Delicious Drive From Tahoe to Montana – Part 1 Of a Year on the Road

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 the first leg of their journey, from Tahoe to Montana with detours in Washington State.

The Golden State

After visiting her first restaurant in Lake Tahoe, Jess Dawson headed directly for the town of Redding, California, located in the northern part of the state.

  • Operating on the north end of Lake Tahoe, Char-Pit serves burgers, ribs and even a lamb gyro. With well cooked food and minimal grease it is definitely worth a stop.
  • Although their prices are steep, the steaks at Jack’s Bar & Grill are well worth it. Service is excellent and every dish was fantastic, from the fried chicken to Jack’s Stack, a stew-like dish with bits of filet, New York strip and top sirloin sautéed with onion, peppers and gravy.

The Beaver State

Soon after crossing into Oregon, Jess found herself in need of a meal. With a brief stop in Klamath falls, she refueled before driving north to Portland.

  • Located in a residential area, North Shore Hawaiian Plate Lunch serves an excellent sampler plate that comes with four different types of meat, two large scoops of rice and a side of cold macaroni, all for $9.
  • Offering a variety of fried dishes, including fried pickles, fried mac ‘n’ cheese bites, and corndogs, the fried chicken served at Reel M Inn definitely is the stand out dish. Arriving hot with a crisp skin and meat that falls from the bone, there is no reason to not order it.

The Evergreen State

Although a detour for anyone heading from California to Montana, these five stops in Washington showcase a variety of diners as well as a bar serving great chicken and a tavern with fresh seafood. Follow these restaurants along the coast, to Whidbey Island and through the heart of Washington State.

  • Overflowing with references to twilight, Three Rivers Resort Restaurant serves excellent, creamy milkshakes as well as a variety of burgers, sandwiches and sides.
  • A popular stop for loggers, the Hungry Bear Café sells pancakes in stacks of two very large and very fluffy pancakes. The equivalent to a stack of eight regular sized pancakes, this café is worth stopping for.
  • Located on Whidbey Island, accessible by bridge, Toby’s Tavern serves excellent fresh seafood. The mussels were the stand out dish at this restaurant, served with little other than a side of garlic bread, this is a necessary purchase for anyone who comes to the tavern.
  • With four levels of spice offered for the majority of their dishes, Sisters and Brothers located in Seattle is not messing around. Their chicken is excellent and definitely packs a punch. They also serve great side dishes such as fried okra and fried cotija corn.
  • Although both breakfast and lunch are served at Dolly’s Café, breakfast is by far the better option. The standout dish, the omelet, is made with eggs wrapped around a variety of ingredients such as bacon, spinach, mushrooms, feta and avocado.

The Gem State and Big Sky Country

Leaving Washington, Jess headed east along the top of the United States, passing through Idaho before ending this part of her year long tour in Butte, Montana.

  • Serving both sushi and more traditional dishes such as fish and chips, Fisherman’s Market, located in the city of Coeur d’Alene, is an worthwhile stop for those who like both cooked and raw seafood.
  • With a large menu, anything from Alaskan crab to veal scaloppine, the Italian heritage that comes with Lydia’s Supper Club is quite apparent. The food is delicious, especially the pork chop, and finishing up the meal with ice cream is a hard opportunity to pass.


Nestled in Tahoe’s Kings Beach, Char-Pit is a straightforward roadside joint that serves a very tasty burger. Frills optional.


Jack’s Bar & Grill

Juicy steaks, golden French fries, and a warm welcome make this dive-y steakhouse a Redding, California, neighborhood gem.


North Shore Hawaiian Plate Lunch

For a taste of Hawaii in Klamath Falls, Oregon, all you need is $9 for a sampler platter of four tasty meats, sticky rice, and cold mac salad.


Reel M Inn

Order crispy fried pickles and settle in for worth-the-wait fried chicken at Portland's iconic dive bar called Reel M Inn.


Three Rivers Resort Restaurant

Three Rivers Resort includes a laid-back restaurant offering satisfying bites for bargain prices. Make sure you get a milk shake.

Must Eats

Hungry Bear Cafe

Hungry Bear Cafe is a quiet spot that goes big with logger flapjacks that sport fluffy centers and buttery edges. Get some bacon, too.


Toby’s Tavern

Salty service, fresh mussels, and small town spirit have made Toby’s Tavern a Penn Cove mainstay. Don’t forget the cookies on your way out.

Must Eats

Sisters and Brothers

Nashville-style hot fried chicken rules at Seattle's Sisters and Brothers, where spice levels go all the way to "insane." Good sandwiches & side dishes, too.


Dolly’s Cafe

The omelets at Dolly’s Cafe are some of the best, with velvety eggs wrapped around fresh ingredients. Order a biscuit and corned beef on the side.

Fisherman’s Market

Fisherman’s Market

The big, airy Fisherman's Market in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, is both seafood market and restaurant. Fish is impeccably fresh, expertly prepared.


Lydia’s Supper Club

An Italian-American supper club with over 70 years of history, Lydia’s serves good meats with a constellation of side dishes from pickled beets to homemade ravioli.