The Tail O’ the Whale (10300 Bridge Bay Rd., Redding, 800/752-9669, www.sevencrown.com/lakes/lake_shasta) at the Bay Bridge Resort west of I-5 offers three meals daily in a casual dining room that’s perfect for lakeside vacationers. The lengthy menu has plenty of American resort mid-scale favorites, with something to please almost everybody.
On the east side, the Silverthorn Resort boasts the only pizza along the lake at the Silverthorn Pizza and Pub (16250 Silverthorn Rd., Redding, www.silverthornresort.com/resort-svcs/pizza.html, Mon. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Tues.–Wed. noon–10 p.m., Thurs. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–1 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–9 p.m.). This ultra-casual eatery boasts ice-cold beer, piping hot pizzas, and other homey fare. A huge deck overlooking the lake lures folks out for cocktails, then bar games like pool and live music bring them back inside as night falls.
For supplies, Lakehead boasts the Lakeshore Village Market (20750 Lakeshore Dr., Lakehead, 530/238-8615) with plenty of food, plus basic camping, fishing, and outdoor recreation supplies for visitors staying at the north end of the lake.
A few miles north of the lake on I-5, where any hint of civilization disappears, you’ll come upon the tiny “town” of Pollard Flat. This flat spot beside the road has one odd, rambling, blocky building, The Restaurant at Pollard Flat (24235 Eagles Roost Rd, Lakehead, 530/238-2534, $10), as well as a bar, mini-mart, and gas station. But what the restaurant at Pollard Flat has the most of is atmosphere. A few stools sit at a bar or counter (it’s anyone’s guess as to which it really is) just inside. Turn left and you’ll be in the first of a warren of dark dining rooms, fitted out with ancient wooden tables and black vinyl booths.
Just to sit down in this place and ask for a menu and a glass of water requires a degree of courage. To have a meal is the test of a genuine adventurer. A safer option might be the minimal packaged snacks and sodas sharing space with the bait and NRA stickers in the equally dim and creepy adjoining mini-mart.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition