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At South Lake Tahoe, The World is Your Oyster, Or Ribeye Steak, Or Sushi

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What in the world do you want to eat tonight? At Lake Tahoe South Shore try Thai, Italian, Pan-Asian, Japanese, Mexican, Swiss or California cuisine. The international culinary smorgasbord includes four-star restaurants, European-inspired bistros, one-of-a-kind fresh delis with organic nibbles and pizzerias.

Ranked the No. 1 Travel Destination in the U.S. in TripAdvisor 2008, South Lake Tahoe adds multiple dining options to its reputation as the epicenter for 24-hour nightlife, world-class gaming, and exceptional headliner entertainment.

Fine Dining, Tahoe Style…cafe fiore outside photo PicmonkeyCafe Fiore is known for a great wine list.

Gi Fu Loh is where east meets west and guests can select from a variety of live seafood – Grouper, Alaska King crab, Geoduck Clam, Maine lobster, and Dungeness crab – flipping fresh from tank to plate.

Ciera Steak + Chophouse inside MontBleu is one of two AAA Four Diamond Award winning restaurant in South Lake Tahoe. The stylish and sophisticated atmosphere includes semi-private, curtained booths and a private banquet room. The professional staff is headed by executive chefBradley Nuss, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a certified American Culinary Federation chef.

19 Kitchen • Bar inside Harveys Casino, Lake Tahoe provides spectacular views of Lake Tahoe. The eclectic menu offers a variety of steak, lamb, lobster and other seafood. Surf’n’turf is a popular choice that gives diners significant portions ofbroiled filet, short ribs, seared diver scallop and Australian lobster.

Evan’s Gourmet American Café is acclaimed as Lake Tahoe's finest restaurant, (with the highest Zagat rating in Northern California, East of the Bay Area). Evan's features a blend of cuisine styles from around the world. A longtime favorite for great food and service, it’s a romantic getaway from the hustle and bustle. Creative dishes, sophisticated menu, strong wine list and chef and staff who mean to please.

Mirabelle provides excellent French cuisine and has done so for many years. Mirabelle’s is another quaint spot off the beaten track, with unique daily specials. Unbelievable Osso Bucco, Roasted Boneless Pheasant Breast, Grilled Ostrich Fan Filet and Sautéed Large Prawns, Roasted Peppered Venison, Roasted Lamb Rack Seasoned with Fresh Thyme all prepared with great care and elan. Daily specials.

Cafe Fiore Italian Restaurant is authentic, quaint, romantic and a great spot for anniversaries, celebrations. The house-specialty appetizer is eggplant crepes, four thinly sliced eggplant rounds stuffed with smoked salmon, grilled and served in a sherry cream and sun-dried tomato sauce. The menu has some hearty pasta dishes -- linguine with seafood sautéed in a cognac, caper and lemon butter sauce; fettuccine tossed with garlic, artichoke hearts, broccoli, olives, pine nuts and tomatoes in a white wine sauce -- and a lineup of imaginative dinners starring chicken, pork tenderloin, filet mignon and veal, grilled lamb chops with shiitake mushrooms and pine nuts in a Madera wine reduction sauce; and tender ahi with crushed black peppercorns, seared in olive oil and finished with garlic butter sauce. Awarded the "Wine Spectator Award of Excellence" since 1992, more than 330 vinos are available.

Other venues for fine dining or a proper cowboy ribeye, filet mignon, ribs or seafood include: Friday’s Station, Sage Room Steak House and Stateline Brewery.

New Kids on the Block…

Latin Soul, Lakeside Inn & Casino Rare blend of unique dishes from numerous South American countries. Sweetcorn tamales filled with avocado, cotija cheese and sour cream or the pickled onion, lemon infusion black beans alongside lamb barbacoa now tempt morning taste buds. The sweet/sour taste of tamarind barbecued into salmon fillet picks up similar hits from the crisp shards of jicama, papaya and cucumber slaw make it a perfect choice. Imaginative daily specials are available.

Après Wine Company offers tastings, wine by the glassand bottle, tapas-style meals and a gift shop along with Beach Hut Deli, which originated in Folsom, California and is a popular spot in Sacramento and Reno, opened on the south shore.

Stunning Lake Views…

Riva Grill at Ski Run Marina features lakefront dining year round. Amazing sunsets views are served nightly, with specialty drinks, like the Wet Woody. Riva Grill offers floor-to-ceiling views in a comfortable, mahogany dining room with the nostalgic ambiance of Tahoe's classic wood boating era.Edgewood Tahoe Dining Room PicmonkeyElegant Setting at Edgewood.

Edgewood Restaurant offers wonderful dinners mere yards for Lake Tahoe. Appetizers like the Grilled Diver Scallops in ginger sauce and the Ahi & Avocado Napoleon push diners in exciting new directions, while everyday specials make excellent use of local produce and seafood. The entrée menu speaks to lovers of intelligently designed cuisine: complex but never confusing, complete and fulfilling, strong meaty dishes combined with a variety of international flavors. Dishes like fresh Tasmanian King Salmon with wild mushrooms or Fresh Ahi Tuna with wasabi crème illustrate the restaurant’s range while never losing sight of the ultimate goal: a satisfying meal.

Fresh Ketch is known for pairing seafood specials with an extensive wine list and for cozy fireplace dining in the downstairs Seafood Bar. This popular place has combined fine dining with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada for 21 years. It was voted Tahoe’s Best Seafood for the past five years. The Ketch stared on the TV Food Network when the chef prepared Cioppino, halibut with fruit salsa, and lamb chops for the crew of Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels.

Freshies on Lake Tahoe Boulevard is little slice of Hawaii with island décor and a friendly wait staff and during the warmer months the outdoor deck overlooks the lake. Owners Eric and Melodie are known for creative vegetarian and vegan dishes and the best fish tacos north of San Diego. A variety of entrées on the seasonally changing menu include Hawaiian pork ribs, filet mignon, and tofu scampi. “Good luck deciding from the menu--an eclectic variety of great fresh food, made with turbo freshness,” said Joel Muzzey, senior editor and photography editor for Snowboarder Magazine.

Other places to soak in views of Lake Tahoe or catch the breathtaking sunset include 19 Kitchen • Bar, Beacon Bar & Grill, Chart House and Zephyr Cove Lodge.

The Raw Side of Tahoe…

The Naked Fish is one of the south shore’s most innovative sushi spots. An experienced sushi chef creates a menu for all tastes, even those not fond of sushi. Creative names for specialty rolls, like the Sierra Powder Roll with white fish, albacore and asparagus, topped with wasabi tobiko and wasabi cream sauce, reflect the setting of this “must-visit mountain-town sushi bar.”

Samurai Restaurant is fine Japanese dining in an elegant contemporary setting at this long-time favorite sushi bar and restaurant. Featuring a wide variety of deliciously cooked entrees in an authentic atmosphere, Samurai Restaurant has been serving Lake Tahoe since 1984.

Off The Hook has over 70 rolls that blends Asian Fusion with a California twist, using non-traditional sushi ingredients such as garlic, basil, cilantro, and macadamia nuts. Sushi lovers enjoy the moderate prices and Zen atmosphere.

The ethnic food tour continues with seafood, pad-Thai, enchiladas, sushi rolls, and linguini at these memorable spots: Capisce, del Soul, Kalani's, Latin Soul, LA Italian Kitchen, Mirabelle French Cuisine, Mandarin Garden, Orchid's Authentic Thai Cuisine, Passaretti's Italian Restaurant, Sato Japanese Restaurant, Scusa, Swiss Chalet, Sushi Pier, Taj Mahal Indian Cuisine, Tep’s Villa Roma and McDuff’s.

Kick Back for Casual Eats…

Sprouts Natural Foods Caféserves breakfast, lunch and dinner from an extensive menu of sandwiches, burritos, fresh vegetable and fruit juices, wheat grass, homemade vegan soups and rice bowls. Locals rave about the fresh fruit smoothies.

The Burger Lounge on Emerald Bay Road features unusual burgers that have become urban legends around south shore Lake Tahoe. Recipes gathered from the owners extensive travels include a ‘Hangover Helper’ Burger and a ‘Jiffy’ Burger topped with peanut butter, bacon, and cheddar.

The Divided Sky is a bar to some and a restaurant to others. An upstairs living-room-like setting offers live music,local brews, a friendly vibe, and organic sandwiches, salads and soups. The Divided Sky is located on highway 50 in Meyers and hosts live music on the weekends.

For more quick and casual eats try: Brother’s Burritos, Blue Angel Café, Blue Dog Pizza, Coyote Grill, Fire + Ice, Fox & Hound, McP’s Irish Pub, The Cork & More, Mott Canyon Tavern & Grill, Nepheles, Rojo’s, Sierra Choices Café and The Brewery.

Eye-Opening Morning Favorites…

The Red Hut Café is a Tahoe institution. The family owned and operated restaurant has been a local favorite for breakfast and lunch since 1959. The folksy, friendly‘50s café has a nostalgic vibe, vinyl booths, and counter stools. Hearty portions on the classic diner menu include four-egg omelets and The Usual, two eggs and all the trimmings. Smaller appetites can have half orders of biscuits and gravy and hash browns. The Red Hut has two locations in California and another in Nevada at the state line.

Ernie’s Café on Highway 50 at the “Y” has been serving traditional American breakfast to locals and visitors for 25 years. A spin-off by the same owner, Bert’s Café, is across the street, featuring homemade frittatas and hand squeezed orange juice.

Other popular spots to fuel up in the morning include: Alpina Café, Bear Beach Café, Downtown Café, Driftwood Café, Heidi’s, Key’s Café, Rude Borthers, The Getaway Café and the Timber House inside Lakeside Casino.

Getting There

South Tahoe is accessible via Reno/Tahoe International Airport and Sacramento International Airport. Driving from Sacramento is about a two hour trip up U.S. Hwy. 50.

TravMedia.com sources contributed to this article.

Editor's note: Planning a visit to Lake Tahoe? Links to the websites of Lodging and Dining options can be found in the High Sierra sections of Taste California Travel's Resource Directory.

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