(Scott Thompson)

A Modern Guide to Truckee: Comfort Eats and Drinks + All-Season Nature


There is much to do in the charming heart of Tahoe.

Originally named Coburn Station after a saloon keeper, the name of Truckee came to be when Europeans crossing the Sierra Nevada encountered a Paiute chief, who yelled at them, "Tro-kay!," which means "everything is alright." They assumed he was saying his name, and it stuck.

Today this darling little town holds culinary and shopping delights beyond the outdoor adventures it's enveloped in. Here's everything to do in the quaint lakeside borough.

Where to Eat and Drink in Truckee

A central ski town must have certain things, among them good wine, beer, and hearty comfort fare. And, of course, coffee. Here are the best restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in Truckee.

Restaurants in Truckee

The stylish black-and-white sign is the first signal that Moody's Bistro (10007 Bridge St.), on a prominent corner in town, is a somewhat sophisticated spot to fuel up. An extensive list of bourbons, beers, and wines will pair with Neapolitan pizzas, housemade pastas, burgers, and steaks. // Up for a drive? Technically located in Truckee but just up the hill is Manzanita (13031 Ritz Carlton Highlands Ct.), the warm and richly upholstered fine dining restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton. This is the place for elegant starters (bone marrow, Dungeness crab gnocchi), San Francisco–style mains (Mary's organic chicken), and truffle fries that are almost too good to share. Take a glass of bubbly out by the fire pit. // Want sophisticated flavors closer to town? Cottonwood (10142 Rue Hilltop Rd.) is a a perennial favorite that serves hickory salmon, cacio e pepe, stuffed whole Idaho trout, and special prix-fixe menus on holidays. // At Northstar, grab seasonal Mediterranean-inspired grub—think roasted garlic hummus with toasted bread, beet and ricotta salad, and cocoa-rubbed bavette steak—at Petra (3001 N. Village Dr., Suite 311). // Head to Rubicon (6001 Northstar Dr.) for their notorious barbecue chicken pizza. // The mountains may not seem like the first place you'd order sushi, but regulars swear by the freshness at Drunken Monkey (11253 Brockway, Suite 105), which gets its fish from the same seafood suppliers serving SF restaurants. // For lunch, pop over to Jax at the Tracks (10144 W River St.) for their crab cake, Reuben, and old-fashioned milkshakes. // 1882 Bar and Grill (10009 E. River St.) has a taco salad that's not to be missed. // Piadinas, paninis, burgers, and brews at Mellow Fellow (10192 Donner Pass Rd.) are a must.

Wine Shops and Bars in Truckee

Pick up a bottle of vino to take back to your cabin or hotel room at Uncorked Truckee (10118 Donner Pass Rd.), where you can also enjoy a glass or join the wine club or an in-store class. // Ask the bartender at Old Town Tap (10164 Donner Pass Rd. Suite 1) to recommend a whiskey. // If you're staying at Sugar Bowl (629 Sugar Bowl Rd.) in the winter, make sure to get a bloody mary at Belt Room.

Coffee and Sweets

For breakfast, get the chicken fried steak at Coffee And (10106 Donner Pass Rd.). Plus, coffee is free. // The best pour overs in Tahoe are to be had at Coffee Bar (10120 Jibboom St. Suite 101 and 12047 Donner Pass Rd.). // Satisfy sweet tooths with some fudge from Sweets Handmade (10118 Donner Pass Rd. Suite 1).

Where to Shop in Truckee

Bespoke (10130 Donner Pass Rd.) is a General Store-esque shop, brimming with beautiful handmade art, jewelry, decor and home goods, and magazines. They also offer arts and crafts workshops for making felted birds, pine needle baskets, brooms, and wreaths. // For boho-style attire, head over to Nomad Boutique (10046 Donner Pass Rd.) to explore a selection of cozy sweaters, kimonos, shoes, and accessories.

Outdoor Activities in Truckee

In the area, there are a multitude of outdoor adventure options like hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding and biking. Here are some local, choice picks.

Watch the sunrise from Donner Summit Bridge aka Rainbow Bridge (Donner Pass Rd.) overlooking Donner Lake, and then the sunset at Boca Reservoir or Truckee River Legacy Trail top. Martis Creek Trail is another stunner during the golden hour. // Go paddleboarding or boating at beautiful Donner Lake (15695 Donner Pass Rd), where there's a public beach. It's also pretty spectacular to sit and gaze out at the water, immersed in snowflakes after a storm. // If you're a climber, check out 40-80 or Castle Peak for some fun scrambling. // For those who like to fish, catch rainbow, brook and brown trout as well as kokanee salmon at Boca Dam and Reservoir.

Skiing and Snowboarding in Truckee

For skiing or snowboarding, hit up Northstar (5001 Northstar Dr.) for a more luxurious, family experience. // Sugar Bowl (629 Sugar Bowl Rd.) is great for low-key vibes (with the aforementioned stellar bloody mary). // Squaw (1960 Squaw Valley Rd.) is ideal for big mountain skiing, large lines, and to see some amazing people "huck cliffs." // Boreal (19749 Boreal Ridge Rd.) is also known for tricks and flips, as well as night skiing, where they turn on the lights and you can get a few extra turns in until 9 pm. // For cross-country skiing, check out Royal Gorge (9411 Pahatsi Rd.) and scoot over to Sugar Bowl on your skis, grab a drink, and then sail back.

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