Since 1977, Tahoe City’s Bridgetender has been serving it up | SierraSun.com

Since 1977, Tahoe City’s Bridgetender has been serving it up

Ashley A. Cooper
Special to the Sun

The Bridgetender's patio provides a great atmosphere for any meal of the day.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — There is a place where all of Lake Tahoe's visitors and locals come together: Bridgetender Tavern and Grill.

Whether you are rubbing elbows at the beautiful wooden bar with roughnecks and collared shirts alike, rounding up your family in the dining room or kicking back with a sweating brew at the outdoor, riverside patio, the Bridgetender is guaranteed to be a good time.

Situated where Lake Tahoe once drained into the Truckee Trickle, the Bridgetender (or BT) has served up straight-forward eats since 1977. After its first 25-year lease was up, the original BT building was torn down and the tavern got a fresh new home 200 yards away.

Open seven days a week, the Bridgetender is well known for a vast array of juicy and hunger-satisfying burgers. Ground and patted into 6-8 ounces of mouth-watering red meat, the options are numerous.

Beef burgers are piled up with anything from green chiles and southwest sauce to Cajun flavors and bacon; free-range bison burgers are cooked rare and served with cheddar and barbecue sauce and the ever-exceptional Rocky Mountain elk burgers come medium rare with a fruity, sweet-and-saucy side of blueberry barbecue sauce.

If the stacks and sauces sound appetizing but you prefer a less red version, you can switch out the meat for a veggie or turkey burger. Blasting you back to your childhood cafeteria days, the tater tots are as good as you remember them — maybe even better. That's if you choose them over the thick and fun waffle fries. The decision is difficult. Save yourself the stress and come back twice.

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There are also loads of hot sandwiches: a turkey breast melt with bacon and avocado, a slow-cooked pulled pork barbecue sandwich and chicken cooked up teriyaki, blackened, southwest, or simple with Swiss on wheat. There are also two kinds of ribs, wings, onion rings and fish and chips that will have you discretely licking your fingers.

While a lot of the menu may read, but far exceed, typical bar food, there are options for everyone. A comprehensive salad list includes a simple house, a wedge, a cob, blacked ahi and chicken taco. They will not leave you wanting your friend's burger either, as they are crunchy, fresh and well-portioned.

If you're feeling a little Mexi-Cali, there are tacos and burritos with carne asada, chicken or pork. BT's fish tacos are fried cod in flour perfection, and the Kansas City Burrito stuffed with pulled pork, bacon and barbecue sauce might give you the best of every world.

So you have your dinner and you love it, too, and you just can't depart from the Lake in the Sky without one more bite, but you have to leave early Sunday morning to get back to wherever you rode in from, oh the horror! In 2013, BT anticipated this stressful situation and added a weekend breakfast menu Friday morning through Sunday.

To start you off: Bacon. Wrapped. Tots. Yes, they just got better and served with blueberries swamped in barbecue sauce. As if that is not enough, there's also candied bacon, buttermilk biscuits and country gravy, a chicken fried steak sando and burger patties done two ways.

The Shark's Loco Moco has a patty with sticky rice, house-made country gravy, a fried egg and cheddar cheese. The breakfast burger has avocado, cheddar, an egg over easy and a side of blueberry barbecue sauce.

There's also chilaquiles, chorizo hash, huevos rancheros, pancakes and French toast. Wash it all down with a bloody mary or a tall boy with strips of bacon. If health is your thing, don't be scared off. There's also fruit, yogurt and granola, as well as eggs your way. Everyone's a winner at BT.

The Bridgetender has been a celebrated Lake Tahoe favorite for about 38 years. Come snow and summer, drought and downpour, BT's cozy inside and green, airy outside always welcome you to sit down and grub out.

Ashley A. Cooper is a freelance writer residing in Truckee. She can be reached at aacooper18@gmail.com.

If you go

What: Bridgetender Tavern and Grill

Where: 65 West Lake Blvd., Tahoe City

Phone: 530-583-3342

Website: tahoebridgetender.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mon-Thurs, 11 a.m. to midnight Fri, 8 a.m. to midnight Sat, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sun

Service: Servers are happy and fun with lots of personality.

Drinks: Full bar with 15 draught beers.

Good for: Families, friends or alone, outdoor patio alongside the river and cozy dining

Price: $-$$