Eat Like a Local: Lake Tahoe

  • 6 Local Favorites
  • The Getaway Cafe
  • Rubicon Pizza
  • Izzy's Burger Spa
  • Sprouts
  • Naked Fish

Skip the white tablecloths and the mile-long waiting list. 

Here’s where the real locals in the Lake Tahoe area go for the best food around, from a fill-you-up-all-day breakfast burrito to the freshest sushi in town to a ridiculously tasty Thai pizza. 

The Getaway Cafe

Find it: Located on Highway 50 in Meyers, California, you’ll hit up the Getaway Café on your way from South Lake Tahoe to Kirkwood for a hearty, pre-ski-day breakfast.

The vibe: It’s a cozy place made for reading the newspaper over bottomless coffee. 

The menu offers comfort food designed as a remedy for last night’s debauchery (like the Morning After breakfast, a biscuit with eggs and gravy) or as fuel for a day in the mountains.

The goods: You’ll find a global mix of American, Italian, and Mexican foods, like a breakfast chorizo quesadilla, made with spinach tortillas and homemade salsa, or the Paisano omelet, stuffed with Italian sausage.  

Try: The Getaway is known for their breakfasts, and you can’t go wrong with the huevos rancheros or the breakfast burrito. 

But we like the coconut-crusted French toast, three wedges of sourdough bread smothered with bananas and a creamy coconut sauce.

Tip: Breakfast is served till 3 p.m., so even if you come at lunchtime, you can still order eggs. 

If you’d rather have lunch, their cowboy meatloaf sandwich is a slam-dunk. 

Rubicon Pizza Company

Find it: You can’t miss the ice skating rink in the middle of the Northstar village

Rubicon Pizza Company is located right next to the rink.

The crowd: Off-duty ski patrollers and lifties hit up Rubicon after work, as well as local families, thanks to its casual, fun-loving vibe and convenient, I-just-got-done-skiing-and-I’m-starving location.

Rubicon Pizza Company

The goods: This place is known for their California-fresh pizzas, loaded with veggies atop chewy, medium-thin crusts, as well as a solid spread of pastas and salads.

You could make a whole meal just off the appetizer menu.

Try: The house pizza, the Rubicon, comes with pepperoni, sausage, and portabella mushrooms, and it’s a top seller. 

Or opt for the Thai red curry chicken pizza. 

Sounds weird, but it’s delicious—a tasty blend of spice, basil, and cilantro.

Tip: Skiing elsewhere around the lake and want good pizza? 

Rubicon’s owner also owns Base Camp Pizza Co. in South Lake Tahoe and Fireside Pizza Co. in Squaw Valley, and the menu and pizza offerings at those locations are comparable. 

Review: Rubicon PizzaBy Amy Whitley

Rubicon is our go-to dinner pick when we have the whole family in tow and want to linger in the Northstar Village after the lifts stop turning.

We hold off hungry kids (and, ok, ourselves) with complimentary s’mores from the Northstar staff at 4 p.m. (keep an eye out…you’ll see them!), then everyone ice skates on the village rink while I put our name in at Rubicon. (Do this to avoid a long wait on weekends.)

By the time our table is ready, everyone is pink-cheeked and hungry. Tip: Grab a pre-dinner cocktail at the rink while you watch the kids take some turns.

Rubicon is one of those dinner hot spots that appeals to everyone. Who doesn’t love a good, cheesy pie to replenish the calories?

The Four-Cheese pizza the kids order is always good enough to tempt me, too, if it weren’t for the Thai Red Curry or Roasted Medley options. Grab a large salad to split at the table for a little greenery and check out the beverages—Rubicon has multiple beers on tap and decent mixed drinks—but save room for dessert.

We always order (at least) one Out-of-the-Oven Chocolate Chip Cookie. It’s deliciously huge and amazing and a great motivator to hit the slopes with a vengeance the next morning to work it off.

The atmosphere in Rubicon is what I’d called kid-friendly ski-chic: You’ll see everyone from families to singles, but we’re all there for the same reasons: to relive our epic day on the mountain and refuel for tomorrow’s adventures. Dig in!

Izzy’s Burger Spa

Find it: Izzy’s is on Highway 50 smack in the middle of South Lake Tahoe as you’re heading south out of town.

The vibe: This fast-paced burger joint has the feel of an old-school drive-in. 

You’ll order at a crowded counter and sit outside on wooden benches. 

“South Lake Tahoe has a lot of burger joints, but this is the locals’ favorite,” says local skier and engineer Meghan Kelly.

The goods: Giant, one-third pound charbroiled burgers, topped with locally-sourced tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, and more. 

They also sell fish and chips and chili dogs, but you’ll come for the burger.

Try: The bonsai burger comes with teriyaki sauce and a fat slice of pineapple. 

Order it with a basket of “frings” — half fries, half onion rings.

Tip: On a busy day (read: every day), call ahead and your order will be ready when you arrive. 

It takes about 10 minutes for the cooks to churn out your order. 


Find it: On the corner of Alameda Avenue and Highway 50, Sprouts is on your way to anywhere in South Lake Tahoe.

The crowd: Natural, organic ingredients make Sprouts the go-to choice for the health-conscious and vegetarian.

The goods: Meal-sized salads, real fruit smoothies, bowls filled with healthy ingredients like baked tofu and kale, and a lengthy cold and hot sandwich menu.

Try: You can’t go wrong with the cheesy, open-faced tuna melt or the couscous hummus burrito. 

If you’re sharing, order the Ugly Gooey Excellent Nachos (tempeh optional). And bring cash. 

They don’t accept credit cards.

Trivia: Sprouts owner Trevor Cannon, who runs the place with his wife, Cheryl, bought the space in 1990. 

But in the 1970s and ’80s, Trevor’s mother ran a juice bar and health food shop out of this same location, which she called The Fresh Apple. 


Naked Fish

Find it: The Naked Fish is on Highway 50 just west of the Heavenly village, a couple of blocks from the casinos in South Lake Tahoe.

The crowd: Happy hour attracts hungry locals on a budget, and the late-night scene in the attached lounge is full of partygoers gearing up for a night out.

The goods: You’ll find the freshest sushi in the Lake Tahoe area here, thanks to a secret fish supplier some 200 miles away. 

They also have an eclectic sake menu and plenty of cooked dishes for the non-sushi lovers.

Try: Opt for the Sierra Powder Roll, which is stuffed with albacore tuna and asparagus, covered with a wasabi cream sauce, and the Heavenly Roll, made with yellowtail, salmon, green onion, and a citrusy sauce.

Tip: Get killer drink and sushi deals during happy hour, Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. 

This winter, there will be a second, late-night happy hour from 9 p.m. until closing. 

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