North Tahoe Cuisine Worth Every Bite

July 29, 2011

Visitors to Lake Tahoe may be away from their humble abodes, but it doesn’t mean they have to stray from delicious home-style cooking. While some vacation spots may provide very little when it comes to restaurants in terms of quality and variety, the north shore definitely bucks that trend. This may be the Sierra Nevada, but don’t expect any mountain oysters on these fine menus:

Formal Dining*

Lone Eagle – Soar to new food and libation heights at this waterfront gem. If the pine aroma doesn’t make you smile when you walk through the doors, the view of the lake as you eat and sip a cocktail certainly will. Owned by the Hyatt Resort & Casino, the quiet, romantic atmosphere could be the best on the lake.   (Dinner & Buffet – Incline Village)

Jack Rabbit Moon – The unique and contemporary menu will make anybody speed faster than a hare right on down to sample the savoring entrees. From steak and seafood to duck breast, this upscale dining experience will make all friends and family hopping mad that they didn’t join in. (Dinner – Incline Village)

La Fondue – Since technically this is the only fondue restaurant in all of Lake Tahoe, anyone fond of this cuisine and wanting to break bread should take a dip into this place. Be forewarned – it’s very cheesy! In a good way. (Dinner – Incline Village)

Azzara’s Italian Cuisine – Italians may be wrongly stereotyped as being a bit talkative as this place could quite possibly be the best kept secret on the north shore. The quiet, elegant atmosphere and scrumptious pasta and antipasti are “molto delizioso.” It’s no wonder this place has been around for more than 33 years. (Dinner – Incline Village)

Bite – Don’t let the name fool anybody – there will be multiple bites eaten at this popular location. The American Bistro menu includes a great selection of meat, fish, tapas, and wine that won’t take too much of a bite out of the wallet. (Dinner – Incline Village)

Big Water Grille – With quite possibly the best views of the lake, Big Water is a very apropos name. A romantic, elegant atmosphere with an upscale, eclectic American, French menu and a huge selection of fine wines means diners should bring a big appetite and will most likely leave with bigger smiles. (Dinner – Incline Village)

The Soule Domain – Considering this place has been voted the most romantic place to take a date for 15 years running, it may be the perfect place to take one’s soul mate. The eclectic menu of assorted organic meats and seasoned vegetables set in an intimate log cabin may be the ideal dining domain. (Dinner – Crystal Bay)

Casual Dining

Hacienda De la Sierra – To steal from the Corona beer tagline – La restaurante mas fina! Voted best Mexican food on the north shore for pretty much too many years to count, this is the ideal family place for almuerzo y comida. (Lunch & Dinner – Incline Village)

Tomaato’s – Tomatoes, Tomaato’s? What’s the difference? Actually, one’s a fruit and the other’s an extremely popular pizza, pasta, and salad restaurant. Very well-known for its tasty take-out. (Dinner – Incline Village)

Lanzas – After enjoying the pasta and salad selections at this popular Italian restaurant, diners will be saying “Grazie!” over and over again. Voted one of the best Italian restaurants on the north shore for 12 consecutive years, it might be time to say “Arrivederci!” to eating in. (Dinner – Kings Beach)

Mofo’s Pizza & Pasta – It may be a great pizza pie, but one bite will make everyone think of the Big Apple. This New York style pizzeria is known for its great thin-crust pizza and full salad bar. Perfect for a family night out or just take-out. (Lunch & Dinner – Incline Village)

Jason’s Beachside Grille – If no family member has a friend named Jason, everyone will after a trip to this casual eatery. Considered one of the most family friendly places to dine, it offers a great menu of hamburgers, prime rib, baby-back ribs, and a top-notch salad bar. The nice pine-wood inside and quaint outside patio is the ideal Tahoe setting – the perfect “Landing.” (Lunch & Dinner – Kings Beach)

Austin’s – It may be a town known for its Tex-Mex and great music scene, but this place offers an unbeatable country American cuisine. Hankering for a hunk of meat like a chicken-fried or Salisbury steak? Or mashed potatoes, salad, baked macaroni & cheese? Then best to strum on over to this local favorite. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner – Incline Village)

Gar Wood’s Grill & Pier – While named after a power boat and pleasure craft  inventor, this waterfront restaurant is mostly known for having its own pier and for the tasty rum-based drink it serves called the Wet Woody. A great family menu and spectacular views of the lake make this a well-known, yet fantastic place to wet one’s whistle. (Lunch & Dinner – Carnelian Bay)

Steamer’s Beachside Bar & Oven – Despite the name, the only seafood this place serves may be anchovies – for those that actually like those on their pizza. Quite possibly the best pizza and calzones served on the north shore, maybe in the entire Tahoe Basin. The nice outside patio and upstairs bar make this the ideal place to let off a little steam. (Lunch & Dinner – Kings Beach)

Crosby’s Grill – Not quite the posh place that Bing and his Rat Pack would hang out at, but the rest of the locals do. A nice menu for hamburgers, wings, chicken, and hot or cold sandwiches. TVs abound for the latest sporting event and there are video poker machines at the bar. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner – Incline Village)

Rookies Sports Bar & Grill – This could be the number one sports bar in the area – possibly the entire Tahoe Basin. If the goal is to kick it in front of a TV watching a sporting event, play a little video poker at the bar, or chow down a hotdog or hamburger (not quite Joey Chestnut style), then this venue scores a touchdown. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner – Incline Village)

Of Special Note

Wildflower Cafe – The generous helpings here will make everyone want to go for a nice wildflower hike afterward to walk off the fabulous breakfast. A local favorite for breakfast after a wild or mellow time the night before. (Breakfast – Incline Village)

T’s Rotisserie – One of the best places anywhere to quickly pick up a burrito, tostada, or taco. The salsa may just be the best you’ve tasted this side of the Mexican border. And possibly beyond. Grab the meal to go or stay and have your mouth water as you watch the savory meat roast right there on the spit. (Lunch & Dinner – Incline Village)

*Formal dining is Tahoe Style meaning children and a happy, laid-back attitude are most welcomed. Mountain-style oysters not so.

Lake Tahoe a World-Wide Wonder

July 21, 2011

Shadowed by giant pine trees and towering granite peaks, one look out at the vast, dark blue shimmering water of Lake Tahoe is all it takes to know it is a natural phenomenon. In the eyes of scientists, it’s also very special – and the reasons are just as crystal-clear.

Lake Tahoe

In terms of ecological condition – Lake Tahoe is defined as“oligotrophic.” Basically, that is scientific jargon for saying it is a clear, mostly nutrient-free body of water. Because of the ever-expanding global human population and the impacts it has on the surrounding areas, there are not many oligotrophic lakes left in the world.

Whether it’s an increase in erosion, particles discharged through runoff, or elements entering through the atmosphere, most lakes witness an influx of nutrients over time. This not only clouds the water, but fuels the growth of algae, which feeds off the nitrogen and phosphorus. This causes the lake to eutrophy – scientific jargon for turning murky and green.

That is one main reason why Lake Tahoe remains so exceptional. Not only is it and the surrounding Sierra Nevada breath-taking to look at, but the water itself is still relatively pure and blue.

Unfortunately, though, things are changing. It takes but one swim at Burnt Cedar Beach in Incline to realize that. Granite rocks that were once easily identifiable by their varying colors of quartz are now covered by a thin, green slime. The water that Mark Twain once called in 1871 “…not merely transparent, but dazzlingly, brilliantly so” is slowly losing clarity.

For the past 40 years or so, researchers have studied the ecological condition of the lake. The results of which are showing that developments and the exhaust from automobiles in the greater area are causing the water to turn opaque. Less than a half of century ago, one could see objects on the lake floor at depths of 100 feet. Today, that is roughly hovering at an average of 68 feet.

The good news is studies conducted over the past 10 years have shown the overall clarity has held steady. By identifying fine particles as the main culprit, area agencies have taken steps – mainly erosion control projects – to keep sediment from pouring into the lake. Academic institutions, such as UC Davis, public agencies, and the private sector in and around the Tahoe Basin are working hard to restore the watershed.

Because of this, Lake Tahoe still remains one of the clearest alpine lakes in the world and, thus, retains the term “oligotrophic.” To all residents and visitors, that is clearly scientific jargon for special.

To learn more about the ecological state of Lake Tahoe, feel free to visit or 

When it Comes to Great Things To Do – Tahoe Rocks

July 11, 2011

It is no secret that the Lake Tahoe area is a very unique and beautiful alpine setting. So much so, that many visitors are content simply relaxing on a back deck under the towering pine trees or taking a leisurely stroll along the sandy shores that border the crystal clear water. For those that harbor a little more sense of adventure, though, there are some great outdoor activities and places to see while vacationing on the north shore.

The Flume Trail

The Flume Trail – Considered one of the finest mountain bike trail rides in all the world. This east shore, “rim” trail offers incredible views of Marlette Lake, Spooner Lake, and Lake Tahoe. Most start at Spooner Lake and work northward back toward Incline Village. There is a fairly steep climb to start, roughly 4 miles long, but riders can take their time. Once to the top at Marlette Lake,  it’s a fairly level ride until the descent into the Incline area. It does get very narrow at times and riders are encouraged to take caution. While it will take a bit longer, hikers can also walk the first part to Marlette Lake and to the Lake Tahoe view portion of this incredible trail. There are mountain biking outfits, too, for riders to use if they want to rent bikes and get dropped off.

Sand Harbor and East Shore Rocks – While the entire Lake Tahoe shoreline is absolutely stunning, some say the eastern portion is the best to spend a sunny afternoon. The huge granite boulders lying on top of one another and adjacent to each other not only create a natural wonder of their own, but the results are some of the best swimming holes known on the planet. While the rock jumping and underwater exploring are unbelievable, caution is advised. Water does obscure depth perception, so be careful. The parking along the east shore can be tough, too, as there is not much room on the shoulder of Highway 28 (a National Scenic Byway). Sand Harbor State Park offers an easy place to pull in and park the car. The sandy beaches also provide a nice place to set up camp for the day and from there the family can explore the nearby area. A day use fee is required and it does get crowded, so go early if possible – especially on a weekend. (Also, of interest might be the Shakespeare Festival that is held at Sand Harbor during specific summer evenings. It is definitely one of the best outdoor venues in the country.)

Truckee River

Truckee River Rafting – While not technically on the north shore, the beauty of the Truckee River and the slow-moving current make it ideal for a great family outing. Plus, Tahoe City is just an easy 30 minute drive away, which qualifies it still as a perfect north shore activity. The trip goes from Tahoe City to River Ranch at the entrance to Alpine Meadows. Visitors can take their own raft or rent through one the many rafting companies set up at the “Y” in Tahoe City (just down from Fanny Bridge). The easy-going river is excellent for families of all ages and there are plenty of spots along the way  to swim and stop for lunch. Most swim as they float down river. A nice little rapid at the end provides the perfect little excitement to wake rafters back up for a nice cold beverage and appetizer at River Ranch.

Northstar-at-Tahoe – Many don’t realize that this popular ski resort in fact is open during the summer. Several lifts and the gondola actually run during the day to take mountain bike riders to the top so they can use the steep terrain for a little two-wheel, off-road fun. Hikers are also encouraged to come out and enjoy the many trails the 2400-acre resort has the offer. There is also horse-back riding at Northstar and a very quaint village at the base of the ski slope that offers the perfect lunch and shopping venue.

Spooner Lake

Spooner Lake Loop Trail – Situated at the junction of Highway 28 and US Highway 50, this little alpine lake is sort of a little secret beauty. While the place may look crowded upon arrival, most are heading up to Marlette Lake and the Flume Trail to hike and mountain bike (another good idea by the way!). There is a day use fee as Spooner sits inside the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, but it’s well worth it as the easy 2-mile hike around the lake is a perfect morning or  afternoon activity. It is also a popular birdwatching area as it is frequented by osprey, woodpeckers, owls, and other avian wildlife.

Mt. Rose Meadows – Most simply pass right on by the Mt. Rose Meadows on their way to Incline Village or Reno on Highway 431. This high-alpine meadow and surrounding hills, however, provide quite an exhilarating hiking and biking experience. While there is an official Mt. Rose Trail that connects with the Tahoe Rim Trail, there are a plethora of hiking trails that criss-cross the entire area offering vistas that take in the entire Tahoe Basin or Washoe Valley. Visitors can park at the snowpark area or along the highway itself. Cars – and street cyclists – do move fast on the highway, though, so if parking along the road watch those car doors, your young kids, and pets.

Burnt Cedar Beach

Ski, Incline, Burnt Cedar Beaches – These are the three spots that make up the Incline Village General Improvement beaches. Visitors need a valid IVGID Recreation pass, so they are not technically open to the public. Passes to all the beaches, however, are included in rental properties in Incline Village, so entry is allowed with a daily use fee. Ski Beach contains a boat launching facility and a volleyball court. Incline Beach has a nice play area for the kids, a snack bar, and a roped off swimming area. Burnt Cedar has a roped off swimming area, sandy cove, and a jetty to walk out on. It also contains a heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tub. A playground and a snack bar are also at Burnt Cedar. All beaches have picnic facilities, places to barbecue, and nice grassy areas to relax on.

The picturesque Sierra Nevada topography is reason enough to spend a vacation in Lake Tahoe. Anything else that is done while basking in the region’s natural allure is simply added bonus. But, the truth is, there are many great places to see and fantastic things to do if one does just happen to get a little burnt out on the other less adventurous activities.

There are plenty of other activities and places to go while on the north shore of Lake Tahoe (casinos, golf courses, mini golf, sailboat rides, paddle boats, mackinaw fishing). Please consult your Goldfish Properties @ Lake Tahoe welcome packet for more ideas and information. Or give us a call at (800) 948-7311.

Fourth Brings Big Crowds, Loads of Fun

July 6, 2011

The north shore of Lake Tahoe witnessed one of the biggest crowds ever to descend upon the area during a Fourth of July celebration. The large number of people and the extra traffic around town, did little to stop all the fun and excitement.

When it comes to holiday festivities, the town of Incline Village literally almost had it all going on this go-around. From live music to barbecues to fireworks to a helicopter hovering over the beach, visitors were able to enjoy non-stop events and activities.

It started off with a dance and ended with a bang.

On the Thursday before the big weekend, residents and tourists alike flocked – and boogied – to the street dance at a local popular Mexican restaurant. It was all down the Incline hill from there in terms of exciting events.

Folks lined the streets on Saturday to cheer and show their pride as their fellow classmates, friends, family members, countrymen and women strolled down Tahoe Boulevard in the “America the Beautiful” parade. It was on to live music, great food and drink at the Village Green. The evening was topped with a fabulous “Beer and Brat” celebration (many called it the “Beer and Hotdog” celebration to make it more fitting.)

Sunday brought in a heart-warming, and heart-stopping, performance by the California Air National Guard. Pararescuemen dropped from a HH Pave Hawk Helicopter hovering just above the waters off Incline Beach into the lake in a mock recovery mission. It was an awe-inspiring tribute to the men and women who served  – and continue to serve – this great country.

Independence Day brought just about everyone down to the shores of Lake Tahoe as the beach was filled to the mackinaw gills with towels, blankets, tents, umbrellas, canopies, and people. Those that were able to last into the night – or came back to the sand or nearby Village Green – were again treated to a beautiful fireworks display. (The reflection off the calm waters of the dark lake may make Tahoe one of the most elite locations to host the annual pyrotechnic show.)

The holiday weekend was nothing short of a huge success. Despite the extra large crowds, there was little to complain about. Perhaps a few tiny inconveniences, but in the end, nothing but huge smiles and enormous pride were had by all.

Note: Another fabulous Fourth of July holiday is behind us, but plenty of summer fun – Tahoe style – still ahead. Feel free to call Goldfish Properties to find out more about our great vacation rentals. (800) 948-7311