The late journalist Charles Kuralt made many wise observations in his day. My favorite? “You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars.” Kuralt was a man after my own stomach. Yes, I have gone on road trips with their itineraries dictated by where I might try a burger along the way. A recovering pseudo-vegetarian, I’ve been searching for the world’s best burger—and generally making up for the six years in my late teens and early 20s that were red-meat free—since reintroducing mammals into my diet over a decade ago. If there is a better food than a burger after a long day in the mountains or on the bike I have yet to find it. Thankfully, Jackson Hole has plenty of burgers to choose from, including a secret one that’s not on the menu. (At the Snake River Grill, you just have to know there’s a burger; consider yourself educated.) To save you from wading through anything inferior, here are the five best.
From beef to bison, turkey, veggie, and even ahi, Liberty Burger knows their patties. They also prepare them perfectly and sell them at a good price. Sides—fries, onion rings—are extra. The Big O rings are the valley’s best food buy: $5 for a heaping plate. They’re also delicious.
Right on the Town Square, Local restaurant has a burger for upwards of $20. In the attached bar area, you can get a pared down version using the same locally sourced beef for about $10. Also, the bar, U-shaped and giant, is more fun than the restaurant.
Snake River Grill
The Snake River Grill is the most lauded restaurant in town. Why? Even when it comes to something simple like a burger, they obsess about the details. Part chuck and part tenderloin—and all from the Mead Ranch here in the valley—their 10-ounce burger comes standard with Vermont white cheddar, Wisconsin applewood smoked bacon, and shoestring fries.
This semi-private country club has a traditional burger made from ground beef and topped with bacon and your choice of cheese, but its grilled tenderloin sliders are even better. Get them medium-rare and the meat is so tender you’ll think you’re biting through butter.
You don’t usually go to an Austrian restaurant for a burger, but make an exception here. Made from trimmings of the tenderloins served in the main restaurant, the burger at Stiegler’s bar (and only in the bar; not the restaurant) comes topped with Gruyere and bacon and—of course—on a Kaiser roll.