Cottonwood Restaurant brings Truckee locals and visitors gourmet food and drink flavors served in their 1928-era warming hut, turned upscale eatery
Perched on a hilltop, overlooking historic downtown Truckee is a cozy restaurant and lounge ready to awaken the senses with an array of seasonal dishes and beverages.
Cottonwood Restaurant offers dining and drinks both inside the elegant restaurant and seated on the deck, underneath large umbrellas, taking in the sights and sounds of Truckee’s main drag.
“It’s summertime, beautiful outside, and we offer very much a rustic, comfortable fine dining experience,” said Cottonwood’s bar manager Dave Monachello.
“It’s American comfort food, set on a mountaintop. There’s very good service and very good food; we want people to feel comfortable when they’re here or out on the deck,” he said.
Cottonwood’s culinary and bar staff curate the perfect atmosphere for a special night out.
“I’d say the view you get, combined with the atmosphere is the number one reason to come here, food and drinks are a very close second,” Monachello said.
Two ladies lunching echoed the same sentiment, saying they frequent Cottonwood for the food, but also the atmosphere.
“The atmosphere is one thing but of course the food matches it,” said Rose Whitaker. “The Caesar salad is delicious, and they have such variety. It’s not just for special occasions, we love coming to sit out on the deck,” she said.
Below are the Tahoe Top Five reasons to plan on a night out to Cottonwood.
1. Lounge on the deck
Cottonwood’s deck stretches the length of the restaurant and creates the right atmosphere to take in Truckee.
“In the summertime, you can’t beat the view; being in the sunshine on the deck,” Monachello said. “And in the winter it’s a ski lodge vibe with warmer dishes, warmer drinks.”
2. Sip specialty cocktails
Describing the bar as craft-cocktail heavy, Monachello said each specialty cocktail selection has been invented in-house, all using as many fresh ingredients as possible.
“We make our own syrups, bitters, all of the fresh juices are hand-squeezed each day. I would say we are one of three places I would go in Truckee, walk in, and trust the bartender completely with only using the flavors I like to come up with something perfect,” he said.
One of the restaurant’s featured cocktails is the “Rhubarbarella” — a highly recommended, light summertime drink. Bartenders combine Amaro CioCiaro, Rye, rhubarb, mint and lemon with a splash of soda water, and top it off with a lemon twist.
3. Savor traditional and new dishes
The culinary team creates a year-round menu with a few seasonal selections. The menu offers a fairly large specials menu every night, which is more seasonally oriented.
“For example, we have a tomato gazpacho right now, which is perfect for the hot weather,” Monachello said.
“That, or the heirloom tomato salad, is a great choice. It’s a fairly standard Caprese salad but it really tastes outstanding.”
Another recommended dish is the marinated Wagyu beef bavette steak served with béarnaise sauce, pommes frites and house vegetables.
Cottonwood hasn’t forgotten about desert by any means. A recommendation is the white chocolate crème brulee with fresh raspberries to cap off the meal.
4. Get in the music scene
Cottonwood sets the evening’s ambiance in part due to their lovely lounge décor, and also thanks to the soothing sounds of local musicians. Every Thursday and Friday evening guests can enjoy live music starting at 6 p.m. on the deck during the summer, and at 7 p.m. from the fireplace room during the winter.
The website features each week’s scheduled entertainment and the restaurant also brings guests “Acoustic Thursdays,” where locals and visitors will have an exclusive performance of the best free live acoustic shows as they take advantage of discounts on menu and bar items.
5. Spend time with friends
“I have to say that the crowd, the regulars who come in are fantastic people. We have second homeowners who are in all the time while they’re up here — we just really have a great crowd that comes in regularly and they always have a nice time while they’re in,” Monachello said.
Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.