Lake Tahoe fine dining: Where to eat this winter

Simply put, ski towns don’t always have the best reputation for their food. After all, people aren’t typically visiting mountain towns for the culinary scene anyways. However, in North Lake Tahoe, longtime fine dining restaurants and top chefs from major cities showcase the area's great fine dining restaurants. So in our latest foodie post I share a few of the best Lake Tahoe fine dining restaurants to enjoy this winter.

Lone Eagle Grille

Located waterfront in Incline Village (at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort), Lone Eagle Grille combines a beautiful lakefront location with a unique, award-winning menu. Among the menu’s highlights is a selection of wild game, including elk strip loin, lamb chops, and bison tenderloin. What’s more, Lone Eagle Grille's extensive wine menu has been awarded Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence for several years. Arrive early during the winter months for s’mores and warm cocktails waterfront around the resort’s fire pits, before enjoying dinner inside Lone Eagle Grille.

Manzanita

Located mid-mountain at Northstar California inside The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, Manzanita is characterized by tall windows overlooking Northstar’s ski runs and giving off a rustic, yet classy lodge ambiance. Manzanita’s dinner menu is creative and “artful,” as the restaurant puts it, with items like duck fat tater tots, braised short rib, poached halibut, rack of lamb, and maple-glazed Brussels sprouts. Come on Sunday's for Manzanita's Champagne Brunch, which features a seasonal menu, breakfast favorites, a carving station, cheese and charcuterie, unlimited champagne, and a Bloody Mary bar. On Sunday afternoons, call ahead of time to participate in Manzanita's hour-long Art of Mixology class.

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Mountain Table Dinner at Zephyr Lodge

Even further up the mountain is Northstar’s Mountain Table Dinner series, which happens just a few times per winter. Taking place at Zephyr Lodge, after hours, each dinner pairs a different winery with a carefully crafted five-course menu from Northstar’s chefs. This year’s Mountain Table Dinner series takes place over four Friday evenings, with winemakers from Simi Winery, The Prisoner, Charles Krug, and Rodney Strong, all atop Northstar’s mountain, and to the backdrop of live music. Tickets do often sell out, so it’s recommended to buy ahead of time.

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Trokay

Located in the heart of downtown Truckee, Trokay comes to you from the husband-wife duo of John and Nyna Weatherson, formerly of New York City. Nyna is former head cheesemonger of world-famous Murray's Cheese in the West Village, while John is former Chef de Partie of the three-star Michelin restaurant, Restaurant Daniel. Trokay’s menu is fine dining at its best in Lake Tahoe, with entrees like dry-aged duck, Dungeness crab tortellini, and southern fried quail. Naturally, there’s also an extensive cheese menu. Trokay also has a prix fixe menu and chef's tasting menu, which can come with a wine or beer pairing.

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 Pianeta

Also in downtown Truckee is Pianeta, which has been serving Northern Italian fine dining in town for two decades. Highlights of Pianeta’s menu include veal meatballs & pesto, saffron risotto with prawns, ragu, and double cut lamb chops with goat cheese ravioli. Pianeta’s wine list is characterized by both European and West Coast wines, while they also have a craft cocktail menu with their take on classic cocktails. Reservations are highly recommended. 

 Photo from Pianeta

Photo from Pianeta

Christy Hill

Located lakefront in Tahoe City, Christy Hill is actually the sister restaurant of Pianeta, and a favorite for drinks with a view on Lake Tahoe, especially during summer. While you'll find Italian on the menu, like the fresh tagliatelle, the dinner menu is wide ranging. This includes entrees like Moroccan spiced lamb loin, apricot-braised chicken (with pappardelle pasta), duet of duck, and osso buco. Pair these with wine from their extensive wine list featuring bottles from around the world. The icing on the cake is what is arguably one of the best fine dining views on Lake Tahoe. As such, reservations are recommended.

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Wolfdale's Cuisine Unique

Finally, is another longtime fine dining Lake Tahoe restaurant, Wolfdale’s, which Chef Douglas Dale opened 30 years ago in Tahoe City. According to Wolfdale’s, the theme is “fresh food, simply prepared.” Here, the cuisine is internationally-inspired, with entrees like Japanese dumplings, Thai seafood stew, Asian-braised short ribs, and Argentine-marinated filet mignon. During the warmer months, enjoy the lakefront summer deck. Reservations are suggested for dinner.

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.