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Sierra Scoop

Keeping you informed of Truckee-Lake Tahoe food-and-drink news.

Lake Tahoe and après ski go together like peanut butter and jelly, which is probably why so many of Tahoe’s restaurants and bars have lines out the door come 5 p.m. on an average winter weekend. And while COVID-19 precautions have changed the dining and drinking landscape — or, at least, done away with the packed elbow-to-elbow bars and family-style tables — they don’t seem to have slowed the continued development of Lake Tahoe’s restaurant scene.

While some restaurants opened a bit later than expected and some shifted the focus of their summer and fall investments, a few new dining places opened their doors and some existing ones expanded their offerings. And area resorts and organizations have come up with creative ways to make sure guests and restaurateurs stay safe this winter. Aside from new restaurants around the lake, the major announcements from restaurants are focused on social distancing and ensuring the outdoor dining experience is just as pleasant as (or better than!) the indoor one.

From homemade pasta to Champagne chalets, a lot is going on in Tahoe this winter.

San Francisco Italian Comes to Truckee

Diners on the North Shore have a new restaurant option away from the often-crowded main streets of Downtown Truckee: Great Gold. Opened in mid-November for to-go only (per the California COVID restrictions), Great Gold is the first restaurant in Truckee from San Francisco restaurateurs Brandon Kirksey and David Steele. It now serves as a dining cornerstone in Truckee’s Pioneer Center.

According to Kirksey, “The name is an homage to the great Golden State of California, from which we will diligently source our ingredients.”

Pasta at Great Gold

The new Great Gold replaces the former Great Gold in San Francisco’s Mission District, which they shuttered in August. Kirksey, the former chef de cuisine at S.F.’s flour + water, is from nearby Grass Valley and will lead the culinary team. The duo also welcomes Randal Hutchinson, formerly of Truckee’s Pianeta, as the general manager.

Like the other restaurants of Steele’s Ne Timeas Restaurant Group — including flour + water, central kitchen, and flour + water Pasta Shop — Great Gold focuses primarily on Italian cuisine, but with an alpine twist.

“With Great Gold’s rebirth in Truckee, we are evolving the cuisine away from strictly Italian-American classics and are now embracing our new location’s cuisine as ‘mountain Italian,’” Steele says. “More specifically, the food at Great Gold will be [Kirksey’s] creative take on Italian cooking, incorporating dishes and ingredients that might feel more at home in the mountains.”

Great Gold’s outdoor space features an outdoor drinking and dining area, complete with a covered patio, bocce ball court, and fire-pit seating for up to 30 guests. In addition to Italian dishes, pizza, wine, amaro, and aperitivo cocktails, the owners hope their pasta workstation will set Great Gold apart from other Truckee offerings.

“Our pasta program is what stands out the most. We hand-make dozens of pastas daily, using flour milled by Early Bird Farm in Grass Valley,” Kirksey adds. “Supporting local small farms is very important to us.”

Note: At the time of this writing, Great Gold was only open for takeout due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please contact the restaurant directly for further details.

Takeout Tahoe Promotes Local Restaurants

Wondering where to get food to go in the North Lake Tahoe communities? In late autumn, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association created an extensive list of more than 150 North Lake Tahoe restaurants that offer takeout dining, along with details such as how to order and when they’re open. View the guide, designed to make it easy for winter visitors and locals to quickly explore their options, at Gotahoenorth.com/takeouttahoe or follow the North Tahoe Eats Facebook page.

Jake’s on the Lake is a participating restaurant in the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association’s Takeout Tahoe initiative

Guests who take advantage of the region’s takeout options should save their receipts, which could be lucrative (or could at least fund their next few nights of takeout). When diners take their takeout receipts from any restaurant in North Lake Tahoe to one of the resort association visitor centers (in Incline Village and Tahoe City), they’ll be entered to win $150 in gift certificates to area restaurants. NLTRA managers announce a winner once a month, and diners get one entry per receipt.

South Lake Tahoe Picks Up a New Taphouse

Joining an already-impressive list of locations at which to get a great brew in South Lake Tahoe is Third Man Taphouse & Gourmet Deli.

The team at Third Man Taphouse

Opened in early November, the taphouse has an impressive list of beers from breweries, including Sudwerk and Dust Bowl; wines; and creative Korean soju cocktails such as the Seoul mule and Korean mojito. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the taphouse primarily features salads, sandwiches, and shareable appetizers, including the Smothered Tots, with white Cheddar and gouda fondue, pastrami, bacon, and green onions. Guests can dine in or order online and pick up their meals to go. Outdoor seating is available, weather permitting.

New Safe and Delicious Offerings at Area Resorts

Though Lake Tahoe had to forego most of the summer festivals that normally draw visitors and locals alike to area resorts, the good news is that events and activities have come back for winter — with social distancing, of course.

Edgewood Resort introduced its Champagne Chalet this season, built in partnership with French Champagne brand Veuve Clicquot. Guests participating in the program will snowshoe across the Edgewood Golf Course before arriving at the chalet, where indoor and outdoor drink options await them.

Edgewood Tahoe Resort

Edgewood also has a new draw at the resort: an outdoor ice-skating rink, Edgewood on Ice. On the shore of Lake Tahoe, it is surrounded by plenty of room to enjoy an outdoor cocktail. The winter-only offering has fire pits and an outdoor bar, where drinks, ranging from cold-weather warmers to Champagne cocktails, are served. Seating is first come, first served (and weather dependent, of course).

The Village at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have taken major steps to ensure guests can enjoy their favorite food-and-drink options as safely as possible this winter, according to public relations director Liesl Hepburn. They’ve made mobile ordering available for most village restaurants, including Auld Dubliner Irish Pub, Fireside Pizza Company, Coffeebar, and Tremigo Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar. And there’s good news for chocolate chip cookie fans: Online ordering is coming soon for the resort’s popular Wildflour Baking Co., with cashless pickup at a window outside the resort’s Olympic House.

Hepburn says the resorts have added hundreds of new tables and umbrellas to the on-mountain restaurants and bars, plus additional heaters and fire pits outside the Alpine Meadows Base Lodge Deck and Gold Coast Lodge. They’ve also brought back an old favorite not seen in a few years: the MTN Roots food truck, which is parked right outside The Village at Squaw. The truck adds another entirely outdoor option for guests who aren’t comfortable spending time inside the village restaurants and lodges.

MTN Roots food truck

Stella Opens for Breakfast

After going through several iterations the last few winter seasons, including operating as a high-end restaurant and later focusing on pop-up dinners, Stella seems to have found its traction with its current blend of affordable and creative Mediterranean-meets-Mexican cuisine. In light of changing COVID-19 regulations, Stella’s indoor dining is temporarily on pause (though it may resume at any time, so call if you’re planning a visit). However, guests still can order items to go and now have an additional option: breakfast. Stella’s new breakfast menu includes meat and vegan burrito bowls, pastries, fresh waffles, hot oats, and much more. This winter, skiers can order online and pick up their breakfasts on the way to the slopes. To-go-only dinner still is available Thursday through Sunday.

While this winter is a challenging time for everyone, it’s especially challenging for restaurant managers as they navigate the ever-changing health regulations in Nevada and California. Business hours and practices may change as the situation evolves, so everyone is advised to contact businesses directly about their operations before heading out.

By making little changes, such as wearing masks when ordering and opting to eat outdoors, diners can protect themselves (and their servers) and help ensure their favorite restaurants stay open. And with so many eateries offering hot beverages just for drinking in the snow, it should be easy to find the perfect libation for staying toasty during the next outdoor après-ski cocktail hour.

Suzie Dundas is a Tahoe-based freelance writer who specializes in active travel, outdoor recreation, and the mountain lifestyle. Her work has appeared in Forbes, Fodors, Playboy, TripSavvy, SkyLife magazine, and many more. When not working, she loves getting outside to bike or ski on Tahoe’s trails. You can find more of her work at Suziedundas.com.

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