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How to Spend 24 Food-Filled Hours in Truckee Like a Local

Truckee is a launching pad for adventuring in the Sierra Nevada, and here are all the must-hits in a single day

Winter in Truckee and Lake Tahoe of California
The Squeeze In
Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images

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It makes sense to begin a food guide to a small town with its most famous historic meal. But in the case of Truckee, let’s skip over the gruesome, appetite-destroying details of the Donner Party and begin at the sunshine-yellow train depot downtown, with its view of the Sierra Crest on the horizon and a snowmelt-full river rushing nearby. Before Truckee was a tourist destination, a ski mecca, or even a “Zoom” town — as dubbed by NPR for the flood of remote workers who moved there during the pandemic — Truckee was, and still is, a railroad town. The first train rolled down the Transcontinental Railroad into what was then the new town of Truckee in 1868. Ever since then, Truckee has been a town people pass through on their way to someplace else, usually somewhere in the mountains.

This is why most people are hungry when coming through Truckee. Visitors are either on the way to a trailhead or the ski resort, in need of caffeine and morning sustenance. Or coming back through town for a break between a morning mountain bike ride and an afternoon swim in Donner Lake and needing a quick, delicious sandwich or burrito to stash in a backpack. On the way home from the ski resorts, you don’t have to convince others to take a slight detour to downtown Truckee to pop into an old-timey place for an après ski beverage. If you’re looking to spend a perfect day eating your way through Truckee, this is how to do it.

Three plates of food and a cup of coffee at The Squeeze In The Squeeze In

7 a.m. Grab a coffee before heading out to the mountains

10120 Jibboom Street, Truckee

Coffee tastes better when it’s still dark outside and the frost lingers on your breath. These days, beating the traffic is required for a perfect day in Truckee. Those who get up early enough to have time for a stop at Coffeebar on Jibboom Street downtown will be rewarded with locally roasted coffee, paninis, and breakfast burritos.

11 a.m. Back to town for a celebratory brunch

Jax at the Tracks, 10144 West River Street, Truckee and The Squeeze In, 10060 Donner Pass Road B, Truckee

Whether you skied sweet, soft turns in the backcountry or found yourself alone for a moment on top of a mountain, the mood is usually celebratory after a brisk morning adventure, and you’re also probably starving. Jax at the Tracks is a diner with one of those menus that’s five pages long and everything on it hits the spot. The Squeeze In a long and narrow breakfast joint that actually feels squeezed into Truckee’s commercial row, is another go-to spot, known for its omelets.

2 p.m. Afternoon wind down at the lake

New Moon Natural Foods, 11357 Donner Pass Road, Suite C, Truckee and Golden Rotisserie, 11357 Donner Pass Road, Truckee

Summer or winter, when those afternoon hours stretch across Truckee, head to Donner Lake to watch the light work its magic across the water and the mountains above. On the way, stop at New Moon Natural Foods, a locally-owned grocery store with an impressive selection of craft beers in the walk-in. A couple of doors down is Golden Rotisserie, where a very good chicken burrito awaits. Always order the burrito with a side of green salsa. It’s tangy, just the slightest bit sweet, and it goes perfectly with the rotisserie chicken. Order it to go and eat it at one of the public docks on Donner Lake.

5 p.m. Après at a forest-inspired brewery

10990 Industrial Way B103, Truckee

After the ski lifts shut down, and the last light stretches across the sky, mosey on over to the Good Wolf Brewing Company. On tap are beers brewed with things locally grown or foraged from the Tahoe National Forest, like a West Coast double IPA with distilled spruce or the juniper berries featured in a juicy IPA.

A plate of mussels from Great Gold in Truckee. Great Gold

7 p.m. Go out with the family for dinner at Great Gold

11025 Pioneer Trail, Truckee

It’s been a long day of outside living and comfort food sounds about right. Truckee is blessed by San Franciscans who’ve decided to make the mountains home. That includes former Flour + Water chef de cuisine Brandon Kirksey, who recently opened the Italian American restaurant Great Gold in Truckee, with a menu of seasonal pasta and pizzas.

9 p.m. Music and cocktails at Moody’s

10007 Bridge Street, Truckee

For an after-dinner cocktail and live music, Moody’s Bistro Bar & Beats is a Truckee institution. Located downtown on the first floor of the historic Truckee Hotel, Moody’s pairs craft cocktails with jazz musicians in a cozy, packed house.

11 p.m. Take the night away at a historic dive

10096 Donner Pass Road, Truckee

Normally, waking at dawn and spending all day outside in the mountains and on the water requires sleep by this hour. But sometimes, the day carries you along until the chime of midnight, or even later, till last call. If this is one of those days, chances are you’ll wind up at the Pastime Club, Truckee’s oldest bar and a beloved local dive. There are many stories about this place, but they’re typically the kind of stories you won’t remember the next morning, thanks to the strong drinks poured by the bartender.

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