Lake Tahoe is known for its vast natural beauty and outdoor activities. But did you know it’s also a wonderful destination for foodies? South Tahoe has a thriving, dynamic food scene. I just got back from four days of eating like a king, with magnificent views for a backdrop. Here are some delicious ideas for a food focused trip to South Lake Tahoe.
The Landing Resort: Where to Stay in South Tahoe
The Landing Resort and Spa is in a central location on the lake, and offers luxe comfort, beautiful views, and excellent food. Rooms have a posh lake house ambiance with fireplaces and a spacious patio that makes a lovely place to watch the sun set while sipping a drink.
The vibe here is extremely laid back and relaxed. It’s also super quiet, I never heard my fellow guests and I slept great. Bedding is plush and luxurious, and I fell asleep to a glowing fire and Bravo shows. So cozy and luxurious! The Landing is restorative and feels a little bit like an ultra-luxe adult summer camp experience.
The pool is big enough to swim laps, which I did daily. You are also right on the lake, so you’re just a few steps from the water and an uncrowded private beach. You’re also walking distance from a grocery store and the little downtown area where there are a ton of food options. The Landing has a complimentary shuttle that takes you within a two mile radius of the hotel, which is super handy when you don’t have a car.
Basecamp: Rustic Hotel & Brewery
For more rustic accommodations, I recommend Basecamp, which has an on site brewery called South of North Brewing. At night, they have live music around the fire pits, and it’s a casual camp vibe that captures the spirit of South Lake Tahoe. The beer is excellent. We thoroughly enjoyed the Explorers Cream Ale and the ambiance of the beer garden with the shiny Airstream, bistro lights, Adirondack chairs and multiple fire pits. Both hotels are dog friendly.
Jimmy’s: Where to Eat Five Star in South Tahoe
The Landing’s dining option, Jimmy’s, is a five star restaurant with a fabulous patio. We spent almost three hours at Jimmy’s savoring the perfectly prepared dishes and views. The patio is lined with glowing fire pits, so wherever you sit, you get the ambient fire. Decor is modern, with tranquil green and blue accents. It’s a wonderful atmosphere, and you can see the lake and mountains from your table.
You have to order cocktails here. They taste as beautiful as they look. We had the Cilantro Margarita and Watermelon Mojito and couldn’t decide which we liked better. I rarely order cocktails in restaurants because they’re often too complicated for my pallet, with too many ingredients, but as soon as I saw my two favorite drinks with a creative twist, I had to taste them. They were excellent and so refreshing. For our main courses we had Sea Bass and Scallops and both were delicious with the Roasted Apple Salad. Everything was exciting and interesting, which is what I always say fine dining should be. I want something I can’t make at home. Mission accomplished!
Cold Water Brewery: Where to Grab a Beer & Comfort Food
A great place to drink local beer is Cold Water Brewery. We tried a sampler and liked every single beer. It was so smooth! The menu is filled with good old fashioned comfort food and a few more unusual dishes. I’ve never seen Fried Artichokes before (they were great). Yummy Kale Salad was satisfying and helped justify my indulgences. If I had to pick one thing to go back and have again, it would probably be a Waterhouse Wheat Beer with Pretzels and Beer Cheese. I’ve actually never had beer cheese before and I can definitely see what all the fuss is about!
Service was top notch–we never had to ask for anything, our needs were anticipated. It’s a positive-vibe place, with happy servers and good energy. We both noticed how hot the food was. Have some Fish & Chips straight out of the fryer and you’ll see what I mean. Really good. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. The batter is made with Mr. Toad’s Wild Rye Beer and it’s excellent. Note that we ordered half portions so we could try more stuff–and they were huge.
Sprouts Cafe: Where to Eat Healthy in South Tahoe
I love healthy, fresh food and always seek it out on my travels. Sprouts Cafe totally fits the bill and they have an extensive juice and smoothie menu to fuel your body for outdoor activities and help mitigate indulgences. The Tahoe Tumeric Juice with carrot, ginger, lemon and tumeric hit the spot paired with the Vegetable Crunch Sandwich packed with textural raw veggies and avocado. They have outdoor seating and they are just down the street from another accessible beach.
Freshies: Where to Get Fish Tacos & Buffalo Cauliflower
Famous for Fish Tacos, Freshies is the place to go to enjoy Hawaiian-Jamaican inspired, ultra-fresh cuisine with a beautiful rooftop view of the lake. I love that they use organic ingredients and local, fresh food whenever possible. We started with spicy Buffalo Cauliflower and refreshing Coconut Limeade. I could have made a meal out of that, but we kept going!
The Blackened Halibut Sandwich with Jerk-Seasoned Tri Fries (organic sweet potatoes, yams and russets) were fantastic. For dessert, we had the Pina Colada Bread Pudding. I am not a bread pudding person at all, but this was out of this world and has made me a convert. Made with Hawaiian sweet bread, coconut milk, macadamia nuts, fresh pineapple, and topped with caramel, shredded coconut and whipped cream, this is going down in the books for me as one of my favorite desserts ever. We ate outside with views of the lake, but if you go in colder weather, the indoor dining was super cute with fun tiki hut decor.
Basecamp Pizza: Where to Get a Pizza in South Tahoe
Ask anyone in town where to get a good pizza, and they all mention Basecamp Pizza. We sat on the patio and enjoyed some local Campfire Stout beer and Mediterranean Pizza with Pear and Walnut Salad. They had live music and the patio is dog friendly and relaxing. It’s in the little downtown Heavenly Village area, so after your meal you can stroll around the shops and art galleries.
Beach House: Where to Get Fish & Chips
The Beach House is a welcoming, outdoor restaurant that lets you take in the beachy lake culture. People come in right off the beach in swim suits, it’s super casual. Dogs are also allowed and there were several while we were there. They have frozen wine slushies, beer on tap, and pub food.
I had the First Mate’s Fish & Chips and it was delicious with ice cold Hefeweizen. It’s a refreshing atmosphere with friendly vibes and stunning panoramic views. If you are staying at the Landing, it’s right across the street.
Other restaurants that come highly recommended but we didn’t have time to get to are Azul for Latin food, California Burger Co., Lake Tahoe Aleworx for beer and pizza, Clydes Coffee Roasting Company for locally roasted coffee, Brooks’ Bar & Deck at Edgewood for views, and South Lake Brewing Company for more local beer.
What to do in South Tahoe when you’re not eating?
You’re going to need some activities to work up an appetite for all this awesome food. Tahoe is famous for hiking, skiing, and water sports so you will find no shortage of stuff to do. The highlight of my trip, apart from the food was jet skiing on the lake via Ski Run Marina. What a spectacular experience with the mountains and the colorful parasailors around you. I don’t know how fast I was going, but it felt like I was flying and it was a blast.
Fun facts about Lake Tahoe
- Lake Tahoe is considered ancient at over 2 million years old
- It’s 22 miles wide with a 72 mile circumference
- It’s one of the deepest lakes in the world at 1650 ft.
- 2/3rds of the lake is in California, and the other third is in Nevada
- Elevation at Lake Tahoe is 6,225 ft
- Tahoe Tesse is the Lake Tahoe version of the Loch Ness Monster
Getting to South Lake Tahoe
There are two main ways to get to South Lake Tahoe by air, via Sacramento or Reno. We flew into RNO and took the South Tahoe Airporter shuttle to our hotel. Once there, we used Uber to get around and we also walked a lot because our hotels were central and restaurants and shops were accessible. South Lake Tahoe is manageable without a vehicle, most things you’ll want to do are within a couple mile radius.
When flying out of RNO, note that there is a new Escape Lounge in the airport. It’s a tranquil modern environment sporting a cookie bar and is perfect for relaxing before your flight and is available to American Express Global Lounge members, or for a fee.
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- We were guests of The Landing Resort and Tahoe South Tourism, opinions are my own.