Jackson, Wyoming is a beautiful mountain town on the doorstep of the majestic Grand Tetons Mountains and Grand Teton National Park. This area is full of scenic vistas and offers plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors. So whether you want to drive around the area or get out and explore the trails or lakes, there’s something waiting for you.
Jackson is also conveniently located near another national park, Yellowstone. In fact, Jackson is less than 60 miles from the south entrance to the park. Known for its Old West flair and bustling downtown, its western rustic vibe will bring out the country in you. This is a city for all seasons, so pick your favorite time to visit and make plans.
There are plenty of outdoor activities in all seasons. From hiking, biking, and fishing in the summer to skiing at one of the world-famous ski resorts during the ski season, Jackson offers fun year round. But all this fun and beauty doesn’t come cheap. Jackson is an expensive place to live – and to visit, for that matter. Known as one of the most expensive places in the United States to live, money is a factor. Rumor has it that the billionaires are driving the millionaires out of town!
We wanted to find great food that didn’t cost a fortune on our recent trip. While none of these places are gourmet restaurants, in a city so pricey, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of good food we found at relatively cheap prices. Here are our top picks, in no particular order.
1. Million Dollar Cowboy Bar
You can see the neon from the road and the crowd at your doorstep. The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is the hotspot in Jackson’s town square. The bar has been known to host a who’s who of country music, including the likes of Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Jr, Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, and others. The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar gets instant bonus points for having a bartender from my hometown of Omaha.
One of the best things about traveling is meeting people. You never know who you will meet or what you have in common. When you start talking to people, who knows what you’ll run into! In the evenings you will find plenty of people here to chat with as people are often four deep at the bar. With live music blasting, the atmosphere can be crazy.
During the day it is less intense. We took advantage of the tranquility and viewed the place in daylight. This legendary saloon not only offers a spot for boat scootin’ but also offers a decent menu. While it’s not a huge menu, there are plenty of things to choose from here, including shareable dishes, burgers, sandwiches, soups, and salads. I’ve always been a fan of nachos and chips with salsa, but the ones I found here paired perfectly with my favorite drink, John’s Daily.
The sweet tea vodka and house-made lemonade made for a perfect afternoon cocktail. Even if you’re not incredibly hungry, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is worth a stop – it’s legendary. If nothing else, just take a spin in the saddles at the bar – you’ll be in full cowboy mode before you can say you’re getting dizzy!
Pro tip: Head to the Million Dollar Cowboy shop next door for souvenir t-shirts to take home.
2. Yes Buddy Pizza
I’m a bit of a pizza connoisseur and I’ve rarely met a pizza I didn’t like. When I travel I always look for the local pizza place. As you walk down Jackson’s Broadway Street, the sign with the interesting restaurant name “Yeah Buddy Pizza” is intriguing. Even more intriguing are the stairs leading up to the pizzeria.
A restaurant that makes its customers walk up some pretty healthy stairs to get to the front door will either have a lot to rent or have a certain amount of chutzpah. Probably both. In either case, the restaurant had better produce excellent food. Luckily, we discovered that Yeah Buddy Pizza excels at fresh Neapolitan-style pizza.
Available by the whole pie or by the giant slice, you’ll find concoctions featuring local game such as elk and bison, all served atop the homemade San Marzano tomato sauce or the homemade white garlic cream sauce. Dine inside or sit on the deck overlooking Broadway, as we did. It’s a fun view and a great way to get a bird’s eye view of downtown Jackson.
- Sensational salads: Burrata Caprese
- Decadent Desserts: Tiramisu
3. Pearl Street Market
If you are in Jackson I assume you are there to see some of the great outdoors. With things like visits to the Grand Tetons, the Elk Preserve, and maybe a ski day, your vacation days are likely to be packed from morning to night. Chances are you’ll need some time at some point in your trip and a long lunch isn’t in the cards.
Then head to Pearl Street Market for fresh, homemade provisions to take with you along the way. With a large deli, hot soups and a grab & go case, you’ll find plenty for your picnic lunch or even a quick in-room dinner at the hotel. They also have a grocery section with beer and wine.
If you are going to the parks, it is highly recommended that you bring a picnic lunch or at least snacks – the lines at the park restaurants are long. Food is limited and expensive at the shops in the park. A quick stop at Pearl Street Market and you’re set for the day!
- Sandwich you must try: Banh Mi
- Best Greens Bet: Superfood Salad
4. Jackson Medicine
Step back in time and enjoy tasty comfort food at this local establishment that has been around in one form or another for over 100 years. A look inside evokes nostalgic feelings. Order your favorite milkshake, sundae or float at the soda fountain and it will be scooped by hand in front of you.
The large entree menu features all sorts of old-fashioned dishes you’d expect to find in a restaurant, including burgers, melts, egg salad sandwiches, and meatloaf. Along with the traditional dinner fare, unexpected selections like Idaho trout and the gyro basket caught my eye. The gyro basket, served with your choice of tots, waffle, regular or sweet potato fries, is a different recipe than I’m used to. Instead of sliced lamb, the gyro is prepared with ground lamb. It’s unique and it works.
As you look at the menu, look up and notice the extraordinary tin ceiling and all the historic photos on the walls. Jackson Drug has great food and a timeless appeal.
- Inventive dessert: ice flight
- Must-try main courses: Custom grilled cheese
5. Bubba’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant
It was late and we needed food. Barbecue always sounds good, and Bubba’s lights were on, so we drove onto the property. This turned out to be an excellent choice. With comfortable booths, a full bar and a varied menu full of delicious barbecues, Bubba’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant takes good care of its customers.
The combination of two meats — your choice of brisket, sloppy Bubba, pulled pork, barbecue chicken, pulled chicken, or smoked sausage — yields mouthwatering meats along with succulent sides like mac and cheese, kale, and coleslaw alongside a slice of garlic bread. Washed down with a glass of pinot grigio, dinner here is utterly satisfying.
Bubba’s even serves breakfast daily from 6am. No wonder Bubba’s Jackson Hole BBQ has been around for over 40 years. They do things here.
- Best guess breakfast: Beef Barbacoa Hash
- At the bar: Bubba’s Bloody Mary
6. The Virginian
There are many different breakfasts on the menu at The Virginian, a locally owned property that also includes a lodge and RV park. This casual on-site restaurant serves simple breakfast and lunch for a fair price. My two eggs were served sunny side up, crispy potato wedges and perfectly cooked bacon along with buttery toast was delivered with a smile from our waitress. The portions are large, more than I could eat.
A good, hearty breakfast in a tourist town for under $12 – that’s a good deal. Another good looking breakfast option is the #3 corned beef hash. The corned beef is homemade and served on potatoes topped with two eggs and served with toast. The sweet lover in me is lured by all those goodies from the griddle. Did someone say French toast with fresh strawberries? Yes please! Good food at fair prices, which is why The Virginian has a steady line of customers for breakfast and lunch.
- Breakfast indulgence: #5 Virginia Steak and Eggs
- Specialty you must try: Chili quillas
7. Cutty’s Bar and Grill
Hungry for cheesesteaks and Jersey Shore-style pizza in a casual atmosphere? Cutty’s Bar and Grill specializes in this and more. The cheesesteaks (or Phillys, as they call these Midwesterners) are served on fresh Amoroso bread, just like they used to be in Philadelphia. According to one of the owners, this traditional Philly bread is a key ingredient in the authentic Phillys served here.
Get your traditional Philly here in a variety of ways, including with bacon, pickles, grilled onions, mayo, and cheese on the Nor’easter. Or try a buffalo chicken Philly made with chicken, wing sauce, and grilled onions.
- Of the stud: Elysian Space Dust IPA
- Must-try key: Meatball Parmesan cheese