Unique food and drink experiences in North Lake Tahoe

When you think great restaurants and unique food and drink experiences, you probably don’t exactly think ski resort towns. Yet it features a number of great food and drink experiences, many of which are unique to Lake Tahoe. While many major West Coast cities may be known for their food and drink scenes, you don’t have experiences like a pop-up dinner atop a ski mountain or a mixology class mid-mountain overlooking ski slopes.

And those are just a couple of the unique food and drink experiences you can find around North Lake Tahoe. Below, find a few of my favorites.

Cooking classes, Trokay. Simply put, Trokay is my favorite restaurant in the Lake Tahoe area. And you needn’t look any further than owners and chefs John and Nyna Weatherson to see why. John was the top-ranked student in his class at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, and chef of one of NYC best restaurants, Restaurant Daniel, while Nyna was formerly head cheesemonger of famous Murray's Cheese. Even just dining at Trokay is an experience, with things like a multi-course chef’s tasting menu and a menu dedicated exclusively to cheese. However, Trokay also hosts a number of cooking classes, including cheese, meat roasting, and fresh pasta classes. This is a great date idea, since most classes are a two-person minimum. However, they also have a cooking class for children eight and up. 

Mountain Table Dinner Series, Northstar California. As I recently wrote, the Mountain Table Dinner Series is my favorite event at Northstar. Taking place several evenings per winter, the dinner series features Northstar California's chefs teaming up with a California winery for a five-course food and drink pairing atop the mountain at Zephyr Lodge. What’s more, this year raised the ante with a giant sleigh to transport guests up to Zephyr Lodge. Last month's dinner, which I attended that featured Bonny Doon Vineyards, even had the bonus of a light snowfall on the sleigh ride to the top. Additionally, Northstar will continue their five-course brewmaster dinners this summer, with one on June 30th and another on September 1st.

Stella Pop-Up Dinner Series, Cedar House Sport Hotel. Stella! Yet another pop-up dinner to get excited about, this taking place in the town of Truckee at Cedar House Sport Hotel’s pop-up restaurant, Stella. As Cedar House Sport Hotel puts it, Stella is like a “spirited dinner party.” So spirited in fact that guests can even wander back into the kitchen to get a behind-the-scenes take of their meal. Stella’s dinners typically take place a few times per month, each with its own theme or centered around an upcoming holiday, such as New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day, for example.

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Blueprint of the Cocktail Class, Truckee Tavern. Cocktail lovers and home bartenders rejoice! Truckee Tavern’s Blueprint of the Cocktail (the "blueprint" pictured below by Andria Gutierrez) kicked off at the beginning of this winter, and is continuing over the summer. This unique Truckee food and drink experience introduces guests to several classy, yet easy cocktails to make at home, while providing cheese and charcuterie to nosh on during the 90-minute class. Guests will then leave with new cocktail recipes they can reenact at home. No prior bartending experience required.

Art of Mixology, Manzanita. Art of Mixology features a similar type of cocktail experience, but to the backdrop of Northstar’s mid-mountain ski slopes at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. Taking place at another one of my favorite area restaurants, Manzanita, Art of Mixology pairs three unique cocktails paired with appetizers. This cocktail experience takes place every Sunday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., with 24-hour advance reservations required.

Sunday Brunch, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. I'd be remiss, however, to talk unique food experiences and not talk brunch, which is often an event in and of itself. And for a unique Lake Tahoe brunch, look no further than the The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. The Ritz's Sunday Brunch, featuring a seasonal brunch menu, pulls out all the stops, from a carving station to cheese and charcuterie selection to a chill seafood display to your classic brunch favorites, such as omelets made to order, smoked bacon, and hashbrowns. Even better, for an additional $19 per person you can enjoy unlimited mimosas. 

Southern born and bred, Spencer was bitten by the travel bug at a young age, flying on a plane for the first time at age five and by himself for the first time at seven. While he continues to travel around the world in search for the best whiskey, Spencer now calls Reno home, where his search is for the best cocktail (and first tracks, naturally). He has written about travel, food, and drinks for a number of publications that have included the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Outside Magazine, and Travel + Leisure, just to name a few. See a more candid version of Spencer on his website, whiskeytangoglobetrot.com, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.