1000 Old Faithful Rd, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190, USA
A string quartet used to serenade diners here at the restaurant inside what is arguably the most famous inn in the entire National Park Service (and one of the largest log structures in the world). A pianist in the lobby has replaced the quartet, but most of the other details that make dining at Old Faithful a rustically elegant experience remain: the fireplace made from 500 tons of locally quarried rhyolite; hickory chairs and chandeliers; the soaring 76-foot-tall ceiling in the lobby; and Robert C. Reamer’s asymmetrical design, which purposefully mimics the chaos of nature. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style, with filling fare like corn bread, roast beef, and baked beans. Reservations are required for dinner, which can include offerings such as smoked trout ravioli or locally raised lamb.
185 Scott Ln, Jackson, WY 83002, USA
Pack up a perfect picnic with the help of Sweet Cheeks Meats, localed in Jackson, Wyoming, an hour south of Yellowstone’s South Entrance. The only hard part will be waiting until you’re in Yellowstone to eat it. Sweet Cheeks, which sources its meat from local producers like Lockhart Cattle Co., Mead Ranch, and Jackson Hole Hereford Ranch, makes gourmet breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and a selection of prepared food. There are standards like country paté, meat loaf, and duck confit (which they call a “meat lollipop”), but the daily breakfast and lunch sandwiches are routinely switched up: One day, it’s pulled pork and a fried egg on a cheddar-scallion buttermilk biscuit, the next it’s house-smoked ham, egg, and white cheddar on a brioche bun.
You can opt to sit back and relax on a 30-minute covered wagon ride to Roosevelt Lodge’s chuckwagon, or you can saddle up for a one- or two-hour horseback ride. However you choose to get to the lodge’s outdoor kitchen and campfire in Pleasant Valley’s sagebrush flats, a cooked-just-right steak, corn bread, baked beans, and fruit cobbler await you. The chuckwagon’s baked beans are rightly famous, and you’ll likely go back for seconds of the cobbler. After dinner, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife—Pleasant Valley isn’t quite as wildlife rich as neighboring Lamar Valley, but spotting bison, elk, or wolves isn’t unusual—while your ears enjoy traditional Western songs and cowboy poetry from a lodge wrangler.
163 Chico Rd, Livingston, MT 59047, USA
When the Art family bought the struggling Chico Hot Springs Resort in 1972, some of the earliest improvements they made were to its dining room. The idea was to create one of the best restaurants in the state; if guests came for the food, maybe they’d spend the night. The family succeeded. Today the Chico Dining Room is so beloved it spawned a cookbook, A Montana Table: Recipes from Chico Hot Springs Resort. While ingredients are as fresh as can be—with produce from on-site greenhouses, meat from local ranchers, seafood flown in overnight from the coast—the menu includes some dishes that have been around for more than 40 years. The classic Chico meal is beef Wellington (service for two) and, for dessert, a Flaming Orange, which is exactly what it sounds like.
100 Colter Bay Marina Road
You’ll have to pick your jaw up off the ground before you start your alfresco breakfast or dinner on Elk Island, in the middle of Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Just one mile from Elk Island (the largest island in Wyoming—not a hotly contested title), the hulking Mount Moran explodes up 7,000 feet from the lakeshore. It’s so close you might be able to spot crevasses on one of its glaciers. In this setting, standard fare—trout, steak, and chicken at dinner, and eggs, pancakes, and hash browns at breakfast—tastes almost sublime. The cruise to and from the island is a bonus.