Flickering firelight is entrancing. Whether for reflection or romance, the rhythm of dancing flames creates an unparalleled ambiance, one that hasn’t escaped restaurateurs the world over. Taking the glow of candles a step farther, many establishments in our region serve food and libations fireside. Here are several to warm up to this season.
Quaint and rustic are two descriptors that spring to mind immediately upon laying eyes on the Cottonwood Cottage in Genoa. Originally a hay barn when built more than a century ago, Cottonwood Cottage owners opened the restaurant, bar and venue in 2016 and made sure to incorporate reclaimed barn wood in the build-out as a reminder of the structure’s origins. A new outdoor fire pit will be revealed when the weather cools, but inside a cozy, stone fireplace invites guests to dine on their grill specialties and pizzas or imbibe at the four surrounding tables. During the holidays, Cottonwood Cottage celebrates with seasonal decor and swaps the tables for a more casual lounging area, where food is still accessible. It’s open Friday – Sunday, though it can be closed for private parties and events, so call first. Their marinated grilled tri-tip sandwich is a must for beef-loving guests. cottonwoodgenoa.com
At Lake Tahoe AleWorX Taproom and Pizzeria in South Lake Tahoe, they work on the pizzas and food, you work on pouring your own beer. Yes, it’s a self-service situation at this craft brew hot spot, where their own beers are offered next to high-profile, out-of-area favorites and some fellow local brewers’ wares. Imaginative pizzas such as the zucca — a steaming creation comprised of butternut squash puree, mozzarella, ricotta, provolone, sage oil and fennel — sit alongside pizzeria standards such as the margherita on the menu. A bounty of ingredients to make personal pie perfection can only be bettered with fresh salads and brews enjoyed by their scenic outdoor fire pits. laketahoealeworx.com
If you seek somewhere that makes you feel as if the Rat Pack may be strolling in any second, head to the Fireside Lounge in the Peppermill Reno. For more than 40 years, this neon-laden lounge has tempted tourists and locals alike with cozy booths, complimentary appetizers, their signature drink — a 64-ounce, rum, vodka, cherry brandy and ice cream concoction dubbed the scorpion — and the glowing fire pit from which its name was born. Vintage Nevada vibe? The Fireside has it in spades. peppermillreno.com
Bookended by immense log storage, the Lone Eagle Grille’s two-story, stone-constructed fireplace is stately. Perched atop is an eagle sculpture which looks at home amidst the grand wooden logs and beams that frame the alpine interior. Panoramas of Lake Tahoe from Lone Eagle’s Incline Village locale, the Sierra peaks and the Hyatt Lake Tahoe’s private beach are a masterpiece of landscape beyond the restaurant’s towering windows. Wild game and seafood are staples on the robust gourmet menu, which changes seasonally. Additional cocktail and food menus are available for those who prefer to take in the roaring fire from the lounge. A large outdoor fire pit resides just outside the restaurant’s windows, and is also open year-round for those that prefer a side of fresh air, no matter the season. loneeaglegrille.com
Fireside-seekers need look no further than The Landing Resort & Spa on Tahoe’s south shore, home to Jimmy’s Restaurant and its acclaimed California and Greek cuisine. Fires glow wherever you look at Jimmy’s. Five glowing, halved orbs on the patio feel as if they could top the Olympic torch, perhaps tributes to owner Jimmy Demetriades’ Greek heritage. Private dining alcoves each have their own fireplace inside, as well. Visit for happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m. daily and try fusion items such as Greek nachos with gigantes beans, kefalotyri cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole. thelandingtahoe.com
Executive Chef Tim Hmay at the Resort at Squaw Creek’s Six Peaks Grille uses locally sourced and sustainable ingredients to prepare his cuisine. The steakhouse features alpine peaks and a fireplace as majestic as the outdoors to decorate. While in any given dish guests may find produce and herbs grown in the resort’s hydroponic garden, they can be enjoyed fireside for a notable ambiance injection in the cooler months. destinationhotels.com/squawcreek
Within Heavenly Village, no one has trouble staying warm, entertained or fed. At Azul Latin Kitchen, Adirondack chairs surround a large outdoor fire pit with the glistening lake as a backdrop. Additional tables offer fireside dining for dozens of others, not to mention an ideal way to thaw once the weather turns in Tahoe. Their healthier, California-style spin on fresh Latin cuisine furthers the heating process from the inside out. azullatinkitchen.com
Nearby in the Village is The Loft Theatre-Lounge-Dining, where you’ll be mystified by a magic show before making s’mores at their indoor tables with built-in fire pits. Award-winning shows preface Chef Frank Trotta’s mouthwatering Italian dishes like wild boar cannelloni and butternut squash tortellini, with an encore of sizzling marshmallows sandwiched between graham crackers and chocolate prepared fireside. thelofttahoe.com
At the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, fireplace admirers have two magnificent options. Within the elegant Manzanita is a centerpiece fireplace that sets the stage for an exquisite culinary experience that rivals the ambiance. While the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with champagne brunch on Sundays, the dinner menu is exceptional. Set some time aside to peruse the vast wine list that is nearly as long as some classic novels. For more casual, yet refined and picturesque, fireside time, check out fireplaces in The Living Room, which offers libations and lighter fare. ritzcarlton.com
Fireside dining options abound at Edgewood Tahoe. While awaiting a dinner table at the picturesque Edgewood Restaurant, guests can imbibe by firelight while gazing out at an outdoor firepit backed by breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and Mt. Tallac. Nearby, Brooks’ Bar and Deck features two fire pits that are lit nightly. With the mood created, guests may just want to continue their fireside experience at the new Edgewood Lodge for an overnight stay. Grab cocktails and snacks from the Bistro Bar, then curl up in a comfy chair or sofa near the grand stone fireplace in the Lodge’s Great Room, or just outside where three fire pits beckon. edgewoodtahoe.com
Fire up your culinary exploration this fall. Between the food and the flames, these enticing fireside experiences will fend off the frost from the outside, in, once the weather cools.
By: Natasha Bourlin