Where to eat in Truckee

Located just north of Lake Tahoe, the charming town of Truckee is home to some of the area's best restaurants. Here, you'll found a little something for everyone and every mood, from happy hours to tasting menus to farmer’s market-fresh dishes to barrel-aged cocktails.

Before you go, however, I recommend making reservations as early as possible. Since Truckee is home to some of North Lake Tahoe's best, most popular restaurants, weekend evenings can be full. Nonetheless, if you're traveling light, with one or two other people, a great practice is to step up to the restaurant's bar, where they often serve the full menu, too.

Read on to find out where in Truckee your dinner plans fit in:

Live music and barrel-aged Cocktails: Moody’s Bistro, Bar & Beats

This cozy restaurant always has an inviting vibe thanks to its warm red walls, Californian but comforting menu, and bustling wooden bar right when you walk in. Live music sets up a great groove to settle into Moody’s welcoming vibe. Kick-off your meal with starters, such as braised oxtail poutine, verjus poached pear salad, and French onion soup. The headliner is Moody's entrees, including house-made pastas, Neapolitan-style pizzas, braised lamb steak, Niman Ranch cheeseburger, and a pine nut-dusted Cervena elk rack. Then finish things off with one of their delicious barrel-aged cocktails, aged right behind the bar. 

Best views: Cottonwood

For the best dining views overlooking Truckee, head straight to Cottonwood, which was once a warming hut back in the day. One of the many perks of Cottonwood is the separate bar area from the rest of the dining room, for faster seating should you have forgotten to make a reservation. Their kitchen closes on the earlier side (9/9:30 p.m.), so you won’t have time for dawdling. Vegetarians will appreciate their solid selection of salads, while the overall menu is trim but hits all the essentials, such as chipotle cream linguine, a butternut squash enchilada, marinated Wagyu bavette steak, and seafood stew.

Pop-up dinners: Stella at Cedar House

Dining at Stella at the Cedar House Sport Hotel is always a unique dining experience due to its exclusive pop-up dinners for guests all seated at a long, communal table. Adventurous diners who are looking for an educational, thought-provoking experience will be thrilled. Guests are encouraged to walk around with their wine and engage with Stella’s open kitchen, as well as engage in conversation with other dinner guests. A prix fixe, multi-course menu is served to everyone at their assigned seats, so be sure to take a look at the menu ahead of time and specify your seating requests and dietary restrictions when you book.

Northern Italian: Pianeta

Those in the mood for excellent Northern Italian cuisine will want to head to Pianeta. As expected, reservations are highly recommended; not-so-expected are all the gluten-free options for those who require it. You won’t find pizza here, but a vast selection of fresh antipasti, flavorful cheese and crisp salads, tender house-made pastas, and indulgent main course selections. Whether you order a Dungeness crab cakes, pasta bolognese, chicken marsala, pork tenderloin medallions, or double cut lamb chops, you’re in for a real treat at Pianeta (Photo below from Pianeta).

Tasting menu: Trokay

Trokay is where you would have the créme de la créme in dining experiences in Truckee. It’s widely renowned, known for preparing elevated dishes, course-by-course, to their guests via an impeccable service model. However, they do have à la carte options, should you decide not to go the whole nine yards. Even still, remember that their tasting menus are available at different levels, so there might be a prix fixe option that’s just right for you. You’ll find the menu evolving with the seasons, ensuring inspired dishes utilizing the freshest ingredients throughout the year.

Gastropub: Truckee Tavern

Truckee Tavern elevates the tavern experience. After all, there’s no reason to dumb down your food options just because you want to catch the game. Enjoy fantastic cocktails, fresh, seasonal dishes and even the game at Truckee Tavern, where there are two separate bars and dining areas. With a couple different bars and dining areas (one with TVs, one without), you have your choice of atmosphere, which is always bustling, here. The wings are addictive, the pasta is fresh, and the cocktails are not to be missed. Order “dealer’s choice” with your spirit preference from the bartender and prepare to be wowed.

Esther is a freelance writer, avid snowboarder, food enthusiast, worldwide traveler, and occasional musician based in Los Angeles. Whether on the mountain or off, she is always looking for the best places to eat and drink in the vicinity. Her writing career began with a food blog over ten years ago and she has since contributed to the L.A. Times, Eater, Discover LA, Thrillist, GOOD Magazine, Time Out, and more. Follow Esther on Twitter and Instagram.