10 Burgers in Paradise: Unique burger offerings around the Truckee-Tahoe region

A great burger is the epitome of summer season cuisine. The perfect patty, a great char, melted cheese, and all the fixings – it’s on everyone’s menu at cookouts across the nation.

But what do you look for in a burger away from home?      

If you’re like me, when you go out for a burger you want something to “wow” you. You want something you can’t make at home. Something unique.

Well if you are like me, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve looked high and low to bring you ten burgers that are as unique as the Lake itself.

As I was nearing the end of my mission in tracking down these uncommon menu items, I realized that I had tackled nearly ten burgers in the span of about three weeks. That’s not only dedication; it’s gluttony.

Increased waistline or not, if you read through this and you are suddenly in the mood for a burger, it was all worth it.

Haus Burger Tahoe Tap Haus

(Tahoe City)

If you truly want a unique burger experience, you’ll want to avoid substitutions here. This burger gives you a great balance of sweet (roasted red peppers), tart (gooseberry ketchup) and salty (feta cheese). Put it all between a pretzel bun with lettuce, tomato and onion and you have flavor layers that are both bold and distinctive. The main kicker is the house-made gooseberry ketchup. It adds a tanginess that plays really well with the burger and the other ingredients.

TM Insider Tip: The Tap Haus has many menu items that are cooked in beer. Not only is the beer locally sourced, it is also gluten free – the best of both worlds.

Tahoe Tap Haus’s Haus Burger.

Ol’ Dubliner McP’s Taphouse

(South Lake Tahoe)

If you ever wondered what a Reuben sandwich and burger mash-up tasted like, this is for you. A full pound of meat (half burger, half corned beef) sits atop a rye bun, with melted Swiss and then piled high with scratch-made sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. The smokiness of the corned beef, the creaminess of the dressing, and the punch from the sauerkraut give this burger a combination that will surely satisfy every single one of your taste buds.

TM Insider Tip: McP’s is the perfect place to pre- and post-game the outdoor summer concert series at Harvey’s – and during if you missed out on tickets. Within a stone’s throw to the amphitheater, you’ll want to get there early. They fill up quick.

Ol’ Dubliner burger at McP’s Taphouse.

Half Moon Bay Burger FiftyFifty Brewing Co.


On their menu since opening the pub, this burger gives you the perfect yin yang of sweet and spicy. While simple and limited ingredients, you’ll want to resist the urge to add any other condiments. As is, it’s a juicy patty with fresh jalapenos drizzled with honey and a slice of cream cheese. With just the right amount of heat, the honey almost candies the peppers to give it that equal balance. Add in the quality meat patty and the creaminess from the cheese and you have a bite that’s downright delicious.

TM Insider Tip: Being a brewery and all, what would we be if we didn’t give you a beer pairing for this burger? Pair this baby with their West Coast Haze IPA. You’ll thank us later.

Half Moon Bay Burger by FiftyFifty Brewing Co.

Ultimate Tahoe Burger Fumo

(Incline Village)

Most burgers don’t have the luxury of riding the coattails of Kobe beef. However, this one does. A hand-made Kobe patty coated with melted mushroom brie, topped with bacon and caramelized onions, all on a bed of arugula between a pretzel bun. Talk about decadent. The peppery arugula cuts through the onions and cheese to bring an overall brightness to the flavor.  The bacon is thick cut and its smokiness combined with the juiciness of the Kobe is a match made in Tahoe Heaven.

TM Insider Tip: Known for their breakfasts, Fumo offers the treat of bottomless mimosas during breakfast service Monday – Thursday. Sure, it’s during the weekday, but you’re on vacation, right?

Ultimate Tahoe Burger.

Newport Burger Fat Cat Bar & Grill

(Tahoe City)

With a handful of locally sourced ingredients, including the beef and bun, this burger is freshness personified. Caramelized Honeycrisp apples with a balsamic glaze, crowning a smoked Gouda soaked patty atop a mix of greens, gives this burger a lightness that makes the guilt of having a burger simply go away. The smokiness from the cheese really levels out the sweet from the balsamic. And while the apples are cooked down, they still provide a little crunch for texture. It’s like the best parts of a salad and burger had a baby.

TM Insider Tip: Every Friday Fat Cat serves up its signature cocktail (the Frisky Kitty) for only five bucks. Five dollars for a highbrow cocktail in Tahoe? That’s like Sasquatch – they don’t exist. Well, here they do.

Newport Burger.

Silver Burger Lucky Beaver

(South Lake Tahoe)

Using the term melt-in-your-mouth is often overstated. However, in the case of the beef patty for this burger, it’s legit. That’s because they’re taking prime cuts of short rib and chuck and dry aging it for 50 days. What you get is an ultra tender, super concentrated patty of goodness that here, is rubbed with a special espresso mixture. It’s fired on the grill and topped with sautéed mushrooms and gooey brie cheese. The espresso and cheese play off each other like coffee and cream and the earthiness from the mushrooms elevate this burger to another level.

TM Insider Tip:  It’s after midnight and all you want is a really good burger to cap off your night. The Lucky Beaver is open 24/7 so being able to grab a gourmet burger in the middle of the night is what this place is all about.

Silver Burger by Lucky Beaver.

The Caliente Burger Caliente

(Kings Beach)

This burger is loaded with flavor. Starting with a Wagyu beef patty atop a bed of greens, it’s topped with pepper jack cheese, applewood smoked bacon, guacamole, pico de gallo, crispy jalapeño strings and a chipotle aioli. It’s every bit as memorable as you think it would be. The chipotle, jalapeños and pepper jack hit you up front with a mild heat, but the smoky bacon quickly extinguishes it for a bite that’s juicy and full of character. The brioche bun is slightly toasted and holds everything together as perfect as a sunset over Tahoe.

TM Insider Tip: Every two months, Caliente offers up a tequila spirit tasting if you purchase a specialty cocktail. Your VIP experience gets you complimentary apps for pairings and raffle entry. Oh, and great tequila.

The Caliente Burger.

Rocky Mountain Elk Burger Bridgetender

(Tahoe City)

This charbroiled elk patty comes special from a ranch in Montana. It’s cooked to perfection so you get the full flavor from the elk without it drying out. A house-made blueberry barbecue sauce is the co-pilot, and combined with the deep richness of the elk, it adds a slightly sweet, slightly smoky ambiance that ratchets up the taste. The slight buttery flavor from the Monterey jack cheese heightens all the other flavors and gives them a creamy backdrop. With their toasted brioche buns coming from Truckee Sourdough Company you also expand your local taste buds. Win!

TM Insider Tip: The summer patio area at Bridgetender is legendary. While tucked away from the main building, it sits overlooking the Truckee River, a small distance from where it’s born at Lake Tahoe. If asked to sit outside, just say yes.

Rocky Mountain Elk Burger.

Jiffy Burger Burger Lounge

(South Lake Tahoe)

Peanut butter on a burger? Don’t question. Just eat. A half pound charbroiled patty is joined by a gracious amount of cheddar, chipotle mayo, lettuce and tomato for this one-of-a-kind eating experience – it’s also just the right amount of mess you want in a burger. The chipotle gives you a little spice to balance off the peanut butter, which almost takes in a caramelized flavor once added to the perfectly cooked bacon and burger. Their five-inch buns are made special just to make sure they can fit everything in. You can definitely taste the love they’re putting in their food.

TM Insider Tip: Since Burger Lounge is one of the last stops on your way to iconic Emerald Bay, grab this burger (or any of their burgers) to go and enjoy it in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Burger Lounge’s Jiffy Burger.

Double Inclined Burger Inclined Burgers & Brews

(Incline Village)

Ok, I know I said we were going for unique burgers in this story, but sometimes you just want a really good burger that satisfies those primal needs. Well, this is that burger. Double patties, bacon, onions, cheese, a fried egg and avocado – I mean, this is what burgers are all about. The key is the flat top cook method on the patty. The onions are added right away so they sweat into the burger to infuse the caramelized onion flavor into the burger. That first bite oozes flavor and drips aroma letting all the fresh ingredients play their part in this flavor tale. I’m sure you can guess how it ends.

TM Insider Tip: Inclined Burgers carries a secret menu. The more you frequent, the more items you are bound to uncover. My recommendation: the Bonanza Burger.

Double Inclined Burger by Inclined Burgers & Brews.
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