Casino resorts aren’t just casinos anymore. These days, the gambling meccas offer top-notch amenities from luxurious spas to killer golf courses. Another popular feature: upscale restaurants. While not every casino eatery is worthy of focused attention, some establishments deserve the spotlight and are among my favorites around Northern California.
C2 Steak & Seafood, Cache Creek Casino Resort
Tucked just off the main gaming floor at Cache Creek, C2 Steak & Seafood offers an uber-swanky twist on the traditional surf & turf joint. All meat is cut to specification on site, with portions ranging from 12-ounce Filet Mignons to juicy herb-crusted racks of lamb. Fish lovers will find a savory selection of market-fresh seafood, as well. In addition to gourmet food and beverage, C2 Steak & Seafood is a “silver service” restaurant, meaning its service has been singled out for its speed and professionalism. I eat there at least once a month, and the distinction is certainly warranted.
Feather Falls Casino Brewing Company, Oroville
With an $8.5 million expansion that includes the new brewery, state-of-the-art stage and sound system stage, and restaurant, Feather Falls Casino has become one of the top casino getaway destinations in the state. The brewery restaurant features hammered copper tabletops, a semi-circular granite counter, stainless steel brew tanks, and an American comfort food menu featuring everything from barbecue salmon, prime rib, and sushi to pizza from their Italian-style pizza oven. The brewery currently produces nine ales and lagers, and I highly recommend trying their sampler to find your favorite. Weather permitting, the restaurant also has a 48-seat, trellis-covered patio for diners who prefer a smoke-free area.
Koi Palace, Thunder Valley Casino
If you like Asian food, you’ll love Koi Palace at Thunder Valley. The restaurant is nestled in a corner near the main entrance, and is one of the more fancifully decorated casino restaurants I’ve ever been to. The restaurant specializes in Cantonese cooking (try the coffee ribs and thank us in the morning), and dishes are prepared family-style, so sharing some of the big plates is a good idea. In recent years, Koi Palace has amassed huge popularity among locals as well as visitors. As such, it has been mentioned in publications such as Gourmet, San Francisco and the San Francisco Chronicle to name a few.
Café Colma, Lucky Chances Casino
Arguably the most downscale of the bunch on this list, Café Colma is nothing more than a glorified diner. If you’re looking for a fancy meal, go next door to Rene’s Fine Dining. But when it’s 3 a.m. and you’re famished, the place works perfectly. Menus change every day; because chefs prepare food based upon what they can harvest from a garden, available items tend to be a bit unpredictable. Perhaps the best thing about Café Colma is the price; on a recent trip, I bought a full dinner for less than $20. Servers from Café Colma deliver meals straight to the gaming tables.
Henry’s Steakhouse, Red Hawk Casino
With sweeping views of the Sierra foothills, Henry’s is a great place to unwind after a long afternoon of gambling. The place is known for premium cuts of steak; some of the most common types: Mid-Western USDA Prime, Painted Hills Natural Beef and American Wagyu Beef, to name a few. Presentation is a key with all of these orders; when servers first bring out your steak, you feel as if you’re inspecting a piece of art. For dessert, be sure to save room for a few scoops of ice cream from the nearby Food Court—a nice treat before you hit the gaming floor again.
Island Buffet, Peppermill Reno Hotel Casino
Put simply, the Peppermill’s three-meal Island Buffet is the most famous buffet in all of Reno. Readers of Strictly Slots and Casino Player magazines have rated it one of the best buffets in Northern Nevada, and it has been ranked among the best Champagne brunches in the state. The buffet offers a cornucopia of foods: hot entrees, carved meats, savory soups, fresh salads and home-baked deserts. On Fridays, there’s a seafood-only option, and on Saturdays, the restaurant offers a special all-you-can-eat steak and king crab dinner, as well. Breakfast prices start at $11.99, lunch prices at $12.99, and dinner prices at $17.99.