South Lake Tahoe Eats: Where To Dine Now (From Fancy to Cheap)

From High-end to Value-Priced, here's The Ultimate Guide to South Lake Tahoe's Best Eats

Where are The Best Places to Eat in South Tahoe?

South Lake Tahoe’s dining scene spans an uncommonly broad spectrum, from fifty-cent tacos to hundred dollar steaks. No matter the budget, this is a destination that rewards hungry skiers and snowboarders willing to explore. And because the conjoined commercial districts of South Lake Tahoe, CA and Stateline, NV span a miles-long sprawl, it helps to have a car.

Sure, the compact Heavenly Village at the foot of the Heavenly Mountain Gondola dishes a tasty array, from fresh-made mini-donuts topped with chocolate sauce (at Heavenly Donuts, outside the gondola) to Hawaiian-inspired high-end seafood (at neighboring Kalani’s). But some of Tahoe South’s best fine dining (like epicurean new American at Evans and classic fine Italian at Café Fiore) hides in small spaces off the beaten path. Excellent ethnic fare (like Verde for Mexican rotisserie and Nikki’s Chaat for Indian) tucks into strip malls and odd spots. Great coffee and craft beer are dappled hither and yon. Food finds scatter across the state line. And, yes, the big casinos hold some foodie jackpots, too.

Our recommendations on where to eat in South Lake Tahoe cover all price points, from fine dining with picture postcard views to good eats that are unpretentious, fast and cheap. Our Tahoe South restaurant guide (and handy map, at the bottom of this story) can help you find it all.

Tahoe South Restaurant Guide

Top Fine Dining

  • Ciera Steak + Chophouse (at MontBleu Resort Casino) – From lobster tempura to Wagyu tomahawk, Ciera’s menu doesn’t hold back, garnering this casino-hotel restaurant the Tahoe basin’s only 4 Diamond rating from AAA. Filet mignon with foie gras and black truffles? You’ve got it – and in a private dining booth with secrecy curtains, if you like.

  • Edgewood Restaurant – Located in a handsome lakefront clubhouse with cathedral windows and terraced seating, the Edgewood property’s original elegant dining room (not to be confused with the Bistro in the new Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe, located elsewhere on the historic lakefront acreage) serves fine seafood and game with contemporary California culinary styling.

  • Evans American Gourmet Café – Classical French meets flavor-forward Pacific Rim fare in a 1930s cottage with 35 seats. Now in its 31st year, Evans frequently tops the Tahoe basin’s best restaurant lists. Reserve well in advance.

More fine dining & upscale casual

  • 19 Kitchen (atop Harveys Lake Tahoe Hotel and Casino) – Panoramic 19th floor lake views pair with a diverse roster of both upscale casual and fine fare. Great for oysters + martinis while watching the sun set over Lake Tahoe.

  • The Bistro (at the Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe) – Tahoe South’s newest dining destination serves breakfast, lunch and dinner on the lakefront in a stylish, contemporary space with big views. Located in the gorgeous Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe, which opened in 2017 (and was named Travel + Leisure’s #1 Resort Hotel in the US in 2018), the Bistro’s fare ranges from brick-oven pizza to fine steak and chops, with a focus on regional and seasonal ingredients.

  • Café Fiore – This little ristorante is a ski town classic, serving traditional fine Italian fare in a cozy mountain cabin tucked onto a back street. A South Lake Tahoe signature, since 1994.

  • Friday’s Station (atop Harrah’s) – The locals’ pick for casino fine dining serves a menu of classic fine steaks and seafood with bird’s eye vistas of Lake Tahoe. 

  • Kalani’s – Aloha meets the mountains at this lively and contemporary Heavenly Village restaurant serving Hawaiian-inspired seafood and other Pacific Rim fusion fare.

  • The Loft – Where else can you get magic shows and Italian food steps from the ski slopes? The Loft hides upstairs in Heavenly Village, serving quality mid-priced Italian fare (with frequent happy hour deals) in a hip lounge and dining area accented with steampunk styling. Magic shows (very cool ones) run daily in a plush little theater in the back of the house.

  • Sage Room (at Harveys Lake Tahoe) – This historic steakhouse (since 1947) is beloved for its Wild West décor (including a bar, ceiling beams and Native American-crafted light fixtures from the original 1944 log Harveys building) and its menu of fine dining classics like Black Angus steaks, beef Wellington, bananas foster and cherries jubilee.

Sushi

  • Samurai – The locals’ favorite, for good reason. Superb fish, classic preparations, excellent sushi.

  • Harumi – Best sushi on the Nevada side. In Zephyr Cove.

  • Naked Fish – Popular westernized-style Japanese in a lively space, with a big menu and lots of saucy rolls. 

BURGERS, deli, bratwurst, PIZZA

  • AleWorX – Wood-fired pizza and sandwiches. Salads. Craft beer on tap. Frequent live music. Two locations, one down at the Y and one in Stateline (with cocktails and DJs, too.)

  • Basecamp Beer Garden – Wurst of all kinds. Home of South of North Brewing Co. Pizza bites. S’mores and fire pits. In the Basecamp Hotel.

  • Base Camp Pizza Co. – Pizza, beer and happy hour deals. Craft on draft and in bottles. In the Heavenly Village, near the base of the gondola. Popular with groups, families and for après-ski.

  • Burger Lounge – Burgers, soft serve ice cream, daily specials.

  • The Cork & More – Excellent hot and cold deli sandwiches. (Also great potato salad.) Cheese platters. Wine tastings. Happy hour deals.

Mexican

  • Jalisco Grill – Tasty, filling and cheap.

  • Taqueria Jaliscos – Delicious Mexican street-style eats at a little hole-in-the-wall. Cash only!

  • Verde – Contemporary Mexican rotisserie. Very good. Located in a shopping center “at the Y” (the intersection of Highway 89 and Highway 50, on the south end of South Lake Tahoe.)

Indian, Italian + Thai

  • Capisce? – Contemporary, handmade, family-friendly, Italian food. On the Nevada side. Yes, it’s spelled with a question mark.

  • My Thai & Noodle – Tahoe South’s best Thai food. Located on the Nevada side. (Not the same as the My Thai located on the California side.)

  • Nikki’s Chaat – Good Indian food at a value price in an unlikely location.

LOCAL LORE

  • Freshies – This faux tiki room in a small strip mall maintains a cult following among locals for its fish tacos, over-the-top desserts (like Butterfinger ice cream pie), and free soup on days with a foot or more of fresh snow.

Coffee and Baked Goods

  • Alpina Coffee Café – A favorite among locals. Espresso drinks, house-made pastries, quiches, sandwiches, mimosas.

  • Black Cabin Coffee – Small batch, sustainable coffee is roasted in house, with tasty light bites on the side.

  • Clydes Coffee Roasting Company – Daily fresh roasts at Clydes include third wave-style light roasts showcasing the signature flavors of direct sourced, hand-picked coffee beans attained through sustainable farming practices. Don’t miss the croissant. On the Nevada side.

  • The Coachman Hotel Coffee Bar – You don’t have to be staying at The Coachman (although you might want to be) to get your morning hit of delicious San Francisco-style joe from its cool lobby coffee bar.

  • Dragonfly Bagel Co – This fresh bagel shop operates as a weekly pop-up in Black Bear Lodge. These handmade bagels are the real deal, so get them while they’re hot.

  • Free Bird Café – Espresso, homemade chai, smoothies and green drinks.

  • Revive Coffee & Wine – Nitro on draft, pour-over, pastries, breakfast bagels and more (including small plates for lunch and light dinner – and a wine bar!)

KID PLEASER

  • Heavenly Donuts – Fresh-made mini-donuts. Yes, they can be topped with chocolate sauce.

VEGAN and GLUTEN-FREE

  • Simple Bliss – Vegan café with a big menu of breakfasts, juices, smoothies, salads, wraps, sandwiches, burgers, bowls and more. Many gluten-free options. Open daily from 8 to 8.

Did our South Lake Tahoe dining guide help you make new discoveries?

Have helpful feedback, or a restaurant to add? Reach out and let us know.

***Click on any photo on this page to see details and photo credits.***

New Eats in Truckee, California

Truckee, California is a hub for skiers and snowboarders enjoying the destination resorts of Tahoe's northwest quadrant, from Squaw Valley-Alpine MeadowsNorthstar and Sugar Bowl to smaller ski and snowboard areas like Donner Ski RanchBoreal and Soda Springs. Truckee offers a mix of things practical (like supermarkets) and cool (like an old time variety store). The town's historic center is more than 100 years old, and has a very good food and drink scene, influenced by the nearby Bay Area's smart tastes. Here are two new spots.

1. THE NACHO GOES MACHO AT ALIBI ALE WORKS

Buffalo Blue Cheese Nachos at Lake Tahoe's new Alibi Ale Works Truckee Public House.  Jeff Freeman Photography | Courtesy Alibi Ale Works

Buffalo Blue Cheese Nachos at Lake Tahoe's new Alibi Ale Works Truckee Public House. Jeff Freeman Photography | Courtesy Alibi Ale Works

Alibi's Mediterranean nachos are jazzed up with za'atar-spiced lamb, feta cheese and fiery zhoug sauce.  Jeff Freeman Photography | Courtesy Alibi Ale Works

Alibi's Mediterranean nachos are jazzed up with za'atar-spiced lamb, feta cheese and fiery zhoug sauce. Jeff Freeman Photography | Courtesy Alibi Ale Works

S'mores, nacho-style.  Jeff Freeman Photography | Courtesy Alibi Ale Works

S'mores, nacho-style. Jeff Freeman Photography | Courtesy Alibi Ale Works

Korean-flavored nachos, anyone? How about nachos dressed like Buffalo blue cheese chicken wings? A sheet of s'mores in a nacho-style pile? Maybe let the little ones loose on the kid-sized pepperoni pizza nachos while you sip your craft brew and ponder the whole thing. Yep, you're getting the idea: Nacho mania is here.

Alibi Ale Works' new Truckee Public House, which opened in downtown Truckee's historic core in June 2017, offers these and other inventive nacho dishes to pair with 22 rotating craft beers on tap. The clever eats were created by Chefs Tyler and Aubrey O'Laskey, a husband-and-wife culinary team based in nearby Reno, Nevada. The idea (as it always is with nachos, really) is to nibble with friends while sipping good brew.

But you might find yourself elbowing those friends out of the way. Alibi's Korean nachos are topped with kimchi, beer-braised spiced pork, white cheese and a hot ssamjang sauce. The Mediterranean nachos are topped with za'atar-spiced lamb, Kalamata olives, feta, tzatziki, pickled red onions and a fiery green spice paste called zhoug. And the S'mores (on graham crackers, not tortilla chips) are fancied up with brûléed marshmallows, chocolate sauce and smoked salt. 

The Truckee location and nacho menu are new, but Alibi has legs. Its original brewery and taproom are located around the northerly bend of Lake Tahoe in Incline Village, NV. You can taste the ever-changing deep list of Alibi's beer in the Incline location (with your dog at your feet), and learn more about owners' Kevin Drake and Rich Romo's groovy, Tahoe-focused story—but Truckee is the only place to taste their crafty, flavor-filled nachos. Find the Alibi Ale Works Truckee Public House (without your dog) at the corner of Bridge and Jibboom Streets in historic downtown Truckee. Nachos and other bites from US$6 to US$16. www.alibialeworks.com 

2. Late Night Eats at Old Town Tap

Modern yet rustic Italian fare is the name of the game at Old Town Tap. Charcuterie and warm olives are standards, and ingredients are sourced from regional, sustainable food producers.  Dreamstime

Modern yet rustic Italian fare is the name of the game at Old Town Tap. Charcuterie and warm olives are standards, and ingredients are sourced from regional, sustainable food producers. Dreamstime

Wood-fired pizza  Sergei Starus | Dreamstime

Wood-fired pizza Sergei Starus | Dreamstime

Most restaurants in Truckee shut their kitchens by 9 pm. But Old Town Tap, which opened in Truckee's historic center in May 2016, serves wood-fired pizza and a select menu of modern-rustic Italian fare until 10 pm every weekday—and until midnight on weekends.

Launched by newlyweds who met working the food and drink scene in the Bay Area, Old Town describes its fare as "Gastro Italian cuisine created with local ingredients and crafted through old school preservation methods." That translates to a menu with items like house-made charcuterie, an excellent Caesar salad, a salmon belly crudo appetizer (with Mandarin orange gastrique, shiso leaf oil, crispy fennel and candied kumquat), and a sausage and kale pizza (with goat cheese, mozzarella, lemon zest and chili oil). Most ingredients come from regional producers dedicated to both flavor and sustainability. 

Old Town's late night menu is pared down from the full dinner menu, but after-hours eaters will still find satisfying dishes like meatballs, burrata or pork belly rillette, along with all pizzas. The restaurant's 28 taps feature 16 beers and 12 wines alongside an inventive list of eight specialty cocktails, all at reasonable prices. Late night food from US$5 to US$16. Plus, happy hour runs every weekday from 4 pm to 6 pm, with great values on both bites and beverages. Find Old Town Tap on Donner Pass Road a few steps west of Spring Street. www.oldtowntaptruckee.com

Alpine Meadows and its gorgeous Lake Tahoe views are located 20 minutes from downtown Truckee.  Courtesy Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows

Alpine Meadows and its gorgeous Lake Tahoe views are located 20 minutes from downtown Truckee. Courtesy Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows

Truckee's cool historic downtown core dates to the 1860s, but suffered several devastating fires in its early years. Most existing historic buildings date to 1913, when wood construction largely was replaced with brick, mortar and stone.  Bill Stevenson | Courtesy Truckee Chamber of Commerce

Truckee's cool historic downtown core dates to the 1860s, but suffered several devastating fires in its early years. Most existing historic buildings date to 1913, when wood construction largely was replaced with brick, mortar and stone. Bill Stevenson | Courtesy Truckee Chamber of Commerce