Alpine County: A quick sampling of the some of the area's top eateries

Are you hungry? Or are you just thinking that having meals at regular intervals is the civilized way to live and it's nearly mealtime and you're wondering where you could get a good meal in a nice setting? If you're here on the eastern slope of Alpine County or thinking of heading this way, I have some answers for you.

For breakfast or lunch you couldn't go wrong if you stopped off at Woodfords Station, near the intersection of Highways 88 and 89. Opening at 7 a.m., Dave, Linda, or Terry will serve you a delicious breakfast sandwich or quiche or sweet roll and coffee in the morning. Then again you could be here for lunch, enjoying the delicious deli sandwiches made to order, or the special homemade chili, or one of Linda's pies or gazpacho. Seated there at the counter or at one of the wooden picnic tables, you'd find yourself somehow transported back to a country cafe of the '50s, rubbing shoulders perhaps with the sheriff or a fish and game commissioner or a county supervisor and catching up with the local news. And Dave Kirby, the proprietor who with his wife Linda has been running the place for 26 years, will give you the latest scoop on where people are catching fish, if you ask.

The place closes at 6 p.m., but hang around a bit after and cogitate on the knowledge that you're standing on ground that the '49ers trod. Daniel Woodfords built the first station here and it was an important stop along the old Emigrant Trail. It was also a remount station in 1860 for the famed Pony Express.

If you're seeking a different ambience, you could drive up-canyon five miles to Sorensen's Resort. This scenic gem by the West Fork of the Carson River is the descendant of a place homesteaded in 1876. It also overlooks the Emigrant Trail. In addition to the several rustic rental cabins tucked in among the aspens, the resort serves breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., lunch to 4 p.m., and dinner from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

John Brissenden, who with his wife Patty, has managed this nationally recognized resort for 27 years, describes their offerings as "California Hearty" with full menus at each meal. The usual eggs of any style, pancakes, or cereal (hot or cold), or their classic beef Burgundy stew is available for breakfast. For lunch, several soups, salads, or sandwiches are offered along with that Burgundy stew, all special meals.

But the dinners are extra special, ranging from seafood pasta to chicken marsala to grilled rib eye and other delicious entrees. The resort employs six chefs who prepare the meals for those who find their way to that small and intimate cafe with the extraordinary selection of fine wines. Robin Williams, Senator Feinstein, and Robert Mondavi have all eaten there. Need more be said? Well, yes, reservations for dinners are recommended.

Alpine County has some other eateries to brag about, too. Whether relaxing on the shaded deck or inside at a table near the little kitchen, you will love the scrumptious salads or deli sandwiches made for you by the friendly people at The Deli in Markleeville. DeAnne and Warren Jang have operated The Deli for 16 years. It's open daily at 11 a.m., closing at 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

One more thing. Even if you've already eaten before arriving here, bet you forgot dessert. Get some of their Dreyer's ice cream to top off the afternoon and chat with some of the travelers who stop by, enjoying the small town atmosphere of Markleeville.

Alpine County, besides being the home territory of the Washoe Indians for eons, is steeped in history from the emigrant days and the mining era that blossomed afterwards. Some miles from Markleeville grew the silver mining town of Silver Mountain City in the 1860s. When mining there became unprofitable, the town declined. Over time buildings were taken down and toted elsewhere. One of those was moved to Markleeville in 1885 and became the Alpine Hotel. In continuous operation there since, it was refurbished seven years ago, is now the Wolf Creek Inn and Bar and has a fine restaurant. Breakfast and lunch are served Thursday through Sunday; lunch Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and dinner every evening till 8 p.m. Sitting in a cozy alcove surrounded by old time photos and wall decorations, polishing off a rack or half of ribs, with a glass of good wine or a cold draft beer in doesn't get any better than that.

On Main Street is the J. Marklee Toll Station where starting in mid-June you can have a delicious meal or an expresso from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sandy Matlock has operated this homey establishment since 1991. Stay overnight if you wish. The Toll Station is also a motel. There is history here, too. Sandy's home next door was also moved from Silver Mountain City.

Up the road a piece, on the way to Grover Hot Springs, is the Villa Gigli Trattoria/Galleria where Ruggero and Gina Gigli have attracted people from far and wide to their quaint establishment for 16 years. They are open this year weekends only. Saturday is pizza and Sunday is pasta. Those days you can join others for food and wine, be entertained by a jazz guitarist, and admire Gina's outstanding art work. The views of Markleeville below and the meadow and forest across the way ain't bad either.

There you are. No drive-throughs or slot machines, just good food served in historic surroundings with good people to visit with. That's eating out in Alpine County.


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