By Melissa Wynn

Few vistas are as spectacular or as well known around the world as that first glimpse of stunning Lake Tahoe. Late this Spring Molly Barber and I  treated ourselves to not only those unforgettable views of the lake but also to an amazing dinner and Kongos concert at Crystal Bay Casino just ten steps over the California state line at 14 State Highway 28 in Crystal Bay.

We took the scenic route through Quincy and Graeagle along Highway 89 since we both love seeing the railroad bridges, St. Bernard rock and the rushing Indian and Spanish Creeks as well as the Feather and Truckee Rivers along the way. With sprawling meadows, rugged hillsides and dense forested patches dotting the path there is something gorgeous and new around every corner, making the drive itself a rewarding and peaceful way to spend any warm and sunny afternoon.

We checked in to our Border House room, located right next door,  at the desk inside Crystal Bay Casino, under crystal chandeliers, amid a plush, vintage Hollywood feel and decor. An amazing artwork of amethyst crystal geode behind the desk was so stunning that I had to stand and study it for awhile.  I just had to take the time to really appreciate the beauty in this piece that blended the talents of mother nature and artist in such an interesting and beautiful way.

It’s no wonder that this amazing casino has been attracting visitors since the days when Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack used to stay and play here.  Not only is it a wonderful place to dine and gamble but just down the road is the famous Brockway Golf Course that was  a Rat Pack play time favorite. Proudly voted ‘Best Casino at North Lake Tahoe 2008 thru 2014’, Crystal Bay Casino is the epicenter of entertainment and gaming on Tahoe’s beautiful North Shore.

The plush feel expanded to our room in the neighboring newly-renovated,  three-story building, a registered historical landmark that houses ten individually decorated guest rooms. Rich, dark wood accents and a gas double-sided fireplace gave an instant warm and cozy feel and made it easy to kick back and relax for awhile before our scheduled dinner reservation. After a nice long soak in the chromotherapy, jetted bathtub I curled up in the thick terry cloth robe in front of the plasma screen T.V. to catch the evening news while Molly got ready to go.

Lobster On The Lake

We left for dinner and the show refreshed, revived and ready to have a ball. Lucky for us, our show was on a Thursday, lobster night at the Steak and Lobster House inside the casino. This trip was all about the party so when our server Trent mentioned two for one lobster tails who could resist? We began our opulent meal with a tender, perfectly prepared Monterey Calamari appetizer and soft, fresh baked bread.

Served with herbed buttermilk dressing and a snappy fresh horseradish cocktail sauce , this was among the best calamari I have had in the U.S.  Next time we want to try the Baked Escargot Thermidor: Helix escargot, white wine, brandy, cream, fresh herbs and gruyere cheese nicely packaged in flaky puff pastry. The main course arrived steaming and fragrant. Fresh asparagus and truffled, twice-baked potatoes perched happily beside the rich and buttery lobster tails that keep the regulars coming back every Thursday night. Thick, juicy steaks are the pride and joy of this upscale eatery with classic table-side preparation and the North shore’s most extensive wine list. Fresh salads and homemade soups offer something on lighter side like the tempting Spring Beet Salad, which has Capay Valley beets, baby spinach, Redwood Hills goat cheese, Valencia orange and toasted almonds, dressed with lovely, sweet Dijon vinaigrette.

As we savored our treasures from the sea, Trent shared a bit of Crystal Bay Casino history with us, telling that the neighboring booth was a favorite of the famous Marilyn Monroe and that she had occupied that booth just days before her death in 1962. The thick-crushed-velvet Captain’s chairs and booths along with the classic lighting really whisper of that vintage Hollywood era.

Too full to try the bananas foster that Trent suggested for dessert, we wandered back to our room feeling spoiled and excited to get ready for our Kongos concert in the Crystal Bay Club Crown Room. Learn more in Molly’s exclusive interview with this band of brothers famous for their hit “Come With Me Now”  in this edition on page 61.

Whether you come for a show, to play at Lake Tahoe, or to treat a date to an impressive romantic dinner out, you are sure to find all you’re hoping for and more at the “old school meets today” destination of Crystal Bay Casino. Visit them online for reservations at or give them a call at +1.775.833.6333.