By Annie Fenn | November 28th, 2017
Eating out in Jackson Hole may conjure images of towering bison burgers, super-sized nachos and bone-in ribeyes as wide as your fattest skis. But for the health-savvy locals who live here, indulging in typical Western fare is not an everyday thing. Want a taste of the lighter side of my favorite Jackson Hole eateries? Follow me as we find the tastiest good-for-you food. Trust me, I’m too much of a foodie to sacrifice delicious for healthy.
My first stop for a crave-worthy meal that satisfies is at one of my favorite steakhouses, the Restaurant at White Buffalo Club in downtown Jackson. Renowned for its USDA Prime program and clubby, speakeasy ambience, locals know White Buffalo Club is the place for incredible steak. But Chef Joel Hammond’s most innovative creations are inspired by clean Japanese flavors and his love of locally sourced vegetables.
Chef Joel Hammond with his Bison Brisket Donabe
The Bison Brisket Donabe is my favorite way to eat soup for supper. Deeply flavored nuggets of Aleppo- and coffee-rubbed bison brisket mingle with sunchokes, shishito peppers and a perfectly poached egg in a shiokoji broth. The soup arrives in a Japanese donabe pot, keeping it toasty hot, so you can savor all the layers of flavor —yuzu, Thai basil, watercress and mitsuba, a wild Japanese parsley. Carefully sourced seafood is always on the White Buffalo Club menu, like the Nantucket Bay Scallops with Apple Fennel Foam (market price) that arrives on a bed of steaming river rocks evocative of Wyoming’s thermal pools. Hungry from playing outside in the snow all day? The Barbecue Quail, served with forbidden black rice, kimchi, baby bok choy, black garlic puree and a fried quail egg truly satisfies.
Local tip: Hammond loves creating custom five-course Carte Blanche chef menus for vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian guests. “I may need about 15 minutes notice,” says Hammond, who spends his time off staging at Michelin-starred restaurants.
Nantucket Bay Scallops with Apple Fennel Foam
When I’m short on time and crave a healthy bite, I find my way into the Pearl Street Market on Pearl Avenue. Locals know to visit this downtown grocery store and butcher shop most days for house-made soups, freshly made grab-and-go sushi trays (from Sudachí, a favorite sushi restaurant on the West Bank), and a salad bar featuring veggies and greens from local farms.
Local tip: For a quick sit-down meal, head to the back of the store and order at the counter. My usual is the Superfood Salad, an abundance of local greens, radishes, lentils, chickpeas, blueberries and pumpkin seeds. For a hot meal, I love the Chicken Paillard, a crispy chicken cutlet served on a generous bed of arugula. When dining in, don’t miss the wine program. Pearl Street Market’s owners are wine buffs and also own West Side Wine & Spirits, one of the Valley’s best wine shops. Interesting wines at great prices are always available by the glass or the bottle.
Super Food Salad
Another must-try grab-and-go spot is Sweet Cheeks Meats, a nose-to-tail butcher shop in Midtown Jackson. Locals pack into this tiny shop all day for the breakfast and lunch specials, to buy cuts of meat from local ranches, and to stock up on pantry staples, such as owner Nick Phillips’ housemade dim sum and bone broths. But I’m also a regular at Sweet Cheeks Meats to stock up on healthful après ski snacks —the creamiest, dreamiest hummus; fresh salsas; pickled shiitakes; and sometimes even a killer kale salad.
Local tip: Take a quart of Sweet Cheek Meats bone broth home and warm it up for a sippable snack that chases away the winter chill without spoiling your appetite. If Phillips’ Asian-flavored broth is in stock, snag it.
It doesn’t take long for visitors to figure out that the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson is the Valley’s hottest nightspot. Street Food, the restaurant inside the bar, is also one of my favorite healthyish places to eat. Chefs Marcos Hernandez and Amelia Hatchard opened Street Food after years honing their skills in the Jackson Hole Four Seasons Hotel kitchen. It’s a daily stop for Wilson locals and the backcountry skiers coming home from Teton Pass who crave the lamb burgers, truffle fries and Mexican-native Hernandez’s carne asada tacos.
Kale and Arugula Salad with Curried Shrimp Skewers
My usual orders involve a bit of menu hacking but the friendly staff always accommodates. I start with the über-fresh and locally sourced Kale and Arugula Salad, which has generous shavings of Parmesan and the most lemony vinaigrette. Often I’ll add a side of Curried Shrimp Skewers. And for those looking to make the delicious vinaigrette at home, Chef Hatchard has generously offered up her recipe here.
If I’ve just come off the mountain (cold and hungry from doing laps on Edelweiss), I order the Bibimbap. Just hearing the rice bowl sizzle and pop as it arrives at the table warms me up, and I love the veggies, kimchi and tender seared beef, all topped with a fried egg. The Street Food chaps are also kind enough to let me order the Roasted Garlic Falafel sandwich as a salad, swapping out the pita for a pile of local baby kale, making me feel virtuous about indulging in their herbaceous falafel – crispy and light, made with basil and fava beans.
Local tip: Grab a seat at one of Street Food’s Around the World special dinners. Happening monthly, Chefs Hernandez and Hatchard celebrate street food from different parts of the world, Japan to Tuscany to Cuba. Tickets sell out fast.
Roasted Garlic Falafel Salad
Figs, the restaurant inside Jackson’s boutique Hotel Jackson, is my other favorite spot for falafel, as well as a full menu of authentic Lebanese dishes. Owned and operated by the Darwiche family, long-time locals famous for their hospitality, Figs offers the most healthful, flavorful and mouth-watering menu in Jackson Hole. Perusing the menu at Figs is like taking a deep dive into the cuisine and culture of Lebanon. There are dozens of small plates designed for sharing with friends — including baba ganoush, five types of hummus, stuffed eggplant and made-to-order pita bread. The entire Figs menu can be made vegetarian, vegan, and/or gluten-free by swapping in fresh vegetables and lettuce cups for scooping.
Local tip: Stop into Figs for breakfast and ask Chef Rouche to make you a bowl of his mother’s foul (pronounced fool) — fava beans smashed with olive oil, fresh garlic and salt. And always order a side of Labneh, the tart, creamy yogurt spread that has been salted and strained.
Assortment of Small Plates