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Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture
Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture

Cottonwood Caesar Salad. Worth the drive?

Posted on December 28, 2014
Filed Under Lake Tahoe Hot Spots

Cottonwood Restaurant“We drove to Cottonwood last night for their Caesar Salad!” boasted the happy skier from Santa Cruz, CA.

“You mean the Cottonwood Restaurant in Truckee?  You drove there last night from here [Kirkwood] and back? Isn’t that 2 hours, one way?” asked TAMC.  “Yep, but it’s the best Caesar salad on the planet, even beating the restaurants in San Francisco.”

How’s that for an endorsement!

After skiing all day at Kirkwood, the adrenaline-delighted skier and his wife drove 79 miles and 2 hours – one way – just to get a Caesar Salad at Cottonwood Restaurant overlooking the historic town of Truckee on Hilltop Drive.

Whenever they are at Lake Tahoe (or near it) they make it a point to go to Cottonwood.  Besides, he noted, the drive through Hope Valley and along the West Shore of Lake Tahoe and the final approach along the Truckee River to Truckee is one of the most spectacular scenic alpine drives in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and only builds the excitement.

So what makes the Cottonwood Caesar Salad so addicting?  The presentation, dressing and garlic – lots of garlic. Traditionally prepared, this salad is designed to be eaten with your fingers. Individual romaine lettuce leaves are generously doused with a creamy dressing of extra virgin olive oil, anchovies, eggs and lots of garlic. Each salad is large enough to share between two to four people, or not!

But don’t believe us, or a Caesar Salad loving skier from Santa Cruz.  You be the judge, and let us know.

Established in 1988, the Cottonwood Restaurant offers a diverse menu featuring local, organic produce when available, and sustainable meats and fish.  Some local favorite dishes include the vegetarian butternut squash enchiladas, Thai-curried prawns and achiote-rubbed, oven-roasted center cut pork chop with Chimichurri. With a full bar featuring an extensive wine list, roaring fireplace and nightly live entertainment Cottonwood has preserved its rustic charm and mountain culture in one of the nation’s oldest ski lodges.

Cottonwood Restaurant
10142 Rue Hilltop (Off Brockway Rd.) above historic Truckee

Open daily at 5pm with happy hour running until 6pm. For reservations, please call (530) 587-5711.

Cottonwood History:

Toboggan Slide at Hilltop in TruckeeAt the turn of the century, the land on which Cottonwood stands was owned by one of Truckee’s most prominent citizen, Charles F. McGlashan, who purchased it from railroad developer Charles Crocker. Considered by most to be the main proponent of winter recreation in the region, McGlashan spearheaded the creation of a “Winter Carnival” around the turn of the century. The event featured ice skating on Donner Lake, sleigh rides to Lake Tahoe, and a huge Ice Palace just below Hilltop.

The hill above was the site of skiing, ski jumping, and tobogganing events, served by the nation’s first mechanized lift. In late 1928, McGlashan built a warming hut from railroad ties salvaged from abandoned Martis Valley logging operations. This “pavilion” served members of the Truckee Ski Club, Truckee Outing Club, and the Sierra Dog Derby Association. The ski area which evolved had several rope tows and a Poma lift, which rose 700 vertical feet and operated until 1969. The Poma and a rope tow, driven by an old automobile chassis and motor, still remain on the property.Truckee sled and horses

The building opened as Cottonwood on New Year’s Eve, 1988. Many historical artifacts, old Truckee photographs, and local artist’s works are on display throughout the dining room, bar, and lounge. Guest seated on the large outdoor deck or within the dining room enjoy the same fantastic views of downtown Truckee as did the longboard skiers of a century ago.

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