A Mouthwatering Journey: The Ultimate Food Guide to Wyoming
Welcome, food enthusiasts! Wyoming may not be the first state that pops up on the culinary radar, but this Western paradise has some gastronomical treasures you simply can’t miss. From hearty cowboy fare to fresh, locally sourced ingredients, your taste buds are in for a wild ride! So, buckle up and prepare your palate for a culinary adventure through the land of open plains, grand mountains, and cowboy charm.
The Melting Pot of Tastes: Understanding Wyoming’s Food Culture
With its rich history, spanning Native American, cowboy, and ranching traditions, Wyoming boasts a unique and diverse culinary heritage. The state’s food culture embraces a blend of simplicity and wholesomeness, with dishes packed full of flavors using fresh, locally produced ingredients.
The staple diet is strongly influenced by the livestock ranching traditions, with beef and bison being the main sources of protein. Wild game, including elk and trout, is also common, showcasing the state’s hunting traditions. At the same time, the Native American influence brings corn, beans, and squash—collectively known as the “Three Sisters”—to the table.
Iconic Dishes: What to Try in Wyoming
When in Wyoming, there are certain dishes that are absolute must-tries. They represent the essence of the state’s food culture and showcase the heartiness and simplicity that is characteristic of Wyoming cuisine.
As America’s original red meat, bison is leaner and richer in flavor than beef. The bison steak is the embodiment of Wyoming’s culinary spirit—a thick, juicy cut grilled to perfection and typically served with home-style sides like mashed potatoes or fresh vegetables. Don’t miss the chance to try this lean and delectably gamey dish at local favorites like The Senator’s Steakhouse in Cheyenne or Gun Barrel Steak & Game House in Jackson.
Chicken Fried Steak
Perfect for a hearty breakfast or lunch, this classic cowboy dish consists of a tenderized steak coated in seasoned flour and fried to a crisp, golden brown. Traditionally served with white gravy, mashed potatoes, and green beans, this comfort food is a favorite at diners and cafes throughout Wyoming. Make sure to stop by Luxury Diner in Cheyenne or Nora’s Fish Creek Inn in Wilson for an authentic taste of this dish.
With an abundance of freshwater lakes and rivers, Wyoming’s trout is some of the freshest you’ll find. One of the most popular preparations is Trout Almondine—a dish where the fish is lightly sautéed and topped with slivered almonds. The rustic flair and sweet nuttiness of this dish perfectly encapsulate the state’s love for simple yet delicious food. Check out eateries like The Brinton Bistro in Big Horn or The Granary in Jackson for a delightful trout experience.
Sweet Treats: Wyoming’s Desserts
Of course, no culinary adventure would be complete without exploring the local sweet offerings. Wyoming has some delectable desserts that are worth trying, especially after a long day exploring the state’s natural beauty.
Wyoming Whiskey Cake
This is a truly distinctive Wyoming dessert—a moist, rich cake soaked with locally distilled whiskey. It’s the perfect combination of sweetness and the warm, mellow notes of a good whiskey. For a taste of this boozy delight, visit Sugar Boot in Sheridan where they’re known for their delicious spin on the classic recipe.
Although not exactly a dessert, this traditional bread has a slightly sweet taste that makes it perfect for a sweet tooth. Originating from the Irish immigrants who came to work on the Transcontinental Railroad, Wyoming’s version is a nod to its immigrant past. Grab a loaf from Persephone Bakery in Jackson to enjoy with a slather of butter or a generous dollop of local honey.
Local Produce: Wyoming’s Farmers Markets
Exploring the local farmers markets is an excellent way to dive into Wyoming’s food scene. Not only will you get to sample some of the freshest produce, but you’ll also meet local farmers and artisans, making it a great cultural experience. Some of the best include the Laramie Farmers Market, the Jackson Hole Farmers Market, and the Gillette Farmers Market. Look out for Wyoming’s famous cherries, melons, and, of course, local honey, cheese, and homemade jams and jellies.
Drinks: Sip on Wyoming’s Local Beverages
Quench your thirst with some of Wyoming’s local beverages. From craft beers to locally distilled spirits, the state offers an impressive array of drinks that you must try during your visit.
Wyoming’s craft beer scene is burgeoning, with microbreweries across the state creating unique brews. Whether you’re a fan of a hop-heavy IPA, a dark stout, or a light lager, you’ll find something to quench your thirst. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit breweries like Black Tooth Brewing Company in Sheridan or the Wind River Brewing Company in Pinedale, where you can taste a variety of Wyoming-crafted beers and learn about the brewing process.
Wyoming’s pristine water and grains lend themselves to the production of excellent spirits. The state is home to several distilleries that produce everything from whiskey to vodka and gin. Make sure to visit Wyoming Whiskey in Kirby, a distillery known for its small-batch bourbon that embodies the essence of the state. Another must-visit is Backwards Distilling Company in Mills, where they make award-winning spirits using locally sourced ingredients.
Local Festivals: Experience Wyoming’s Food Events
Visiting during one of the state’s food festivals can be a great way to sample Wyoming’s cuisine, meet locals, and learn more about its food traditions.
Wyoming State Fair
Held annually in Douglas, the Wyoming State Fair is a showcase of the state’s agricultural bounty. Beyond the livestock exhibitions, rodeo events, and concerts, you’ll find an array of local food stands offering everything from bison burgers to locally grown sweet corn. Make sure you try the funnel cakes—a fair staple—and savor some of the state’s best BBQ.
Wyoming’s burgeoning beer scene is celebrated at several beer festivals throughout the year. The most notable is the Wyoming Brewer’s Festival in Cheyenne, where local and regional breweries come together to showcase their brews. It’s a great opportunity to taste a wide variety of beers and mingle with the brewers themselves.
Dining Etiquette: Blend In with the Locals
Wyomingites are known for their friendliness and casual attitude, and this extends to their dining culture as well. Here are a few tips to help you blend in with the locals:
In most places, the dress code is casual, reflecting Wyoming’s laid-back style. Jeans, boots, and a comfortable shirt or sweater will do just fine for a meal out.
As in the rest of the U.S., tipping is customary in Wyoming. A tip of 15-20% of the total bill before tax is standard for good service in restaurants.
Enjoy the Experience
Wyomingites value the experience of dining—taking time to savor the food, enjoy the company, and soak in the surroundings. So, slow down, relax, and truly enjoy your Wyoming dining experience.
There’s more to Wyoming than its stunning landscapes and wildlife. The state offers a culinary scene that’s as diverse and rich as its history and culture. From its classic dishes, sweet treats, local beverages, vibrant farmers markets, food festivals, to its casual dining etiquette, experiencing the food in Wyoming is a journey worth embarking on. As you explore the majestic mountains, vast plains, and beautiful parks, make sure to savor the delicious flavors of Wyoming!