Hitting the Road: Cheyenne Frontier Days

Long time no talk GrubGraders! As some of you know, I’ve been ditching my usual snack reviews as of late, mostly on account of a hectic travel schedule and other work related endeavors. Case in point, I was barely able to get over my recent trip to Buffalo, New York, before setting my sights halfway across the country to one of my favorite states in our country…Wyoming!

Smells like...victory...

Yes, Wyoming. Make all the jokes you want about my apparent backwardness when it comes to travel and leisure, but frankly there is no place else I’d rather be in the good ol’ US of A than in some open field under a big Wyoming sky. Unfortunately, it’s a fantasy that is easier said than done, and one which doesn’t always equate to good eats. Luckily for me, my recent trip coincided with Cheyenne Frontier Days, an annual city-wide celebration of all things western and cowboyish.

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Looks Western and Cowboyish to me...

Like most fairs and fair-like events, Frontier Days is crowded with the usual assortment of funnel cake stands, ice cream booths, and kettle corn venders. However, there are definitely a number of uniquely western offerings available as well, with gigantic smoked turkey legs, bison burgers, and skillet-cooked sirloin meals taking center stage. Knowing I’d have many more chances to sample Wyoming’s and Colorado’s best in buffalo burgers during other parts of my trip, I ended up heading over to Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ stand to grab a Tri-Tip Sandwich.

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I want that smoker!

Despite my eastern roots, I definitely have a western bias when it comes to barbeque, and given the still limited appeal of tri-tip outside of California I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sample what many aficionados consider to be one of the most “underrated” cuts of meat on the market.  I’ve had some decent tri-tip steak in my day but I have to tell you that the sandwich from Big Bubbas’s beat them all. The meat had clearly been smoked in a huge smoker adjacent to the stand, and it displayed an impressive smoke ring that gave off the slightly sweet-smoky flavor of oak. The rub must have been fairly simple but was no less flavorful, while the heaping portion of salsa I dressed the meat with was both fresh and light – a perfect pairing for the succulent sandwich beneath. The meat itself was very lean yet not chewy, and was stacked in generous enough amounts to weigh down the helpless steak roll beneath. At $8.75 this was not a cheap sandwich by any means, but it was executed flawlessly and – given the readily available supply of salsa, onions, and chili powder to dress it up with – was still a good value and an awesome dinner.

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Best. Tri-Tip. Ever.

GrubGrade: 8.25/10 (Very Good)

I finished up my first night at Frontier Days at the rodeo stadium, where Theory of a Deadman and 3 Doors Down performed in front a sellout crowd. It was a great show and the perfect ending for a 20+ hour day.

Day Two in Cheyenne started with the always awesome continental breakfast at my hotel, where I unashamedly admit that I downed several of those kiddy boxes of Fruit Loops. The big food highlight for the day however was the first of several Bison Burgers that I would down on my western trip, with the first of these burgers coming at a cookout at F.E. Warren Air Force Base. Not only did the awesome servicemen and women at F.E. Warren open up their highly historic yet highly secretive base for public tours (I even got to go inside of a Minuteman ICBM silo), but they also offered a great cookout menu that included Bison Burgers. Cooked on a charcoal grill out back, these burgers weren’t terribly juicy yet weren’t overdone either, and carried the slightly sweet yet beefy taste of the bison meat quite well. While I’d have better Bison Burgers later on in my trip once in Colorado, the $6.50 combination of a burger, chips, and a soda was the best value meal of the trip, and a nice preview of many, many more Buffalo burgers to come.

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A sign of things to come...

GrubGrade: 7.00/10 (Decent)

Stay tuned as I consider to GrubGrade my way through Wyoming and Colorado! Up next: All the Elk and Buffalo Burgers you’d ever care to try!

Price: $8.75 (Tri-Tip Sandwich) | $6.50 (Bison Burger Combo)

Overall GrubGrade: 8.25/10 (Tri-Tip Sandwich) | 7.00/10 (Bison Burger Combo)

4 comments on “Hitting the Road: Cheyenne Frontier Days

  1. I love me some tri-tip….that was my family’s Sunday dinner go to meal….a few fat ‘ol tri-tips on the barbie. I don’t know about ALL those toppings though…I mean don’t get me wrong, they look darn good but maybe not quite so much….I want to taste my meat. Any BBQ sauce on the hoagie? …..and does the West have barbecue? I thought all we did here was grill.

    Nothing wrong with downing many individual cereal packs in one sitting….not doing so would be wrong….but the misstep was not taking the opportunity of the generous continental breaky to mix and match your cereals!

    I’ve had buffalo meat once…it was a burger in Golden, CO (after taking the Coors Factory tour) and I was unimpressed….it was just like a chalky hamburger….added nothing and took away a lot :(

    Looking forward to the next installment!

  2. That’s awesome Adam! I’d love to travel and sample foods across the state!

  3. Adam says:

    @Bear,

    Haha, well at nearly 9 bucks for the sandwich I was gonna be sure to get my money’s worth in toppings. But yea, I could tell that it was a chile powder based rub, and considering the natural sweetness of oak wood, I felt that any garden variety BBQ sauce would spoil the meat’s flavor, not enhance it. I did make sure to eat some “just meat” once I got to the bottom, and used the sub roll to soak up the salsa and natural tri-tip juice when I was finished. Needless to say, I used a spork with this adventure.

    @Erin,

    Wyoming and Colorado are great places for meat eaters. Lots of free range, grass-fed beef and “exotic” game meats like Emu and Elk to try. Plus you gotta love those Rocky Mountain Oysters!

  4. Raiders757 says:

    @ Bear

    Yea, the west coast isn’t known much for BBQ, but the mid-west is. Texas and the surrounding areas. Some will say Kansas, but screw them. The mid-Atlantic and Texas have them beat by a country mile.

    I have heard that they serve some good BBQ at the Oakland Coliseum. Everett and Jones BBQ. Have you ever heard of them?

    @ Adam

    There is something mentally wrong with anyone who will eat Rocky Mountain Oysters.

    That tri-tip sandwich looked really good though. Salsa and all. I would probably want less my self, but for that kind of price, I can see your point. Load on all you can.