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Driving to Lake Tahoe

Was hoping for some suggestions on good places to eat right off I-80. Driving up to Lake Tahoe and usually we just stop at In-n-Out in Auburn, but wanted to try some new places.

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  1. Better to post this on the California board.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Tripeler

      Thanks Tripeler for the advice. First time posting and didn't even see the general California board.

    2. Where are you starting from and when are you leaving, when do you want to arrive, going to North Shore or South Shore Tahoe, and when do you think you want to stop to eat? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, tea time break?

      2 Replies
      1. re: glbtrtr

        I'm starting from San Francisco on a Saturday and coming back Sunday, so a one day trip. Plan to leave in the morning around 8am, so hoping to stop somewhere for brunch on the way. Probably around Sacramento or Auburn, since that is around the halfway point. I will have a 1 year old with me, so hoping somewhere children friendly. Also want a place that is close to the freeway, as I don't want to make a too long detour. On the way back, hoping to grab an early dinner, probably around the same area. Thanks in advance for any advice.

        1. re: guru533

          Thanks for providing more details. That will really help others to give you their best advice. BTW: Lucky you to go to Tahoe and have it only four hours away. This brings back memories about having chains put on outside Auburn once which is pretty low on Hwy 80 to close it down to chains only traffic. Hope someone recommends just the right spot for you though my own recollections are now very out-dated and when driving that distance it was always a MacDonalds drive thru and my favorite Fishwich sandwich with fries and a coke for that route. I wanted to get there and not stop too long along the way.

          In searching Auburn, this crepe place Le Bilig Kitchen got some recommendations but I have no personal experience with it: http://lebiligkitchen.com/menu_main.h...

      2. Great breakfasts and lunches.

        Katrina's Cafe
        456 Grass Valley Highway
        Auburn, CA 95603
        (530) 888-1166

        7 Replies
        1. re: PolarBear

          2nd Katrina's. It's small and parking is best down the street in a discreet corner of the shopping center, but food is copious and very good, lots of inspired daily specials. Kid frinedly? Tt's a tight cafe, but everybody is very friendly. A local's place. Open for breakfast and lunch only, closed Mon I think.

          1. re: toodie jane

            I LOVE Katrina's! If you are a pancake person the lemon yogurt pancakes are a MUST!

            Note: Unless things have changed it was cash only when I last ate there a year ago.

            1. re: gmk1322

              4th Katrinas, but at Auburn you're so close to Truckee and there's lots of great places there, too. Search the board for Truckee - you'll find lots.

              1. re: nancyhudson

                No, from Auburn, you're still pretty far away from Truckee, especially depending on weather and traffic (and kids). Best to food up in Auburn...

                1. re: Sarah

                  Agree, after Auburn the driving can get slow and treacherous in the winter. Have food also in the car with you as well as in your tummy.

                  1. re: glbtrtr

                    Yes, Auburn to Truckee can be as little as an hour, or as long as a day. It mostly depends on the weather. When there is snow, be sure to carry chains.

                    1. re: Tripeler

                      Thanks for the replies all. Will definitely try Katrinas and hope there is not a wait that day. Didn't know about the cash only policy, really good to know. Unfortunately our last planned trip had to be postponed because my daughter got sick, so planning to go up in a couple of weeks.

        2. Ikeda's, in Auburn, may be a fun stop. It's a fruit stand and burger bar. They have good produce and some interesting prepared foods. You can purchase some stuff to stock the Tahoe larder, and enjoy a burger and fruit shake at the same time.


          1. That's one of the reasons why I love living in the Bay Area so much. We got Lake Tahoe and Yosemite in a less than half day drive away.

            Thanks for all the tips. Le Bilig Kitchen does look pretty good. Looks like its not open for lunch on the weekends, so I might try to go on the way back for an early dinner.

            I checked out Katrina's Cafe on Yelp and it looks pretty good. Will probably do that for brunch on the way there, hopefully its not too crowded.

            I have been Ikeda's a couple of times already, sorry forgot to mention that. In and Out and Ikeda's are the only places I have been in my 20 or so trips up there, so was hoping to check out some new places. These suggestions sound great, thanks all.

            2 Replies
            1. re: guru533

              Please come back and tell us what you learn and take one extra deep whiff of that heavy pine scented air for me when you open your car door after arrival in Tahoe- that is always my best memory.

              1. re: guru533

                Le Bilig Kitchen closed last summer. The owners went back to France.
                I also would like to point out that for those of us in the Sacramento area,
                going to Lake Tahoe does not necessarily mean following I80 to go to
                North Tahoe/Truckee. If you follow Hway 50 towards South Tahoe
                you could stop in Placerville and the Apple Hill area. In Placerville,
                Zachary Jacques is a reasonably good restaurant.

              2. A few miles before Auburn, Newcastle Produce is right off I-80 and has a nice, small-ish array of in-house sandwich and deli items and baked goods. Their local produce is also really good and clearly labeled.


                1. Okay,, don't laugh at me. You live in SF and I'm recommending a Sichuan place. Golden Dragon in Rocklin (of all places) is just simply outstanding by any standards. Ask for the "special menu." Right off the freeway.


                  Off topic slightly but if I gotta say for such a short trip (and don't forget you can have monster traffic in either direction) I'd just haul butt up and back. In N Out would be slow :)

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: c oliver

                    Don't feel bad, they didn't believe me (and I'm sure laughed like hell at the hick from Fresburg) when I told them their beloved Bocusse d'Or award winner Chef Liu, formerly of China Village, was in fact proprietor of our wonderful Hunan here in the central valley. Ah yes, revenge is a dish best served cold, in fact our friend Yimster turned me on to the Chinese version, something to the effect that the wise man will wait many years to deliver a comeupance. ; >P

                    1. re: PolarBear

                      Gotta get Yimster to stop in Rocklin :) Maybe we could 'gather' at alanbarnes and have a meal. Hey, alan, whaddya think???

                      1. re: PolarBear

                        Actually the real version is A wise man who seeks revenge will find it sweeter as more time has passed.

                        Great food is were you find it.

                        Believe it or not I have driven great distance for great food. My yearly trips to Vancouver and China for the real deal in great food. I only hope someday I can do more great food but I need to get healthier before that.

                        Twenty year ago there was a great Chinese place in Hanford with a wine cellar to die for. I remember Mrs yimster all the way down tell me I was a dummy and on the return trip asking is a low tone of voice when are we going again.

                        When I the 9er's were in Rocklin I would stop to watch them. So it is a possilbe future chowdown. But after I finish my required meals for CNY here in the Bay Area. 14 down and 6 to go.

                        1. re: yimster

                          "...there was a great Chinese place in Hanford..."

                          Ah yes, the Imperial Dynasty, many fond memories. They carried on with the American menu for a couple of decades after discontinuing their Chinese fare, before closing for good a few years back, irrc. Their wine cellar was legendary.

                          Imperial Dynasty
                          406 China Aly, Hanford, CA 93230

                          1. re: PolarBear

                            Thanks for remembering the name. I was thinking of Imperial Palace, which was wrong. As my cousin still says I am like a bad penny I have been everywhere for good food. If memory serves me well was the owner and master of the wine cellar from Washington DC?

                            1. re: yimster

                              Richard Wing and family, here's a great article from last October:


                      2. re: c oliver

                        For some reason the autolink won't cooperate. It's located just west of Hwy 80 north of the Rocklin Rd. exit.

                        Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant
                        4800 Granite Dr. #B2, Rocklin, CA
                        (916) 632-9542

                        1. re: PolarBear


                          Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant
                          4800 Granite Dr. #B2, Rocklin, CA 95677

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            Guess you gotta be a local to make it work! ; >P

                      3. I really like Joe's Caribe Cafe, which is next to Ikeda's. An Auburn friend told me about this place. Apparently they recently moved from a more obscure location -- more obscure to highway drivers, anyway.

                        Really good fish and prawn tacos, lots of other caribbean-style dishes including fantastic sides and a burrito with sweet potato puree (!), and some outstanding ginger ales. And very friendly service.

                        What's not to like?

                        1 Reply