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May 22, 2008 12:45 PM

Gardiner MT and Jackson Lake WY area dining advice? Especially interested in restaurants sourcing locally.

We're headed to Yellowstone for a few days. Any advice on where to eat in the Gardiner area? We're staying at Mammoth Hot Springs, but I imagine it won't take many meals before we're tired of park service food. We're particularly interested in restaurants that source locally.

We'll also be at Jackson Lake Lodge in the Grand Tetons for one night. Any advice for a restaurant near there is also very welcome!



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  1. I stayed at Jackson Lake Lodge last fall and we found that the two casual restaurants at the lodge were quite good--the Blue Heron Lounge (lunch, dinner, drinks) and the Pioneer Grill (breakfast, lunch and dinner, but more of a diner). The goat-cheese buffalo burgers at the Blue Heron were delicious after traveling all day. The Blue Heron also offers a view of the mountains.

    Actually at breakfast one day, I was sitting next to a guide for a tour company who said that the food at the Jackson Lake Lodge was much better than the food in Yellowstone. He was on his way Yellowstone that day with a tour group. I did hear the food at the Mural Room, the lodge's "fine dining" restaurant was not very good, but we didn't eat there.

    Just outside the park is a place called the Moose Pizza and Pasta Co. Very casual. You can sit on the deck and look at the mountains. The pizza and salads were pretty good, or at least they were after a day of hiking. We actually went there a few times. Didn't try the pasta. Other than that, you pretty much have to go into the town of Jackson itself.

    1 Reply
    1. If you are serious about the locally sourcing, you might want to go 70 miles to the north to Bozeman. Here's what I found with a 'Bozeman csa' search.

      4 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        Thanks! We're actually flying into Bozeman, but it'll be too late in the evening to eat that night, and then we're driving south so we won't be back to Bozeman.

        1. re: valereee

          Regarding local food sources, in Montana and Wyoming, winters are long and cold, summers short. Most the agriculture is built around cattle, and hay to feed them. Some cattle are butchered locally, but most are shipped off to feed lots for fattening. There may be some fancy lodges that make a big deal of using local game, and a few places that use domesticated bison. Local trout may be on some menus, though I don't know if all of that is wild caught.

          And a few people in these states make a living from picking and processing wild huckleberries. But those will be fresh for only a month or so in late summer; otherwise they are frozen or preserved.

          Then there are potatoes from nearby Idaho, but you get those anywhere.


          1. re: paulj

            I'm sorry, but I think you're a bit misinformed, or at least out-of-date. In the more rural areas of the states, maybe you're right. But in Bozeman, Missoula, Victor/Driggs, and elsewhere (see my description of Chico below) local food goes way beyond huckleberries. Local trout is almost never on menus, because hunting and fishing are for personal consumption-- not sale to restaurants. Elk and bison are on many menus.
            It is true that our growing season is short, but microclimates in Montana abound. Melons and cherries are real treats in season. Morel mushrooms are a post-forest-fire delicacy, found on many restaurant menus. And CSAs and farmers' markets in just about every region mean restaurants are sourcing more and more items locally.
            Just had to stick up for my grubshed! :-)

            1. re: missoulagrace

              I've learned that sometimes broad generalizations from misinformed outsiders are productive - they bring the informed locals out of the woodwork. :)

              My question several weeks ago about the mountains of Idaho was not nearly as productive.


      2. You should really visit the restaurant at Chico Hot Springs, in Pray MT, about 30ish minutes north of the park. It is a historic hot springs hotel, built I believe inthe '20's, with the classic porches and rocking chairs still there (think Road to Wellville). This is a beautiful spot and a real Montana experience-- visited more, I think, by Montanans having a nice weekend getaway than out-of-staters. It is rustic in all the RIGHT ways, if you know what I mean.
        The restaurant is very good, emphasizes game and local seasonal ingredients, and they even grow many of their own ingredients on-site in a beautiful little garden, including a hot-springs-warmed greenhouse. The hot pool itself, though a 'developed' pool (swimming-pool style) is impeccably clean and does not require any chemicals as it is drained, scrubbed and refilled every night.
        The saloon is also a fun place. Live music every Friday and Saturday night. (Claim to fame, Dennis Quaid is a semi-regular and plays with his band from time to time.)

        2 Replies
        1. re: missoulagrace

          Wow, Chico Hot Springs sounds very cool -- I'll check that out! Thanks!

          Re: no local diversified farms -- what I've been finding in almost every area in which there were people living a hundred years ago is that while many might believe there's no local foods to speak of, there always are. A short growing season means you have to choose your varieties for shorter growing seasons, not that you can't grow anything.

          1. re: valereee

            I just spent a couple of weeks in neighboring Idaho. Since it was a camping trip I didn't check high end restaurants or lodges that might buy contract with local farmers for special produce, but I did shop at various groceries. Nothing local was evident in the produce sections. Some places had huckleberry items - such as sauces and pancakes. These would have used last year's crop, whether canned or frozen.

            Summer has been slow in arriving in these mountains this year, so even early crops like radishes are probably late.

            I was struck by the relatively low prices for eggs and beef in Idaho, though none of it was identified as being local. Once grocery in northern Idaho also had buffalo and elk.


        2. The Park Street Grill is no longer in Gardiner but we were able to find out that the same chef now runs the Raven Grill, which is attached to the Two Bit Saloon. We ate at the Raven and loved it! The food was great, and the atmosphere was true Gardiner--paper plates, plastic forks, and yummy food! It was all fresh and cooked right in front of us.