Al fresco alpine dining: Eat a delicious meal with spectacular views

Claire McArthur / Tahoe Daily Tribune
The River Ranch Lodge and Restaurant offers outdoor seating along the Truckee River, a beautiful backdrop for a relaxing meal.
Provided/River Ranch

There is no shortage of outdoor activities to take part in around the Tahoe Basin — and dining is definitely one of them. Soak in lake views from a table on a pier, share giant pretzels and local brews in a buzzing beer garden, or listen to the rush of the Truckee River with a plate of scallops. Bon appetit! 

Alibi Ale Works’ Incline Public House 

Lush landscaping, towering pines and plenty of comfortable seating make Alibi Ale Works’ Incline Public House an ideal spot to post up for a pint (or three) of their award-winning beer — whether you’re looking for a straightforward pale ale or a strawberry barrel-aged sour. Dig into a beer-braised knockwurst tucked in a pretzel bun with housemade sauerkraut, pickled red cabbage and beer mustard, or opt for a Vietnamese-style pulled pork sandwich. Don’t skip the Incline Village brewery’s signature mustache pretzel made locally with Truckee Sourdough and served with beer cheese, beer mustard or sweetened with chai sugar and salted caramel cream. 

River Ranch Lodge and Restaurant 

Tucked along the Truckee River in Tahoe City, the River Ranch Lodge and Restaurant has an idyllic waterfront patio where you can watch rafters and tubers while enjoying steak frites, duck tacos with avocado salsa, or a heaping plate of the Ranch’s famous nachos. A high-end wine list is off-set by happy hour deals, and scrumptious desserts like banana toffee cake should not be missed. 

West Shore Cafe in Homewood has outdoor dining on its pier and patio beneath bright red umbrellas.
Provided/West Shore Cafe

West Shore Cafe

Beneath bright red umbrellas on a pier stretching out from Tahoe’s West Shore, enjoy al fresco fine dining with dishes as delightful as the views. Though you may be surrounded by fresh water, share a plate of Monterey Bay calamari with gochujang aioli or grilled oysters with spinach bacon fondue. Wild mushroom risotto gets the black truffle treatment, while pistachio halibut is nestled in a bed of roasted beets, curried cauliflower, fennel and apple with basil vinaigrette. 

Cottonwood Restaurant and Bar

Cottonwood Restaurant and Bar is located on the grounds of the Hilltop, a historic lodge in Truckee hand-built from salvaged railroad ties in 1928, and offers patrons a beautiful outdoor dining experience on a deck overlooking downtown. Under new ownership, the restaurant is now balanced for plant lovers and meat eaters alike. An elevated veggie burger, buffalo cauliflower, and vegan meatloaf share menu space with grilled New Zealand lamb, braised short rib pasta, and a fancy fried chicken sandwich. A well-mixed cocktail menu features unique spins on classics, like the Hilltop Old Fashioned spiked with sour cherry and cherry bark bitters. 

The Boathouse on the Pier 

As the name suggests, the Boathouse on the Pier gives diners a front row seat to Tahoe’s glistening waters and sweeping mountain views. Located at the Beach Retreat and Lodge in South Lake Tahoe, the restaurant has an eclectic surf-and-turf menu, featuring entrees like clam linguine and citrus salmon alongside sundried tomato couscous and grilled asparagus. Though the food is elevated, the vibe is relaxed at this weekend hotspot. 

The Bistro

At The Bistro at Edgewood, cozy up at a table next to a fire pit while mentally charting the course of the walk you’ll take after dinner along the Stateline lodge’s beach. Kick off the meal with beef tenderloin tartare on sourdough crostini or red curry-lime mussels before make the tough decision between a brick-oven flatbread, filet mignon with a roasted shallot demi-glace, or cherry tomato- and asparagus-dotted lobster tagliatelle. The Bistro also boasts an impressive weekend brunch — including a flight of four different mimosas — for the breakfast crowd.

The patio at The Bistro features firepits and gorgeous views of the nearby beach — a perfect place to take a post-dinner walk.
Provided/Edgewood Tahoe

Editor’s note: This story appears in the 2022 summer edition of Tahoe Magazine. The Tahoe Daily Tribune is a sister publication of the Sun.

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