Polished Off North Lake Tahoe’s foodie scene focuses on local fare

  • North Shore Favorites
  • Manzanita, Northstar
  • Zephyr Lodge, Northstar
  • Moody's Bistro, Truckee

From Los Angeles to San Francisco, California enjoys a famously robust restaurant scene, as metropolitan restaurants draw from the Golden State’s bounty of farmers’ markets, fields of fruits and vegetables, and a verdant wine country. 

The trend toward using local and organic produce has taken longer to arrive in high-country kitchens, where the growing season is shorter. 

But in the last decade, the locavore trend has started to take root among North Lake Tahoe’s restaurants.

Helping the movement is a group of north shore chefs who spearhead the Best of Tahoe Chefs fundraiser. 

Chefs like Mike Davis of the West Shore Café and Stanley Miller, executive chef at Manzanita in the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, have collaborated on ways to work with local farmers and grow the North Lake Tahoe food scene. 

In summer, you’ll now find a farmers’ market three to four days a week, from Incline Village to Truckee to Kings Beach. And those fresh, locally sourced ingredients are elevating the dining experience all over the north shore.

As a community, we’ve come together to develop relationships between farmers and chefs. There’s a real synergy developing. We’re putting Tahoe back on the map.

Intimate Affair, Sophisticated Fare: Manzanita

Inside the Ritz-Carlton, located mid-mountain at Northstar California Resort, Manzanita offers up European-influenced California cuisine with an emphasis on organic, sustainable, and locally sourced ingredients. 

At Manzanita, chefs show off their culinary artistry with an open kitchen, and diners can get a true behind-the-scenes experience at the private Chef’s Table. 

“We’re at the forefront of the organic and local movement,” says Chef Miller, who is working with the region’s farmers. “The season inspires our dishes.”

Manzanita Restaurant

Miller sources the meat for his free-range chicken—a menu staple—from Fulton Valley, a Central Valley antibiotic- and hormone-free farm.

In the kitchen, the chicken is pan-seared and paired with a rutabaga mash, parsnips, heirloom carrots, and pomegranate salsa.

The clientele at this Forbes Four-Star award-winning restaurant are educated foodies from the Bay Area who take the sustainable-sourcing concept seriously. 

“They demand it,” says Miller, whose family owned a butcher shop in rural Ohio. 

He started as an apprentice at 13. By 16, he was all but running the place.

The setting inside Manzanita reflects the menu’s organic philosophy, with natural materials and textures. 

The hardwood chef’s table and exposed wooden beams were repurposed from lumber cleared to build the hotel. 

“There was even a sustainable thought process in building the restaurant,” Miller says.

Haute Cuisine, Up High: Zephyr Lodge

New for the 2014–15 season, Northstar is introducing a concept that will delight foodies: From December through March, twice-monthly culinary extravaganzas called Mountain Table will be hosted at the Zephyr Lodge, at an elevation of 8,000 feet, where floor-to-ceiling windows offer ogle-worthy panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada’s Pacific Crest. 

By day, skiers and snowboarders enjoy options like the Asian Fusion station and Napa Salad Bar. 

But when the sun sets, the lodge will be transformed into a white-tablecloth sanctuary. 

The gondola whisks diners skyward for high-altitude culinary indulgence. 

Once there, diners celebrate California’s bounty of fresh produce, meats, and seasonal ingredients. To complete the experience, chefs pair plates with artisan wines, beers, and distilled spirits from the region.

Dinner and a Show: Moody's Bistro Bar & Beats

Moody Bar and Bistro

Follow the hip crowd to Moody’s in Truckee, where people go for an inspired, Zagat-rated menu and a carefully curated lineup of toe-tapping live-music acts. 

Burgundy velvet banquettes and art-deco fixtures set a loungelike atmosphere that attracts a buzzing crowd. 

“After dinner, we move the tables so people can dance,” manager Ashley Cumming says. Moody’s is tucked in the historic 1873 Truckee Hotel, a one-time stagecoach stop that’s now a magnet for history buffs, music aficionados, and foodies alike.

Moody’s executive chef, Will Burns, has manned the stoves at such world-class restaurants as Le Bernardin and 11 Madison Park. 

He developed a flair for California cuisine under chef Traci Des Jardins at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. 

At Moody’s, Burns populates the menu with line-caught fish; certified organic and humanely raised chicken; and sustainably raised meats from family-owned ranches.

Whenever possible, Chef Burns draws on regional, organic, and seasonal ingredients.

At the bar, sample small plates of pork belly or nibble on a Chanterelle Mushroom pizza—poached eggs, truffle mascarpone, and pine nuts—from the kitchen’s brick oven.

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