May 27, 2013

Great outdoor eateries run circles around Lake Tahoe

It's something we Sacramentans can take for granted: our proximity to some of the world's great travel destinations, including Lake Tahoe, which has its summer "soft opening" on Memorial Day weekend.

It's something we Sacramentans can take for granted: our proximity to some of the world's great travel destinations, including Lake Tahoe, which has its summer "soft opening" on Memorial Day weekend.

"The faucet gets turned on today, but the bulk of the season kicks off the last week of June," said Andy Chapman, chief marketing officer for the North Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau. "Sacramento is a very important market for us. When it's 105 in the Valley, the floodgates open up here."

This summer, as you circumnavigate the 72 miles of shoreline around the 2-million-year-old alpine lake, pause for a bite among all the hiking, boating and beaching. Try this sampling of recommended dining choices, many with outdoor decks and patios that afford dazzling views of Tahoe's crystalline water.


Brook's Bar & Deck

Ambiance: The rock-and-wood outdoor deck overlooks fairways and greens, with the blue lake as a backdrop.

Menu: Breakfast buffet ($12.50). Lunch-dinner is the same menu of salads, burgers, sandwiches and tacos.

Don't miss: The half-pound sirloin burger with applewood-smoked bacon, Swiss cheese and sauteed mushrooms; firecracker chop salad with skewered chicken satay.

Price range: $7-$17

Signature drink: Rum-based mojito

What's special: The annual American Century Championship Tournament Week (July 16-21), at which celebrities gather for crowd-pleasing high jinks on the links (and at the craps tables inside after dark).

Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily through mid-October. The formal Edgewood restaurant is open for dinner year-round (775-588-2787).

Where: At the Edgewood Tahoe golf course, 100 Lake Parkway, Stateline, Nev. (in back of Harveys);

For more information:

(775) 588-6183,

Burger Lounge

Ambiance: Small and crowded with locals, but the well- rehearsed staff is ready. The outdoor patio in the pines is the place to be.

Menu: Half-pound burgers (and vegan burgers), 10-inch all-beef hotdogs, grilled chicken breast sandwiches; serves beer and wine.

Don't miss: Hand-cut skin-on pesto fries, milkshakes, chalkboard items such as brisket and ribeye steak sandwiches and salmon burger.

Price range: $4.50-$7

Signature drink: Housemade lemonade with cucumber and mint

What's special: Bike over from Anderson's Bike Rentals at 13th Street and Emerald Bay Road (530-541-0500).

Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily

Where: 717 Emerald Bay Road (Highway 89), South Lake Tahoe; (530) 542-2010

For more information:

Driftwood Cafe

Ambiance: Fast service in close, family-friendly quarters.

Menu: Though lunch is served (black bean-chicken chili burrito, Swiss cheese-topped escargot), breakfast is the reason to go – omelets, waffles, chicken-fried steak, vegetarian specials.

Don't miss: Ed's Best Omelet with bacon, garlic, Swiss cheese, tomato, sour cream, alfalfa sprouts; potato pancakes; spinach salad tossed with fresh fruit.

Price range: $4-$12

What's special: Mention the cafe's motto and get 10 percent off the bill ("For locals and other special people").

Signature drink: Bloody mary or mimosa

Hours: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. daily

Where: 1001 Heavenly Village Way (in Heavenly Village, next to Harrah's)

For more information:

(530) 544-6545,,


Ambiance: All Hawaiian, all the time, with a beach-scene wall mural, garnishes of bamboo and palm-frond thatch.

Menu: Wings, salads, kalua pork, jerk and teriyaki chicken, noodle bowls, fish tacos, vegetarian entrees.

Don't miss: Crunch salad (organic veggies with two cheeses, almonds, sunflower seeds, roasted soybeans), sushi-grade ahi, blackened fish.

Price range: $3.50-$24

Signature drink: From-scratch lemonade and Tahitian limeade

What's special: The only place in the Tahoe Basin with Pliny the Elder beer on tap.

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. daily

Where: 2330 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe

For more information:

(530) 542-3630,

Friday's Station

Ambiance: Wall-to-wall windows overlook spectacular sunsets. Service is tops at the lake's best all-around restaurant.

Menu: Prime beef, lamb and chicken co-star with first-rate seafood.

Don't miss: Sea bass and tempura lobster tail combo, Cajun-spiced prawns in pineapple-rum sauce, smoked cowboy ribeye, chicken picatta.

Price range: $10-$70

Signature drink: Full bar and 1,000-bottle wine list

What's special: Maître d'hôtel Bob Trim has run the show since opening day in 1982 and is always on site.

Hours: 5:30-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 5:30-9:30 p.m. Fridays, 5-9:30 p.m. Saturdays

Where: On the 18th floor of Harrah's, 15 Highway 50, Stateline, Nev.

For more information:

(877) 346-4642,


Jake's on the Lake

Ambiance: A mellow deck scene with a medium-size two-tier patio overlooking the Tahoe City Marina.

Menu: A revamped menu will debut in June, adding more seafood and meat to a list that includes steaks, chops, fish, salads and sandwiches.

Don't miss: The udon noodle bowl, macadamia-encrusted halibut, award-winning braised beef short ribs.

Price range: $7.50-$38

Signature drink: Rum-based Mai Tai

What's special: Jake's will celebrate its 35th anniversary June 7, with complimentary appetizers, drink specials and special events.

Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily

Where: Boatworks Mall, 780 N. Lake Blvd., Tahoe City

For more information:

(530) 583-0188,


Ambiance: Giant deck restaurant that draws a mix of local and visiting revelers.

Menu: Crab-lobster cakes, followed by more seafood, burgers and steaks.

Don't miss: Fried zucchini sticks, garlic truffle fries, fish tacos, pork belly with white beans.

Price range: $6-$34

Signature drink: Mai Tai or margarita

What's special: Sunnyside anchors the West Shore, with an Old Tahoe vibe still alive inside the 1930s-era timber-and-stone lodge.

Hours: Open daily a.m.-10 p.m.; formal dining room 5-9:30 p.m.

Where: 1850 West Lake Blvd., Tahoe City

For more information:

(530) 583-7200,

Westshore Cafe

Ambiance: Offers some of the best deck views of any West Shore establishment.

Menu: In transition as a new chef arrives. Lunch will be starters, salads and sandwiches; dinner will feature big meat and pasta.

Don't miss: Barbecued shrimp, crab bruschetta, fried chicken.

Price range: $5-$34

Signature drink: White sangria

What's special: Full Moon Rising parties will be June 23, July 22, Aug. 20, Sept. 19.

Hours: Open daily after June 14, with lunch 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m., dinner 5-9 p.m. Until then, the cafe will serve lunch and dinner those same hours Fridays-Sundays; and 5-9 p.m. Mondays, with half-off prices.

Where: 160 West Lake Blvd., Homewood

For more information:

(530) 525-5200,


Gar Woods

Ambiance: Themed from boat builder Garfield Wood's classic speedboats.

Menu: Glazed pork ribs, chicken quesadillas, coconut prawns, ahi poke, pizza

Don't miss: Conchiglie pasta (shell pasta with grilled chicken, pancetta, artichoke hearts, smoked gouda cream sauce), and peppered tenderloin-and-blue-cheese salad.

Price range: $6-$40

Signature drink: Rum-based Wet Woody

What's special: Wet Woody Wednesdays (half price, 4.95); live music Friday and Saturday nights.

Hours: Open daily; lunch is 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m., dinner is 5-9:30 p.m. (10 p.m. weekends)

Where: 5000 North Lake Blvd., Carnelian Bay

For more information:

(530) 546-3366, Log Cabin Cafe

Ambiance: Literally a log cabin, with knotty pine walls and ceilings, brick fireplace and – incongruously – an espresso bar.

Menu: Breakfast is the thing: benedicts, scrambles, three-egg omelets, French toast, waffles, steak 'n' eggs. Lunch is salads, panini, burgers.

Don't miss: The lobster scramble, Cajun eggs benedict, house-smoked trout panini.

Price range: $8-$15

Signature drink: Mexican hot chocolate or mimosa

What's special: Rachael Ray featured the Log Cabin on her Food Network show. Same owners for 30 years.

Hours: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. daily

Where: 8692 North Lake Blvd., Kings Beach

For more information:

(530) 546-7109,


Lone Eagle Grille

Ambiance: Incline Village is all about ritz, and the Lone Eagle personifies the concept. The sprawling stone-and-timber interior has the feel of an Old Tahoe lodge. Do lunch on the patio by the white-sand beach.

Menus: Salads, seafood, pasta, beef, pork, chicken, elk, bison.

Don't miss: Braised Niman Ranch lamb sandwich on toasted rosemary roll with saffron aioli, braised shortribs with truffle risotto.

Price range: $10-$57

What's special: Half-priced wines by the glass, 3-6 p.m. Sundays-Wednesdays. Live music Wednesday through Saturday evenings.

Signature drink: Tequila-based Golden Eagle cocktail; don't overlook the 600-bottle wine list.

Hours: Open daily; lunch is 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner is 5:30-10 p.m., till 10:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.

Where: 111 Country Club Drive, Incline Village

For more information:

(775) 886-6899,

Continued on Page 18OPENING DAY AT THE LAKE What: A menu of special Memorial Day events to welcome the summer season, planned along Lake Tahoe's North and West shores.

For details:

For more information on the lake:,,,

Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128.

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