SMALL TOWN, BIG EATS
Dishing up tasty adventure in Graeagle.
WRITTEN BY PATTY CLAWSON
PHOTOS BY MICHAEL CLAWSON AND SHEA EVANS
Known for its little red houses, championship golf courses, and scenic natural beauty, Graeagle is gaining notoriety for yet another recreational activity. But this one is played with a fork.
Forget about packing the hiking gear, leave the mountain bike at home, and go hungry, because Graeagle’s dining scene may just blow your taste buds away. Here are five delicious reasons to visit.
Don Julio heaven
More than 70 premium brands of tequila and a perfectly blended margarita with rock salt and lime garnish await you at The Coyote Bar & Grill. The truth is, it’s Don Julio heaven. Order one with Cowboy Caviar, a tangy bean dip served with tortilla chips and house-made salsa, and you’re set. Well, not quite. To stick with the southwestern style of this restaurant, you might order the New Mexico-Style Pork Carnitas: slow-roasted pork grilled with Spanish onions and sweet bell peppers, wrapped in flour tortillas, and topped with a creamy tomatillo sauce and sour cream. A close second is the Southwestern Seafood Salad with mesquite-grilled prawns, fresh bay shrimp, and rock crab piled on top of crisp greens, tomatoes, black beans, fresh corn, sugar peas, and cheese, served with a creamy southwestern ranch dressing.
Locals love to bring guests to the Grizzly Grill, with its rustic wooden building, mountain charm, and enough food to fill a bear, because it satisfies the upscale tastes of sophisticated diners. Signature dishes at the grill are the Sautéed Prawns in Adobo Sauce and the creamy and sinfully rich Fettuccine Carbonara with sautéed bacon, caramelized red onions, mushrooms, and prosciutto in a gorgonzola sauce. For salad, try the “nuts and blue,” a mixed green salad with honey-roasted walnuts and crumbled blue cheese tossed with a country vinaigrette dressing. Another popular dish is the Braised Lamb Shank with French white beans, wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, and merlot sauce. If you’re lucky enough to arrive when the special is prime rib, order it. Add a nice bottle of wine and it’s a done deal.
Cuccia’s cuisine may remind you of Italian favorites your grandma used to make. These are traditional family recipes perfected over generations. The piccata, marsala, saltimbocca alla romana, and scaloppini make Cuccia’s Pasta–Pizza–Wine Bar one of the area’s finest. With an emphasis on the wine bar, bottles of red and white from all over the world make this spot a favorite sipping ground. If you crave pizza, try the Gold Lake: It’s brushed with olive oil and herbs, and topped with cheese, garlic, artichoke hearts, toasted pine nuts, and Roma tomatoes. Fair warning, this place is popular — but well worth the wait, should you not have a reservation.
Who would have thought a hamburger could be so special? Chef Sean Conry at Longboards Bar & Grill did when he created the Longburger, a half-pound burger of meaty goodness served on a house-made bun with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and house-cut French fries, or Caesar salad, if you’re feeling healthy. But those are just the basics. There’s also a selection of menu items such as bacon-wrapped prawns, Berkshire pork, free-range chicken, and succulent seafood (some of which is flown in special from Hawaii). In addition, guests will find an ever-changing menu with options such as ravioli with eggplant and mascarpone cheese filling, rib eye with white Cheddar and caramelized onions, and, on special nights, tapas. This fine dining establishment in a resort atmosphere offers superb California cuisine with an Italian and Pacific Rim flair. Add a glass or bottle of wine from an extensive wine menu that's been recognized with the prestigious Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year since 2008 and you have dining at its finest.
Lodge in the woods
Whitehawk Restaurant is the quintessential lodge in the woods. You’ll find tasty cuisine such as sea scallops basted with thyme butter and topped with fresh corn salsa, served with basmati rice. Or, as an appetizer, picture a tower of blackened ahi tuna, avocado, cucumber, and crispy tortilla wedges, finished with house-made spicy aioli and fresh strawberries. Be sure to leave room for dessert, which includes such indulgences as Limoncello Cake, cream puffs with rum-chocolate sauce, and Whitehawk’s signature Guinness beer cake. Pair it with a nice port and it’s off the charts good. The boutique-style, one- and two-bedroom cabins located on site are a perfect complement to this dining experience. They feature country pine beds, vaulted ceilings, flat-screen televisions, Jacuzzi tubs, and private porches with Adirondack chairs for taking in the breathtaking views: roughing it, urban style.
The best thing about exploring your new culinary adventure in Graeagle is that you don’t need to pack a fork. So dig in.
Patty Clawson is a writer for Big Fish Creations, and an avid foodie. Michael Clawson is a well-known iPhoneographer and photographer. Both are longtime residents of Graeagle.
The Coyote Bar and Grill
8296 Hwy. 89, Blairsden
Cuccia’s Pasta–Pizza–Wine Bar
545 Mohawk Hwy., Graeagle
250 Bonta St., Blairsden
Longboards Bar & Grill
402 Poplar Valley Road, Blairsden
The Lodge at Whitehawk and Whitehawk Restaurant
985 Whitehawk Drive, Clio
For details about Graeagle, visit http://www.Graeagle.com