The best restaurant in Truckee, and possibly in all of the Tahoe region, is undoubtedly Moody’s (10007 Bridge St., Truckee, 530/587-8688, www.moodysbistro.com, Mon.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Fri. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., $22–30). This casual-elegant eatery with fresh herbs decorating its tables adjoins the historic Truckee Hotel, just off the main commercial drag in town. The warren of tiny rustic dining rooms show a few traditional French prints on the walls, plus a handwritten plug for the local CSA program.
On weekends, strains of live jazz permeate from the lounge—just enough to be a charming background but not so loud as to forbid conversation. You’ll definitely want to make reservations for weekend evenings since locals pack in here, making table space a premium. The reason everyone comes here isn’t the lovely atmosphere—it’s the food.
Moody’s puts together a menu that makes visiting chefs swoon with joy. Ingredients are seasonal, local, sustainable, and organic, while the preparations show off the chef’s vivid imagination. You might find antelope on the menu, or local fish.
For dessert, the cook-it-yourself s’mores brought to your table with a burner and skewers are the hands-down favorite. The alcoholic coffees are not old standards and are well worth your time; just imagine proper drinking chocolate laced with homemade peppermint schnapps! In the state that invented California cuisine, and that’s filled to the brim with great upscale restaurants of all kinds, Moody’s still manages to stand out and shine.
The combination of ethnic cuisines may seem catch-all and bizarre, but the taste tells the tale at Wolfdale’s (640 N. Lake Blvd., Tahoe City, 530/583-5700, www.wolfdales.com, Wed.–Mon. 5–10 p.m., $15–25). Billing it as “cuisine unique,” the Wolfdale serves dishes that fuse Western and Far Eastern foods to create tastes you can’t find elsewhere. The small seasonal menu leans heavy on seafood, though you can also find some tasty beef and game meats at the right time of year. Lighter diners often prefer the homemade soups, salads, or unusual appetizers. Be sure to save room for the delicious desserts, most made in a light California style.
After a long day of skiing, the Terrace Bar & Restaurant (800/403-0206, www.squaw.com/terrace-bar-restaurant) at The Village at Squaw Valley can feed even the hungriest skiers. Non-skiers and casual visitors favor the Terrace because of its floor-to-ceiling windows offering fabulous views of the mountains. Everyone enjoys the casual California-style fare of mostly soups, salads, and sandwiches.
If the Terrace isn’t your preference, you can also try one of several other Squaw Valley eateries, including the Wildflour Bakery & Café (1960 Squaw Valley Rd., 530/583-1963, www.squaw.com/winter/wildflour/wf1.htm) and Alexander’s Café & Bar (1960 Squaw Valley Rd., 530/581-7278, daily 5–9 p.m.).
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition