Category Archives: Culinary Travel

The Only Guide You Need to Eat Your Way Through the Daddy of ’em All

I’ll be honest, Cheyenne Frontier Days and good eating and drinking are not synonymous. There is a seemingly never ending supply of Coors, Coors Light and Bud Light flowing in and out of people. Fried carnival food is the fare of the week to be sure. Last year 48 hours after my last beer and plate of cheesy potato sprials, my body was rejecting and punishing me for punishing it. So this year, lets shine the light on the good, the bad and the so bad its good food scene for Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Your first tip. Make reservations right now. Reservations are accepted at most of these places, and it will ensure you get in and out quicker and skip the line of people who can’t plan ahead.

Next, I want to highlight the hands down, best restaurant in Cheyenne. If you are going to be here one day or multiple days, you do not want to miss out on the Morris House Bistro. It’s just not my opinion either, they are consistently rated as the #1 place to eat in Cheyenne on Trip Advisor and Yelp! My suggestion? Get there and get on the patio to enjoy amazing Cheyenne July nights. My menu suggestion? You MUST try the Big Daddy Bacon Steaks, holy cow, or pig or whatever. As a dear friend once said, “What kind of dark magic is this?”. Go with the Low Country Shrimp and Grits for an entree and don’t skip their in house made desserts.

There will be lots of bulls and steers at the rodeo this year, and what else screams the cuisine of the west other than a giant steak on your plate. The best spots to get a steak in Cheyenne:

cheyenne wyoWyoming’s Rib and Chop House — This downtown anchor is just starting its 2nd year in business, but it has quickly become the best steak house in all of Cheyenne. My suggestion, go with the hand cut Rib-eye topped with Bleu Cheese crumbles. Bonus, it is gluten free!

The Bunk House Bar and Grill –– It is a bit of a drive (25 minutes) out of Cheyenne, but it is the epitome of a Wyoming road house. Live music, fantastic steaks and horses tied up out front. If you are staying in Laramie, or camping up in the hills, this is going to be very convenient for you. Go for the Bunkhouse Wellington and order up a side of Rocky Mountain Oysters.

Poor Richards — Named after a great American, their truly American fare is perfect rodeo fuel. They are located a short 5 minutes east of downtown on Linconway. My suggestion, start with the crab cakes and wash it down with the center cut NY Strip.

The Senator’s Steakhouse at Terry Bison Ranch — Is beef a little to boring for you? Why not head south of town and get a huge bison steak on your plate. They also offer bison meatloaf, burgers and short ribs. My suggestion for you? Go for it with an 8 ounce bison sirloin and enjoy the local flavor.

cbc barAs I mentioned earlier, there will be no shortage of macro beers floating around Cheyenne during Frontier Days, and to be sure, Coors’s sponsorship of the rodeo is greatly appreciated, but what if you want something with a little more flavor. Here are your best beer bars in Cheyenne:

Freedom’s Edge Tap Room — Cheyenne’s oldest craft brewer, Freedom’s Edge offers a wide variety of beer brewed in their brewhouse. From their ever popular Chili Ale to the Java Jolt, there is a style to fit everyone.

Cheyenne Brewing Company — Cheyenne’s youngest craft brewery, they have faced unreal equipment issues since opening, so their beers will be limited during CFD, but they promise to have awesome Wyoming and Front Range beers on tap to make up for it.

Sanford’s Grub and Pub — Dozens of craft beers on tap, some you will not find anywhere else in town.

Wyoming’s Rib and Chop House — Not only do they offer great steaks, their tap list is unreal. Check out their rotating Wyoming tap for some local flavor.

Tuskers — Located on Pershing Blvd, they have an amazing tap list, with a lot of beers that you can only find there. Well worth stopping in and downing a pint or two.

Old Chicago — I hate to include a chain on here, but giving credit where credit it due, they have one of the most extensive beer lists in Cheyenne.

Of course if beer isn’t your style, there are plenty of places to grab a mixed drink at. Probably the most popular and the best martini in town belongs to The Suite Bistro. Located downtown, they offer food, cocktails and indoor or outdoor seating.

After a night of drinking, eating and partying, you need a good breakfast. Breakfast burritos are the dominant menu item it seems and there are several good options for those in town. I’ve had the chance to eat a few good breakfasts around Cheyenne recently and here are my top four choices that you should check out:

1. R&B Breakfast Club — Located on Linconway, they have hands down the best breakfast burritos in town. Their Elvis themed restaurant also has an extensive selection of items that they serve all morning long.

2. The Capitol Grille — Located in the historic Plains Hotel, the Capitol Grille is one of the best places to grab breakfast, a Bloody Mary and to watch the parade from. The last time I was in there I grabbed the Cowboy Eggs Benedict, which included sausage patties and sausage gravy.

3. Burger Inn — The 2nd best breakfast burritos in town, and only a few blocks from Frontier Park on Pershing Ave.

4. Nagle Warren Mansion — They really should be #1 on the list, but seating is limited to those who are staying at the Inn during CFD. If you get the chance to stay there, do it. The breakfast is divine.

One of the cool aspects of Cheyenne during Frontier Days is that with tens of thousands of people in town, the food trucks follow them in. The best place to find a variety is in the Depot Plaza. You will find home made ice cream, wood fired pizza, lots of BBQ options and more all week long. You will also find random areas where people are setting up and selling out of food trucks all over the city.

Depot Plaza is also home to the Pancake Breakfast. Monday, Wednesday and Friday the local Kiwanis Club serves pancakes to 30,000 of their closest friends. The breakfasts start at 7am and run until 9. Here is a little secret. Don’t rush to get in line. The first people through the line get pancakes that have been done for 20 minutes or so. Those getting in line at 7:30 or later, while the wait is longer, the pancakes are fresher. The Country Club band will provide live music all morning and the pancake flippers are pretty smooth with the over the back flipping.

Of course on the rodeo grounds at Frontier Park, there are a ton of options. You have your standard carnival fare, ranging from deep fried to smoked. One of my personal guilty pleasures is the fresh cut potato chips smothered in cheese, which by the way are even better if you dust them with ranch seasoning.  It is a heart attack on the plate waiting to happen, but oh so good.

indian tacoThe one can’t miss at the rodeo however, is located over in the Indian Village. You must try an Indian Taco. It is  an Indian Fry bread covered with ground meat and all the toppings you’d expect on a taco. It is hands down, the best food item on the entire park, and your Frontier Days experience is not complete without devouring one.

If you are looking for the traditional taco while in town, Cheyenne has a boat load of Mexican restaurants. People who live here argue over the best and worst Mexican fare and as some people LOVE one restaurant, there is always someone who claims that it is the worst example Mexican they’ve ever tasted. So it is with a little trepidation that I pick three of them, plus a chain that is HQ’d right here in Cheyenne.

The three options for Mexican food I’d pick out are Los Abuelos which is downtown, Hacienda Guadalajara, also sort of downtown and the Tortilla Factory which is south of the city on South Greeley Highway. All three offer the style of Mexican cuisine I enjoy, all three are clean, bright and friendly. At Los Abuelos, go for the fajitas, the carne asada at Guadalajarais unbeatable and anything in a fresh tortilla at the Tortilla factory makes my day.

Now when you are looking for that 1 am taco after the night show lets out, don’t run for the border. head on over to Taco John’s, as they are born, raised and still live right here in Cheyenne. The potato ole’s are not to be missed.

Now, I know that I billed this as the only guide you will need to eat your way through Frontier Days, but I’m anxious to hear your food experiences while enjoying the 119th Daddy of ’em All.

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18 Hours in Greeley Colorado

Independence Day weekend in America calls for celebration, reflection and three days of fun. We used one of those days to throw a little purple mountain’s majesty and amber waves of grain in to the mix too, with a quick road trip to Greeley, Colorado.

Greeley is located on the high plains about 25 minutes east of the Loveland/Fort Collins area. In the distance the Rockies tower over the plains and wheat fields stretch for a far as the eye can see. It is a cow town, with industry being driven by agriculture. Like many rural America towns it has seen its economic ups and downs, but right now seems to be riding an up cycle with a beautiful downtown, a growing retail area and as we learned on Friday a cool brewery scene

The craft beer scene along the Front Range of the Rockies really is the best in the world, both in the sheer number of breweries and in the consistent quality of beverages that are being produced. Fort Collins gets all the love in the northern part, but as we learned on Friday, Greeley is holding its own in the scene.

The original plan was to head down and take in some rodeo action on July 3rd and then hang out for the Western Underground concert which was slated to being at 11:30 pm that night. Lo and behold, the Stampede doesn’t have rodeo on the last Friday of its event so we were left with plan B. We had met the guys from Wiley Roots Brewing at the Wyoming Brewers Festival, so we determined that we’d hit the Greeley Brewery scene.

colaboration beer greeleyWe left Cheyenne around 11:30 and the only brewery that was open when we arrived was Crabtree Brewing. We had never been there before, and I hadn’t even heard of it, so it made for a good jumping off point. It was at Crabtree that we learned that three of the breweries in Greeley were hosting a collaboration day to celebrate the Stampede. The three breweries started with the same base and each one put their own twist on the beer. Each brewer chose a yeast strain to ferment it with and added other special touches. Enjoying a pint at each brewery got you a commemorative pint glass to take home at the end of the day.

Being in tourism, I’m always a fan when local businesses get together and encourage stopping at multiple locations. It worked perfectly for us, as we probably would not have made an effort to get to all three breweries over the course of the day. You offer us a free pint glass though and we will stop at nothing to achieve it, type A drive personalities we are.

taster tray brix greeleyAfter we were done with Crab Tree we headed over to Brix in downtown Greeley. This place has a cool vibe and will shortly become the 4th brewery in Greeley once all of the paperwork is completed. They have nearly 60 beers on tap and offer great taster trays so you can sample a number of beers. We ordered a panini for lunch which was very good and enjoyed our flight of beers. They offer indoor and outdoor seating and the butcher block bar top is very cool. This place, by far had the best vibe and I hope it does well in downtown.

wiley colabAfter a quick and refreshing nap at the hotel, we headed out to try the other two collaboration beers. First we stopped into Wiley Roots and checked out their tap room. As I mentioned before our first exposure to them came a couple of weeks ago in Cheyenne so we were excited to visit them and try their beer.Their tasting room has a more industrial feel, with a big garage door and a wide open space.

After we were done with the beer we headed on over to Broken Plow. Located in a strip mall, they feature inside and outside seating. There was a food truck and live music was getting ready to play. We had the final collaboration brew and got our pint glasses. Looking over their beer menu, I was intrigued with several of their offerings so we grabbed a small taster tray.

At the end of the day, I was blown away at how strong the brewery scene is in Greeley right now. There is a variety of beers, vibes and locations that will make just about anyone happy, and there is enough variety that stopping at three or four of them gives you a real ability to spend a day or two just exploring that scene.

grilled meats greeley stampedeWhen we finished up at Broken Plow it was time to head over to the Stampede and enjoy some great rodeo music. Western Underground was playing the free stage at 11:30 that night, once the Joe Nichols concert let out. My wife is a huge fan of theirs and it is so cool to watch them keep the memory of Chris LeDoux alive and well throughout the west. We had lots of time to kill before the show started, so we wandered the food midway taking in the smells and sights of the carnival. We decided to grab and Indian taco for dinner. Indian Tacos are new to me, yet one of the can’t miss foods to enjoy on the rodeo grounds .They are tasty treat to enjoy once or twice a year.

Mark Sissel, Lane Turner, PopsWestern Underground took the stage as the crowd was filing out of the first concert and did they ever put on a show. I’ve been to several of their concerts now, and each one has been a unique experience. We’ve seen them in a 200 person mountain roadhouse and in a 5,000 person event center. This was cool though. There were six or seven thousand people singing along to great country music, having a blast and the fun lasted for better than 90 minutes. They played a lot of favorites, and a few songs we hadn’t seen them do the last two or three times. The guys were having a blast, and when Ned LeDoux sang “This Cowboy’s Hat” it just brought the house down with the memory of Chris.

In the two years we’ve been out here, Greeley wasn’t at the top of our list of places to visit. That’s a mistake on our part. Our 18 hours in Greeley were not nearly enough, and with a rebounding downtown, great brewery scene and the Stampede, we will be making an effort to actually get down there on a rodeo day next year and experience it all.

America’s Craft Brew Destination Gets an Overhaul

For those who are regular followers of this blog you know my affinity for the exploding craft beer scene in Central New York State. Having promoted tourism and culinary experiences there for 12 years, its easy to root for the hard working people that are putting forth an awesome product. I was part of the team that green lighted the Brew Central project, and I’ve watched it catch fire from afar. This week they rolled out the next generation of Brew Central.

The Central New York Travel Region received a half a million dollars for this year’s campaign from the state of NY which allowed for the overhaul. The website looks sharp, is much more responsively designed and brings photos and videos to the forefront.

brew central screen shotThe coolest thing about the new updates is the new and improved Brewfinder mapping feature. As a craft beer traveler I’m always looking to see which breweries are near where I’m at, or are clustered together. This should be much more effective for the traveling public and a boon for the breweries, distilleries, cideries and wineries.

The website still features news and events from the region and new stories from 12 more producers this summer. Great job ABC Idea Based Marketing and Central New York Tourism.

It’s Rodeo Season!

Rodeo is still a big part of the Western American experience and two years ago when I moved to Cheyenne, I had little to no knowledge about rodeo and how big it was. In fact we met Miss Rodeo NY at that first Cheyenne Frontier Days, and I would not have been able to tell you that there was such a thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “city folk” It’s just in dairy country where I grew up, it was a better skill to know who to back a manure spreader into the barn than it was to rope and brand a calf.

July is full blown rodeo season along the Front Range. Greeley, Estes Park, Pine Bluffs and Cheyenne all have rodeos during July along with countless other Wyoming and Colorado towns. In Cheyenne, Frontier Days turns the town upside down with nearly 250,000 visitors, the best country music lineup around and 10 days of total fun.

We kick it off this weekend by heading to the Greeley Stampede. We will catch rodeo action and then hang out into the early morning hours to catch Western Underground’s performance. While there we plan to visit Wiley Roots Brewing as they were fun to talk with at the Wyoming Brewers Festival. We will also partake in a variety of rodeo foods and can’t wait to post what we find. The cool thing about traveling to visit rodeos, is that all of these towns have great steak houses, and a lot of food options brought in just for the rodeo action.

The downside of rodeo season is that there will be a lot of Coors and Coors Light consumed over the next month, but fear not, this guy knows where to find a fat tire or two on the rodeo grounds!

So say a blessing for my digestive system, its rodeo season!

Old Mine Cidery, A Great Find in Erie

A few weeks back I told you about my first Rocky Mountain Beer Run with Big Choice Brewing in Broomfield, CO. After the run was complete, we struck out in search of craft beverages and lunch. I knew that in nearby Erie there was a cidery, and a little research told us that they also served food. Two problems solved, so we struck out in search of the Old Mine Cidery.

Erie ColoradoEver since Matt and Juanita Critz opened Harvest Moon Cidery in Cazenoiva, NY, Lorrell and I have been huge cider fans. I may try my hand at making my own hard cider later this summer or early fall. So when we can find a cidery it is a great opportunity for us to expand our craft beverage enjoyment together.

Erie Hard CiderThe Old Mine opened a little over a year ago and offers a bright and airy tasting room on the main drag in Erie. It is in a historic building that has been nicely renovated and is by some great coincidence or stroke of luck, connected to an ice cream parlor. If you walk past the bar and into the back, you will find a fabulous patio. The patio is adorned with picnic tables and umbrellas, along with Adirondack chairs. There are typical brewery games to be found and it is just a great summer space.

colorado hard ciderAs for the ciders, wow. They seem to be treating their cider program much like a beer program. They had several barrels of their cider aging and the selections went beyond the typical fruit forward ciders. There is one that is hopped with Citra hops, another that was aged in tequila barrels and a third that has black currants as part of the mix. I ordered an Imperial Tart which clocks in at 9% ABV and provided an interesting balance between to the sweetness often found in ciders. I enjoyed it, and rated it 3.5 stars on UnTappd. They also have an impressive selection of rotating taps to choose from if you want to keep with beers.

The food menu was a great surprise with a lot of locally sourced ingredients and a Pizza erie coloradonice selection of pizzas, sandwiches and apps. They also sell handle bar mustache pretzels which are soft, warm and salty. We ordered up a selection of cheesy bread and a pizza with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, spinach and basil. It was a great pizza and the perfect complement to our hard ciders.

The Old Mine is high on our list of places to run off to on a Sunny afternoon this summer. The outdoor patio, great selection of ciders and locally sourced menu reminds me of Central New York in the summer and Lorrell and I definitely need to be on the patio, taking a day off from work in the very near future.