The Highway 50 corridor to Lake Tahoe is jammed this time of year, good news for businesses. The sad news for diners is the passing of the four-star Dante's on the River Italian restaurant, between Pollock Pines and Kyburz, and the ongoing locked doors of the St. Pauli Inn in Pollock Pines.
However, the remodeled Red Apple restaurant outside Placerville is open (530-626-8144), and the dining room at Strawberry Lodge in Kyburz is a familiar standby (530-659-7200).
The Fresh Pond Trading Post in Pollock Pines is another oasis for hungry motorists on the to-or-from Tahoe trail, and a convenient stop for picnickers planning al-fresco dining at nearby Sly Park.
Inside the store, past the Chevron gas pumps, are shelves of chotskies and more substantial items - folding knives, hats, moccasins, leather vests, sweatshirts. In the "Crazy Signs" box is this one: "My hunting dog is smarter than your honor student."
The well-stocked deli counter is next to a mini-dining room with an Old West flavor and a "History of Fresh Pond" displayed on the wall (take a look). There's a dining deck outside, and a Western-themed facade.
"We make 80 percent of (the menu dishes) right here," said deli clerk Katie Bangert on the phone Monday. "Chicken and tuna salads, deviled eggs, fruit salad." The rest - meats, cheeses, pastas, green salads - are delivered from long-established wholesaler Tony's Fine Foods of West Sacramento.
Made-on-site house specialties include the Sierra cheesesteak sandwich (roast beef, mushrooms, onion, green bell pepper and jus served on a french roll with Swiss cheese) and the Fresh Pond Slam (turkey, bacon and avocado; "We must make 50 of those a day").
Who drops in? "We get a lot of (Tahoe) traffic and tourists from all over - Germany, Spain, England," Bangert said. "Of course, we have our regulars from around the community. The breakfast burrito is popular."
Fresh Pond Trading Post, 7720 Highway 50, Pollock Pines; (530)-644-7663.