Sportsman’s Hall

Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom

The Sportsman’s Hall is a lonely roadhouse that occupies one of California’s early media centers, the Pony Express stop during the Gold Rush. Originally built in the 1850s as a hotel, it was a refuge for travelers coming over the Sierras, and eventually riders carrying correspondence from points east. It has burned to the ground twice, and twice it has been rebuilt. It is a Registered Historical Landmark.

The Sportsman’s Hall does not rest on its historical laurels. Its roadhouse diner food is good. It is known for made-to-order fried chicken and a giant pasty, both of which take a half-hour to prepare. While you wait, soup or salad and giant mugs of beer are available to pass the time. Beef barely soup is hot and hearty.

Portions are impressive. Fried chicken, meant for one, is a full half of what must have been at least a ten-pound bird. Its breast is the size of a man’s clog and its crust has a peppery dredge. It is so fresh from the fryer that it stays too hot to eat for a good ten minutes. It comes with big, soft, fresh-cut fries as well as sautéed squash and mushrooms.

As delighted as we are with the chicken is just how disappointed we are with the pasty. It comes out hot and fresh, and it is absolutely giant. It looks beautiful. The pastry part is good, flaky and hot from the oven. But its inside is perplexing: rather than a meat-mixed potato stuffing, it is filled with a hash of plain fried potatoes and wads of seemingly unseasoned ground beef, all so dry that we soon run out of gravy.

Take your time, have a slow meal, and walk around the historic building and grounds. It once meant salvation for exhausted messengers. Today, it’s a fine chicken dinner on a trip to Tahoe.

What To Eat

Miner’s Chicken

Big D’s Pasty

Beef and Barley Soup


Sportsman’s Hall Recipes


What do you think of Sportsman’s Hall?

Nearby Restaurants

Timmy’s Brown Bag

Placerville, CA

Katrina’s Cafe

Auburn, CA

Sidellis Lake Tahoe Brewery and Restaurant

South Lake Tahoe, CA

Pioneer Cocktail Club

Tahoe City, CA

The Old Post Office Cafe

Carnelian Bay, CA

Squeeze Inn

Sacramento, CA

Article’s & Guides Tagged Squeeze Inn

20 Burgers to Eat Before it’s Too Late

By Jane and Michael Stern Originally Published 2009 Gourmet Magazine One essential characteristic of any worthy hamburger is democracy of spirit—it should be accessible to all and not cost...


Connect with us #Roadfood