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10 Best Homestyle Restaurants and Cafes in the Lake Tahoe Area



You are up at Lake Tahoe enjoying a day of skiing or hiking and you are craving Mom's cooking. What's a person with a growling stomach supposed to do? There are dozens of restaurants around the Tahoe area that serve up dishes that will remind you of Mom's (or Grandma's) cooking. Start out a day of playing in the snow with pancakes or waffles at the Old Post Office Coffee Shop on the North Shore or Eggs Benedict and homemade hash browns at Bert's Cafe on the South Shore. Wildflower is also a popular place for breakfast as well as lunch and is located in Incline Village. On the East Shore near Heavenly is the Driftwood Cafe which offers locally made coffee and on the West Shore is the popular Fire Sign Cafe.

For dinner, head to the local's favorite, The Pfeifer House, for some authentic and homemade German, Belgian and French food. Their "hunter style" chicken breast will make you think you have just come in from the German countryside. If you want to keep it close to home, head to Austin's on the North Shore for "comfort food for the soul."


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There are actually two Red Huts in South Lake Tahoe. The newer building is right in the middle of town, while the older Red Hut is just West of the newer building. Each restaurant has great diner breakfasts and lunches, shakes, burgers and sandwiches. However, most locals go to the original Red Hut Cafe for their popular waffles like the Pecan or Coconut Waffle, omelets (like the Western Omelet with Ham, Cheese, Onion, and Bell Peppers), their short stacks, fresh eggs, hash browns and hot oatmeal with brown sugar. Both Red Huts serve up hot coffee and hot chocolate and the newer Red Hut has a soda fountain.

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South Lake Tahoe


Primo's Italian Bistro in South Lake Tahoe has been getting great reviews for its authentic Italian food which includes pasta, pizza, soups, salads and classic dishes like Steak Pizzaiola, Saltimboca, Cioppino and Homemade Lasagna. Other items (all under $10 for lunch) include Eggplant Parmesan, Baked Ravioli and Linguine with Clams. Dinner items include Organic Free-Range Chicken Marsala for $15.95, Osso Bucco and Seafood Fra Diavolo. They also offer gluten-free pastas. Primo's pizzas are hand tossed and baked in a brick oven. A large is $14.95 and you have your choice of Sausage with Red Roasted Pepper & Caramelized Onions, White Pizza with Spinach, Artichoke & Tomato, Eggplant, Roasted Garlic & Ricotta, Capicola, Sausage, Peperoni & Meatball, Shrimp Scampi Pizza, and Pesto Margherita.

Recommended for Homestyle because: Primo's has some of the best homemade sauces and pizza crust in the Tahoe area.

Christina's expert tip: Try the excellent boar ravioli.

Read more about Primo's Italian Bistro →




With rave reviews from locals and visitors and publications like Ski Magazine, Travel & Leisure and Sunset and lines often out the door on busy weekend mornings, Fire Sign Cafe is surely one of Tahoe's most popular breakfast spots. A quick glance at the menu shows why � a dill and artichoke omelet, veggie eggs Benedict, a gouda scramble, and buckwheat pancakes topped with hot, freshly-made blueberry and raspberry sauce are representative of the ante meridiem treats that await. Lunch is served, but for late-risers, breakfast is available all day. An attractive deck is open seasonally and the cafe is just steps away from the lake.

Recommended for Homestyle because: The Fire Sign Cafe was featured on Rachel Rays "Tasty Travels" on the Food Network.

Christina's expert tip: The Fire Sign is in between Tahoe City and Homewood, so it's away from most of the town crowds.

Read more about Fire Sign Café →


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The Driftwood Cafe near the Heavenly ski area has a huge menu full of breakfast and lunch items. This cute little diner serves items such as Huevos Rancheros, Eggs Benedict, Breakfast Burritos and Sandwiches and their Outrageous Omeletts with three eggs. The Herb Cheese Omelette has zucchini and green onions topped with herb cheese sauce and the Black Bean Chicken Chili Omelette has cheddar cheese, green onions and sour cream. The Driftwood also serves buttermilk pancakes, French Toast and an assortment of waffles. For lunch the Driftwood serves various sandwiches, salads, soup, chili and specialties such as Fish Tacos, Escargot and Grilled Basa.

Recommended for Homestyle because: The dishes at the Driftwood Cafe are generous in size.

Christina's expert tip: The Driftwood serves locally roasted coffee.

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The Old Post Office Cafe in Carnelian Bay has a casual, laid back atmosphere with good home-style breakfasts. Try the build-your-own egg-and-cheese scrambles, fluffy pancakes that are made from scratch and breakfast burritos with local eggs. Locals love this casual coffee shop and breakfast spot located in an old post office. Sit awhile and read the paper at the counter, or bring a couple of friends and have a leisurely meal in the dining room. Specials such as crab cakes Benedict are occasionally on offer, and you'll find standards like omelets and French toast on the menu. Expect a short wait on weekends and on snowy mornings.

Recommended for Homestyle because: The down-to-earth crowd and menu at the Old Post Office make the place warm and inviting.

Christina's expert tip: A great spot to meet locals. A true Mom and Pop operation.

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Part of Tahoe's history, this long-lived European restaurant still pleases patrons with robust German, French, and Swiss dishes. Options like roastbraten, Swiss bratwurst with red cabbage, and "hunter style" chicken breast have a decidedly Old World flair that permeates the entire menu. Fish, game, pork, and poultry arrive in a variety of tried-and-true preparations and speciality dishes like Chateaubriand and the Long Island Duckling Feast for two are wonderful for those special occasions. Dinner comes with soup and salad and hot French rolls. Appetizers like the Escargot "Bourguignon", Smoked Salmon and Bismark Herring Garnie all cost $11 and begin the meal with a bang. The wine list is full of wines from France and Germany like Spätlese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reisling, Pinot Noir and some excellent Merlot from Sonoma and Napa Valley.

Recommended for Homestyle because: The food at the Pfeifer House is like eating at your German grandmother's home.

Christina's expert tip: The Pfeifer House is a local favorite for special occasions.

Read more about Pfeifer House →


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South Lake Tahoe


Burt's Cafe in South Lake Tahoe is a classic greasy spoon that is open for breakfast and lunch and features homemade from scratch items like Pancakes. Eggs Benedict, Biscuits and Gravey, Chicken Fried Steak and Crepes. Other items include Huevos Rancheros, Cheese Blintzes and Club Sandwiches and salads. All the dishes at Bert's are hearty and the service is great, but sometimes there is a wait on holiday or summer weekends. Drinks like coffee, tea, soda and iced tea are served all day long and most of the prices for the dishes range around $8-$12 with plenty of refills on the drinks.

Recommended for Homestyle because: Bert's serves breakfast and lunch (and fresh coffee) all day.

Christina's expert tip: There may be a wait for this diner on weekends.

Read more about Bert's Cafe →


T's Mesquite Rotisserie
Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann


This simple, family-run restaurant has been in the area for over 20 years and is the go-to place for quick, but healthy and tasty rotisserie meats with a Latin flair. T's serves chicken, pork and beef tri-tip rotisserie plates served with various salsas, sauces and tortillas. They also have the classic tacos and burritos as well as pulled pork with a mess of sauces to add to your sandwich. To wash it all down, the ice tea and lemonade is perfect. Be prepared to stand in line to order and eat either in the basic seating area or take your food outside or even on the road.

Recommended for Homestyle because: T's homemade rotisserie meats can be smelled from the street.

Christina's expert tip: T's Mesquite is a cash-only establishment.

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Austin's
Photo courtesy of Christina Nellemann


If you work up a giant appetite on the slopes or while hiking, Austin's is the place to sate yourself. The small local chain is appreciated throughout Tahoe for its enormous (and delicious) portions of American classics: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, chicken fried steak, salads, warm cornbread, and crispy buttermilk fries. Their sandwiches and burgers are very popular and include the delicious Mountain Melt. They restaurant will offer local, seasonal salads in the summer. Extremely reasonable prices increase Austin's appeal for lunch or dinner. If possible, save room for something sweet � pies are packed with juicy fillings and served with whipped cream.

Recommended for Homestyle because: Austin's offers "comfort food for the soul" as well as catering services.

Christina's expert tip: The Mountain Melt Burger has grilled white onions and bbq sauce on grilled sliced sourdough bread.

Read more about Austin's →


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Meet Christina Nellemann

Christina has lived in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area since she was a baby. A first-generation Nevadan, her Danish parents instilled in her an intense love of travel and the wild, rugged outdoors...  More About Christina

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