An epic view over Lake Aloha.

Fuel for adventure: Dining in South Lake Tahoe

An epic view over Lake Aloha.

An epic view over Lake Aloha.

Hiking in the Lake Tahoe area this summer certainly worked up my appetite and being a bit of a foodie, I set out to find where the locals eat in South Lake Tahoe. Of course, I couldn’t hit them all in one trip, so I progressively visited places over the course of three weeks, usually before or after hikes with epic views.

When planning a trip to Lake Tahoe, in between booking hotels in your budget and mapping hiking routes, save some time to explore the local nosh. Because I was looking for healthy meals, with the exception of a very worthwhile ice cream break, all of the places listed below offered healthy (often vegetarian) choices. Somehow, food always tastes better after a day outdoors, so I’m sure all of these haunts would be just as delectable after a day of snow skiing as well. Here are five of my favorites:

Fueling my adventure at Ernie’s – I’ll admit, my sister Laura and I became regulars at Ernie’s Coffee Shop during my stay. The protein pancakes smeared with peanut butter, applesauce and honey were the perfect pre-hike breakfast. Additionally, the staff picked up on my coffee habit and kept the mug full from the moment my butt hit the chair. The vibe is classic diner with a friendly staff. My kinda’ place! I’m craving their breakfast as I write this post.

Ernie's mug

The staff always kept their signature mugs full for me!

Thai at Orchid’s – Not only does Orchid’s nail intricate Thai flavors, I also liked that they offered a comprehensive vegetarian menu. I had the Panang Tofu and it was awesome. The atmosphere was nothing special but the food and service put it on my list for a return visit. Yelp Reviews

Freshies – Don’t. Miss. It! With eclectic décor and a creative Hawaiian fusion menu, this spot is a must-visit when in South Lake Tahoe. I tried both the tempeh and Portobello tacos and both were good. If I had to pick I’d go with the Portobello as a favorite. The side of fresh and tangy slaw served on the platter was excellent. Freshies serves both vegetarian and meat dishes so there is something for everyone. Don’t plan of chatting on your cell phone here, as they are not welcome, just relax and enjoy good food and company instead.

Portobello and tempeh taco platter at Freshies.

A special treat at Aloha Ice Cream – Aloha is located in the same building with Freshies, so make sure you leave room for dessert. It is worth the calories… They also make very high-end ice cream cakes. One of the weddings I photographed in Tahoe had a wedding cake by Aloha. I would have never guessed it was ice cream – a work of art. It’s a classic ice cream joint, nothing fancy, just scrumptious decadence. Please note that they are CASH ONLY. Yelp Reviews

Berry ice cream

Loved the real berries in this ice cream!

Sprouts Natural Foods Café and Juice Bar – This mostly vegetarian restaurant has been a local a favorite since opening in 1990. It also has a great casual vibe and outdoor seating. They offer a wide variety of meals but what I really liked were the juices. I had their ginger-carrot juice and it was awesome! Be forewarned – they DO NOT accept credit cards and expect a wait around lunchtime. Yelp Reviews

Veg taco bowl at sprouts.

Veg taco bowl and my favorite juice (carrot ginger) at Sprouts.

Because I didn’t have the chance to make to all of the restaurants locals recommended during my stay, I suspect I’ll have another list after I visit again. Do you know of any South Lake Tahoe eateries I should be sure to try? Please comment below!

Comments 6

  1. I haven’t been to any of these South Lake restaurants. Even though I’ve spent some time there, I didn’t really venture out from the ski resort or casino meals. lol.

    1. Were the casino meals good? I suspect that could go either way. My favorite places to eat reflect local flavor, like that taco stand we hit by the road in Riviera Maya…OMG! I would fly back just to eat there!

  2. Oh my…..Ernie’s is on my mind now. Those pancakes are so special and I saw so many other items that I have to go back and try like the linguisa and eggs for the Portuguese in my blood. The ice cream shop sounds so yummy. Thanks Erika.

  3. Oh my… .. and now I remember. These pancakes are very special and I saw so many more items that I had to go back and try like a linguist and eggs for the Portuguese in my blood. The ice cream shop is very tasty to look at. Thanks, Erica

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