Savvy Off-Season Dining

By on April 18, 2018

Strategic eating during the valley’s increasingly short shoulder season

Taco Tuesdays at Hatch. (Hatch courtesy photo)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – It’s the most wonderful time of the year, at least for wallet-conscious foodies. And like any special in life, it’s all about timing. Those who are not jet setting to the Caribbean, drinking margaritas under the sun or traveling to Thailand shall be rewarded with two-for-ones, unique new menus and decently priced food.

Imagine $10 pizzas at Trio, happy hour all night at Thai Me Up and $3 chicken tinga tacos at Hatch.

Yes, the deals are abundant, but each year as the off-season shrinks, some restaurants are opting to close or roll back the specials. So you must plan ahead.

Think of it like happy hour—some are better than others. Are food and drinks both included? Is it specific to a time or date? Could you get this deal any other time of year? And, like a coupon queen, do you have an old gift card?

To maximize the specials there are a few different things to keep in mind: timing, value, trying new things, mixing and matching and closures.

Time Waits For No One

Timing doesn’t necessarily mean the actual time of the special, it’s about when it is in relation to the rest of the specials. Imagine mapping the specials on a giant calendar. If you were to write them out, there would be overlaps, gaps and closures. It’s like a puzzle with each piece holding a secret key.

For example, Gather had a two-for-one special that ended April 9. Meanwhile, Trio’s two-for-ones began April 11.

For lunch, try Bin 22 for “two-for-$2,” buy one plate, get another for $2. It’s a great option when one must wine and dine herself midday. Fine Dining Restaurant Group’s specials run through May 13 and benefit local nonprofits. Find the two-for $2 deal at The Kitchen, Rendezvous Bistro and Osteria when it reopens on April 26.

For dinner, try two-for-ones at the Blue Lion, Trio, Hatch, Local, Silver Dollar Bar and Grill. Other restaurants opt for a percentage discount: locals can enjoy 20 percent off food and wine at Calico until May. In town, Healthy Being has membership and friend discounts (cleanse with a friend and save 20 percent or do an intro into health pack for $100) through May 31.

Value

Anywhere with a two-for-one (or two-for-$2) special is indeed a good deal.

But drinks are what make or break a decent priced bill. If they allow it, (some places make you choose) dine during an already existing happy hour and get the two-for one special. Hatch’s off-season happy hour menu is one of the best in town with food and small bites like $5 nachos. Margaritas and palomas are discounted and on Tuesdays you can get three tacos for $3. Throw in Hatch’s two-for-one entrees and you’ve got a whole new menu to explore.

And if you’re looking for the best value, pair similarly priced dishes. It seems like common sense—don’t pair the $40 entree with an $18 risotto. But sometimes we forget: Either stay small or really go big, not both.

And remember, dear diner, always tip on the original amount.

Mix it Up

Thai Me Up happy hour happens all night during the off-season. (Thai Me Up courtesy photo)

Allow local specials to send you around town and visit different places in one night. Enjoy a drink special before your two-for-one. Roadhouse Brewing Company’s taproom is serving $4 beers all off-season. Make it stop one, then move along for food.

Thai Me Up’s all night happy hour is a good deal, with cheap appetizers and price-reduced burgers and curry. The rotating $3 beer, which has been around all winter, is now joined with a higher IBU discounted $5 beer. Calico’s 20 percent off food and wine is great, and you can take home any unfinished wine in the bottle.

Also remember, things are better with friends. Most eateries won’t allow one person to enjoy the two-for-one deal, and why should they? Bring a friend, co-worker or stranger to take advantage.

Get Adventurous

Trio’s market fish with edamame puree. (Cassina Brown)

Most of all, the off-season specials are great for exploring different places. Think of the eateries you reserve for special occasions or when family is visiting—here’s looking at you Blue Lion—now you can go there on a ski bum salary. It’s the perfect chance to scope out a new regular spot, and the slow season gives you more time to interact with the staff and ask them what the regular season specials are.

Most restaurants have also transitioned to new menus for spring. Trio rolled out a new menu when it reopened with new pizza like prosciutto di parma and arugula and entrees like the shrimp garganelli and braised pork short rib.

Though Figs doesn’t have any off-season specials, it debuted a new cocktail menu in early April. Try the Kansas City shuffle, with cinnamon syrup, habanero bitters, St. Germain, lemon juice and vodka, and a rotating Old Fashioned each week. Hand Fire Pizza has unveiled weekly pizza specials like a lamb merguez and pesto and sun-dried tomatoes.

Beware of Closures

There’s nothing more disappointing than getting your hopes up for an amazing, well-priced dinner only to find a dark, vacant eatery. Some places are closed for longer stints, like Snake River Grill through May 9 and Bar Enoteca through April 26. Streetfood at the Stagecoach takes a mini respite from April 23 to 30. Old Yellowstone Garage in Teton Village and the Four Seasons’ Westbank Grill are also closed until mid-May.

Others limit hours through the week. The Kitchen is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, Phoenix and the Dragon is closed on weekends and Roadhouse Brewing Co. taproom is closed Sunday and Monday. Hand Fire Pizza stopped serving lunch on the weekends, but will bring it back in May.

Remember, closures mean the places that are open will have longer waitlists and require reservations further in advance. So get out there and get eating—before you know it summer will be here and you’ll have to pay full price again. 

 

 


About Erika Dahlby

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