The BEST Place to Squeeze In

Best Place to Squeeze InYears ago when I moved to Lake Tahoe I quickly learned from locals around town about this place called the Squeeze In.  Known for serving the best breakfast in town, competiting during a “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” and also for having the “Best Omelettes on the Planet” ® .  That was enough convincing for me and soon I headed over to experience my first breakfast at the Squeeze In.

Located on historic row of downtown Truckee, CA I learned that Squeeze In had a few different meanings.  First, it pays tribute to the restaurant’s cozy size which consists of one long hallway spanning only 10.5 ft across in length so you literally have to “squeeze in”.   Secondly, they serve generous portions of delicious breakfast and lunch dishes which you also have to “squeeze in”!   Most famous for their omelettes with 65 different versions featured on their menu with colorful names such as the “Forest Gump”, “Shake & Bake”, “Spanish Flay” in tribute to Bobby Flay and their very own “Lake Tahoe”.  Squeeze also has a number of other delicious items on their menu including what they call “the usual breakfast” which you can imagine the players and tasty lunch specialities such as burgers, sandwiches, salads and more!  I dined with a friend, shared their signature “Racy Tracy” winning omelette and immediately fell in food love.  One thing I was particular impressed with, my friend brought her young 1.5 yr. old daughter who was antsy to play – immediately the server brought over a toy box crate filled with wonderful things instantaneously occupying her allowing us to enjoy our breakfast and chat.

Best Place to Squeeze InRecently, Shila Morris, president of the Squeeze In visited my MBA personal branding class to tell her family restaurant’s history, triumps and tribulations and how social media marketing channels contributed to their success.  It was during this hour lecture that I came to learn that I had much more in common and opportunity to learn from Shila and the Squeeze.  Shila explained the story of how her parents acquired and established their family business fulfilling their early dreams of someday owning the Squeeze In after years of enjoying “free omelette” tips from Shila’s dad’s company.  In particular, Shila described parents as a free-spirited, beach loving surfers from Southern California which resonated with me strongly.  See, I am also married to a similar soul whom I met on Maui, Hawaii and whose life-long dream is own and operate his own restaurant.  Therefore, the stories Shila shared of Squeeze In’s history, successes, mistakes and strategic growth through the use of social media marketing channels hit a deep cord.

Today Shila’s mom Misty Young and original co-founder of the restaurant recently wrote a book which will be on shelves this summer titled From Rags to Restaurants documenting the lessons and experience that her family has learned in establishing their small business and sharing this advice to anyone who wants to open a restaurant and or wants to take their restaurant business to the next level.  To say the least, this book will be in my husband’s Christmas stocking next year!

Recently I visited Shila Morris at the Squeeze In in Truckee to learn more about her favorite things about the Squeeze In and Truckee during the summer months in Lake Tahoe.  You can also check out Shila’s “5 Must Do’s this Summer” in the region on a recent  blog post.   Check out my interview with her below and learn a bit more about the Squeeze In:

Not rookies to video, the crew at Squeeze In love their creative videos including favorites such as  “Squeeze In “Omelette Style”/”Gangnam Style” Parody Video and their very own Squeeze In Harlem Shake video each with thousands of views!  Also, check out their blog “The Good Egg” and learn more about specials, events and get an insider view of the Squeeze In.

Best Place to Squeeze InHave you dined at the Squeeze In in downtown historic Truckee? If so please share your favorite dish in the comments below.  If not, head over there today!  They are open daily from 7am – 2pm and now celebrate four locations throughout the Tahoe-Reno region.   Look forward to squeezing in alongside you soon!

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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Truckee Thursday Time!

Truckee Thursday ReturnsThis past Thursday evening Truckee-Tahoe locals from all around gathered to welcome back a favorite summer event, Truckee Thursday!  Every Thursday evening from 5-9pm this summer until August 29th locals will gather to eat, drink, shop and reunite on the city blocks of downtown historic Truckee, CA  for this weekly celebration.  Hosted by the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association, Truckee Thursdays are a fantastic way for visitors,  locals and businesses to reunite and celebrate their local community.

Truckee Thursday ReturnsSo what exactly is Truckee Thursdays?   Picture farmer’s market meets street party in the mountains.  The downtown blocks of historic Truckee are closed to vehicle traffic for the evening and in its place local merchants including farmers, artisans, crafters and restaurants and invited to secure booths to feature their products, services and culinary arts.  It is great event celebrated by guests of all ages from newborns to seniors and even dogs are welcome!

Truckee Thursday Returns
Allow me to take you on a quick tour of my usual visit to Truckee Thursday to give you a better picture.  I usually carpool with friends and park in either the lot on East River Street (if it isn’t full already) or along the street.  First stop, I like perusing the local vendor booths set up in the street selling fruits and vegetables along with crafts such as candles, jewelry and home furnishings – perfect for gifts!  These vendors often leave on the early side so it is good to go there first.  Then after a bit of shopping, I head to the beer garden to grab a draft, meet up with friends and listen to the guest band performance.  By now I have worked up an appetite and head to the food trucks and stations to see what looks good for the evening.  My two favorites… anything from Red Truck or the famed Tri-Trip sandwich from Full Belli Deli (both pictured below).  End your evening with one of the many sweet treats available including crepes, chocolate covered frozen bananas on a stick or ice cream that you can find throughout.  As the sun sets, temperatures drop and the Truckee Thursday celebration winds down, if you aren’t quite ready to go home I recommend continuing the party at the historic Bar of America in the hub of downtown Truckee.

Truckee Thursday ReturnsTruckee Thursday ReturnsEach week at Truckee Thursday presents a local merchant sponsor along with a non-profit partner band showcasing the main stage in the beer gardens.  Check their website for the schedule of events of sponsors including Burger Me!, Northstar California and California 89 to see what lies ahead this summer at Truckee Thursday.

This season, Truckee Thursday also announced a few new additions to their line-up!  New is a second ‘corner stage’ on the corner of Bridge Street and Donner Pass Road and enjoy Bike Valet hosted by the Truckee Thursday ReturnsTruckee Donner Historical Society so you can ride your bikes and avoid the parking jam.  New lifestyle and apparel store, California 89, will also be featuring movies for downtown visitors seeking a break from the busy street action.  I also heard rumor that for those residents living in Tahoe Donner, a new shuttle route has been added to transport residents after Truckee Thursday events.  Can anyone confirm if this is true?!

 A few local tips to enjoy the BEST evening at Truckee Thursday.  Be sure to arrive earlier in order to find parking as it fills up fast!  Bring cash as that is all most vendors accept.  Another good reason to come early is that the best food will sell-out fast and you won’t want to miss it!  Carpooling helps with parking AND be sure to have a safe and sober driver with you if you plan on drinking.

If you frequent Truckee Thursday, what do you most look forward to buying, eating, sipping while you are there? Share your comments below.  I hope to see you next Thursday!

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.

Fore! Golf Season in Lake Tahoe is here

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This last weekend we celebrated Memorial Day, which officially launches summer in Lake Tahoe. Besides the numerous hiking and water sports activities available in the area, Lake Tahoe boasts dozens of world-championship golf courses for visitors to enjoy.  It’s no secret that here in the high Sierras, your tee shots will drive higher and longer soaring through the high altitude elevation.  Here I am going to share with you a few of my favorite courses to play in Lake Tahoe, from South Lake to North Lake to Truckee, CA.

Edgewood Tahoe is located along the beautiful sandy shores of South Lake Tahoe, minutes from the downtown action of state line.  The course was designed by George Fazio and opened in 1968 and rated by Golf Digest Magazine as one of “America’s Top Golf Courses.”  The course ranges in length from 5567 to 7555 yards and challenges players of all levels.  It also the well-known host of the annual American Century Celebrity Golf Championship which draws large celebrity and spectator crowds, both by land and boat, and will be hosted on July 16-21 of this year.

Traveling north around Lake Tahoe you will reach The Golf Courses at Incline Village including  two 18-hole courses, the Championship Course and the Mountain Golf Course.  With two diverse courses, The Golf Courses at Incline Village are designed to suit every golfers style of play.  The Championship courses is a classic Robert Trent Jones Sr. design and offers beautiful, scenic views of Lake Tahoe from afar and challenging terrain.  The Mountain Golf Course offers a scenic mountain terrain, elevation changes and a more affordable price.  There are also a variety of competitive packages available allowing players to experience both courses during their visit to Lake Tahoe.

In the nearby town of Truckee you will find the two premier golf courses in Lake Tahoe – Old Greenwood and The Golf Club at Gray’s Crossing.  Both golf courses are Audubon International Gold Certified Sanctuaries, representing the highest level of environmental commitment which only 16 courses in the world have achieved this level of distinction.  Old Greenwood was rated among Golf Digest’s “America’s Top 100 Greatest Public Courses” in 2011, and The Golf Club at Gray’s Crossing ranked in Golfweek Magazine’s “Top 50 Best New Courses” in 2008.  And, The Golf Academy at Old Greenwood is led by the 2011 NCPGA Teacher of the Year, Keith Lyford as is the most renowned golf academy in the Lake Tahoe basin.

Are you ready to take a swing on your next summer visit to Lake Tahoe?  For a complete list of golf courses available to play in Lake Tahoe visit this Lake Tahoe Activities Guide.

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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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!

B.Y.O.Bowl & Spoon

One of the things that most impressed me when I moved to Lake Tahoe was the strong sense of community that this region shares.  Spanning two states and five counties, there is always a fun and beneficial community event  to join. From pancake breakfasts, parades, special events, trail restoration projects and community gardens there is an opportunity for everyone to participate in the community while having fun!  Throughout this blog, I want to share with you unique community events offered in Lake Tahoe that you may be interested in attending as well as volunteering.

The first I want to share is one of my favorite community events and also a bit of a local’s secret  – Stone Soup!   Stone Soup is a weekly soup night hosted in downtown Truckee where the community is invited to join and celebrate food, live music and one another’s company.   I had the privilege to begin volunteering at Stone Soup last year when my company became involved with hosting its events.  I quickly learned, this is no ordinary Soup Kitchen.  The evening is filled with friends and families gathering together to converse, laugh, listen to live music and spend time together all while enjoying a bowl of hearty soup.  The best part – it’s free for everyone!  Different local businesses and music vendors take turns providing soup and entertainment, making each week a unique festivity.  Local businesses also donate day old bread and pastries which are placed on sharing tables as pictured below which attendees enjoy and can take home. 

This winter season, Stone Soup will be prepared and served each Sunday evening from January 27th to March 24th from 5-7PM at the Community Arts Center at 10046 Church Street in downtown Truckee, CA.  Guests are invited to bring their own bowl and spoon and enjoy delicious soup with their community.  Donations are requested but not required. A list of upcoming Stone Soup Sponsors is listed below so mark your calendars!

Upcoming Sponsors of Stone Soup 
2/24 – Mountain High BNI
3/4 – Ward & Young
3/10 – For Goodness Sake

3/17 – Squaw Valley Retail Department
3/24 – Tahoe Truckee for Futures Without Drug Dependence

Stone Soup is hosted by Project MANA whose mission is “to reduce the incidence of hunger and its detrimental effects upon individuals, families, the community and the region.  In addition to providing hunger relief, we have developed programs designed to alleviate the causes of hunger and promote nutrition through education and awareness.”  In the community, Project MANA’s provides support to the low income community through weekly food distributions, home visits, Nutrition Education programs offered to schools, creation of a community garden at the Truckee Regional Park, food rescue from local food vendors and hosting special community events such as Stone Soup!

If you or your organization is interested in preparing soup or volunteering at Stone Soup, contact Project MANA at  volunteer@projectmana.org, visit their website or call 775-298-0008.  If you have a different favorite community event in the Lake Tahoe region that you would like to share, please tell us about it in the comments below.  I hope to see you with your bowl and spoon at Stone Soup this season!