By on March 21, 2017

Readers’ Choice
Best Margarita
Hatch (Bronze)

Want the best margarita? Get rid of the mix. So says Hatch Taqueria and Tequila’s co-owner Andy Ward. “I wanted to give people the kind of margarita they make at home. The cleaner the better,” he explained

There are only three ingredients in a classic Hatch margarita: Lime juice, fresh squeezed daily; Camarena tequila made from 100 percent blue agave; and 100 percent agave sweetener. No high fructose sweetener, ever.

A two-two-and-one blend of tequila, lime juice, and agave, respectively, is shaken with ice, then poured through a strainer over what Hatch has determined to be the perfectly sized ice cube. The one-inch by one-inch cubes tumbled into a hand blown glass mean the drink won’t dilute too rapidly. Ward says the result is a margarita so tasty you don’t need salt, but for some of us, salt is half the pleasure of a marg, and Hatch’s rims come perfectly salted upon request.

Indeed, Hatch knows its main ingredient well. It is the No. 1 seller of Camarena tequila in the state. Camarena hails from Arandas, Mexico, which is reportedly the “epicenter of artisanal highlands tequila production.”

Perhaps like a wine’s terroir, the land where agave grows infuses itself in gourmet tequila, making Hatch’s margaritas a unique valley libation. But don’t stop with the classic iteration. Try the Spicy Hatch, with jalapeño infused tequila, or the smokey Mezcal Margarita.

– Meg Daly

Readers’ Choice
Best Place to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Persephone (Gold)

Persephone does it all. It’s contemporary but cozy, traditional but innovative. Owner Ali Cohane says this is true of its decor as well as its baked goods: “We’ve modernized traditional French baking and pastries. It’s all modern and old at the same time.”

Despite Persephone’s wild popularity today, there was a time when people discouraged Cohane from opening the bakery and cafe. “Nobody really thought it was a good idea to open a bakery in a recession when people were tending toward gluten-free things, but it was somewhere that I wanted to be that I couldn’t find in Jackson. We just went for it.”

Turns out plenty of people want exactly what Persephone offers. It has become a community staple, and Cohane has met so many people she says she never knew or wouldn’t have known without opening the café.

“I love our town. I love the people who make up Jackson and creating a spot that makes them happy is the coolest thing ever.”

This very unbiased reporter has a particular obsession for Persephone’s chocolate croissants. As for Cohane, she recommends the kouign ammann, a croissant made in a muffin tin with caramelized sugar between every layer.

– Sarah Ross

Readers’ Choice
Best Bartender
Rachel Mazari, Snake River Brewing (Bronze)

When she isn’t island hopping in the Caribbean or exploring the Big Hole Mountains in Teton Valley, Idaho, with her Great Dane, Tuck, veteran bartender Rachel Mazari can be found at Snake River Brewing with a dazzling smile as she pours beer for locals and tourists five days a week. Mazari’s favorite flavor is the Nitro Speargun stout, released this fall, brewed with cold-pressed coffee from Snake River Roasters.

On her 23rd year at the brewery, Mazari “genuinely enjoys her job.” She recalls the day SRB opened in 1994: “We had pale ale, Snake River lager and Zonker stout on tap,” she said. “It was utter chaos with a full house.” One of her most memorable moments at the pub came on her 20-year anniversary, (also SRB’s), when her coworkers and the guests—mostly locals—surprised her with flowers, champagne and a standing ovation.

Mazari is accustomed to winning the readers’ choice silver and bronze awards, now on her fourth consecutive win. “It’s a really good feeling to know people appreciate you,” she said. However, after a double decade bartending for Oktoberfest and St. Patty’s Day festivities, the adroit tap master said, “If I don’t ever have to wear lederhosen again, I will be happy.”

– Jessica Flammang

Readers’ Choice
Best Under the Radar Restaurant
Streetfood at the Stagecoach (Gold)

Amelia Hatchard knows the healing power of food. One day when she was under the weather her husband Marcus Hernandez made her a lamb burger to cheer her up. It was perfect.

“If we ever have a restaurant, we have to put this on the menu,” she insisted.

Now, the couple owns Streetfood at the Stagecoach, and the lamb burger is her favorite item to serve. Their burgers are indeed delectable—a friend fantasizing about one during a long backpacking trip was inconsolable when he arrived to find the eatery closed. But Streetfood’s offerings span the globe.

Located at the base of Teton Pass, the casual eatery beckons to skiers, bikers, and hikers who fuel up with global dishes like bimbimbap, Moroccan shrimp, chicken tinga tacos, falafel, and fish n chips. With head chef Justin Anthony at the helm, Streetfood’s “Around the World” dinners, multi-course meals that transport people to a different country for one night, have introduced diners to the nuances of Spanish, Filipino and Korean cuisine, to name a few.

Hatchard and Hernandez both worked at the Four Seasons, where they met, before opening Streetfood in August 2014. “We were going for something casual with good food … we use as many fresh ingredients as we can and put a lot of effort into the food we make. It’s homey and fun.”

Hatchard attributes Streetfood’s success to their loyal regulars from Jackson, but especially Wilson. “I’m incredibly thankful to the people who have supported us from the beginning as we worked through all the kinks … they are our friends and almost our family now.”

– Sarah Ross

Readers’ Choice
Best Thai Restaurant
Teton Thai (Gold)

Thai food lovers across the valley have anointed Teton Thai with its eighth consecutive Readers’ Choice gold award.

Thailand natives Suchada Johnson and her mother, Boonlua (if she’s cooking in the kitchen prepare for the spice), launched Teton Thai in the town of Jackson in 2001.

Shortly after, Sam Johnson joined the family and the business as Teton Thai began amassing a following for its classic dishes and DJ scene.

The Roasted Duck Curry, Pad Thai and BBQ Pork with Sticky Rice are just some of the plates that diners return for again and again. “We try not to change the menu too much because it seems to hit what everyone wants,” explained Sam Johnson.

By 2011, the business had become so popular that the Johnsons moved it to Teton Village where the eatery has become a staple of the après scene. The Teton Village digs include a comfy waiting area dubbed “The Den” with crackling fireplaces. In the summer, the lively outdoor patio seats an additional 100 people, where locals and visitors ingurgitate spicy margs and Thai iced teas as the alpenglow dots the valley.

Now the Thai eatery is venturing into frothy realms too. Teton Thai recently partnered with Q Roadhouse & Brewing to develop Teton Thai Fire Extinguisher, a light après lager that compliments the spice Boonlua lovingly dishes out.

– Jessica Flammang

Readers’ Choice
Best Burger
The Bird (Gold)

The Bird’s owners Ted Hansen and Will Nowack let PJH in on a little secret to their award-winning burgers: “Nothing fresher than roadkill, nothing more local than the side of Highway 89!”

In all seriousness, the (beef!) burger is a veritable institution at The Bird, a menu item so foundational as to be rivaled only by The Bird’s other staple: beer. It’s not surprising that when you do one or two things specially, they get done really well. Which is not to be confused with well done, which Bird burgers NEVER are (or at least only under duress from a customer). As The Bird’s website proclaims, “If you order a steak medium, then why the hell would you order our burger well-done?”

In addition to not overcooking its meat, The Bird gets it right in a multitude of ways. Brisket is ground fresh in-house every day. The patties are not the thin hockey pucks of most establishments, but rather big oblong hunks on top of which the bun sits like a demure little cap. Always juicy, the burgers come with a smorgasbord of topping options, sporting names like Filthy Harry (bacon and cheddar cheese), Cabo Greg (guac and salsa), and The Slue (American cheese, grilled onions, fried egg) to name a few. All come with lettuce, tomato, onion and a pickle, and the most delicious greasy steak fries. Washed down with a cold German lager, this burger is top-notch.

Hansen’s response to the gold win? “It’s about time we got the title back!”

– Meg Daly

Readers’ Choice
Best Barbecue
Moe’s Original Bar B Que (Silver)

For those drowning in Jackson’s sea of high-end restaurants, Moe’s Original Bar B Que will throw you a delicious life preserver.

The man behind Pinky Gs (voted Best Pizza in this poll since the pizzeria’s inception), Tom Fay teamed up with Alabama barbecue chef David Fogg to bring Moe’s to Jackson. We’re talking true Southern food—pulled pork (order it Bama style with white barbecue sauce), smoked chicken, fried catfish and fixins like cornbread, black-eyed peas and fried green tomatoes. Wash it all down with some sweet tea, a margarita… or if it’s happy hour, a Tallboy and a shot for $5.

But it’s not only the affordable food and the laid back vibes that keep us returning to Moe’s since the eatery opened in December. The vaulted two-story restaurant with an upstairs patio happens to be the hippest barbecue joint to throw back a pound of $6.50 wings (happy hour).

When asked about Moe’s cool aesthetic—we love the wooden palettes adorning the red hued walls—Fay was proud to report that it’s all in the family: his wife Kristin Fay happened to design the eatery’s unique interior. Well, we do declare! As the 2017 gold winner for Best Interior Designer, Kristin Fay’s involvement in this new culinary gem didn’t surprise us one bit.

Indeed, delicious soul food, tasty cocktails and a cool interior are why we chose Moe’s to host this year’s Best of Jackson Hole party. See you tonight from 6 to 9 p.m.

Did we mention Moe’s stays open late?

– Robyn Vincent

Readers’ Choice
Best New Restaurant
Orsetto (Gold)

At Orsetto, the bronze chairs match the bronze espresso machine behind the sleek bronze bar, where sommelier Colin Flory waits to share his vast knowledge of Italian wine. Everything behind Flory’s bar is Italian, from the wine to the liquor and even the man himself (Flory boasts Italian heritage, as does chef co-owner Josh Governale). The only liquor that isn’t Italian is the vodka that goes in the Milano Mule, but Flory infuses it with pistachios to make it Italian-ish.

Orsetto opened on December 14 and was born from Fred Peightal and Governale’s desire to open a restaurant they’ve always wished existed in Jackson.  The pastas are all hand-made, and the dishes are reminiscent of an Italian-American home-cooked meal. “While all of us had different ideas of Italian food, we agreed that we should be focusing on the Italian dishes we grew up with,” Peightal said.

Patrons looking to try something new will delight in a glass of Aglianico del Vulture, a robust red wine from the Basilicata region of the south. Pair a glass with a traditional Bolognese and pretend for a minute that you’re basking in Italian sun a la Eat Pray Love (Orsetto will include outdoor seating in the summer). Most pasta dishes can be made with gluten-free pasta, and while Governale has yet to find a gluten-free option he likes as much as the real deal, it’s usually the sauce that really makes the dish anyway.

– Shannon Sollitt

Readers’ Choice
Best Burrito
Sweet Cheeks Meats (Bronze)

The “Butcher” sign in front of Sweet Cheeks is subtle and unassuming. But the breakfast burrito will change your life—or at least cure your hangover.

The secret to Sweet Cheeks’ breakfast burrito is its house-made sausage gravy. And it started as an accident.

One day, explained Sweet Cheeks’ Tommy Price and Nick Phillips, the kitchen had leftover breakfast gravy from their biscuits and gravy. They didn’t know what to do with it, so one employee put it in a burrito and handed it off to Price to try. Price was unsure at first, but his uncertainty didn’t last long.

“It tastes like biscuits and gravy in a burrito,” Price declared.

For this reporter, it’s a combination I didn’t know I was missing, but now I don’t know how to live without—like peanut butter and jelly, but infinitely more exciting.

Patrons are in for a surprise each week, as the gravy flavor is on rotation. I tried habanero, which added just the right amount of spice to my Tuesday deadline. Like all Sweet Cheeks’ beloved menu items, the burrito is only available once a week. Catch it on Tuesdays for just $5, and leave a nice tip for Tommy and Nick for curing your Tuesday doldrums.

– Shannon Sollitt

Readers’ Choice
Best Restaurant in Teton Valley
Forage (Bronze)

Forage owners Lisa and Christian Hanley take pride in making almost everything from scratch. “We are trying to showcase mountain cuisine and local foods,” Lisa Hanley said, “and celebrate what this region has to offer.”

The fresh venison, daily market fish from Hawaii, duck Reuben, veggie muffuletta and braised lamb are some of the most popular in-house delights. The restaurant name embodies its business concept of foraging for fresh foods. Its soups, desserts, sauces, ice cream, sorbet and cakes are all made from scratch.

The Hanleys, who tied the knot in 2007, have been in the restaurant industry for 20 years. Together they bought Forage in 2016 with the goal of bringing European-inspired epicurean dishes to the mouths of locals. Their strategy has worked; PJH readers are not the only ones digging in at Forage. In less than two years, customer ratings on Yelp and USA Today made the Teton Valley eatery Best Restaurant in Idaho. In early March, Business Insider Magazine called Forage Lounge Best Bar in the Spud State.

Locals on both sides of Teton Pass and out-of-towners frequent the 35-seat intimate eatery. “People like the casual and comfortable environment,” Lisa said. “They enjoy a rotating selection of delectable, high quality food and wine.”

– Jessica Flammang

Readers’ Choice
Best Pint of Locally Brewed Beer
2×4 Melvin, Melvin Brewing (Gold)

The floral, citrusy beer got its name when an employee said, “Man, that beer hit me over the head like a 2×4.”

Melvin Brewing has made waves in the craft beer industry. “In today’s sophisticated and competitive beer world, few people outside of Wyoming have sampled Cowboy State beer,” said Jeremy Tofte, owner and founding brewer. “It’s great to be shipping our beer to San Diego, Portland, Seattle and Denver.”

In 2010, Melvin brewed a keg a day at Thai Me Up Restaurant. Now, in its expanded Alpine riverfront location, the local brewery makes 500 kegs per day.

“The 2×4 is a dank hop bomb that tastes like a light ale,” Tofte explained. “With 10 percent alcohol by volume, we use hard-to-find hops, and balance them with the malt.”

The double IPA has won the Great American Beer Festival Gold, World Beer Cup Gold, two Alpha King victories, the Australian International Beer Award Gold and two North American Brewers Association Golds.

Tofte and Co-Founder Kirk McHale hired an all-star staff, with head production brewer Dave Chichura from Oskar Blues, and other talented brewers.

Now, two new Melvin brewpubs are slated to open in Bellingham, Washington.

– Jessica Flammang

Food & Drink

Best Restaurant

Gold: Snake River Grill

Silver: Blue Lion

Bronze: Trio

Best New Restaurant

Gold: Orsetto

Silver: Moe’s BBQ

Bronze: Big Hole BBQ

Best Chef 

Gold: Kevin Humphries – Spur

Silver: Jeff Drew – Snake River Grill

Bronze: Paulie O’Connor – Million Dollar Cowboy Steakhouse

Best Wait Staff

Gold: Snake River Grill

Silver: Merry Piglets

Bronze: Rendezvous Bistro

Best Bartender

Gold: John-Mark Roufs – Haydens Post

Silver: Samm Stuckley – Sidewinders

Bronze: Rachel Mazari – Brewpub

Best Local Food or Drink Producer  (jams, meats, chocolates, wines, etc.)

Gold: Snake River Brewing

Silver: Lockhart Cattle Co.

Bronze: Melvin Brewing

Best Chinese Restaurant

Gold: Chinatown

Silver: Noodle Kitchen

Bronze: Hong Kong Buffet

Best Mexican Restaurant

Gold: Merry Piglets

Silver: El Abuelito

Bronze: Pica’s

Best Thai Restaurant

Gold: Teton Thai

Silver: Thai Plate

Bronze: Thai Me Up

Best Italian Restaurant

Gold: II Villaggio Osteria

Silver: Orsetto

Bronze: Pizza Artisan

Best “Under the Radar” Restaurant

Gold: Streetfood at the Stagecoach

Silver: Noodle Kitchen

Bronze: Thai Plate

Best Sports Bar

Gold: Sidewinders

Silver: Cutty’s

Bronze: Eleanor’s

Best Teton Valley Restaurant

Gold: Teton Thai

Silver: Big Hole BBQ

Bronze: Forage

Best Take-out Food

Gold: Chinatown

Silver: Thai Plate

Bronze: Teton Thai

Best Breakfast Joint

Gold: Nora’s Fish Creek Inn

Silver: The Virginian

Bronze: Bubba’s

Best Lunch Spot

Gold: Lotus

Silver: Picnic

Bronze: Persephone

Best Coffee Shop

Gold: Cowboy Coffee

Silver: Persephone

Bronze: Pearl Street Bagels

Best Place to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Gold: Persephone

Silver: Coco Love

Bronze: Yippy I-O Candy Co.

Best Baked Goods

Gold: Persephone

Silver: The Bunnery

Bronze: Picnic

Best Breakfast Burrito

Gold: D.O.G.

Silver: Bubba’s

Bronze: Sweet Cheeks Meats

Best BBQ

Gold: Big Hole BBQ

Silver: Moe’s Original Bar BBQ

Bronze: Bubba’s

Best Sandwich Shop

Gold: Creekside Market

Silver: New York City Subs

Bronze: Pearl Street Market

Best Soups

Gold: Jackson Whole Grocer

Silver: Pearl Street Market

Bronze: Lucky’s

Best Vegetarian Offerings

Gold: Lotus

Silver: Noodle Kitchen

Bronze: Healthy Being Juicery

Best Burger

Gold: The Bird

Silver: Liberty Burger

Bronze: Local

Best French Fries

Gold: Trio

Silver: Liberty Burger

Bronze: Local

Best Salsa

Gold: Merry Piglets

Silver: El Abuelito

Bronze: Pica’s

Best Sushi

Gold: King Sushi

Silver: Sudachi

Bronze: Kazumi

Best Pizza

Gold: Pinky G’s

Silver: Cutty’s

Bronze: Pizzeria Caldera

Best Wings

Gold: The Bird

Silver: Eleanor’s

Bronze: Snake River Brewing

Best Food on the Fly (fair/festival/event fare)

Gold: Everest Momo Shack

Silver: Jackson Hole POP

Bronze: Sweet Cheeks Meats

Best Locally Roasted Beans

Gold: Snake River Roasting Company

Silver: Jackson Hole Roasters

Bronze: Cowboy Coffee

Best Pint of Locally Brewed Beer

Gold: 2×4 – Melvin

Silver: Rhombus – Q Roadhouse

Bronze: Pako’s IPA – SRB

Best Brewing Company

Gold: Snake River Brewing

Silver: Melvin Brewing

Bronze: Q Roadhouse

Best Margarita

Gold: Pica’s

Silver: Merry Piglets

Bronze: Hatch

Best Place to Après

Gold: Spur

Silver: Mangy Moose

Bronze: The Handle Bar

Best Happy Hour

Gold: Local

Silver: Eleanor’s

Bronze: Bin 22

Best Bar

Gold: Local

Silver: The Rose

Bronze: Silver Dollar Bar

About Various Authors

Sometimes it takes a village.

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