No one-trick pony

April may be the cruelest month, but August is certainly the hottest and busiest as far as Lake Tahoe is concerned.

The line of refugees from Reno and the California valleys extends around Tahoe in a multi-colored parade of cars that, for this month anyway, encircles the lake like a candy coating. The joy is obvious as the travelers roll down their windows and breathe in the cool(er) mountain air. The sun reflects off their sunglasses, but the glare might as well come from their smiles.

But that joy only lasts so long. Travelers have to eat, as do locals.

Steamers, named for both their clams and the famous Tahoe boat of the same name, offers an opportunity to do so while maintaining close contact with the main attraction, the lake. A good-sized patio in the rear of the restaurant sets diners just feet from the beach, the cool waters only a healthy stone’s throw away. Steamers’ indoor seating takes advantage of the view as well, with tiered seating and a large mirror for those that have to face the wall.

My co-workers, Kelly and Darolyn, and I decided to sit outside, where we were seated at a long picnic table with a large umbrella. Though Steamers is well known for its pizza (justifiably so, as it is some of the best in our area) we decided to sample some of the other menu items, of which there are many. I think since we work in such close quarters, we all felt the need to choose separate meals, or maybe we just weren’t in the mood for pizza. Kelly ordered the vegetarian calzone ($7.75), Darolyn chose the chicken salad ($7.50) and I picked the Steamers Turnover with turkey, avocado and cheese ($7.50). Steamers also offers a range of oven-baked sandwiches and a heaping bowl of steamed clams ($10.25).

While we waited for our meals, we enjoyed our beers and looked at the boats out on the lake and some of the poorly dressed tourists. A few moments later, our server brought out our food with a minimum of fuss, and everything looked great. Darolyn’s salad was served in an ample-sized bowl, filled with egg, avocado and tomato and topped with Cajun-spiced chicken. She tried a couple of dressings, both of which she liked.

At first glance, Kelly’s calzone and my turnover looked remarkably similar. But some investigation brought their differences to light. The calzone was, as it should be, a folded-over pizza. This one was filled with a variety of pizza vegetables as well as a nice layer of cheese. Kelly said it was great.

My turnover, on the other hand, was basically a stuffed shell. It opened on the top and was topped with sprouts. The ingredients were all fresh. Coupled with a dipping sauce (bleu cheese), it was a tasty and original lunch.

When I asked our server for her input on the calzone/ turnover debate, she responded with a brief reading, memorized from the menu: The turnover’s more like a sandwich, and the calzone is more like a pizza. She’s probably been asked the question a million times. But if so, her answer could have been better.

We finished off our beers and made our way back into the line of circling cars. Though it might seem sacrilegious to avoid some of the best pizza in our area, Steamers proved that it’s more than a one-trick pony. Except, of course, that it’s not a pony at all, but a restaurant. And a good one at that.