New South Lake Tahoe restaurant, The Woods, celebrating grand opening

The Chef's Charcuterie Board on a Lake Tahoe-shaped cutting board, on the menu at The Woods.
Provided/Chris Ibarra, The Woods

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Just in time for the bustling summer activity that frequents the Al Tahoe neighborhood, the Harrison Avenue strip is welcoming a new restaurant to the block: The Woods. Founded by born and raised South Lake Tahoe locals Dillon and Connor McKeen, the brothers have been proactively working towards remodeling and revamping the two-story structure where Pick 6 once was. 

“We couldn’t be more excited to bring The Woods to the South Lake Tahoe community,” Connor said. “We believe that our food and cocktail menu will make us really stand out.” 

Upon acquiring and breaking ground on transforming the restaurant, the McKeen brothers were initially inspired to create a “local hub” for the South Lake Tahoe community of locals to enjoy. 

“My brother and I were born and raised here from a local family, and we love the town and love the atmosphere, and believe it’s important to cater to our locals,” Dillon said. “We want to further contribute to connecting our local community together, and making our community closer, and opening The Woods in a pretty central spot in town where people can congregate, come for good food and drinks, and enjoy themselves.” 

Grilled peaches for the Grilled Burrata Peach Salad on the menu at The Woods.
Provided/Chris Ibarra, The Woods

The new restaurant space boasts two stories – the bottom floor hosting a fully redone interior design, comfortable dining tables, a full-service bar, and large televisions for sports games. Upstairs, there will be a walk-up bar, space indoors and outdoors for live music, intimate seating space, and a refinished outdoor patio to “immerse in the atmosphere.”

To complement the new restaurant, the McKeen brothers also brought on Head Chef Chris Ibarra to the The Woods staff. Ibarra brings years of professional experience to the team, originally being an executive chef in Southern California for the Anaheim Angels, Marriott Hotel chain, among other pivotal, luxury entities. 

“I began [my career] as a busboy at my grandma’s restaurant in Santa Ana and just fell in love with cooking with her,” Ibarra said. “Growing up, I started attending culinary classes and went to culinary school. To me, food is like family — food is love and passion. My goal is to have my guests feel like they’re at home.” 

Inspired by his husband, Clinton Dodson, and his grandmother, Ibarra is eager to bring his culinary expertise to the South Lake Tahoe community. Leading up the restaurant’s grand opening, Ibarra has been working towards crafting a food menu filled with unique twists on classic dishes. Standout dishes like ricotta-stuffed beignets topped with caramel bourbon sauce, grilled peach burrata salad, Ahi Tuna Poké nachos, grilled macaroni & cheese grilled cheese, fried chicken and beignets, and more, compile the food menu. 

“The menu I created consists of gastropub, elevated food,” Ibarra said. “I’m trying to bring a lot of classics to an upscale level. I’ve traveled all over, which has inspired a lot of my twists on the dishes on the menu, and I’m excited to bring them to South Lake Tahoe.” 

Along with a stellar food menu managed by Ibarra, Dillon is bringing his years of experience with high-end mixology to the restaurant as well, bringing “one-of-a-kind” cocktails to their menu, according to Dillon; while Connor is also ramping up production, creating curated brews in their micro-brewery, located on-site at The Woods. The restaurant is expecting to have their first batch of brew complete soon, the first blend being a Mexican style lager. 

The Crispy Skin King Salmon entree at The Woods.
Provided/Chris Ibarra, The Woods

“We want The Woods to be a standout space where people can enjoy an upscale, elevated meal and drinks, while also being a place to be casual, hang out, and laugh with your close friends and family,” Ibarra said. “Growing up, I was taught that whenever someone comes into your home, you want them to feel like they’re family, and that’s what we are putting out here, we want everyone to feel warm and welcome.”

While the McKeen brothers and Ibarra are pushing for an elevated experience for their guests, they are adamant about each decision they’ve made while bringing The Woods to fruition; and have always been intentional to cater to the South Lake Tahoe local community. 

“The biggest thing here is we are not wanting to overcharge tourist pricing,” Dillon said. “We want to be the go-to spot. We are trying our best to be at a reasonable price point, where locals can come, be comfortable, hang out, and not break the bank.” 

The menu at The Woods.
Provided/Chris Ibarra, The Woods

In celebration of the summer season, The Woods will be hosting interactive community events such as themed nights, live music from local artists, trivia nights, and more. 

“The food and drinks are going to really compliment the other events we are doing and what the local community wants,” Dillon said. “I want this place to be your family place to come to, where we can treat you like family.” 

The Woods is excited to open their doors to the local community and new patrons, and they are eager to be another go-to spot on Harrison Avenue. 

“We are fired up and super excited to bring it for our grand opening,” Dillon said. “This property is no longer what it used to be. We are The Woods, under new ownership, and strive to make all our guests feel like family. We’re here to highlight the town, collaborate with other local businesses, and bring new faces to this area of town. We want Harrison Avenue to be a mini Bourbon Street for South Lake Tahoe.” 

The Woods will be celebrating their grand opening on Saturday, June 10, including live music from local musician Sean Hodge and food and drink specials. The Woods will open their doors to the public Thursday – Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday through Wednesday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Woods is located at 3115 Harrison Avenue in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. 

For more information on The Woods, follow the restaurant on Instagram at @thewoodslaketahoe. 

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