Wyoming isn’t known for its adventurous cuisine.
Yes, we’ve got flavorful steaks, unique diners and tasty ethnic food. But finding restaurants that push the culinary envelope can be a challenge.
They do exist, however. Some are experimenting with unique dishes such as grilled octopus or lentil loaf, while others are putting their spin on American classics, such as a smoked bacon grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough.
Here are six restaurants to try if you’re taste buds are looking for something new:
Sweet Melissa cafe
213 S. First St. in Laramie
What is it: Sweet Melissa is a small, family-owned vegetarian restaurant in Laramie featuring locally sourced food. The owner, Melissa Murphy, moved to Wyoming more than 15 years ago after her husband took a job in the state. After struggling to find a job, and with 18 years of restaurant experience, Murphy decided to open her own restaurant in 1999.
“Our little tagline we use is: comfort food for the homesick vegetarian,” Murphy said.
Most popular menu item: Sweet potato and black bean burrito smothered with green chili
Most distinctive menu item: Lentil loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy
200 W. Broadway in Jackson
What is it: Bin22 is a small wine and tapas bar a couple of blocks from downtown Jackson. It serves wine by the glass and also features craft beer brewed in-house. The restaurant opened in 2012 and features a community style environment great for sharing.
“Everything we do, we want to focus on fresh and uncomplicated, excellent food,” said Kendra Alessandro, director of communications for Fine Dining Restaurant Group.
Most popular menu item: House pulled mozzarella, prepared in a variety of ways.
Most distinctive menu item: Grilled octopus.
202 E. Rams Horn in Dubois
What is it: Nostalgia is an American-style bistro in Dubois. The restaurant opened in 2010, but parts of the building were built in 1914. The owner, Shannon Chandler, wanted to create a place where you could take a date or celebrate an anniversary or a special occasion. The vibe at Nostalgia is, well, nostalgic.
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“The opportunity to remodel the restaurant into a late Victorian, Western kind of theme really appealed to me,” Chandler said. “Lots of turn-of-the-century kind of accent pieces. We have a cash register that’s really old, lots of prints and artwork from that time period as well.”
Most popular menu item: Steaks
Most distinctive menu item: Thai beef stir-fry and bacon fried rice
323 E. Hart St. in Buffalo
What is it: The Fix is a cafe in Buffalo that specializes in homemade chocolate mochas, imported meats and cheeses from Basque country in Spain and France, and imported coffee from Italy. The cafe started in 2006 as just a drive-through in front of a laundromat, but last year, owner Trinity Rodriguez bought out the laundromat to pair a unique cuisine with the coffee.
“We import everything from Europe,” Rodriguez said. “It’s kind of like a little piece of Europe here in the middle-of-nowhere Wyoming.”
Most popular menu item: Tapas, featuring a thick slice of fresh-baked bread, a layer of meat and cheeses from Basque country and a choice between pickled asparagus or marinated artichoke hearts.
Most distinctive menu item: The Fat Leprechaun, which is a drink made with English toffee, Irish cream and a secret ingredient.
The Middle Fork
351 Main St. in Lander
What is it: The Middle Fork is a Lander restaurant serving breakfast and lunch that specializes in American classics such as biscuits and gravy, chicken fried steak and corned beef hash. The restaurant is approaching its third anniversary and features a menu full of homemade dishes.
“Our big mission is to do everything by hand,” said Matt Sissman, part owner. “Almost everything that comes through our door, like 97 percent, is all raw product, and then we make everything here in-house.”
Most popular menu item: Grilled cheese sandwich with homemade sourdough bread, locally smoked bacon, a couple of slices of cheese and hand-cut fries.
Most distinctive menu item: Handmade pasta
1432 E. Second St. in Casper
What is it: Sissy’s cafe is a breakfast-and-lunch cafe in Casper. It specializes in Italian and French cuisine, such as burgers on croissants. The owner, Terra Sulzman, opened the restaurant at Eastridge Mall in October 2013, then moved to her current location in October 2014. She’s the daughter of a pastry chef and granddaughter of an Italian chef. As for how she received the name Sissy?
“I have five brothers. I am the only girl in the entire family. I don’t have girl cousins, nieces, nephews, nothing,” Sulzman said. “Everybody calls me Sissy.”
Most popular menu item: Bananas Foster French toast, with thick slices of homemade French bread topped with homemade caramel rum sauce.
Most distinctive menu item: Italian cakes and gravy. The dish consists of homemade cakes with mozzarella, cheddar and garlic butter, covered with homemade Italian sausage gravy.
Contact Brendan Meyer at 307-266-0544 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Brendan_Meyer13.