I’m in a little bit of a conundrum. I’m now halfway through my first winter living in a ski town, and I can’t decide if I like skiing (or in my case, snowboarding) or après-skiing better. I mean on the one hand, there’s nothing like a fresh powder day, which the snow gods have blessed us with so many this winter. Yet with après-skiing, there are no lift lines, layers of clothes, ridiculous boots, and sore muscles the following day. So while I’ve most certainly shared about the virtues of snowboarding, and especially snowboarding in Lake Tahoe, today I’m talking all things après-ski in North Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe, without a shadow of a doubt, is one of my favorite corners of the world. That’s no secret. But Lake Tahoe has also grown to be one of my favorite après-ski destinations. That’s in part due to the backdrop (hello, North America’s largest alpine lake and the Sierra Nevada mountains), but also because of the diversity of food and drink experiences. In a given day you could have a free glass of champagne at the top of a ski run, craft beer made from Lake Tahoe’s water, and a glass of award-winning wine while playing bocce in one of California’s most historic towns. That’s not a terrible day.
So while I recently wrote about the best après-ski drinks in North Lake Tahoe, today I’m sharing my favorite places to après-ski in North Lake Tahoe.
Alibi Ale Works, Incline Village. Well naturally, the first place I list should be a craft brewery. And Alibi is one of the best around Lake Tahoe. Perhaps that has something to do with Alibi actually using the water from Lake Tahoe to make its beer. Alibi’s flagship beers (pale ale, saison, and porter) are all great choices, while they also make a number of really interesting seasonal and limited release beers, such as the dark saison aged in a Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrel. My favorite days are Sundays, thanks to discount growler night, and Monday afternoon and evening, when it’s happy hour all night.
Lone Eagle Grill, Incline Village. Lakefront après-ski? Yes, please. Located at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe, this is one of my favorite all-season spots around Lake Tahoe. It’s one thing roasting s’mores, but it’s something entirely different and entirely awesome roasting s’mores around a fire pit on Lake Tahoe, which is exactly what guests of the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe can enjoy. It’s then mere feet to Lone Eagle Grill, which has a great cocktail menu, with a number of winter libations, such as the Almond Joy (coconut rum, amaretto, hot chocolate, and whipped cream), which is one of my favorites. They also have a selection of local craft beers.
Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company, Tahoe City. The craft beer theme continues with Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company. While their brewery is located in Truckee, I prefer the Tahoe City brewpub, which sits just above Lake Tahoe on North Lake Boulevard. While Tahoe Mountain Brewing has many of the classics, like IPA, pale ale, and porter, they’re known for their sours and barrel-aged beers, a number of which have won awards. They also have a full pub food menu at the Tahoe City brewpub.
Bridgetender, Tahoe City. I first went to the Bridgetender Tavern & Grill the night of the men’s basketball national championship last year. And it didn’t disappoint (that is, neither the game nor bar disappointed). They have a number of beers on draft, as well as several drinks specials, of which they’re known for their Bloody Mary (add bacon or shrimp!). The Bridgetender is also known as one of the best spots around Lake Tahoe for a burger. They even have their own burger menu, which includes exotic types of burgers that you can’t find elsewhere, like the bison and elk burgers.
Gar Woods Grill & Pier, Carnelian Bay. Gar Woods Grill & Pier is a Lake Tahoe icon. They do, after all, have their own pier. However, what they’re most famous for is the Wet Woody, which isn’t innuendo, but rather a very stiff drink, characterized by a combination of rums, liqueur, and a float of Bacardi Black and Bacardi 151. Yes, all in one drink. Being the Wet Woody is a frozen drink, and Gar Woods is known for its patio dining and imbibing, I recommend it for those nicer, warmer winter and spring ski days.
Manzanita, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. Manzanita is that quintessential, spiffy ski lodge experience that you can’t have just anywhere. Not to mention that the views are spot-on, with its location mid-mountain at Northstar California. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better cocktail in North Lake Tahoe. While I recommend every drink on the menu, some standouts include the barrel-aged Manhattan and Negroni cocktails and the Blackberry Chocolate Old Fashioned. Manzanita also makes for a great dinner spot, and as good as you’ll find in Truckee, with entrees like lamb shank and diver scallops. Is anyone else drooling on their keyboard? If it’s just drinks that you want, Manzanita is steps from The Living Room, which is The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe’s casual lounge.
tōst, Northstar California. Simply put, tōst is the bee’s knees, and one of the most unique après-ski experiences you can have in Lake Tahoe. Taking place every afternoon during the winter at 2 p.m. sharp, the ski-up champagne bar treats guests with a free glass of bubbles atop Northstar California’s East Ridge trail. You will, however, need a ski pass and a pair of skis or a snowboard to access it. But the reward is one of the best ski views (hello, Lake Tahoe) and après-ski experiences in Lake Tahoe. You can also get hella fancy and pay for access to the VIP Platinum tōst area, featuring private seating, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, a charcuterie board, and your own fire pit.
Cabana Bars, Village at Northstar. After cruising down to the bottom of Northstar California, you’re mere feet from one of North Lake Tahoe’s other unique après-ski experiences, the Cabana Bars, which are located in the Village at Northstar. Situated around the ice skating rink, the set of outdoor pop-up bars feature a selection of beer, wine, and custom cocktails. Many of the cocktails are Northstar’s take on classics, including a Bloody Mary, hot buttered rum, and the crowd favorite, Dirty Snowman, a delicious concoction of vanilla vodka, hazelnut liqueur, hot cocoa, and whipped cream.
Truckee River Winery, Truckee. Yes, a winery in a ski town, and a pretty damn good winery at that. As Truckee River Winery describes itself, it’s the “highest and coldest winery,” producing wine in Truckee (considered one of the snowiest, coldest town in America) with grapes that they’ve sourced from some of the best wine regions. Many of those grapes come from California wine appellations, such as Chalk Hill AVA in Sonoma County, where they used grapes from for their 2013 Chalk Hill Malbec, which won Double Gold in 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. I particularly recommend Truckee Winery on those spring skiing days in Lake Tahoe, as outside they have bocce courts, as well as a number of other outdoor games.
Mellow Fellow, Truckee. To many of my friends, Mellow Fellow is simply known as, “The usual.” With three locations in the area, Mellow Fellow is one of the best craft beer bars you’ll find, featuring more than 40 taps, most of which rotate regularly. They’ll sometimes even have hard-to-come-by beers, like Pliny the Elder. Mellow Fellow has a small food menu of cheese, pretzels, and sausages that are sourced locally.
I’m an ambassador for Northstar California this winter, but all thoughts are mine.
Where are your favorite places to après-ski in North Lake Tahoe?