8 El Dorado County Restaurants Where Foodies Can Strike Gold

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The El Dorado wine region was once the epicenter of the Gold Rush, and home to thousands of prospectors looking to make their fortune. Today, it is a foodie paradise that serves as the home to deliciously inventive chefs, open-minded but hungry locals, and a burgeoning wine scene.

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Restaurants /

Sienna

Sienna Restaurant strikes a refined balance between an upscale restaurant and a casual neighborhood joint, and the American classics offered are both delicious and comforting. The dining room includes a fireplace, and the appetizer menu spans the globe, with starters including kung pao calamari, coconut shrimp, and macadamia nut-crusted Brie. While a fantastic end to a day, Sienna Restaurant also offers a scrumptious brunch complete with mimosas.

Insider Tip

On Sunday and Monday nights, the restaurant offers a three-course meal, complete with wine, for just $35.

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Restaurants /

The Independent Restaurant

This local favorite in Placerville boasts a rustic-chic dining area and a patio with a fireplace. Open every day for lunch and dinner, the bar has also become legendary, thanks in part to its long list of cleverly named concoctions. With a focus on farm-to-table fare, the kitchen performs unique New American feats, like the delectable truffle macaroni and cheese — fine for an appetizer for a group, or as a full meal for one.

Insider Tip

The Sea of Tranquility, made with scotch, fresh lemon, bitters, absinthe, egg whites, and soda water, is as good as it sounds.

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Restaurants /

Cascada Restaurant

Cascada Restaurante & Cantina’s upscale take on Mexican comfort food is sublime (the chicken, bacon, spinach, and artichoke heart quesadilla is a particular favorite). The specialty tacos, like the ‘chilangos’ made with steak and chorizo, or the al carbon made with grilled pork, will redefine what you think can go inside a tortilla. The chefs also know their way around seafood: the lobster meat enchiladas, mahi with mango, and spicy shrimp burritos are filling combinations where South of the Border meets the Pacific Ocean.

Insider Tip

Like any worthy Mexican spot, Cascada Restaurante & Cantina boasts a variety of specialty margaritas, like the blue luna azul margarita or the Venetian margarita with an amaretto float.

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Restaurants /

Diamond Springs Hotel

Diamond Springs Hotel is a former hotel that now shines as a cozy restaurant serving authentic country cuisine that would appeal to any gold miner or wine lover, whether it’s the 19th or 21st century. For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the Diamond Springs Hotel serves plenty of Gold Country locals as well as those traveling through to sunbathe on the shores of Lake Tahoe. And with most entrees less than $12 a plate, one visit will convince you why this place has become such an attraction.

Insider Tip

On Friday and Saturday nights, Diamond Springs Hotel serves up a prime rib dinner for just $20 per person.

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Restaurants /

Ruffhaus Hot Dog Company

Ruffhaus Hot Dog Company brings Chicago’s most famous culinary export to the middle of Gold Country. The unpretentious chefs get pretty creative with the humble hot dog, however, building meaty masterpieces slathered with condiments including blackberry jam, macaroni and cheese, and alfalfa sprouts. A well-stocked beer selection means you’ll have plenty of choices to wash down your dogs with.

Insider Tip

Vegetarians are welcome at Ruffhaus Hot Dog Company. The menu includes veggie dogs as well as meatless munchies like fried pickles.

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Restaurants /

Smith Flat House

With the exterior of an old hunting lodge and an interior touched with a modernist flair, Smith Flat House remains upscale, but unstuffy. The dining room is housed within a historic Gold Country manor, which includes a warming fireplace in the center of the restaurant. For a refined-yet-pastoral fresh meal, start with the Brie and pickled mustard seed, then move on to the lobster bisque. Smith Flat House hosts a roster of live music every month, leaning heavily toward jazz.

Insider Tip

Though the fine dining options are great, so are the pizzas, with boast ingredients like freshly harvested figs or arugula.

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Restaurants /

Heyday Cafe

This rustic storefront may only offer counter service, but the cooks at Heyday are committed to freshness and flavor. The café possesses a long wine list featuring many locally grown bottles from around El Dorado wine country, so a lunch at Heyday Café could easily turn into a few hours of relaxing conversation with lots of cork pulling. Handcrafted pizzas, like the butternut squash and bacon or truffle chicken, are upscale favorites for dinner.

Insider Tip

Don’t overlook the greens like the BLT salad, built from produce grown on organic farms throughout California.

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