The Best Bites in Lake Tahoe

IMG_4004 This weekend I enjoyed one of my favorite restaurants in Lake Tahoe, Bite American Tapas located in Incline Village on the North Shore.  When my husband and I moved to Lake Tahoe from Maui we were at first a bit underwhelmed by the culinary options in our quaint neighborhood until we discovered Bite.  When stepping into Bite one feels relieved to be met by its modern decor, an escape from the mountain decor often found in local restaurants.  I love their large bar and lounge area where I almost always sit even though they do have a separate dining area. Bite’s concept features creative share plates, perfect for a social gatherings, and their menu features high-quality, seasonal products and hard-crafted mixology creations from scratch.  Menu items are priced to try and share multiple dishes which makes the dining experience more fun and different every time you visit.  Another favorite thing about Bite is their daily happy hour food and drink specials from 5-6pm perfect for after work as well as their special late-night menu offered in the off-season.

IMG_4016So after my husband and I jumped in the car, took a short drive to Bite, walked in and pulled up to cozy bar seats we started ordering a few of our favorite items I will share with you here.  First stop, their seasonal cocktail menu which they had just recently updated for the summer season.  However, I had to stick with my favorite, the lemon ginger zinger shown below.  It is a fresh mixture of vodka, fresh mint, ginger, lemon and soda offering a refreshing citrus blend.  No exaggeration, this is my favorite cocktail on the planet.

While the entire menu is designed for sharing, a few of my favorite appetizer menu items include the Crispy Risotto Balls with Marinated Mozzarella and Tomato Sauce and the Green Eggs-n-Ham Deviled Eggs with Wasabi Tobiko & Prosciutto.  They also have a great selection of delicious soups and salads including the Chopped Chinese Chicken Salad which is our favorite.  We chose to start our meal by enjoying the Green Eggs-n-Ham Deviled Eggs featured below.

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Ah the slider menu!  Always my favorite part of the meal is picking which pair of savory sliders we will enjoy since they are all delicious and uniquely creative.  With ahi sliders, beef short rib sliders, duck confit sliders, BLT (L is for lobster!!), crispy goat cheese and of course traditional American cheeseburger sliders to choose from, you can’t go wrong.  If I had to, I would say the ahi sliders are my favorite for their unique balance of flavors and my second favorite the BLT sliders pictured below.

The Best Bites in Lake Tahoe

Finally, the main small plates… our favorite dish we always order is the Grilled Filet Mignon Bites with roasted red onions, shiitake mushrooms, blue cheese and a red wine demi glaze for only $18.  The sliced presentation makes sharing easy and the decadent red wine glaze paired with mushrooms and blue cheese makes your mouth water!
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IMG_4050Make sure you save one last bite! Because their desserts are also served in bite-sized portions perfect for sharing (or not sharing!). Ranging from decadent chocolate cake bites, key lime pies bites, crème brule bites to bread pudding bites the hardest choice by far is sticking to just one.  I recommend they create a sampler platter of bites!  My husband picked the bread pudding bites with vanilla ice cream and it was the perfect ending to our recent visit to Bite.

Hopefully by now I have convinced you that Bite in Incline Village is worth a visit and to learn more view their complete menu.  For a list of the most popular dining options on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe be sure to visit this great restaurant list of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.

If you enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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A Lakefront Dining Tour Like No Other

Wet Woody Garwoods Lake Tahoe-3Memorial Day Weekend launches the beginning of summer in Lake Tahoe including the “opening day on the Lake” when residents and visitors begin to flock to its beaches and crystal clear waters on weekends and vacations.   One of the best rituals visitors and residents partake in the summertime that I especially love is spending the day visiting all of the wonderful lakefront dining options by boat.  If you are planning to visit Lake Tahoe this summer, here is an activity that you simply can’t miss!  It can be especially fun with a large group of friends celebrating a special event or enjoyed with family members reuniting.  To help you along your adventure, I have listed a few of my favorite stops to visit!

First, I recommend starting your day at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino’s Pier where you can rent various models of speedboats by the reputable Action Water Sports.  Here you will quickly become equipped with a vessel to host your journey around the lake for the day.

Start your journey by traveling west along the North Shore of Lake Tahoe as you leave Nevada and sail into California.  The first stop is one of the most famous along the North Shore, Garwood’s Grill and Pier.  Infamous for its signature beverage, the “Wet Woody” rum punch cocktail this is a must try when visiting Lake Tahoe if you want to do as the locals do.  Garwood’s is also a great family, all season restaurant to enjoy lakefront dining for lunch and dinner.  Save the date – their deck opening party for the summer is June 19th!

Next, cruise further west along the North Shore past Tahoe City and enter the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, especially popular to visitors and part-time residents during the summer months.  From a distance you will see the large, brightly colored umbrellas of Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge.  A popular family restaurant in the TS Restaurant group, Sunnyside is my favorite place to enjoy lunch al fresco on its large outdoor deck.   Personal favorites include: the zucchini sticks, fish tacos and of course the decadent hula pie dessert!

Another popular restaurant to enjoy lunch located nearby is the West Shore Cafe and Inn.  Also open for lunch and dinner, guests at the West Shore Cafe and Inn can enjoy the newly remodeled restaurant and California menu offerings including starters, salads, sandwiches and signature entrees.  Guests are invited to enjoy lakefront dining under ruby colored umbrellas with convenient pier access while watching boats jet by.

Last but definitely not least, if you still have the time and the gas, be sure to continue traveling down the West Shore until you reach Chambers Landing in Tahoma.  Chamber’s Landing is a favorite amongst locals and has been a hot spot on Lake Tahoe during the summertime for decades.  Be 0.DiningOnTheWaterTS11lgsure to visit the rustic but often rowdy pier bar to sample its signature Chamber’s Punch before ending your day on the Lake.

Upon return to the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino be sure to end your evening relaxing in one of the adirondack chairs lining the Pier overlooking the lake while sipping on one of their delicious cocktails, the Lone Eagle Margarita is my favorite.

Have you visited a lakefront restaurant at Lake Tahoe and if so what was your favorite place?  Please remember that when boating on Lake Tahoe to always follow safety measures, drink responsibility and have a sober driver operate the boat vessel.

If you enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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Then and Now, Truckee’s Transformation

308757_10151325052217990_1424074711_nGrowing up and visiting Lake Tahoe, downtown Truckee wasn’t much more than a town we passed through when exiting Highway 80.  I have fond memories of the quaint town and liked its brick buildings, feeling as though I had stepped into a history book I was studying at school.  Mostly, it signaled that we had almost reached Lake Tahoe and the drive was ending!  But besides that, I really didn’t pay attention to it.  Then, three years ago when I relocated to Lake Tahoe I started talking to locals to find out where the hot spots to dine and socialize.  To my surprise, universally all of the North Lake Tahoe locals’s replied… Truckee.

Today Truckee is the epicenter of North Lake Tahoe.  At a first glance, it doesn’t look much different from its historic days as an old railroad town, but don’t be fooled like I was.  Inside the historic brick buildings of the from the 1860’s a new generation of posh restaurants, trendy boutiques and emerging small businesses have been sprouting and making deep roots with their reputation on a world stage.  This year, Truckee was names one of the 1389_1Winter_Daybreak_TruckeeWorld’s 25 Best Ski Towns by NationalGeographic.com thanks to its central location amongst world class skiing including Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Northstar California.    Truckee is also home to boutique accommodations such as the historic Truckee Hotel as well as quaint artisan shops and art galleries, most notably The Carmel Gallery.   It is also home to world class restaurants and one of my favorite places to visit in Lake Tahoe due to its variety of culinary options.

A few of my favorite restaurants in downtown Truckee to Try & Why
Best Coffee:  CoffeeBar – Their coffees look as good as they taste! And, it’s Italian
Best Breakfast:  SqueezeIn – Make sure to go hungry, lots to choose from and generous portions!
Best Mexican:  Casa Baeza – Let’s just say they call it “Casa Blackout” for a reason
Best Burger & Fries:  Burger Me! – If it’s good enough for Guy Fieri it’s good enough for me.
Best Restaurant with a View:  Cottonwood – Enjoy a great bar scene from above the Truckee River
Best New Restaurant: Trokay Cafe:  Cutting edge culinary & unique blue bottle coffee creations
Best Date Night Spot:  Pianeta – Homemade pastas and great happy hour specials, Mangia, mangia!
Best Bar & Place to Meet Friends:  Bar of America – an iconic watering hole for over three decades

truckee-visitors-bureauDowntown Truckee also hosts a variety of great events year-round that visitors enjoy.  My favorite Truckee event, along with many North Shore locals, is Truckee Thursdays which begin on June 13th and continue weekly until the end of August.  More to come on these events when summer gets closer!  To learn more about all there is to do in Truckee as well as view a calendar of events, visit the city’s official website.  Truckee is located 12 miles North of Lake Tahoe via Highway 267 at the intersection of Highway 80.  It lies along railroad tracks and the Truckee River both which originally made it famous.

I strongly recommend visiting downtown Truckee on your next visit to Lake Tahoe and trying one of my recommendations above.  Share in the comments below if there is a place in downtown Truckee you most enjoy!

Enjoy learning about Lake Tahoe?  Follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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Celebrate Easter in Lake Tahoe

eggs-easter-colorful-sweetEaster in Lake Tahoe is a very unpredictable holiday.  During the past three years I’ve been living in Lake Tahoe two were spent skiing on the mountain while last year I was BBQing on the beach with friends soaking up warm springtime weather.  Easter can be a tough holiday for local families and visitors to plan for in Lake Tahoe.  With forecasters predicting tomorrow will be mix of snow showers and rain at lake level while snowing on the summits, it’s best to be prepared for Easter Holiday events both indoors and outdoors.  Here I want to share some of the best Easter Holiday events and activities for your celebration tomorrow!

GET YOUR GOLDEN EGG
While rain and snow may damper Easter Holiday celebrations in other places limiting the Easter Bunny to hide eggs inside family homes, it just makes the Easter egg hunt more exciting in Lake Tahoe as families head to the mountains while searching for golden easter eggs stuffed with specialty prizes.  Most resorts are hosting special  on mountain Easter egg hunts including Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, Alpine Meadows, Northstar California, Diamond Peak, Squaw Valley, Tahoe Donner and Homewood.  Here are a few Easter events in particular I would like to highlight:

IMG_2402All-Mountain Easter Egg Hunt & Kids Easter Egg Hunt at Alpine Meadows – Alpine Meadows adult guests will search the mountain amongst hundreds of hidden eggs for one golden egg containing a Bronze Season Pass in the free Adult Easter Egg Hunt.  The all-day hunt will begin when lifts open at 9 a.m., and last until 4 p.m.  For Kids there will be two separate Easter Egg hunts depending on children’s ages.  Families meet at the Kids Camp Magic Carpet at 10:15 a.m.

Easter Eggstravaganza at Homewood Resort –  Giant Eggs will be hid all over the mountain at Homewood and guests will redeem fun prizes at the North Lodge between 9am-1pm.  Included in the prizes is a Golden Basket with a Season Pass for 2013-2014!  A Mini Egg Hunt for kids will be filled with candy and one lucky mini egg will have a grand mini prize along with visits from the Easter Bunny.

Easter Egg Hunt & PEEPS Diorama Contest at Northstar – Northstar California will host an Easter Egg Hunt in the Village at Northstar starting at 10:30 a.m. with a special appearance from the Easter Bunny.  The Easter Bunny will also travel throughout the mountain hiding golden eggs that will contain a variety of prizes.  The festivities conclude at 4:45 p.m. with a parade through the Village lead by the Easter Bunny and Northstar Ski & Snowboard School mascot Ripperoo.

easter-brunch1LET’S GET DOWN TO BRUNCH
Or, you may be planning to stay inside tomorrow with your family to celebrate and if so Brunch is the only way to go!  Restaurants around Lake Tahoe are hosting decadent brunch buffet’s to satisfy your holiday cravings with all the fixings.  Reservations are recommended, but often restaurants will accept walk-ins but there likely will be a wait so be prepared to be patient.

Easter Brunch Buffet at Jake’s on the Lake – Jake’s on the Lake will be serving an Easter Sunday Brunch Buffet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost is $29 per adult and $14 per child age 10 and under. Kids may even find a few Easter eggs and adults can indulge at the Bloody Mary bar!

Easter Brunch Buffet at the Resort at Squaw Creek Easter – Cascades Restaurant at the Resort at Squaw Creek will serve an Easter brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Adults are $45, children are $21.

Easter Brunch at the Lone Eagle Grille – Easter brunch at the Lone Eagle Grille will be served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Adults are $70, children 5 to 12 are $35, 4 and under are free and there will be live entertainment along with beautiful Lake views!

Share what your favorite way to celebrate Easter is in the comments below!

Enjoy learning about Lake Tahoe?  Follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

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First Tracks, Last Tracks

First Tracks, Last TracksIf you’re like me, you get easily bored with routine even when it comes to your winter adventure.  The great news is that Lake Tahoe offer tons of fun, unique events to ensure that you get the most out of your trip to the mountain.  Here I would like to highlight some local favorites…. First Tracks and Last Tracks!

First Things First
It’s no secret that skiers and snowboarders love the excitement of getting up early, gear laid out, itching to be on the first chair up the mountain to be rewarded by first tracks down the mountain.  This ritual becomes especially coveted on a powder day.  Resorts like Northstar California and Squaw Valley have created special packages to get visitors out on the mountain BEFORE the resorts even open!  Here is a bit more detail on both.

First Tracks, Last TracksFirst Tracks and Breakfast at Northstar California, recommended for advanced skiers and riders, is offered Saturdays throughout the winter season weather and conditions permitting. For the rest of this season the program will be offered the following three Saturdays:  March 9th, March 16th and March 23rd.  Tickets are $80 per person and tours start promptly at 7:30am.  Guests will head to the backside of the mountain for first tracks. By the time the mountain is opened to the public, you will be enjoying an inclusive breakfast at the Zephyr Lodge.

Squaw Valley’s program, Dawn Patrol is available to guest of all ages allowing visitors early access to the resort’s expansive terrain whether it be untouched corduroy or fresh powder depending on the morning.  Tickets range from $12-$29 depending on age and special 50% discounts are available to season pass holders.  Dawn Patrol is also available every Saturday for the rest of March including:  March 9th, March 16th and March 23rd.

Saving the BEST for LastUnknown_sf
Let’s be honest, 7:30am on a Saturday canbe pretty tough to swing after a long week at work or a late Friday night. Another exclusive mountain experience is Last Tracks at Diamond Peak in Incline Village. This package only $29 for a late-day lift ticket, gives skiers and riders two hours of access and an invitation to the last chair up the mountain to the scenic Snowflake Lodge.  Here guests will enjoy breathing views of Lake Tahoe along with wine, beer and appetizers.  Finally, last trackers enjoy a freshly re-groomed trail down the mountain all to themselves.  Now that is my kind of Après Ski Experience!

Last Tracks & Winery Schedule for the remaining 2013 Season:

  • March 7th – SnowFest Celebration Special Event! Geek out in your best costume attire and enjoy Lone Eagle Grille Snacks
  • March 9th – New Belgium Brewery from Colorado
  • March 16th – Peachy Canyon from Paso Robles
  • March 23rd – French versus Spanish Wine Shoot Out
  • March 30th – Trinchero Family of Wines from Napa, Shenandoah Valley & Sonoma
  • April 6th – Rogue Brewery from Oregon
  • April 13th – Constellation Wines

Which would you prefer – First Tracks or Last Tracks?  Vote for one by sharing it in the comments below.  For me personally, it depends on the day.  On powder days, definitely First Tracks but for sunny spring days, I can’t of a better way to end a Saturday than with Last Tracks.

Enjoy learning local tips of Lake Tahoe?  I invite you to follow my blog and at @robinpenning on Twitter to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

Dine Around Lake Tahoe

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The different cities and communities scattered around Lake Tahoe, each with its unique personality, offer fantastic restaurants to discover and enjoy.  Visitors can easily miss out on the best locations.  In this post I am going to share an overview of dining options by location and highlight a favorite offering in each!

The West Shore hosts culinary favorites that offer serene lakeside dining and picturesque alpine glow sunsets.  A popular location on the West Shore is Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge offering year-round dining with boating access and superior al fresco dining in the summertime.  The newest addition and growing favorite amongst locals also located in Sunnyside is Spoon serving homemade “good & good for you comfort food” picture below.  Located in a quaint rustic cabin in the woods, the comfort expands even to its decor!

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Downtown Tahoe City is the epicenter of North Lake Tahoe whose streets are lined with shops and restaurants providing exquisite fine-dining options including – Wolfdale’s Cuisine Unique, Christy Hill and Jake’s on the Lake. Opened in 1978, Wolfdale’s Cuisine Unique has proven to be a leader in culinary fusion offering a unique menu with a mixture of Asian and European cuisine and a twist of California contemporary.

Traveling from Tahoe City to the East Shore, North Lake Tahoe is scattered with some of the most popular restaurants in Lake Tahoe including Garwoods Grill & Pier, Lanza’s, Soule Domaine, Lone Eagle Grill, Big Water Grille, Le Bistro and a local favorite, Bite American Tapas.  I fell in love my first week in Lake Tahoe with Bite – a must visit in Incline Village.  Entering Bite you feel as though you have stepped into a posh city restaurant and bar.  Serving up specialities in “bite” sized tapas plates perfect for sharing and trying them all! A few local favorites include the crispy risotto balls,  BLT (the L is for Lobster!) sliders, Moroccan spiced lamb meatballs accompanied by unique mixology cocktails.

Taking the drive to nearby Truckee you will find a reinvented culinary hub featuring favorites such as Moody’s Bistro Bar & Beats, Cottonwood Restaurant & Bar, Trokay Restaurant, Pineta Cucina Italiana, Bar of America, Burger Me, Stella and many more.  With so many to choose from, here I highlight the brightest new star Stella Restaurant at the Cedar House Sport Hotel created by Chef Jacob Burton.  To experience Stella the right way, you must try the monthly Chef’s Tasting Menu and take the culinary journey from start, next, continue to finish (names of each course!) all while sitting in the intimate dining room with a front and center open kitchen view!

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On the other side, South Lake famous for its lively nightlife and up all night offerings, celebrates a number of fine-dining options including Edgewood Restaurant, Ciera Steak + Chophouse and Evan’s American Gourmet Cafe.  Edgewood Restaurant located at the golf course is a favorite offering beautiful panoramic sunset views over Lake Tahoe and serving a traditional menu of fish and steak entree classics.

The best culinary Magazine in the area is by far Edible Tahoe Reno.  Their dining guide is an exceptional way to learn more about new restaurants and special offerings in Lake Tahoe. Do you have a favorite restaurant in Lake Tahoe? If so, share it below and let’s continue to discuss the best dining options in Lake Tahoe.  More Lake Tahoe restaurant reviews and insider dining tips are on the way!