Truckee Tavern & Grill invokes the towns rich history in a chophouse atmosphere
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
If you go
What: Truckee Tavern & Grill
Where: 10118 Donner Pass Road, Truckee
Hours: 5-9 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday and 5-9:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Bar opens at 4 p.m. everyday for drinks.
Service: Knowledgeable and engaging
Atmosphere: Social chophouse with a patio overlooking historic downtown Truckee. Perfect for groups, families, dates, business and special occasions.
Wine and drinks: Consciously selected wines and creatively concocted libations.
“During Prohibition, these hillsides were painted with the fires of distilleries,” said Chris St. Martin as he gestured past the breathtaking brick arch and toward the trees at Truckee Tavern & Grill. A history as rich as Truckee’s pulses through the decades in many places, but in none so elegantly as this new bar and restaurant.
The owners and best buds, St. Martin and Ryan Dierks, lovingly built upon the previous Dragonfly space brick by brick. To help build their loved ones’ longtime dream, parents and spouses happily joined them in ripping up carpet, nailing salvaged planks of pier and painting the long walls, inviting natural shades. Add candlelight sambas across copper-topped tables and dainty flowers in miniature vases, and the stage is set for a enticing evening.
Behind the scenes, a 7-foot, custom-built, wood fire grill roars to life. Among its fiery coals, local vegetables and cuts of meat cook slowly in the simple and smoky style of Argentina’s famous asados. Directing it all is head chef Donavan Webb, his expertise and collaborative spirit teasing out the distinctive flavors of high-quality proteins from the flames. Despite the impeccable presentation daring you against it, you’ll want to taste everything.
The organic roasted chicken, brined for hours, sits charred and pretty atop a white plate. The meat holds all of the complexity of almond and oak smoke and the juiciness of poultry prepared with care and knowledge.
The most mouthwatering protein, according to St. Martin, is a 16-ounce rib-eye steak. Savor each melting bite as it is meant to be savored: sans a deluge of sauce and cell phone distractions. Don’t be bashful if all you want is a hamburger, either, because nothing is “just” anything at Truckee Tavern. Even if you don’t wait for Burgers & Beers Thursday, you’ll lose yourself in arguably the juiciest and most flavorful half-pound burger at North Shore.
Veggie fanatics are well taken care of with seasonal pastas made from scratch and delectable sides that stand just as strong alone as beside the meaty entrées. The linguini of today mingles with winter vegetables atop house made ricotta but will blossom into a new savory spring dish in no time. The mac and cheese, on its third incarnation, features sweet potatoes and goat cheese. The brussel sprouts; with pomegranate seeds, sliced apples, walnuts and a toss of balsamic quince; are not to be missed, no matter the day. Fish lovers take pleasure in sustainably harvested catches and (though it pains me to share this) Oyster and Wine Wednesdays. The briney babes of the sea lay temptingly upon ice with a cup of herb and citrus mignette and are just $2 apiece. There’s also Meatball Monday and Bacon & Bourbon Tuesday for a work week of special offers.
As well as bourbon rounds out bacon and wine punctuates oysters, Tavern’s spirits and cocktails are caringly curated and crafted to complement the food menu. Enjoy a snifter of any of the innumerable whiskeys and gins. All spirits are selected for quality and the Tavern’s drink list highlights small-batch distilleries and features quinoa vodka and top-notch rum and tequila.
Dierks’ uniquely crafted cocktails invoke the 1920s and ‘30s, with graceful glassware and the names of movies and stars of those thrilling decades. Sit at the bar and enjoy the aroma of fresh herbs and the art of barmen who love their profession.
Creating and reinventing the wine list, St. Martin is equally inspired. With the knowledge and passion of an expert sommelier, he is working toward an all-organic, biodynamic and natural wine menu. First and foremost, the intent is to honor the quality and preparation of the food with equally exceptional and chemical-free wine.
With so much love and attention built into every detail, it only follows that Truckee Tavern would be an immediate success. Go in for a cocktail and a delectable meal, linger for the ambiance and company.
Ashley A. Cooper is a freelance writer residing in Truckee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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