Monday, January 23, 2006

A Trip to Tahoe and Back

And Eating Options Along the Way

This post is based on my latest article for SFist in which I eat my way around the Bay Area in alphabetical order. For the letter T I wanted to share ideas with my readers about where to eat when travelling to the Tahoe area.


Tis the season to be snowboarding and skiing. And for some San Franciscans, that means road trips to Tahoe a plenty. For me the big question always is where to eat? You may well accuse me of thinking too much of my belly, but believe me, after all that energy expended on the slopes, I always feel like I deserve a hearty meal. I thought we'd share a few of our finds in the hope that our readers have a few Tahoe travel gems to share too.

Before I even hit the slopes, there is the journey to think of. From the Bay Area, there is a long drive ahead. During peak Winter traffic, if you handle it in less than four hours, then you must be related to a racing-driver-wannabe Frenchman I know. After a gazillion journies to and from Tahoe, I have come to rely upon Davis as the best place enroute to stop for some chow.

Ignore the calls of roadside giants like Taco Bell, Mcdonalds and Jack-in-the-Box. Instead, exit here for downtown Davis:


Davis is a bustling little University with a distinct town centre packed full of decent places to eat stuff. You will find variety too - Thai, Indian Chaat, Bagels, Spanish, Bistro, Mexican, Pizza and Crepes are all represented. As long as you aren't expecting anything too swanky, Davis will provide just about whatever takes your fancy.

Last year we tested out the Chef's Market but were none to impressed, so this time through we opted new spot in town, Bistro 33.


The place was busy, with waits for tables, so I asked if we could sit at the bar. We didn't want to take too long as we'd left one of our party snoozing in the car. You couldn't find friendlier staff anywhere and we immediately felt welcomed and attended to. The menu has a wide range of options catering to different tastes. Fred and I both chose pizza. The little pies arrived fast from the wood-fired oven and although they were nothing revolutionary, they tasted good enough and hit the right spot.


Another Davis eaterie we are fond of, just off of the 80, and opposite the far less imaginative In and Out, is Redrum Burger, formerly known as Murder Burger. The menu, quite adventurous for such a small shack, caters well for vegetarians, carries Italian soda syrup and even has options for the more health conscious burger-eater:


To my taste Redrum's regular beef burger is pretty tasty, especially when topped with mushrooms and cheese. The ostrich version has less flavour but is perfectly palatable nonetheless. Davis must have first dibs on all the friendly genes in the world, this is another place where the staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome.

Another place I sometimes like to stop, on the way home from Tahoe, especially if the journey is gruelling and long, and my travelling companions are gasping for refreshment before we are even in sight of Davis, is Umisaka Sushi in Rocklin. There is something quite virtuous about eating Sushi after a trip to the slopes and a bowl of Miso is always a good way to warm up after driving through the snowy mountains.

Conversely, I can do little to recommend the nearby Cattlebarons in Penryn, and suggest you avoid it like the plague unless a fondue of 'plastic' cheese is your idea of a satisfying meal.

When it comes to Tahoe itself, once Fred and I are ensconced in a cabin full of old friends and new, we usually find that home cooking is more cost effective, fun and easier to organise than dining out in large groups. With superstores like Raley's in Incline Village, providing almost every ingredient I could hope for, including aisles full of organic-friendly and gluten-free food, it isn't too difficult to whip up a good meal without having to dine out. If you are fussy about what kind of cheese goes into your fondue, however, you would do well to bring up the fancy foreign stuff up with you from a cheese shop in the City.


Having said that, if we ever find ourselves down on the South Shore we usually make sure to stop by the charming, if a little olde-fashioned, Swiss Chalet. It always comes in handy as an alternative if you forget to bring that stash of Emmental, Gruyere, and Appenzeller with you to the mountains!

If have any favourite spots on the way to, or in Tahoe and Davis, please feel free to share in the comments. SFist readers had some great suggestions which you can check out here.

Links, Resources and Further Reading

Tahoe Travel Resources & Map Links:
A guide to eating at North Tahoe Lodges by SFgate.
Chef's Market, 117 E St, Davis (530)756-6888
Bistro 33, 226 F St. Davis, CA 530.756-4556.
Redrum Burger, 978 Olive Dr, Davis, (530) 756-2142
Umisaka Sushi, 4210 Rocklin Rd, Rocklin, (916) 632-1276
Cattle Baron's Cafe, 3129 Penryn Rd , Loomis, (916) 652-7262
Raley's, 930 Tahoe Blvd, Incline Village, NV, (775) 831-3111
The Swiss Chalet, 2544 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, 530 544 3304

Daily weight loss, weightwatchers and diet notes:
photograph picture disgusting beet soup
There is nothing of much interest to report about my Sunday diet. I tried all sorts of healthy low fat, low-sugar experiments in the kitchen and they all tasted fairly awful. The most satistfying thing I ate all day was a toasted sandwich filled with the 'to go' chicken I'd brought home with me from a restaurant the night before and some spicy Dijon. The beautiful-looking beet soup I cooked up tasted so blah, I couldn't even eat it. It looked very pretty, though, as I washed the remains of its claret-red self away down our white porcelain sink. (Yes, it was that bad.) Next time I am for certain going to be experimenting with the cheese rinds in my soup (perhaps not beet, though). Thanks to everyone for their great cheese rind tips yesterday. I have tried three non-sugar dessert recipes so far and they have all been failures on one count or another. Oh well, back to the drawing board on that one. We did do some exercise for a change, though, so perhaps the Sunday was not completely wasted. WW, for those of you who don't know how it works, allows you to accumulate extra eating points for every time you do a physical workout. Now there's an incentive to get fit!

Archive Alert! On this date in 2005: How not to make mayo, period!

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A Trip to Tahoe and Back


  • At 23/1/06 09:58, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Funny Sam, ahah, I am also known to "worry" about where we are going to eat when we travel. Guess what I do, I pack a picnic in case it really "sucks" (excuse my French! ah). Like shown on my post today! ;-) Check it out! ;-)
    It is always very important to get good food to replenish. And when we skied in France in December, we had plenty of that! Fresh bread in the morning to ski like champions...miam! So how was the skiing anyway??

    Wonder about the Frenchman driving....

  • At 23/1/06 12:29, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for the ideas for where to stop on the way up!

    Two of my North Shore favorites:
    - Breakffast/brunch at Log Cabin in King's Beach. This is the perfect place to get some fuel for a hard day on the slopes. Bon Appetit wrote up their Cajun Benedict, which is among the best variants I've had anywhere.
    - Lunch or dinner at Balboa Cafe. This member of the Plumpjack Group has both indoor and outdoor seating and makes a mean ahi tuna club.

  • At 23/1/06 12:37, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Congratulations on your win, dear Sam! A worthy victory indeed!!!

  • At 23/1/06 12:52, Blogger Owen said…

    Congratulations Sam!

  • At 23/1/06 14:10, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just heard the news eheheh, congratulations for a truly super interesting blog! With on top British humour, how better does it get?

  • At 23/1/06 14:15, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey Sam...congrats on your latest award...keep up the good work (I'll have to come to San Francisco soon so I can take advantage of your reviews!)

  • At 23/1/06 17:06, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Congratulations Sam! Always love reading about your latest epicurean adventures. Must get to the West coast next time I'm in the States =)

  • At 23/1/06 17:37, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    Yeah, congrats, yeah, yeah, yeah. (Kidding!!!! Woo-hoo! Way to go.)
    Anyway: Do you know about Wolfdale's in Tahoe City? Fabboo, last time I was there some time back.
    But I do agree cooking at the cabin often yields the dearest results. (Too bad Raley's was selling a book at the check-out stand on the Donner Party! Enough to make you lose your appetite. Even so, the chili came out fine. I'm pretty sure the meat was beef.)

  • At 23/1/06 18:02, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    How I wish I could be travelling with you!!! Enjoy the sights and the food!

  • At 23/1/06 18:52, Blogger Jocelyn:McAuliflower said…

    Wonderful! Great job sam!

  • At 23/1/06 20:50, Blogger shuna fish lydon said…


    To another year of reading delicious words and meeting deliciously in person!

  • At 23/1/06 23:06, Blogger Ilva said…

    Congratulations! You really deserve it!

  • At 23/1/06 23:18, Blogger Ced said…

    congratulations! These food reviews are very award worthy indeed. Keep it up!

  • At 24/1/06 07:17, Blogger Sam said…

    thank you Melissa

    bea - sometimes we do day trips to Tahoe from SF, a few years ago we used to do it a lot, getting up at 4 or 5 in the morning.
    I used to set my bread machine so we would fresh baked bread on the trip. I also have a a little water kettle that plugs into the car so i can make tea.

    olivia - thanks for the extra tips - i will add them to my list

    everyone - else - the congratulations are very much appreciated, thank you!

  • At 24/1/06 10:53, Blogger Tahoe Grrl said…

    I live in South Lake Tahoe, and a couple of my favorites include Sprouts (also known as the Vegan Hooters) for great healthy and tasty lunch fare, Alpen Sierra for coffee before heading to the slopes, the Blue Angel Cafe (near Heavenly) or the Divided Sky (in Meyers) for casual dinner, and for a splurge, Edgewood.

  • At 15/8/06 14:29, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Cattlebarons Cafe has excellent food as I dine there on a regular basis. The cheese fondue is an appetizer that many enjoy before their meal arrives. The Cattlebarons has a large percentage of repeat local customers who enjoy a great meal for a fair price.

  • At 18/7/08 10:46, Blogger Erika said…

    Awful Annie's on the Main Street in Auburn, off I-80 has a really decent brunch.


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