Don't expect five-star dining (with one exception) or a great variety, but the food is well prepared, the servers are cheerful, and the dining rooms are mostly big, convivial gathering places.
The Old Faithful Inn (Yellowstone; tel. 866/439-7375): Can't beat the ambience: a grand stone-and-timber lodge perched next to the most famous geyser in the world. The food's pretty good, too, but it can be inconsistent.
The Lake Yellowstone Hotel (Yellowstone; tel. 866/439-7375): Enjoy a bit of Victorian-era hospitality (without dressing up) and the finest food in the Wyoming wilderness. There are views of the lake from the dining room and the comfortable lounge area off the lobby.
The Best Places to Eat Outside the Parks
These restaurants serve food so good that you won't mind spending $15 to $30 for entrees.
In Jackson, Wyoming: Rendezvous Bistro (tel. 307/739-1100) offers steak, seafood, and game dishes with creative twists, not to mention the perfect balance of chic and casual atmosphere. Mornings, though, you'll find me at Nora's Fish Creek Inn (tel. 307/733-8288), in nearby Wilson, with a bottomless cup of coffee and a huge plate of huevos rancheros.
In Cody, Wyoming: Cassie's Supper Club (tel. 307/527-5500) is a brothel turned cowboy eatery, plating up some of the best steaks in the Rockies. After dinner, country bands hold court over the bustling dance floor.
In West Yellowstone, Montana: Sydney's Mountain Bistro (tel. 406/646-7660) offers an intimate setting, an excellent wine list, and a menu that balances seafood and vegetarian fare with beef, poultry, and pork. Entrees such as sweet-chili salmon and a porterhouse pork chop with butternut squash make this my pick for a special meal at the west entrance to Yellowstone.
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