Man does not live by bread alone, the philosopher once wrote. You've gotta throw in a half-pound of ground meat, some cheese, lettuce, pickles and other accoutrements of the all-American hamburger to really make things come alive. Add some fresh mountain air into the mix, and well, you've practically attained Nirvana.
There are plenty of places around Tahoe to grab a burger, big and juicy notwithstanding. But there can only be so many great places, and the five establishments that follow easily fall into that category.
Burger Me uses only grass-fed and locally sourced meats, which seems to add a significant amount of flavor to their burgers. Special favorites are their bison burgers and turkey burgers; sweet potato fries also spice up a meal. 10418 Donner Pass Road in downtown Truckee.
Izzy's Burger Spa is a small place that maybe fits a dozen people, tops, with big, big taste. Smoke wafting through the place from the flame broiler adds to the ambience. As one long-time aficionado sums it up: "Thick burgers, big buns, long-time rep." 2591 Lake Tahoe Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe.
Plumpjack Cafe and Bar serves some of the finest locally sourced and sustainable food in the region, and its Balboa Burger -- get it on a baguette with mushrooms, avocado and grilled onions -- is truly a gold medal winner at the former Winter Olympics venue. At the Squaw Valley Inn in Squaw Valley.
The Grid is a former dive that's been transformed into one of the better sports bars on the lake. Watching a variety of sports on the establishment's 15 high-def TV screens only enhances the already sublime taste of the joint's signature offering, the Born in the USA burger. 8545 North Lake Boulevard in Kings Beach.
Burger Lounge has great service, friendly staff and delicious chocolate malts. Oh yeah, and their burgers, in whatever format you want (beef, veggie, chicken, etc.), come piled high with whatever extras you want. 717 Emerald Bay Road (Highway 89) in South Lake Tahoe.