Truckee dining: Where to eat this summer at Northstar

Summer is coming. Fireside après-ski is out and outdoor patio dining is in. And just as Northstar California has a plethora of winter après-ski spots, so the summer outdoor patio options abound. As such, to ring in the upcoming summer season at Northstar, I’m talking all things summer dining at Northstar California. 

Downhill Grille

Just as mid-mountain is base camp for skiers and snowboarders during winter, so it’s base camp for hikers and mountain bikers during summer. Guests can sit on Downhill Grille's patio, watching bikers speed down the mountain while enjoying dishes like a burger or cheese steak, or my personal favorite, the blackened ahi fish tacos. Then wash it all down with a margarita, of course. Additionally, Downhill Grille’s menu features items like the grilled wagyu dog and a number of different wraps and salads.

Tavern 6330’

Down in the Village, one of the happenin’ spots during winter, Tavern 6330’, continues that vibe into summer. Among my dining favorites is the Tavern 6330’ burger and the organic chilled beets with goat cheese, which is almost too pretty to eat. Other personal favorites are the pork belly and the filet mignon. Then kick back on the patio with a glass of wine, beer or craft cocktail featuring Tavern's own house-made infusions.

Martis Valley Grille

Martis Valley Grille is one of the biggest, most beautiful patios in Truckee, overlooking the Northstar California Golf Course, Martis Valley, and further afield, the Sierra Nevadas. Breakfast and lunch is served daily, while happy hour is every day from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The crowd favorite is the Cubano, served on focaccia bread with applewood-smoked pork shoulder, Serrano ham, emmental cheese, Dijon aioli, and house pickles. Naturally, I recommend pairing it with a mojito. Sundays are the main event, however, for the Sunday Mimosa Brunch. Additionally, if you're golfing, call in your order (530-562-2460) before teeing off at the 9th, and pick it up on your way through.


One of Truckee's under-the-radar restaurants, Petra is a wine bar tucked away in the Village at Northstar. Petra's dining menu features a number of share plates, including assorted salami and artisan cheeses, hummus, and lamb meatballs, while it also has heartier selections like lemon ricotta ravioli and braised short rib. I recommend grabbing a seat on the patio and ordering a glass of wine, or a flight of three wines, and a selection of salami and cheese. Hello, al fresco dining.

Last, but not least, is Northstar’s very own food truck. If you spent any time skiing and snowboarding at Northstar this winter, you probably saw the Thai food truck mid-mountain outside of The Lodge at Big Springs. This summer, however, it goes mobile. It’s a food truck after all. Look for it at Beerfest over July 4th Weekend, and other events around Truckee this summer.


Brewmaster Dinner Series

A five-course beer and food pairing dinner? Now that’s my type of dinner! Northstar’s Brewmaster Dinner Series takes place a couple times during the summer with Executive Chef Steve Anderson partnering with different breweries to put together a five-course beer and food pairing menu. This year’s first dinner is the weekend of Beerfest & Bluegrass Festival, on July 2, with Great Basin Brewing Company, while the second is over Labor Day Weekend with Alibi Ale Works. What’s more, you can enjoy it all to the tune of live music and that beautiful view on Martis Valley Grille’s back patio at sunset. Get your tickets here.

Mountain Kids Cook-Off at Zephyr Lodge

The Mountain Kid’s Cook-Off is one of the most fun events at Northstar for both kids participating and their parents looking on. It’s the Top Chef of Northstar. Taking place August 6, the cook-off features 8 teams of young chefs between 8 and 12 years old competing for the right to go to the final on the main stage of Northstar's Autumn Food & Wine Festival. Sign up here.

Autumn Food & Wine Festival

Northstar's headliner summer event, however, is the Autumn Food & Wine Festival. Happening September 8-10, this is one of Lake Tahoe’s top food festivals, taking over the Village at Northstar for a weekend celebration of gastronomy. Autumn Food & Wine Festival is chock-full of three days of events, including cooking seminars and demonstrations, competitions, wine and food tastings, a farm-to-table dinner, and the grand finale, the Grand Tasting.

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,, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.