It’s a Small World After All
Jackson Hole’s options for ethnic eats are expanding.
By Melissa Thomasma
Growing up in Jackson Hole came with innumerable benefits, but a diverse array of ethnic cuisine was not among them. It was possible to enjoy Mexican, Chinese, and Italian, but discovering more varied fare often required a trip to a cosmopolitan locale. Happily, this is no longer the case. “It has been such a delight to see the explosion of ethnic options grow in Jackson Hole, particularly in the last three years,” says Allison Arthur, co-founder and editor of Dishing magazine, which focuses on the valley’s dining scene. “In addition to the strong Thai presence we have had for some time, we have seen the emergence of Indian, Korean, and Japanese.” Once, the trouble was that the choices were limited. Now, the challenge is picking from so many excellent alternatives. Hopefully we can help you narrow them down. Here are some of the ethnic restaurants locally celebrated for their authenticity and ambiance.
Beef bibimbap, right, with miso soup at Bapp. Photo by Bradly Boner
Hunyam Kim Degman, born and raised in South Korea, opened her first Korean restaurant in 2011 in a tiny corner of Powderhorn Plaza. Despite its out-of-the-way location, it quickly became popular. Degman’s representation of her culinary heritage has remained a Jackson favorite throughout location changes. After a five-year stint inside the Snow King Center, she opened Bapp in a prime restaurant real estate location—on Broadway just a few blocks from the Town Square. Bapp’s menu offers fusion-style dishes like the Bapp Steak Burger, a beef patty topped with a crispy fried egg and kimchi, and chicken wings slathered in zingy “K-Red” sauce. Degman’s menu also offers a diverse lineup of traditional South Korean options like Bibimbap (a rice bowl heaped high with varying combinations of meat, vegetables, and other toppings), udon and rice noodle dishes that range from mild to spicy, and Jjigae, a traditional Korean stew made with clams, shrimp, and mussels; kimchi, pork, and tofu optional. Bapp also offers classic Korean pork and beef barbeque. Open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.; 340 W. Broadway Ave.; 307/201-1818, no website
Chicken kebabs and pita bread at FIGS. Courtesy Photo
Featuring Lebanese fare, FIGS offers Middle Eastern favorites, sometimes with a distinctly Wyoming twist. The intimate restaurant, which boasts a refined, relaxed ambiance, is tucked into the downtown Hotel Jackson. With its rustic-meets-modern materials palette of steel, glass, stone, and iron, the property was deemed “The Most Beautiful Hotel in Wyoming” by Architectural Digest.
Though the family behind FIGS and Hotel Jackson—the Darwiches—has called the valley home since 1977, their roots lie in Lebanon. True to this Lebanese culinary heritage, many FIGS dishes are grain and vegetable-forward, making it a great spot for vegetarians and vegans. The house-made pita arrives within minutes of emerging from the oven, still steaming. It’s perfect with made-to-order hummus, which we recommend topping with a sautéed or shawarma meat, or infusing it with garlic, sun dried tomato, and/or Aleppo pepper olive oil. (The restaurant imports over 400 gallons of organic Lebanese olive oil every year.) Open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; 120 Glenwood St.; 307/733-2200; hoteljackson.com
Tom Kha Kai at Teton Thai Plate. Courtesy Photo
Teton Thai Plate
Teton Thai Plate sits almost directly across from the Town Square, yet it’s one of the most difficult restaurants to find in the valley. At the end of a dead-end sidewalk, it’s as close as Jackson Hole gets to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. And we mean “hole-in-the-wall” as a compliment: the energy at Teton Thai Plate goes into the food—fried rice, noodle dishes, and satays—rather than décor. Yes, that picture calendar hanging on the wall, which itself needs some paint retouching, is from 2015. Beautiful photos are timeless though, right? And who cares, anyway, when you’ve got a steaming bowl of Tom Kha Kai, rich with flavors of kaffir lime, lemongrass, and ginger, in front of you? Note that spice levels go from 1 to 5, and most people find 3 plenty spicy. A 5 has been known to bring some diners to tears. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; 135 N. Cache St.; 307/734-2654; no website
Alpenrose house-made apple strudel. Courtesy Photo
The menu at the Alpenrose fits with its exterior architecture. From the outside, the building looks as if it were transplanted to Teton Village directly from Tyrol. (Alpenrose is inside the Alpenhof Lodge, one of the first buildings built in the base area of the nascent Jackson Hole ski resort in the mid 1960s.) The menu has schnitzel, spatzle, and pfeffersteak (featuring bison), and also pheasant and rainbow trout. Although many Jackson Hole restaurants have since been awarded Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence, Alpenrose was one of the first two restaurants in the state to receive this honor. (Since first receiving the award, Alpenrose has received it annually.) Its wine list highlights interesting bottles from Austria, France, and Italy. Dessert options include chocolate fondue, house-made apple strudel (with cranberries and almonds), and Engadiner Nusstorte, a traditional lemony tart from Graubunden, Switzerland, that the Alpenrose tops with salted caramel ice cream. Open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; 3255 Village Dr., Teton Village; 307/733-3242; alpenhoflodge.com/eat
Suda’s Land and Sea Roll. Photo by Lindley Rust
Like Sudachi, its sister restaurant off Teton Village Road, Suda Izakaya offers sushi and Japanese cuisine in a setting that celebrates the Asian nation’s aesthetic: bright spaces, clean lines, and warm wood accents. The menu uses ingredients like locally raised meats and regionally farmed vegetables to create traditional Japanese fare with a Wyoming flair. Kushiyaki (skewers) can be stacked with veggies, regionally sourced pork, salmon, or Wyoming bison ribeye. The Land and Sea roll includes a tartare with beef from the local Lockhart Ranch. Even dessert balances Japanese roots with local ingredients: dig into the Sudachi Sundae, made of black sesame ice cream from Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream, chocolate sauce, and the sweet crunch of sesame brittle. Open Monday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; 140 N. Cache St. Suite B; 307/201-1616; sudajh.com
Steamed dumplings at Everest Momo Shack served with a tomato and roasted sesame seed dipping sauce. Courtesy Photo
Everest Momo Shack
Named for traditional Nepali dumplings, Everest Momo Shack serves hearty curries alongside other dishes from Tibet, India, and Thailand. Its bright downtown space is decorated with photographs of Himalayan peaks and Buddhist spiritual leaders. Owners Sange and Rita Sherpa emigrated to the United States from the Everest region of Nepal. It’s clear that they draw deep inspiration from the mountains and celebrate the similarities between Jackson Hole and their place of origin. The menu’s signature items are momos: steamed thick-skinned dumplings stuffed with bison, chicken, and vegetables, served with a tomato-and-roasted-sesame-seed dipping sauce. Alternatively, order them fried with bell peppers, onion, and tomatoes, accompanied by a spicy chili dipping sauce. There’s also Thali, an Indian/Nepali meal of small portions of several items like rice, vegetable and lentil soup, papadum, and chicken or lamb. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; 245 W. Pearl Ave.; 307/201-1674; everestmomoshack.com
Miazga’s pierogi and kielbasa. Photo by Latham Jenkins
When Miazga’s opened in January 2019, it was the first time in Jackson Hole that you could get homemade pierogi—pasta pillows stuffed with sweet or savory fillings like potato, cheese, ground meat, sauerkraut, and fruit. (Don’t ask for the recipe; it’s “top secret.”) But the siblings behind the restaurant, Jennifer and Joe Miazga, didn’t start offering pierogi, considered the national dish of Poland, just to do something new. Miazga’s entire menu of Polish and Italian fare has its roots in their childhood. They grew up in upstate New York surrounded by grandparents and great-aunts and -uncles who ran a family bakery and catering business. It is recipes from these—representing the intersection of the family’s Polish and Italian heritage—that now populate the menu of the siblings’ restaurant in Wyoming. In addition to hand-pinched pierogi, there’s grilled kielbasa and sauerkraut, which they make, of course; and “their grandmother’s” pasta with red gravy and meatballs. The Miazgas claim their Reuben sammie is the valley’s best, and they make their desserts daily. These skew Italian—éclairs drizzled with chocolate and filled with thick pastry cream; crispy, sugar-dusted cannoli; and pies featuring seasonal fruit. Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; 399 W. Broadway Ave.; 307/733-2784; miazgas.com
El Abuelito Family Mexican Restaurant’s nachos deluxe: corn tortilla chips covered with beans, melted cheese, onions, tomatoes, sour cream, and guacamole. Photo by Kathryn Ziesig
El Abuelito opened in November 2001 and, unlike other valley restaurants at the time, offered authentic Mexican fare, not TexMex or Americanized versions of Mexican dishes. While the menu is extensive enough to have something for everyone—fajitas, substantial burritos, enchiladas, mole, and, of course, baskets of fresh-made chips and salsa—it’s the restaurant’s Jumbo Mexican Original Margarita that is almost universally ordered and loved. What makes these margs so special? Fresh-squeezed limes, and the choice of five different tequila flavors (raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, peach, or banana). Back to the food: classics like tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, burritos, and fajitas come with your choice of chicken, beef, or seafood. If you’re feeling adventurous, go for a whole pan-fried tilapia; Tampiqueña (skirt steak grilled over charcoal, topped with baby shrimp, mushroom sauce, and melted cheese); or Camarones Jalisco, prawns cooked with slices of ham and sautéed in a spicy sauce. Open daily 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday); 385 W. Broadway Ave.; 307/733-1207; elabuelitojh.com JH