BEST BOAT-UP BARS
If you’re h-anchor-ing for a cool drink and a hot meal, Lake Tahoe offers great dock-able options.
WRITTEN BY BARBARA TWITCHELL
ILLUSTRATION BY GREG BRADY
Like the sea nymphs of Greek mythology who lured sailors to their shores, bars and restaurants line the shoreline of Lake Tahoe, tempting summer sailors with the sounds of music and martini shakers and the savory scents of grilled meats.
And who can resist? Especially when they make it so darn easy. Most provide complimentary, on-site or nearby docking privileges and boat valet services to transport boaters to and from the buoys where they tie up to the docks.
Oh, yes, if you don’t happen to have a boat handy, you’re welcome to drive to these places and dock your vehicle on the dry side of the buildings, too. It may not be as much fun, but you’ll still have a good time.
Jake’s On The Lake
Severe winter damage to this iconic establishment provided the perfect opportunity for a complete facelift. With a menu inspired by Californian and Hawaiian flavors, it maintains its trademark Mountain Aloha theme, featuring an abundance of fresh seafood, prime meats, and seasonal produce. Must-try items include Kimo’s Mai Tai and macadamia-crusted halibut. And, what the heck, surrender to that siren song, and enjoy some decadent hula pie before you leave. 530-583-0188 • Jakestahoe.com
West Shore Café
This Homewood landmark is a classic example of old Tahoe charm characterized by a rustic elegance. Outdoor dining spaces include a large patio and the option to dine on the pier, right over the water. The all-time food favorite is the West Shore burger, and the hugely popular peach and burrata salad will make an encore this summer. But the big news this year is West Shore’s newly created lobster corn dog! Pair it with the signature mountain mule, served in a copper mug. Cheers! 530-525-5200 • Westshorecafe.com
The Beacon Bar & Grill
The Beacon’s expansive deck is located, literally, right on the beach at the historic 128-acre Camp Richardson. This upbeat, family-friendly environment offers live music on the deck from 1 – 5 p.m. daily. Signature dishes include deep-fried calamari, clam chowder, and fish and chips. This place is known as the home of the Rum Runner, its well-loved signature cocktail. With sales of 100 gallons a day in the summer, this is a must try. 530-541-0630 • Camprichardson.com
Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge
This Tahoe landmark has been around almost 70 years, and it still comes in on top. It was voted Best Outdoor Dining 2017 by Tahoe Quarterly’s readers’ poll. It boasts the largest outdoor deck on Lake Tahoe. Pop in and indulge in the signature Sunnyside margarita, made with orange and cranberry juice for extra zip. Pair it with fried zucchini sticks, a food favorite there for more than 50 years. Fish tacos and Kobe burgers also are extremely popular. 530-583-7200 • Sunnysidetahoe.com
Gar Woods Grill & Pier
Few things could be better than sitting on this 225-foot-long pier on a warm summer day, sipping Gar Woods’ famous Wet Woody, a frozen rum concoction available in nearly 20 varieties. To say it’s popular would be an understatement — the restaurant has sold nearly three million of these signature drinks to date. Regulars say the beer-battered prawns and fried zucchini are great. And here’s an awesome deal: Every week, enjoy a big discount on the Woody during Wet Woody Wednesday. 530-546-3366 • Garwoods.com
This South Shore sister to Gar Woods shares its famous Wet Woody signature cocktail and a similar seafood-and-steak-inspired menu. Take advantage of the same great Wet Woody Wednesday discount throughout summer. Filet mignon is the highlight of Riva’s menu, made even better as a surf-and-turf pairing. Should you choose filet and scampi or filet and lobster? This Open Table, 2017 Diners’ Choice Award winner will ensure you’ll be happy with either. 530-542-2600 • Rivagrill.com
Pier 111 Bar at the Hyatt Regency, Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino
Enjoy a nice cold drink and appetizers without ever leaving the shore … or even the water! Pier 111 is a floating bar, suspended over the lake, at the tip of Hyatt Regency’s 275-foot-long floating pier. Sip on a vodka-laced Lakeside Lemonade, and nibble on some light snacks as you lounge on a deck chair or dangle your feet in the water at the bar’s edge. Want something more substantial to eat? Stroll up to the Lone Eagle Grill, which offers al fresco or dining room seating with a full menu. Or sit around the outdoor fire pit and order food and beverages from the lounge. 775-832-1234 • Laketahoe.regency.hyatt.com
Undoubtedly one of Tahoe’s most exclusive boat-up destinations, this historic property offers reserved docking for members only. Fortunately for the rest of us, there are guided, four-and-a-half-hour tours aboard the historic 40-foot cruiser, Tahoe. These each include a light continental breakfast, a narrated cruise, a walking tour of Thunderbird Lodge property, and a picnic-style lunch served on the grounds. Reservations required. 775-230-8907 • Cruisetahoe.com
Lake Tahoe Balloons
This one-of-a-kind experience, while not exactly a boat-up bar, per se, does technically include a boat, food, and alcoholic beverages, so we threw it in for the fun of it. This is the only hot air balloon licensed to fly over Lake Tahoe. And it is also the only one in the world to launch and land on a boat! A light, simple continental breakfast is served during the boat ride, en route to the mid-lake launch site. Once the balloon launches, it glides around the lake and flies a bit inland, too. When it’s time to land, the balloon drifts down to lake level, the boat slips under it, and voilà! You’ve landed on a boat. In the middle of Lake Tahoe. How cool is that? When it’s time for the traditional toast, take your choice, Champagne or mimosa! 530-544-1221 • Laketahoeballoons.com
Reno writer Barbara Twitchell says she’s now added the Lake Tahoe Balloon trip to her bucket list!