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Lake Tahoe Area, CA

Best Restaurants in the Lake Tahoe AreaOur favorites include some of this destination's best local restaurants—from fine dining to simple fare.

Hankering for a man-sized omelet? Arrive early for breakfast, because Heidi's Pancake House gets pretty crowded when famished skiers swoosh in off the slopes in late morning. The brave or very hungry will want to order the four-egg omelet. Less ravenous diners can order one of the crepe dishes, finished off with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. For lunch, Heidi's sandwiches and burgers also hit the mark.

Chill out on the patio and watch the world go by at McP's Taphouse Grill —there's plenty of ale and cider to go around. Hungry? Order up some Mulligan stew, corned beef hash or a thick burger. The chips (aka french fries) are a must; you'll get a veritable mountain of potatoes.

Housed in a vintage cabin in South Lake Tahoe, Evans American Gourmet Cafe seats just 35 people—which makes it perfect for a romantic evening of fine dining. The service is the perfect mix of professional yet unobtrusive, and the menu excels. Start with a glass of wine from a list boasting more than 200 selections to accompany an appetizer of hoisin-and-orange-glazed prawns with Asian-style slaw. The grilled filet of beef with horseradish-green peppercorn butter and a Syrah wine reduction shows off the kitchen's expertise. A fresh fruit tart served with vanilla bean ice cream is a simple but satisfying dessert.

Tep's Villa Roma has attracted loyal customers since 1975, so they must be doing something right. This casual spot has a cozy fireplace and an antipasto bar (including a molto delizioso minestrone, homemade Italian rolls and yummy garlic sticks) that's a meal in itself. Salmon ravigote is served over sautéed spinach and topped with a seafood stuffing, and standards like veal parmigiana and chicken piccata are done well. If you have any room left for dessert, the spumoni is a good choice. Ask your server about the daily specials.

Spindleshanks American Bistro & Wine Bar is nothing fancy, but this local spot offers classic American cooking updated with inventive touches. The location is scenic—at the Old Brockway Golf Course on Lake Tahoe's northern shore, where Bing Crosby hosted his first golf tournament in the 1930s. An iceberg wedge salad is nothing new, but here it's the “Door Stopper,” gussied up with Applewood-smoked bacon, tomatoes and chives along with a Maytag blue cheese dressing. Roasted butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sage sauce is homemade and deliciously rich. The wine flight allows connoisseurs to sample three different vintages.

¡Ole! In the heart of Tahoe City's shopping district and housed in a historic 1868 inn, The Blue Agave Mexican Restaurant & Cantina serves up tried-and-true Mexican offerings like meatball soup and steak picado, chopped top sirloin sautéed in garlic butter or ranchero sauce. Carnitas, juicy chunks of roast pork, are cooked with oranges, garlic and spices. Finish off your feast with flan or sopaipillas, puffy fried pastries drizzled with honey. Large windows in the spacious dining room offer panoramic lake views, or sit outside on the patio if it's not too cold.

As cozy as a European chalet, Cafe Fiore Ristorante Italiano sits at the base of Heavenly Mountain. It's a good choice for a date night out or special occasion celebration. Aragosta melodia—lobster chunks, fresh mushrooms and tomatoes in a lemon tarragon sauce served over fettuccine—is a tasty main course, and fresh-out-of-the-oven garlic bread is worth springing for. Make sure you save room for dessert, though; tiramisu manages to be simultaneously light and decadent, and the homemade white chocolate ice cream with fresh berries is flat-out delicious. This intimate restaurant has a small number of tables, so advance reservations are essential.

Mama mia! The home cooking at Azzara's Italian Restaurant is la cosa reale. Whether it's pizza, pasta, veal Saltimbocca or osso buco, we're talking great Italian comfort food. The traditional fare at this Incline Village restaurant is tweaked with some unconventional touches; try the insalata mista dressed with a papaya seed vinaigrette. Linguine San Marco—pasta tossed in extra virgin olive oil and garlic with chicken, peas, broccoli and roasted red peppers—sings with flavor. And for dessert, diners finish off every crumb of Mrs. Azzara's tiramisu.

It's all about boats and water at Gar Woods Grill & Pier ; after all, the Carnelian Bay restaurant is named after noted boat designer Garfield Wood. Sip on a Wet Woody, the restaurant's specialty drink, while strolling along the pier, Lake Tahoe's longest deepwater landing. The vaulted ceiling and lovely waterside views are sure to put you in a nautical mood. A grilled California artichoke with garlic rosemary aioli, melted butter and lemon is a perfect starter. Specialties from the grill include swordfish, blackened ahi and seared diver scallops; if you're not in the mood for seafood, try the herb-roasted chicken with garlic mashed potatoes. Snickers cheesecake should finish you off nicely. Sunday brunch here is a Tahoe tradition.

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Lake Tahoe Area, CA

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