Casual diningFine diningItalianTravel

Family Friendly Dining in Lake Tahoe

baked-tahoeLake Tahoe is a causal town, which is convenient for those coming off the mountains and heading straight to dinner.  Even in a fine dining restaurant you will see patrons dressed in ski wear with mussed hair.  As Tahoe is a terrific family destination, there are plenty of family friendly restaurants.


The Lone Eagle Grille at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino, is one of the area’s finest dining establishments.  In addition to a menu of sophisticated offerings by world-class Chef Rick Koplau, it features a warm and welcoming atmosphere, complete with live entertainment – a James Taylor sound-alike with an acoustic guitar the night we visited, and several blazing fireplaces that give the dining room an amber glow. The wait staff were particularly accommodating, like one server who picked my son’s coat up off the floor and placed it by the hearth to warm it.

We ordered entrees to satisfy our big appetites after a day of skiing – crab bisque, Durham Ranch Bison Tenderloin with smoked paprika and bleu cheese fondue, and pan seared California Sturgeon in celeriac puree, gremolata, caviar and vodka emulsion.  On the children’s menu, my son ordered grilled New York steak.  All our entrees were delicious and cooked perfectly to order. Somehow we found room for dessert, the fabulous Baked Tahoe, a decorative and decadent meringued and flamed fudge brownie which is the most ordered item on the menu.

For authentic Italian cuisine we went where the locals go, Azzarra’s at Incline Village.  The 35-year-old family owned eatery fills up fast after 5pm with regulars who have been coming for years to enjoy its relaxed family friendly atmosphere, outstanding service and traditional Italian dishes.  We enjoyed a chock-full-of seafood paella, a swordfish served atop an awesome risotto, and for my son a heaping serving of spaghetti with meatballs from the kids menu.  We were sad to leave behind the leftovers from the generous portions, but then again we felt like we would not have to eat again for the next 48 hours.


Another Incline Village locals’ favorite is Austin’s, a tiny restaurant of 13 tables but with a lot of down-home Tahoe charm.  Their dinner menu proudly promises the best of mountain country cooking, like country cornbread, served with honey, and two side dishes with entrees.  We savored a few of the most popular dishes of chicken fried steak, classic meat loaf and a legendary rib eye steak that will bring back memories of Uncle Buck.  We were there on a cold winter’s night, but according to the locals, the outside patio is the place to hang in summertime.


For a truly outstanding view, the window-side tables at Riva Grill offer stunning vistas from its lakeside location on South Lake Tahoe.  Executive Chef Peter Brinckerhoff has created an artful yet hearty menu of delectable turns on comfort foods like pork ribs, served Riva style slow cooked with a pomegranate glaze; or rib eye, char grilled with a rum peppercorn sauce on truffle mashed potatoes; and lamb chops, basked in a blackberry-balsamic reduction and served with a sundried cranberry and smoked gouda risotto.  Even my very favorite dessert, bread pudding, got the Riva treatment with Callebaut dark chocolate, vanilla bean anglaise and fresh raspberries.  The exquisite menu is complemented by the restaurant’s ambiance and décor, featuring many polished wood surfaces, reminiscent of its name sake, the famed Riva sleek wood boats of Milan.