Jackson, Wyoming is a beautiful mountain town located on the doorstep of the majestic Grand Tetons Mountain range and Grand Teton National Park. This area is full of scenic vistas and offers plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors. So whether you want to tour the area by car or get out and hit the trails or lakes, you’re in for a treat.
Jackson is also conveniently located near another national park, Yellowstone. In fact, Jackson is less than 60 miles from the southern entrance of 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 town for all seasons, so pick your favorite time to visit and get busy making plans.
In all seasons, there are plenty of outdoor activities. From hiking, biking, and fishing in summer to skiing at one of the world-renowned ski resorts during ski season, Jackson offers fun any time of year. 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 chasing the millionaires out of town!
We wanted to find good food that didn’t cost a fortune on our recent trip. While none of these spots are gourmet restaurants, in a town so pricey, I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of good food we found at relatively inexpensive prices. Here are our top picks, in no particular order.
1. Million Dollar Cowboy Bar
You’ll see the neon from down the road and the crowd out front. The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is the hotspot on the Jackson town square. The bar has been known to host a who’s who of country music including people like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Jr, Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, and others. Right off the bat, the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar gets bonus points for having a bartender from my hometown, Omaha.
One of the best things about traveling is meeting people. You never know who you’ll meet or what you might have in common. If you start talking to people, who knows what you might find! In the evenings here, you’ll find plenty of people to talk to as people are often four deep at the bar. With live music blasting, the atmosphere can be crazy.
During the day, things are less intense. We took advantage of the quiet and checked out the place in daylight. Not just a place for boot scootin’, this legendary saloon offers a decent food menu as well. While not a large menu, there are plenty of things to choose from here, including shareables, burgers, sandwiches, soups, and salads. Having always been a fan of nachos and chips with salsa, the ones I found here paired perfectly with my drink of choice, John’s Daily.
The sweet tea vodka and house-made lemonade made for a perfect mid-day 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 turn in the saddles at the bar — you’ll be in full cowboy mode before you can say giddy-up!
Pro Tip: Go to the Million Dollar Cowboy store next door for souvenir t-shirts to take home.
2. Yeah Buddy Pizza
I’m somewhat of a pizza connoisseur and I’ve rarely met a pizza I didn’t like. When I travel, I always seek out the local pizza joint. Walking down Jackson’s Broadway Street, the sign with the interesting restaurant name “Yeah Buddy Pizza” is intriguing. Even more intriguing are the steps that lead up to the pizza place.
A restaurant that makes its customers walk up a pretty healthy flight of stairs just to get to the front door either got a great deal on rent or has a certain amount of chutzpah. Probably both. In either case, the restaurant had better be able to produce excellent food. Happily, 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 that incorporate local game like elk and bison, all served atop the homemade San Marzano tomato sauce or the house-made 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 Dessert: Tiramisu
3. Pearl Street Market
If you’re in Jackson, I’m guessing you’re 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 probably packed from morning until night. Chances are you may be pressed for time at some point during your trip and a long lunch may not be in the cards.
If so, get yourself over to Pearl Street Market for fresh, homemade provisions that you can take on the go. 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 back at the hotel. They also have a grocery section that includes beer and wine.
If you’re heading to the parks, it’s highly recommended that you take a picnic lunch or at least snacks with you — the lines in the park restaurants are long. At the in-park stores, the food is limited and expensive. A quick stop at Pearl Street Market and you’re set for the day!
- Must-Try Sandwich: Banh Mi
- Best Bet Greens: Superfood Salad
4. Jackson Drug
Step back in time and indulge in tasty comfort food at this local establishment that’s been around in one form or another for more than 100 years. A look inside conjures up feelings of nostalgia. At the soda fountain, order your favorite milkshake, sundae, or float, and it’ll be hand-scooped right in front of you.
The large entree menu includes all kinds of old-school dishes you’d expect to see in a diner, including burgers, melts, egg salad sandwiches, and meatloaf. Along with the traditional diner 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 what I’m used to. Instead of carved lamb meat, the gyro is prepared using ground lamb. It’s unique and it works.
While you’re checking out the menu, make sure you look up and notice the extraordinary tin ceiling and all the historic photos on the walls. Jackson Drug has good food and timeless appeal.
- Inventive Dessert: Ice Cream Flight
- Must-Try Mains: Custom Grilled Cheese
5. Bubba’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant
It was late and we needed dinner. Barbecue always sounds good, and Bubba’s lights were on, so we pulled into the lot. This proved to be an excellent choice. With comfortable booths, a full bar, and a varied menu full of scrumptious barbecue, Bubba’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant takes good care of its customers.
The two-meat combo — your choice of brisket, sloppy Bubba, pulled pork, barbecue chicken, pulled chicken, or smoked sausage — delivers mouthwatering meats along with succulent sides like mac and cheese, collard greens, and coleslaw alongside a slice of garlic bread. Washed down with a glass of pinot grigio, dinner here is completely satisfying.
Bubba’s even serves daily breakfast beginning at 6 a.m. No wonder Bubba’s Jackson Hole BBQ has been around for more than 40 years. They do things right here.
- Best Bet Breakfast: Beef Barbacoa Hash
- At The Bar: Bubba’s Bloody Mary
6. The Virginian
Lots of different breakfasts are on the menu at The Virginian, a locally owned place that also includes a lodge and RV park. This casual restaurant on-site serves simple breakfasts and lunches for a fair price. My two eggs served sunny-side up, crispy hashbrowns, and perfectly cooked bacon along with buttery toast was delivered with a smile from our waitress. The servings are large, more than I could eat.
A good and hearty breakfast in a tourist town for less than $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 top of potatoes topped with two eggs, and served with toast. The sweet-lover in me is enticed by all those treats from the griddle. Did someone say french toast with fresh strawberries? Yes, please! Good food at fair prices, this is why The Virginian has a steady line of customers for breakfast and lunch.
- Breakfast Indulgence: #5 Virginia Steak and Eggs
- Must-Try Specialty: Chiliquillas
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 serving just this and more. The cheesesteaks (or Philly’s, as they’re known to this Midwesterner) are served on fresh Amoroso bread, just like back in Philadelphia. According to one of the owners, this traditional Philly bread is a crucial ingredient in the authentic Philly’s served here.
Get your traditional Philly a multitude of ways here 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.
- On Tap: Elysian Space Dust IPA
- Must-Try Main: Meatball Parm