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FEED ME! Lunch at grandma’s, um Sweetwater
JACKSON HOLE, WYO - How did I forget about Sweetwater Restaurant? Well, it’s not that I forgot about it – I bike by it most every day, and all summer long I mention the historic building it is in when I give downtown walking tours for the Jackson Hole Historical Society.
Until a friend suggested it for lunch a month ago, I had just forgotten that inside the historic Coe Cabin was a restaurant.
In the weeks since that lunch date, I’ve been back for no fewer than four lunches. I might go so far as to say it’s now my favorite lunch in town. Or at least it’s tied with Bin22. But the two have such different vibes, it’s not like I would ever pick one over the other. When I want hip, see-and-be-seen communal tables and yummy food, I go to Bin22. When I want matronly coziness, private time with a friend, and the finest blackened salmon salad ($13.40) and peanut butter pie ($6) in town, it’s Sweetwater.
Thinking hard about what led me to forget Sweetwater as a restaurant, as it had easily been a decade since I had eaten there, there is a vague memory of a dinner I deemed overpriced and underwhelming. But that was more than a decade ago, and it was totally unfair of me to still hold a grudge against the place. Since Sweetwater started 2-for-1s April 11, and because I’m in love with its lunches, I will head there for dinner soon.
Until I’ve got a free evening, however, I’ll keep going for lunch when I’m in the mood for generous portions, a huge, diverse menu, and delicious, delicious, delicious desserts. Or when I’m feeling nostalgic for my grandparents’ house. I think my Nana had the exact same flower placemats and Fiestaware as Sweetwater. And she too had me drinking from Mason jars.
But Nana never made anything like the Cowboy ($11.30), a mountain of roast beef, bacon, cheddar and mushrooms dripping with horseradish dressing on a hoagie roll. I nominate it for the best use of roast beef ever. Ever. The entire sandwich is as big as my forearm.
You might think the weirdest thing about the apricot tuna salad sandwich ($10.80) would be the apricots. (Have you ever heard of dried apricots in tuna salad?) You’d be wrong. The entire sandwich is served on toasted raisin bread. (Have you ever heard of tuna salad served on raisin bread?) Having long ago learned to order things that seem weird, it was the first thing I tried. More places should put apricots in tuna salad sandwiches served on raisin bread.
The next time I’m at Sweetwater for lunch, which most likely happened between the writing and the printing of this piece, I’ll order the elk melt ($12.70), an elk patty with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese, all on sourdough and served with a side of au jus. Or perhaps the buffalo sloppy Joe ($11.75), a slow-cooked ground buffalo sirloin cooked with caramelized bacon (!) and onions served on a bun; or the barbecue pork belly sandwich ($10.75), pork belly in a house-made barbecue sauce topped with fresh corn salsa and served on a bun. I have 10 years of tasty lunches to catch up on.
FYI, if my mention of the historic (and free!) downtown walking tours piqued your interest, please join one at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from May 28 through September 26, and also at 2 p.m. on Saturdays between June 1 and September 21. They’re an hour long and, even if I weren’t biased, almost as delicious as lunch inside a historic log cabin.
Sweetwater Restaurant: 733-3553; 85 S. King St.; sweetwaterjackson.com. Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Dinner starts at 5:30 nightly. Closed Sundays.