Tahoe is known for having the best scenery and the best outdoor activities, so it’s no surprise that the area’s dining options carry an equally superlative reputation. For those who are willing to foot the bill, there are seemingly endless restaurants to choose from. But, for the more budget-conscious among us, just reading the menus can send one to worriedly check their bank account balance. It can be a struggle to navigate the intimidating, high-priced food scene that is born out of Tahoe being a prime tourist locale. That’s where we come in.

If you know where to look, you can find every type of cuisine on the cheap. From lakefront fine dining, to gargantuan burritos, organic fare made affordable, and even sushi deals from unexpected places. We’ve made you a summer checklist of the best affordable eats that North Lake Tahoe/Truckee has to offer.

Portion Size | Massive Meals at Minute Prices

It’s no secret to locals and visitors alike that your dollar goes far at Tacos Jalisco. The tacos are juicy, the salsa is fresh, and the horchata is always flowing. But as far as impressive portion size goes, look no further than the meat burrito ($8). This portable feast includes a choice of protein, with options from tender chicken and flavorful carnitas to seasoned steak or flaky fish, and can barely be contained by its tortilla fortress. Couch for the necessary post-burrito nap not included.


Info: 11400 Donner Pass Rd., Truckee, (530) 587-1131

There’s no shortage of places around the lake to get a good sandwich. But Tahoma PDQ Market takes things up a notch with its monstrous sandwiches that cost just $10. Aside from the fresh-baked bread, in varieties like jalapeno, cheese, and pesto, these sandwiches are relatively basic; you get a choice of one meat, one cheese, plus veggies and condiments. But what they lack in flash they make up for in flavor. And the lake view doesn’t hurt.

Info: 6937 West Lake Blvd., Tahoma, (530) 525-7411

Lunch Specials | Ditch the Brown Bag

Sometimes you look at a menu and you just can’t choose. The lunch special at Thai Delicacy is the perfect option when you need a little variety. $9 gets you a thai salad, a curry puff, rice or pad thai, and your choice of entrée. If you’re up for splurging on an extra treat, make sure to order a Thai iced tea; milk and spices combine to create this decadent beverage.

Info: 11253 Brockway Rd. #101, Truckee, (530) 550-1269, thaidelicacy.com

During the winter, the windows of Flame of India would turn opaque, caused by the row of steaming trays of colorful dishes that make up the lunch buffet. Just $13 gets you all-you-can-eat access from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day. The space is basic, yet the food is anything but. Indian standbys like samosas, chicken tikka masala, and tandoori chicken are all available at the buffet, and baskets of naan keep coming to the table.

Info: 11421 Deerfield Dr., Truckee, (530) 563-5078, flameofindia.com

Organic Options | Cheap Food Doesn’t Have to Mean Fried or Fast

At Stony Ridge Uncommon Kitchen vegans and vegetarians have an extensive menu at their disposal. You would expect that a sandwich called the Leaf Eater would come with greens, tomato and onion. But this $9 treat isn’t your “garden variety” vegetarian option. It packs a punch with hummus, avocado, and even pesto. Always served on fresh-baked bread, it’s a veggie-filled favorite that even meat eaters want to get in on. Uncommon Kitchen seeks to use organic produce and natural meats for their sandwiches, salads, soups, and sushi. They also offer packaged goods to take on the go. The quinoa tabouleh ($7) is a personal lunch favorite, and pair the herbed goat cheese strata ($7.75) with crackers for a delectable après-hike snack.

Info: 505 West Lake Blvd., Tahoe City, (530) 583-3663, uncommonkitchen.org

The epitome of the phrase “something for everyone,” Mountain High Sandwich Company in Incline Village is equipped to feed every dietary need in your group; from vegan to gluten free, meat eater to juice cleanser. The Give Thanks sandwich ($10) is a taste of Thanksgiving on any day of the year. For vegan options with character, try the barbecue tofu ($9) or the falafel wrap ($10). The perfect spot to fuel up before a cruise down the East Shore.

Info: 120 Country Club Dr. #28, Incline Village, (775) 298-2636, mountainhighsandwichco.com

Late Night Noshes | For When you’re Burning the (Almost) Midnight Oil

Not many restaurants in Tahoe stay open past 9 p.m. Old Town Tap is redefining the norm in Truckee by providing not only a dining option for the late night crew, but an incredibly complex menu that doesn’t reduce late night snacking to whatever 7-11 still has in the warming tray. Old Town Tap’s cheese and charcuterie boards ($9 each) are masterpieces in their own right, and the beef tartare ($12) is not your typical midnight snack. The no-frills Margherita pizza ($12), fired in their can’t-miss pizza oven, proves there is elegance in simplicity, and the meatball and ricotta pie ($13) heightens the experience.

Info: 10164 Donner Pass Rd. #1, Truckee, (530) 563-5233, oldtowntaptruckee.com

The Bridgetender is a Tahoe City institution that keeps its doors open until 11 p.m. on weekdays, and midnight on weekends. They serve their full menu all the way until last call, so they’ve got you covered whether you’re in the mood for a quick snack like wings ($11) or mozzarella sticks ($10); a full meal, like one of their “fresh mex” burritos ($10.50), or just craving the comfort of a simple grilled cheese ($7).

Info: 65 West Lake Blvd., Tahoe City, (530) 583-3342, tahoebridgetender.com

Views Included | When You’ve Got an Appetite for Alpenglow

Alabama barbecue has made its way west at Moe’s Original BBQ. Located right on the lake in Tahoe City, patrons can dig in to classic southern fare, with a uniquely Tahoe backdrop. Patio seating is the prime location in the summer months. If you’ve got $11, you can chow down on a pulled pork sammy, two sides, and an unbeatable view. Sides change daily, and seasonal options like broccoli salad and cucumber tomato salad will be debuting for the summer. But you can always count on staples like mac and cheese, baked beans, and fan-favorite banana pudding to be on the menu.

Info: 120 Grove St., Tahoe City, (530) 583-4227, moesoriginalbbq.com/lo/tahoecity

The shores of Tahoe are dotted with incredible restaurants, but the price tags on these high-caliber culinary experiences can be out of reach for some. That’s why West Shore Cafe gives locals a break with half-price entrées on Mondays (some holidays excluded). Simply sign up on their website to be eligible for the special, and you’ll be able to try the classic rib eye or the unconventional lobster corn dog at a price that won’t require you to find an additional roommate. Make sure to save room for dessert — you can roast up s’mores for free every night at fire pits on their pier.

Info: 5160 West Lake Blvd., Homewood, (530) 525-5200, westshorecafe.com

Affordable Sushi | Without Going to Reno

At the base of Alpine Meadows Road, overlooking the Truckee River, is a laid-back café serving up everything from banana pancakes to Philly cheesesteaks. Then on Thursday nights, The Crest Cafe switches gears to become a sushi joint. The rolls are reasonably priced, but it’s the PBR and hand roll combo that clocks in as the best deal, at $5.50 during happy hour, and just a dollar more after 5 p.m.

Info: 150 Alpine Meadows Rd. #2, Alpine Meadows, (530) 581-3037, thecrestcafeandcatering.com

If you’re more in the mood for a gut-busting sushi meal, Koi Sushi in Incline Village offers all-you-can-eat sushi, nigiri, and appetizers for $29. So go ahead and eat more raw fish than is medically advisable. Your wallet can afford it, even if your stomach can’t. And sure, on average the all-you-can eat prices in Reno hover around $24. But you know that what you’ll spend on gas and that inevitable stroll through the Target dollar aisle will set you back even more. Sometimes the Tahoe surcharge is totally worth it.

Info: 874 Tahoe Blvd., Incline Village, (775) 298-2091


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