Californian | Hamburgers
Worth a return

At the edge of Kings Beach in Lake Tahoe, California, is a tiny, unassuming burger joint called Char-Pit. You’ll see the smoke before you see the restaurant; and you will smell it. That summer backyard-BBQ smell that makes your mouth water before you even know what to order.

Burgers are the main attraction, where no ingredient overpowers another; it’s a verified symphony of well-layered flavors. Fresh tomatoes and lettuce—but not too much—sit atop perfectly seasoned meat, which boasts a hint of smoke. The lightly-buttered bun is soft and slightly charred, smeared with mayo and mustard. I usually love ketchup, but this burger doesn’t need any. If you’re not a purist, the burger menu features options with grilled pineapple, American cheese, thin and crispy bacon, green chiles, homemade 1000 Islands dressing (in the Swiss burger, a local favorite), and melted blue cheese. 

For a roadside joint, Char-Pit is anything but greasy. All ingredients taste fresh; even onion rings escape over-frying. They’re crisped up and ready to dip into a light, homemade ranch. Fries could use a bit more salt but serve their purpose as the burger’s trusty sidekick.

For the burger-averse, Char-Pit’s got an arsenal of tasty options. Ribs are simple and straightforward, with tangy BBQ sauce and a tender meat that holds the trademark char. The dark horse of the menu is a lamb Gyro, packed to the brim with well-spiced lamb and topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, onions, and a dill-cucumber yogurt sauce. The steak sandwich comes highly recommended, and there are a few vegetarian options. If your sweet tooth feels left out, shakes are thick and topped with whipped cream.

Opened in 1962, Char-Pit brings you back a few decades with a menu that’s barely changed and walls covered with images of vintage Americana. Locals and tourists visit at a steady pace, with weekends and holidays drawing the biggest crowds. Find a red picnic table outside and enjoy the crisp Tahoe air while you wait for your named to be called over the drive-thru-esque speaker. Then grab a bunch of napkins and dig in.

What to Eat
Char-Pit, Swiss Burger
Swiss Burger
Homemade 1000 Islands dressing and crisp pickles make the Swiss burger a local's favorite.
Char-Pit, Lamb Gyro
Lamb Gyro
Drizzled with dill-cucumber yogurt sauce, the gyro is stuffed with tons of savory lamb.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday11am - 9pm
Monday11am - 9pm
Tuesday11am - 9pm
Wednesday11am - 9pm
Thursday11am - 9pm
Friday11am - 9pm
Saturday11am - 9pm
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
11 stops | 1683 MILES | 30 hr 15 min

Road Trip Overview

Originally from Ohio and most recently San Francisco, Roadfood contributor Jess Dawson has taken her show on the road, traveling throughout America with her husband in their 27-foot Winnebago. They’re stopping at as many national parks—and restaurants—as they can along the way. These are the restaurants that stood out to them on…

Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner, Dessert
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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