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Eating Through Jackson Hole: A Whole Lot of Everything

Bren Herrera Bin 22 Mozarella and Mushrooms

If I’ve not convinced you yet to visit Jackson Hole, WY, then allow me to make another concentrated effort by teasing you with their food elaborate and well-thought out food scene. I was there last month to enjoy the virtuous wildlife and all things serene but I was equally focused on completing my goal of eating through one of America’s smallest yet most exciting towns. Jackson’s not like any other place I’ve been to. Aesthetically, Banff, Alberta is on parallel plane but I’ve not eaten there outside of the amazingness throughout the entire Fairmont Hotel, so I can’t speculate on the town’s culinary message. That apart, you already know that’s an upcoming story. Jackson’s different from anything I’ve seen in the realm of the Wild West. There are many juxtapositions. It’s chic, but laid back. It’s expensive and borderline classist, but warmly unpretentious. It has an inviting air that keeps you interested and energized no matter the absence of human traffic. My last visit started as a slight disappointment — I didn’t know the town was in an official off-season month rendering the city pretty much dead. The benefit in that is what my brother and I were able to enjoy. Check out that recap here. Notwithstanding my internalized annoyance (for my brother’s sake), it was all so quickly turned right so up when I connected with a few local friends who knew my world revolves around good food. They indulged me from the moment I got settled at the Hampton Inn, my courteous hosts for the weekend.

I was comfortably familiar with Jackson’s food. Last winter’s visit was more about running the mountain and much less about digging up great eats. I ate really well then but I was focused on proper fuel. That missing enjoyment invited an astute look at what’s really going there.

It happened to be my birthday weekend and I wanted to eat really well. Like, really, really well. I wanted to eat memorable food, try new dishes, and walk away inspired to expand my culinary awareness. I’d been to a few spots in Feb. 2014 but as all evolving towns, new little joints pop up and escape the main itinerary. As lucky as I’m able to claim only every now and then, my culinary wanderings started at Rendezvous Bistro, conveniently walkable 500 feet from the Hampton Inn. It could have not been any better, especially on a night’s breeze hovering around 20F.

Bren Herrera Jackson Hole Local Street

I’m not sure how I missed Bistro last time considering they are responsible for setting the dining experience bar in Jackson some 18 years ago. As part of the Fine Dining Restaurant Group, their mission is to serve creative dishes in an open friendly dining room; all inspired by the coveted French bistro vibe. I started with a carrot coconut soup creamy enough lighten a warm orange spice black tea. It was flavoured really well but honestly missing one simple element I’ve still to pinpoint. Luck struck when the second most delicious ever beef tartar was served up. I almost lost my mind. A bright runny yolk lady ever-so-delicately on the ground meat. The marriage was creamier than the preceding soup. You can only imagine how thrilled I was feeling at the very  moment I realized it was a perfect mid-fall night and I was cozily sitting next to my brother and across from a sweet friend, enjoying really good. And a glass of bubbly to celebrate.

My jet-lagged brother scooted back to our well-situated suite at the Hampton Inn right as my main dish came through: butternut squash and sage ravioli. It’s a common and ubiquitous pairing, sure, but each recipe has specific characteristics. This one was buttery and aromatic. Dense but not too heavy. It was a great representation of the restaurant’s vision.

I allow myself certain leniencies when I travel, like eating unforgiveable amounts of dessert. And while I’d normally not come close to anything resembling a flan, I couldn’t resist the urge to try an Earl Grey creme brûlée, torched tableside to my specification. With another glass of bubbly and a double shot of espresso to wrap, my first night’s indulgences fully removed all reservations on counting calories. It was my birthday, after all.

Bren Herrera Rendezvous Bistro Collage Jackson Hole

The best thing you can do for yourself when traveling to smaller towns is to plant yourself in a cozy breakfast spot where you can gather your early morning thoughts and cup a warm beverage. My friend Kendra insisted I not leave Jackson without breaking bread at Persephone Bakery.

Bren Herrera Bakery Persephone Jackson Hole

This is when I really got to see Jackson’s soul. A quiet, almost ghostly street bustled only with cars parking at the small house turned café, housed a few eateries. The temperatures in Jackson were short of amazing and everyone was clad in alpine chic looks. The line was long but manageable giving me time to scan la casita and identify what was popular.

A frothy dirty chai, an egg and potato skillet, home made chunky granola, and pumpkin bread over two days were satisfying but somewhat ordinary. The elk sausage is what singled them as spectacular. Naturally, those kinds of proteins are welcome and quite delicious. Theirs was smokey with a perfect amount of heat and wonderfully rounded with regional flavors.  I could have eaten 5 of those in lieu of more pumpkin bread — that’s easy to come by anywhere.

Sundries and local artisanal goodies like honey will bring your bill up over $50. Just so you know, memorable mornings come at a price. But then again, how often to you get to wear your fur and snakeskin western hat, deeming you locally cool. A chatty local acknowledged my preparedness. I looked around for confirmation I wasn’t overdoing it.

 

A visit to Jackson is simply not complete without visiting Bin22, Jackson’s only wine and tapas bar. It’s the kind of place every big city has in abundance but few get right or even last. Conceptually, it’s great. Theoretically, I can’t imagine it being the easiest idea; especially in a town like the Hole. I fell in love with Bin22 during my last visit. My squad and I were treated to just about everything on the menu. The olives and chocolate salami were so incredibly unique, I packaged some up and trekked back East with goodies in hand.

The experience this time was a bit different. I didn’t eat as much but enjoyed the croquettes to the point of stomachaches. I ordered 3 plates of 4, leaving my brother wondering were I was going to store so much food. When something makes you feel a certain way, your mind will make the room. I begged him to eat two more to pacify my growing guilty conscious. Ultimately, the food can not go to waste so a temporary belly ache for the sake of sharing with you how incredibly fine those little bullets and savory goodness were… well, uncomfortably worth it.

The mozzarella plates are something to talk about. It’s one of their newest signature dishes. Five delectable options can potentially make you a cheesemonger, if only for the weekend. Your time and budget are well spent testing each one, but if your’e a natural forager, the mushroom combination is effectively genius.

{READ: WINTER IN JACKSON HOLE}

Bin22 isn’t just a place where you’ll wait 30 minutes to be seated on a Saturday night. It’s a place where you go to learn about wines from around the world. It’s a crafty place and mini market with a refined collection of reds, whites, sparklings and few in-betweens. I walked away with a sparkling rosé after our kind server entertained my need and treated me to a varied sampling of bubbly. Even their tap sparkling red blend is good, but I’d stick to the labeled bottles.

The best part of Bin22: their dessert.

A chocolate salami will cause you to send emails in request of. Snapped and wrapped up as true animal salami, the little decadent roll of cacao and pistachio makes a great gift. It’s not offered as such, but I’m quite certain they’d kindly make it happen. Chocolate never disappointments. And if it weren’t for its immediacy, the chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches can easily allow you to forgo savory altogether. The mini gems of hard shell and creamy center are dangerous. Small enough to feel good about your discipline but delicious enough to order all three seasonal stars: pumpkin spice, mint, and banana. After 3 servings of croquettes, a stringy mozzarella and mushroom plate, chocolate salami with fig jam, the only appropriate thing to do was finish off with ice cream sandwiches. At that point, nothing’s lost in packing in a few more calories.

Bren Herrera Bin 22 Collage

{READ: EXPLORING JACKSON’S WILDLIFE –AND A MOOSE FIGHT}

With all its subdued glamour and fufushshi spirit, Jackson’s got it right when it comes to dining. It’s fair an not elusive. The food is eclectic and diverse enough to engage visitors from all over but authentic enough to keep the locals excited

.  I’m not sure a bison burger would fare so well in LA the way it does on Jackson. If you’ve never tired one, do it. A good one doesn’t need ketchup. And if that’s too much, bison chili is a regional fave.

Other places to visit in Jackson:

Cowboy Coffee. Cute. Local. Great coffee. Friendly. Great energy bars. Great pottery used to serve your beverage. Well-priced. Don’t order the Cuban coffee, though. Way too sweet. They miss the mark a bit on that one, but perhaps I’m biased. Everything else is a solid go. We stopped there twice a day during out visit. It’s that good.

The Bird. I hear these burgers are screaming. Both my brothers vouch for their best burger superlative. Just Google and read the review. I’m not quite sure how I missed going there.

The Rose. I didn’t go but my flight passenger seat buddy recommended it… 3 other locals named it a no. 1 for craft mixes.

Hayden’s Post.  A lovely decorated restaurant inside Snow King Mountain Resort. Enjoy their bone arrow and decadent mac & cheese.

Osteria: Enjoy amazing cocktails served by my friend Anthony, craft pizza and ridiculously good pasta while taking a break from hitting the slope at Jackson Hole Mountain.

Seekender Image

So how does Hampton Inn play a role is this heavenly foodie experience? Our collective goal this year has been to encourage and inspire to you get out of your zone and explore the great outdoors! To create memories with family and friends by seeking newness during the weekend! To experience different adventures. They understand the potential challenges or reservations when planning a trip. They want to make it stress-free and fun. And trust me, when going anywhere with loved ones, the last thing you want is added pressure. Traveling can be pricey but when you can find accommodations that are super affordable and offer amenities that take are of your basic needs, you can really enjoy the purpose of your trip! Eat until your heart is content knowing you can start your day with a simple but warm and healthy breakfast at any of the Hampton properties. And if the liberty of bottomless eating and sipping got the best of you, pack some sneakers and hit the treadmill. You’ll want to make room for more.

Check out my other jaunts with HAMPTON INN BY HILTON and be inspired to seek YOUR weekend!

San José With the Girls and a Kelly Clarkson Concert

Brunching in San Francisco

Chasking Moose in Jackson with my Brother

Bren Herrera Bin 22 Wine Wall

*This post is part of 4 part series of experiences sponsored by Hampton Inn by Hilton. All experiences, storytelling and opinions are honest and my own. 

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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One thought on “Eating Through Jackson Hole: A Whole Lot of Everything

  1. All I can say is “Amazing”! I’m sold… I want to go to Jackson Hole right now! (lol) Instant hunger set in as soon as the page loaded to the very first vivid pic of goodness… You got me over here looking at my watch. I might have to do an early lunch today. Great job Bren!

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