Ominous billboards proclaiming “Wyoming is beef country!” can make a vegan feel a tad unwelcome in Cody Wyoming. However, visiting Cody is well worth doing. This town of 10,000 has extreme history. After an hour of touring around, you’ll be on a first name basis with Buffalo Bill Cody, founder of the town in 1896. After a day, you’ll feel like you’ve known him your whole life. If you ever got sucked into reruns of old westerns as a kid, Cody can fulfill your cowboy dreams.
The Local is Number One in Cody Wyoming
Wyoming has a surplus of steakhouses and a dearth of vegetarian restaurants. However, The Local in Cody prides itself on sourcing quality ingredients that are organic when possible, seasonal and, well, local, all served in a simple, elegant décor. I managed to visit three times. My first time was at lunch, where I was thrilled to find five clearly marked vegan choices. A miracle! They included a vegetable platter of beet puree, sweet potatoes and fresh herbs; a falafel sandwich; and the island wrap, which featured tofu, mango and kale slaw.
Sandwiches came with a choice of yam chips, fries or kale slaw. I got an excellent veggie burger one night for dinner, complete with a stunning, thick yellow tomato slice. And I sampled their almond milk cappuccinos, twice. The Whole Foods Trading Company (no, not that Whole Foods) is attached to The Local and under the same ownership. This health food store has tons of good stuff for traveling vegans to pack in the cooler, like Daiya cheese, milk alternatives and nut butters, fresh vegs and lots of snacks. Vegans, stock up here if you’re driving around Wyoming.
Buffalo Bill Center of the West
If you’re visiting Cody you won’t want to miss the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This Smithsonian affiliate is a collection of five museums: the Buffalo Bill Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, Plains Indian Museum and the Cody Firearms Museum. I spent four hours there and still felt like I’d just skimmed the surface.
Plan your museum visit to coincide with lunch. Or, better yet, dinner. At lunchtime, the museum dining area has a salad bar with good quality spring mix and several other vegetables. There’s also a veggie sandwich, and bottled juices and smoothies. But if you stay for the buffet dinner, you’ll get to see singing cowboys! I know it sounds totally hokey, but Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue was awesome. The buffet dinner had a surprising number of vegan items. I piled my plate with roasted rosemary potato wedges, excellent organic spring mix salad with good tomatoes and vinaigrette, sourdough roll and green beans and mushrooms cooked in a little olive oil.
The trio – Dan Miller, Hannah Miller and Wendy Corr– were accomplished musicians with close harmonies and fabulous comic timing. Each had a distinctive voice, but when Hannah sang her ballad about Wyoming, it was like an angel was crooning to us.
Other Places around town
Most of the other places I ate took a little negotiation. Zapata’s, the Mexican restaurant with a cute outdoor patio, unfortunately puts lard in its beans, and the rice isn’t veg, either. But you can get a fajita salad – hold the meat and dairy – of lettuce, grilled peppers and guacamole, served with rice and chips. The unpromisingly named Rib and Chop House can make you a simple but good salad of spinach, beets, candied walnuts with blood orange vinaigrette, and a plain baked potato. You can doctor your potato up with vinaigrette or ask for olive oil and add salt and pepper. The baked potato is probably the workhorse for vegans in all the region’s steakhouses.
I lucked out with the coffee shops. Almost every place I went had dairy alternatives for my coffee and cappuccino. Rawhide Coffee Company had almond, soy and coconut milk. The drive-through coffee kiosk Rocky Mountain Mudd made an excellent soy cappuccino, and The Local was tops for almond cappuccino. I even learned a new trick there – the barista added a couple of ice cubes when she steamed the almond milk. She said this works with both dairy and nondairy milks to make it foamier.
If you go
Don’t let your vegan diet make you miss seeing Cody Wyoming and environs. Eat at The Local as much as possible, and pack lots of snacks.