Truckee: What’s new in this rich, historic town

TRUCKEE, HIGH IN THE SIERRA, is a small town that grew up along the first transcontinental railroad route. It was named after a saloonkeeper, at least at first.

Truckee boomed as a railroad town and winter sports destination. The Squaw Valley Winter Olympics in 1960 established it as a major resort destination.

Now, Truckee is working to solidify its reputation as a top-notch recreation destination. The town has retained its historic charm, with first-class restaurants, wine bars, galleries, shops and hotels.

It just completed nearly $3 million in improvements on and around Commercial Row, making the historic town more pedestrian friendly. Here’s a rundown of what else is new:

Truckee restaurants are embracing the hottest food trends for 2012. Among them are fresh food, ethnic and gluten-free. Truckee even has a talented “You Tube Chef,” a new trend. Some highlights:

Fresh, regional produce comes to the Sierra mountain town almost daily, thanks to Bob Habeger at Produce Plus, a longtime local supplier. His motto: “supply restaurant chefs with seasonal, specialty and, whenever possible, local and organic produce.” In winter Habeger offers restaurateurs a direct link to Yolo County farmers, who often pick the day of

“Produce Bob’s” Truckee customers run the gamut: Best Pies; Burger Me; Cottonwood; Dragonfly; Jax; Moody’s Bistro, Bar & Beats; Pacific Crest Grill; Pianeta Ristorante; Wagon Train; and Stella Restaurant at the Cedar House Sport Hotel, among others.

One of Truckee’s rising stars is Chef Jacob Burton of Stella. Besides creating exquisite cuisine, Burton launched Stella Culinary, an online culinary school. The website ( includes in-depth video, such as cooking techniques, also making him a renowned “You Tube” chef.

Truckee has well-stocked, affordable wine shops and wine bars. Avec Wine + Food at “The Rock” complex off Broadway Rd. is the newest. Owners Chris Cooke and Rose Levinson have created a gathering spot with an unpretentious, contemporary feel.

Small plates of rustic comfort cuisine pair well with a wide selection of wines by the glass. Cheeses, homemade pastries (including gluten-free) and specialty grocery products round out the offerings.

Avec’s wine shop runs the gamut—wines from California, Oregon and Washington to Europe, South Africa, Australia and South America.

Other wine shops include The Pour House in downtown. Truckee also has its own winery—Truckee River Winery.

Truckee is home to a burgeoning arts scene, centered largely along Commercial Row. New galleries are opening or expanding, showcasing local artwork. Here are some examples:

Art Obsessions is a new gallery with a vast collection of internationally known artists’ works, as well as the works of up-and-coming artists.

Another new gallery is Artisans Market Place, a co-op consisting of original work from 16 local artists. It is situated behind a beautiful courtyard with a warming fire pit.

Carmel Gallery showcases the work of Elizabeth and Olof Carmel, who specialize in expressive landscapes.

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