The other day, I was walking into the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa, here at Lake Tahoe, and I was stopped by a rather handsome family of five, mom, dad and three sons. They were guests at the Hyatt, and were heading out for a day of exploring at Lake Tahoe. The reason they stopped me: Dad, with a rather desparate and hungry look on his face, asked, “Hey, excuse me, do you live here?” Assuming he meant the Lake Tahoe area and not the Hyatt, I told him I did. “Oh great” , he sighed with relief. He then came to the real question, “Where can we get a good grilled cheese around here?”
His face told the story: When you’ve gotta have a grilled cheese, nothing else will do. (By the way, if you don’t absolutely have to have a grilled cheese by the end of this article, you’re either lactose intolerant, or possess a stronger will than most.) In response to all those that hanker for a grilled cheese sandwich at Lake Tahoe, here are ten of the best places to find one:
Sierra Cafe: As I pointed out to the gentleman grilled cheese hunter, the Sierra Cafe at the Hyatt in Incline Village, cooks up a great grilled cheese sandwich. It will cost you $5.95 and will come with french fries. The atmosphere is very pleasant and the service is top notch. Of course, the Sierra Cafe has much more to offer, including truly delightful buffets.
Wildflower Cafe: Also in Incline Village, is the infamous Wildflower Cafe. Described quite nicely by a visitor from Oaklahoma, “The Wildflower Cafe is a great breakfast place. Excellent food–their pancakes always seem soooo light and fluffy–and they have great service. I’ve never been disappointed and eat there every year when I’m in Incline Village. Just a great place with a homey atmosphere.” While the Wildflower is most famous for their breakfast, they also have a full lunch menu. And, on this comfort food filled menu, is the all important grilled cheese. You can order yours on wheat, rye or sourdough bread. On the side, you can have your choice of fresh fruit, french fries, potato salad, waffle fries, home fries, or potato chips. On the child’s menu this meal is $4.95; adults pay $6.25. Say hello to the owners, George and Ellen Toto while you’re there.
Log Cabin Cafe: Heading along the west shore, you can find a child’s menu grilled cheese, for $6.95 (including french fries and a glass of juice.) at the Log Cabin Cafe. The Log Cabin, is just that, a log cabin. The atmosphere is consummately Tahoe. Each weekend you will find a crowd of folks waiting for a table to enjoy breakfast here. They also scoop great ice cream. As you’re driving through Kings Beach, you can’t miss the great big ice cream cone sign.
Syd’s Bagelry & Exspesso: Moving still further west around the lake, in Tahoe City, next to Dave’s Snowboards, is Syd’s Bagelry & Expresso. No side dishes here. This quaint little shop offers a grilled cheese on your choice of bread (thick, multi-grain, sourdough, rye or ciabatta roll) and your choice of cheese (swiss, cheddar or jack) for $2.95. They serve some pretty great bagels and expresso too.
Rosie’s Cafe: Also in Tahoe City, is the well-known Rosie’s cafe. For 29 years Dennis Loo has been the bartender at this family restaurant by day, and popular watering hole by night. Dennis epidomizes the friendly Tahoe warmth of Rosie’s. During our conversation, Dennis suggested I order the grilled cheese with ham and tomato. The grilled cheese, including french fries is yours for $4.95.
Soupa: Soupa is owned by Kali and Joseph Kopley. Bless their hearts, at Soupa in The Village at Squaw Valley, their featured fare is homemade soups and grilled cheese panini sandwiches. Without extras, you can get a grilled cheese sandwich for about $4.25. You might want to add one or more of the extras: hot peppers, tomato, bacon and pickles. They also offer baked goods such as fresh bread, cake, pies and cookies. They’re proud of their fresh, organic and seasonal ingredients. You can order yours to go, or eat in the restaurant.
Fire Sign Cafe: In Homewood, you’ll find another quaint little restaurant full of old-Tahoe atmosphere. The Fire Sign Cafe is, perhaps, best known for its breakfast. The grilled cheese here goes for $5.75 for adults and $3.50 for children. It comes with your choice of salsa, chips, green salad, fresh fruit,
Red Waffle Hut: Moving around to the south shore, you’ll find the little restaurant known by generations, the Red Waffle Hut. While they are legendary for their breakfast menu, they serve up a great grilled cheese too. For $5.99 you get their delightful grilled cheese and french fries.
Mc P’s Irish Pub & Grill: While this place is known for its live music and pub atmosphere at night, they offer a well-located grilled cheese by day. They’re directly across the street from the Heavenly gondola. The outdoor deck is heated and pleasant. You can score your grilled cheese here for $6.25, including kettle chips and potato salad.
Riva Grill: Also located close to Heavenly and right on the lake is the Reva Grill. This self-proclaimed “good ol’ American restaurant” is really quite nice. The grilled cheese is $7.90 with french fries. The more elegant fare here may tempt you as well. A bit of history: the Riva Grill is named after the famous wooden boats made by Riva. Riva runabouts won countless “races” during the firm’s infancy at the turn of the Century, gaining it a reputation for fast and well built boats.
And finally, out respect for its apparent planetary greatness, I must point out what Sunset Magazine has dubbed the “Best Grilled Cheese on the Planet” (wow). Add a comment here or email me.
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