This is an ode to a burger. And not just any burger. I’m talking about a medium rare bison burger topped with pork green chili.
The setting for this wonderful meal was the Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I know, I know – what is it with this guy and Wyoming? How much Wyoming Kool-Aid could one man possibly drink?
Well, I can tell you this. Wyoming is very distinctive. That makes it easier, in a way, to write about than , say… Colorado. Colorado is pleasant, inoffensive, and oftentimes beautiful. What am I going to write? Fort Collins is so nice it can be soporific.
“Had another great day in Colorado. Here’s a pic of me smiling on top of a mountain. Gonna go get a drink at the brewery!”
Actually, that’d probably be a more commercial direction for this site. But I’m about relentless self-sabotage, so let’s get back to that burger and the Plains Hotel.
The Plains Hotel is an elegant, 5 story tan brick hotel on the corner of West 16th and Central Avenue in Wyoming’s capital. It has a prominent location, right across the street from the historic train depot, and made quite an impression in its day. A gentleman remarked in Hotel Monthly in 1917:
“At Cheyenne, Wyo., the train stopped twenty minutes, long enuf [sic] to take a run up to see the new Plains Hotel, which looms up the most imposing structure in the city; but a thunder storm came and prevented our visit.”
It wouldn’t do to get wet, would it?
The Plains Hotel is still a sight to behold, and wonderfully kitschy with its neon teepee and interior skylight decorated with representations of the sun and planets. There’s showy uses of marble, paintings of classic Western scenes, and a (you guessed it) teepee chandelier with grazing bison circling the edges.
The hotel has a fancy restaurant, too, the Capitol Grille. The reviews are a bit mixed. While I can’t speak to the quality of the steak, I got my aforementioned burger there and it was on point, straight flavortown material. It was so juicy I wondered how it didn’t just turn into a viscous puddle of fat. My God. This burger.
If you’ve never had bison before, it’s a lot like beef, but with a gamier edge to it that I really, really enjoy. It tasted like I’d just speared it with a couple of my fellow cavemen. The pork green chili – which comes off as something like a religion when you first get out West – was definitely delicious, too, though not very spicy.
As I mowed down the burger, the chili embedded itself in my fingernails and got stuck in my teeth, and I spent the rest of the day randomly tasting chunks of pulled pork. Which ain’t so bad. In fact, I didn’t eat anything else until the next morning. It was that fucking heavy and awesome.