The Loft south tahoe has family-friendly dining--with a dash of magic.

How South Tahoe’s “The Loft” and “Magic Fusion” Get it Right for Families

“It doesn’t look like a place you’d be allowed to take kids,” my husband commented for the second time after our family’s dinner at South Lake Tahoe’s new restaurant, “The Loft” at Heavenly Village. I had to agree. As we arrived at The Loft, with its electric industrial bulb chandelier sprouting out from the wall, flaming coffee tables, and its dark setting with group conversations punctuated by pendant lights, it felt like a place I’d be meeting up with girlfriends for a lemon drop or glass of wine.

But as we strolled farther in, here were small kids walking past us in snow pants and ski leggings, a family gathered on comfy sofas around a flaming coffee table—which it turns out has a toddler-resistant wall of glass around the flames, and everyone looked as comfortable as comfortable could be.

Yet it all made sense once I realized the common thread running through The Loft’s cuisine and The Loft Theater’s signature show is Italy. In Italian culture, you’d no more segregate the bambini from the dinner table than you would the nonni (grandparents). And Chef Lisa Devincenzi-Miller, working from the recipes her great-great grandmother brought from northern Italy, welcomes all generations of the family with a comprehensive menu of favorites from Genoa and Lombardy (soups and salads from $6, entrees $17 – $26) , complete with a menu for the kids ($7 – $8).

Magic Fusion at the Loft theater in Heavenly Village at South Tahoe
The audience settles in before welcoming Tony Clark, named Magician of the Year by the International Magicians Society.

But before sitting down to our dinner, we made way to the Loft Theater at the back of the restaurant, where we’d been invited to enjoy the premier performance of magician Tony Clark’s “Magic Fusion.” Having attended a big-name magic show earlier this year where tickets sold for literally five times as much—and where the overwhelming special effects and loud music was so ridiculous and the jokes so offensive, especially with kids in the crowd, that I nearly walked out—Tony Clark’s Magic Fusion was a breath of fresh air I was delighted to share with my family.

What impressed me most about Magic Fusion was that the show seemed as entertaining and funny to those in the audience with drinks and without kids as it was to those of us in the audience with kids and no drinks. That’s not an easy feat. Plus, the intimate venue at The Loft Theater made it easy to appreciate the talent behind every trick and feel a part of the show, which you should be warned may have a lasting (and inspiring) effect on your children.

The Loft's strolling magician South Tahoe with Kids
The Loft’s strolling magician makes waiting for dinner a delight–and the perfect place to enjoy great cuisine while visiting South Tahoe with kids.

After the show, the magic continued once we were seated for dinner. Bobby Hall, The Loft’s “strolling magician,” stopped by our table to entertain us before our meal came. If we thought we were up scrutinizingly close during Tony Clark’s magic performance, here was Bobby right at our sides and performing tricks in front of the kids on our table—with them taking part.

Still, my big girl, with the scowl of a tween who knows better, remained skeptical. But when he stuck a knife through a deck of cards, then let the kids discover the cards inside were actually a solid metal block they could hold in their hands and inspect for themselves, even the big girl was in awe.

strolling magician tricks at The Loft in South Tahoe
Surprise! Just try and explain how that silver dollar got in her hand–she certainly can’t!

The rest of dinner (handmade ravioli, pasta bolognese, artichoke chicken risotto, all with meats and cheeses imported from Italy), my eldest and youngest spent every possible moment working out their own tricks at the table with the cloth napkins, cups, knives, focaccia, and so on.

Magic Fusion at The Loft South Tahoe
Inspired by the magic at The Loft, the kids continued creating their own magic tricks through the evening, the afternoon that followed, and they haven’t stopped yet.

The middle child, it should be noted, was no less impressed, but was struggling to stay awake after our first big day of snowy excitement. For her, the long cushioned bench we were seated on was especially appreciated. Though she rallied for our strawberry and vanilla bean tiramisus.

pasta at The Loft in South Tahoe
Handmade ravioli is a hit for everyone. But boy is this the place for pasta bolognese (said one who ate far too much)!

As we left, my inspired big girl—named after her own great-great grandmother who came from Italy—turned to me in the parking garage to ask, “Now WHAT was the name of that place again?”

“The Loft,” I sighed with a smile. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, because the next time we come to Tahoe,” she extended a hand with the flickering fingers of a magician about to produce a silver coin, “We should definitely go there again.”

“HA!” I chuckled. “And perhaps you might also want to recommend it to a few friends who are headed this way?”

“Oh, yes,” she said quite seriously.

“Well,” I said, spotting our car in the garage, “I think you just did.”

If you go:

Address: The Loft Restaurant and Live Theater – 1021 Heavenly Village Way – South Lake Tahoe – California. Click here for map and directions.

The Loft is open seven days a week, from 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. and reservations can be made online at http://thelofttahoe.com/.

Magic Fusion tickets are $27 + taxes/fees; show times are 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, and 8:00 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays. The show lasts approximately 75 minutes, and drinks are allowed in the theater, but not food. Tickets are also available online at http://thelofttahoe.com/.

Families take note! In early 2016, The Loft will start offering a special prix fixe dinner + show package with a family-friendly dining time of 5:30 p.m. and tickets to the 7:00 p.m. Magic Fusion show.

If you park in the Heavenly Village parking garage, you can simply enter The Loft restaurant from the 3rd story of the garage. Look for the entrance and signs for The Loft and The Loft Theater. Ask your server for a validation card to receive a parking discount of $1/hour.

For more help planning your trip to South Tahoe with kids, take advantage of the free resources and special offers at www.TahoeSouth.com.

Thanks so much to The Loft Restaurant and Theater for the opportunity to sample their cuisine and show!

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Shelly Rivoli

Founder, Editor, & Chief Adventure Officer at Family Travel 411 and Travels with Baby
Shelly Rivoli is the award-winning author behind the Travels with Baby guidebooks and Travels with Baby website and blog, and is the founding editor of Family Travel 411. When she isn't traveling with her husband and three children, she hangs her hat in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow her on Twitter: @travelswithbaby and Facebook: Shelly Rivoli.
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