There’s a saying on the Eastside—“Tiger Talk.” It means you talked a big game about what you planned to ski, climb, or accomplish the next day while tossing back a few cocktails… then woke up too hungover to accomplish those goals. The origin of that phrase is June Lake’s incredible Tiger Bar, located on Main Street and the watering hole for just about every “looper” (yet another local-ism referring to those who live on the June Lake Loop) that’s come and gone since 1932, when the restaurant and bar first opened.
You can’t miss the place—there’s a hanging wooden sign with the words “Tiger Bar” and the spitting image of Disney’s Shere Khan, the cunning tiger from “The Jungle Book,” lounging next to the words.
Inside, you’ll find old wooden floors, a full bar often staffed but a surly but strong-handed bartender, booths next to windows with great views, and the standard bar equipment—a pool table and jukebox. There are tigers everywhere—paintings, photographs, swag, the place is just crawling with them.
They serve classic pub food that’s a little overpriced, but often fried golden crisp and delicious. They’re open for breakfast (get chicken fried steak), lunch (any sandwich) and dinner (this writer is partial to the fish ’n chips). When offered the option between fries and the “tiger chips,” I say go with the chips, as they’re made in house. Another great option: the “Beans, chips and cheese.” For about 5 bucks you can get what are basically simple nachos, and they’re filling and just delightful.
The Tiger Bar’s famous, spicy Bloody Marys are perfect on a Sunday morning, and they’re the latest place to stay open in June Lake at night, hence the “Tiger Talk.” A trip to this picturesque little town isn’t complete without a pilgrimage here.
Sarah Rea is a freelance dirtbag-turned-journalist who has been living in the Sierra on and off for twenty years, with eight spent in Yosemite National Park and five in Mammoth Lakes. She likes dogs, rocks, good food and jumping into cold water.