts “Conscious Food for People and Planet.”

All sandwiches are easily ordered as a green salad on a bed of fresh organic spring mix. Choose from 11 different house sandos, build one based specifically on individual flavor preference, or choose from the Grab-n-Go case.

According to the website, anyone in a hurry to get back to the fresh powder is welcome to select from the grab-n-go case filled with rotating daily selections that are Unique beverages are available by order like Local Kombucha on Tap by Folk Brewing Co or an organic functional blend made in house called the Hot Superfood Elixirs, a Golden which has a blend of turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, coconut milk powder, coconut sugar, MCT powder, and sea salt.

Check out the selection of natural cold beverages in the fridge such as Remedy Wellness Shakes, Big Island Lemonade, Rishi Sparkling Botanicals, Steaz Iced Green Tea, Yerba Mate, Teatulia Cold Brewed Black Tea, Rise Cold Brew, Dry Soda Co. Lavender Botanical Bubbly and many more.

The Grid Bar and Grill

For anyone looking to slow down, sit down and chow down, The Grid Bar and Grill has numerous options for tasty hot lunches cooked, seasoned and reasonably priced. The menu provides a variety for anyone’s ideal lunch.

The Grid serves up tritip sliders, crispy fish or juicy chicken sandwiches, habanero honey bourbon free-range chicken sausage, brats and build-your-own pizzas. Not to mention the long list of appetizers and burgers. There’s even a hefty kids menu.

Mike and Gary Hayes reopened the former Tradewinds in downtown Kings Beach as more than simply an entrepreneurial venture; it was called a gamble of a lifetime in the Sierra Sun in 2010.

The brother’s goal was to provide a casual place for people to come and have a cocktail after work at a reasonable price. Twelve years later the restaurant is still offering some of the best priced lunches and bites on the North Shore.

Bridgetender Tavern and Grill

A local hot spot in Tahoe City offers a cozy place to rest for the afternoons planned activities. Conveniently located 10 minutes from Palisades Tahoe, the Bridgetender Tavern and Grill claims to have the best burgers and bloody Marys in Lake Tahoe.

According to their website, the restaurant situated along the Truckee River has 15 beers on draught, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and seating is still available as it was in 1977, seven days a week. Everything on the menu is under $20.

Lunch at the Bridgetender also offers an adventure nearby. Visit a famous bridge after lunch that is affectionately known as “Rump Row,” also known as “Fanny Bridge.” Known as such reportedly due to a journalist claiming to be able to estimate the number of tourists in the area by the number of backsides he counted. On this bridge it is said tourists stop to see the schools of rainbow trout flop about.

Mott Canyon Tavern & Grill

Mott Canyon Tavern & Grill is located on lower Kingsbury Grade, 10 minutes from Heavenly Village, and offers a full bar, juke box and some of the most tantalizing lunches for under $20.

Choose from the lot of Mott’s melts and sandos including the Mott crab melt, Mott melt, patty melt, a variety of chicken and beef sandwiches and of course, the melted cheese layered on the “Feel Good Favorite” Beecher’s “World Best” Mac and Cheese: Penne pasta smothered with Beecher’s artisan flagship cheese, topped w/bread crumbs and baked to order.

Sandwiches are all served with a choice of salad, french or sweet potato fries, Mott’s fresh made blue cheese, bacon and red potato salad or Mott’s coleslaw, making this lunch under $20 one of the most robust of all.

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