The brilliant blue Lake Tahoe hemmed in by the towering Sierra Nevada Mountains is an irresistible spot for a getaway any time of year. In South Lake Tahoe, skiers and boarders love playing in the deep powder on Heavenly Mountain. In the summer, beach lovers flock to the lake shore for some on-the-water fun. No matter when you visit South Lake Tahoe, you want to enjoy a meal or two out on the town.
South Lake Tahoe, California, seamlessly straddles the border with Stateline, Nevada; the biggest giveaway that you have crossed the state line is the profusion of casinos on the Nevada end of the street. The entire area is collectively known as South Lake Tahoe, therefore you will find some of these restaurants are in California and some in Nevada. They all offer delicious food, perfect after a day of playing outdoors or gambling in the casinos. The restaurants are listed in no particular order.
Note: Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
1. Ciera Steak + Chophouse
Located in Bally’s Lake Tahoe, Ciera Steak + Chophouse offers guests an elegant dining experience with the opportunity for secluded private dining. Cozy booths framed with rich velvety drapes envelope diners in a cocoon of privacy. Offering fine dining, this AAA Four Diamond ranked restaurant is a luxurious and unforgettable dining experience perfect for a date night rendezvous.
What To Order At Ciera Steak + Chophouse
Known for its Wagyu tomahawk, a 30-ounce prime steak for the hungriest appetite, Ciera offers exceptional service and amazing cuisine.
Start with the lobster escargot style, sweet rock lobster in a burgundy butter sauce with gorgonzola. Of course, the steaks are simply perfection. The New York strip loin, topped with a red wine demi-glace, simply melts in your mouth. Another classic favorite is the bacon-wrapped filet mignon, blanketed in applewood smoked bacon, the filet is the epitome of a high-roller dinner.
Pro Tip: Ask for a booth when making your reservations, perfect for an intimate dinner for two. It’s like a luxurious private dining jewel box.
2. Driftwood Cafe
The charming Driftwood Cafe is the brunch spot you need to have on your vacation list. Locals love eating at this family-run restaurant — when the locals love it, you know it’s a great spot. Tucked away in a corner of Heavenly Village, you will see snowboards and skis decorating the snow banks outside while their owners are fueling up for a day on the winter slopes. In summer, hikers flock to the Driftwood to carb load for a day of mountain trekking.
What To Order At Driftwood Cafe
The Driftwood offers lots of classic breakfast options like omelets and waffles. Off-the-rail offerings like Ugly Fries (grilled potatoes loaded with veggies and topped with cheddar cheese and fried eggs) and The Hungry Hiker (buttermilk biscuits smothered in gravy and topped with bacon and eggs) will fill you up and get your day off to a great start.
Pro Tip: The Driftwood is a busy place; sometimes there is a wait, but it is worth standing in line for a bit.
3. Brooks’ Bar & Deck
Brooks’ Bar & Deck is a modern dining oasis located in the Edgewood Tahoe Resort. Views of the golf course with a mountain backdrop set the tone for an elegant and relaxing meal.
What To Order At Brooks’ Bar & Deck
You may not want to share their Pull Apart Garlicky Bread with cheese, bacon, herbs, and marinara sauce for dipping. You will love the Guava BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders — again, maybe you won’t want to share these or the accompanying waffle fries. Finish off with a Tahoe Chaco Taco — vanilla ice cream, Nutella, whipped cream, and a chocolate waffle cone — you will need to add a few more hiking steps to work off this deliciously sweet treat.
Pro Tip: I am a fan of trying an Old Fashioned with a twist, and The Brown Bear Old Fashioned is one of my new favorites. Made with Woodford Reserve (great start), cocoa honey, and chocolate bitters, what’s not to love?
4. Cold Water Brewery & Grill
Every vacationer needs a great burger and a beer at some point in their trip, and Cold Water Brewery & Grill is happy to tickle your taste buds with fabulous pub fare.
What To Order At Cold Water Brewery & Grill
The Three Cheese Mac with bacon is killer, paired with the suggested Black Pepper Porter and you have a rich dish that will satisfy your pub grub cravings. Another favorite is the Tri Tip Dip with Gruyere and horseradish cream — yes, please.
Pro Tip: Before you close out your dining bill, order a custom four-pack of your favorite brews to-go. You did rent a room with a fridge for just this purpose, right?
5. Stateline Restaurant & Brewery
A few steps down from street level is Stateline Restaurant & Brewery, one of South Lake Tahoe’s popular restaurants. The open dining room is decorated with brew tanks clustered against the wall and plenty of television sets projecting all the sports games possible.
What To Order At Stateline Restaurant & Brewery
The pizzas are crispy with a thin crust, and the spinach artichoke pizza with olives, tomatoes, pesto, and parm finished with a balsamic glaze is exceptionally good. The sandwich and burger menu offers lots of popular dishes including a pastrami Reuben with homemade Russian dressing for the win.
Pro Tip: Stateline is a great spot for happy hour, Sunday-Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
6. The Beacon Bar & Grill
Waterfront dining is always a great idea, and at The Beacon Bar & Grill, the panoramic views are stunning. Located right on the water in the historic Camp Richardson Resort, you can enjoy outdoor seating with an unsurpassed view.
What To Order At The Beacon Bar & Grill
For starters, indulge in the fried calamari or some fried cheese raviolis. Entrees run the gamut from plated dinners to burgers and sandwiches. Try the Street Tacos Three Carne Asada with a green chili sauce to mix it up a bit. You won’t go wrong with the grilled ribeye dripping with bourbon butter. Everything on the menu is crafted for a delicious meal with a view.
Pro Tip: Weather permitting, plan to sit outdoors and enjoy the waterfront dining. Bring a light jacket, it can get chilly on the lake at night.
7. Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen
At Harvey’s Casino, Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen is a popular spot. You can slip into a seat at the bar to enjoy a cocktail and a bite to eat while taking a break from gambling.
What To Order At Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen
The seared foie gras with cherries, shortbread, and Marcona almonds will make you feel like a winning high roller. Share a plate of Wagyu meatballs with your bestie before getting back to the tables. Their unique cocktail menu can make your choice difficult. If you like rye, try the Smoking Barrel — Rittenhouse Rye, Aperol, Averna, and vermouth with a hint of cherry wood.
Pro Tip: You can put in a to-go order at Hell’s Kitchen and dine in your room.
8. Heaven’s Little Cafe
Right in the center of Heavenly Village is Heaven’s Little Cafe. This charming cafe has it all — breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is also the perfect place to satisfy your sweet tooth with a display case filled with tempting pastries and sweets.
What To Order At Heaven’s Little Cafe
Their turkey club with bacon, avocado, and the usual sandwich fixings will tame your hangries and keep you fueled for a day of mountain adventures. Alternatively, try the Super Burrito filled with everything you want in a burrito and your choice of protein.
Pro Tip: Heaven’s is close to the gondola and is the go-to spot to grab a bite for a mountainside picnic.
9. California Burger Co.
The California Burger Co. — “Burgers. Whiskey. Music. Art.” pretty much sums up the lively atmosphere at this popular restaurant. Elevated pub grub, live music, and an amazing array of whisky options rolled up with friendly service are just what you want after a day of exploration.
What To Order At California Burger Co.
Their namesake, The Californian is front and center on the menu. The burger is topped with avocado, pesto, jack cheese, red onion, spinach, and tomato and is slathered with garlic aioli. The piled-high burger is a delicious mouthful that requires two hands to eat.
Pro Tip: One of South Lake Tahoe’s most popular restaurants, California Burger Company can get very busy. Plan to be flexible with seating — when it’s crowded, you may find a seat at the bar or share a long table with some new friends.
South Lake Tahoe Restaurants
Whether you are visiting South Lake Tahoe for skiing, hiking, or a lake life vacation, you will love the restaurant options. From fine dining to boisterous burger joints to charming cafes, there is a fabulous selection of restaurants with a table waiting for you.
Lake Tahoe is a great idea any time of year — visit in the winter for a snow-filled getaway or plan for summer exploration.