The Kirkwood Inn & Saloon | A Delicious Slice of History

Kirkwood Inn beer flight. | Priya Hutner

It might have been the bullet holes in the wall, the low beams and Western bar or the historic photos hanging on the walls that enamored me at the Kirkwood Inn & Saloon. Steeped in richness and history, the inn was established in 1864 and has served as a cattle ranch, hostelry, post office, stage depot, restaurant and saloon. It is a perfect stop for skiers and outdoor enthusiasts in the winter and anyone passing through the corridor during the summer months.

The server reappeared with a huge tray of food served in a cast-iron pan, which was the Kirkwood Inn Sampler Platter. It was impressive.

The restaurant highlights California smokehouse cuisine with locally sourced products; all their meats are smoked on the premises.

I settled in at a solid chunky wood table by the massive stone fireplace with Johanna McWilliams, Vail Resort’s communications manager for the Tahoe region, Eric Tiffany, director of food and beverage for Kirkwood Mountain Resort, and Alison Bermant. A beer flight — a selection of beers from local breweries — was set on the wood table. It included an Angora IPA from South Lake Tahoe Brewing Company, a pale ale and Kolsch from Alibi Ale Works and a Truckee Tahoe Pilsner from FiftyFifty Brewing.

Grilled chicken wing appetizer and a side of bakes beans | Priya Hutner

Platters of food arrived for sampling. The Greens and Grains salad of kale, arugula, blueberries and ancient grains topped with a lightly spiced lemon and herb vinaigrette dressing was a great starter. The chicken wings were grilled and smoked to perfection and were fabulous. The server bought a side of baked beans topped with pulled pork, one of the best baked-bean recipes I’ve encountered of late.

Kirkwood Inn’s signature Reuben sandwich came with a side of the restaurant’s Brussels Slaw, a delightful twist on cabbage slaw. The slaw was flavorful and delicious. The house-smoked pastrami, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese served with Thousand Island dressing on rye was a fantastic sandwich. The burgers and sandwiches on the menu come with a choice of crispy fries or the Brussels slaw.

The server reappeared with a huge tray of food served in a cast-iron pan, which was the Kirkwood Inn Sampler Platter. It was impressive. The platter included roast chicken, smoked ribs and brisket with caramelized onions and tomatoes, baked beans and cornbread and broccolini. The plate comes with a choice of garlic-roasted potatoes or slaw along with a selection of Bourbon barbecue sauce or a burnt-orange barbecue sauce; both were excellent. I recommend ordering both barbecue sauces; dipping between the two is highly encouraged.

Bullet holes in the beam of the Kirkwood Inn. | Priya Hutner

The inn’s cocktails didn’t disappoint either. They served a Blueberry Mule with Tahoe Blue Vodka, ginger, and infused blueberry and a Watermelon Margarita. Both were refreshing and delicious.

The meal was topped off with a signature Smore’s dessert. If you are a fan of s’mores, this dessert is a must. It boasted golden-brown roasted marshmallows baked in the oven served over a graham-cracker crust and topped with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. It was warm and gooey and melted in my mouth fabulously. I am generally not a s’mores’ girl; this dessert was amazing.

The menu also features flights and bites for sharing, grilled salmon, a long list of burgers, including the vegetarian Impossible Burger, and there are plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options on the menu. | kirkwood.com