Jackson Hole’s Steakhouse – The Gun Barrel
If you google “Jackson Hole Steak House,” the first thing that comes up is the Gun Barrel. And for good reason. The Gun Barrel doesn’t just offer some of the finest meat and game selection in the valley, but it also serves as an authentic, true taste of Wyoming, both in its culinary offering and authentic Western ambiance.
The Gun Barrel is operated out of what used to be the Wyoming Wildlife Museum & Taxidermy. When the restaurant took over the building in 1993, the owners purchased some of the pieces from the museum – many of which still exist today. Just entering the space is a visual buffet; one may notice anything from the old dioramas from the former museum to the intricate log work. Hank Williams’ original buffalo coat that he wore on the cover of his album “Lone Wolf” is framed proudly in the corner. And of course, the taxidermy is hard to miss – a giant bison sits right in the entryway in addition to other animal mounts that don the walls throughout the space.
Regardless of what your eye is drawn to first, it’s immediately apparent upon walking into the Gun Barrel that this place isn’t just a restaurant, it’s an experience. Almost all of the fixtures in the building were custom designed for the restaurant, including the ironwork, lighting, tables, and their open flame mesquite grill. Perhaps proprietor Mark Walker said it best: “Each night I’m reminded how special this place is – every time someone walks in here, their eyes light up and their head is on a swivel – they’re struck by the building and everything that it encompasses the western culture. It’s unique, and there’s just nothing like it in Jackson.”
Mark’s family bought the restaurant from the original owners in 1999 and are celebrating their 20th anniversary of ownership this year. Mark has worked just about every position you could have in the restaurant, from line cook, to bartender, to upper management. It’s a family business through and through – his dad owns the business, and his siblings, cousins, and his wife have all held (or still hold) positions at some point in time. “From our staff to our customers, we feel such a strong sense of community here,” Mark explained. “We know people intimately well, and feel the support from neighbors, locals, and visitors alike.”
As for the food, you’d be hard-pressed to find as ample of a game offering anywhere else in the valley. The Gun Barrel’s mixed game platter is one of their most popular dishes, featuring a sampling of elk steak, buffalo prime rib, and venison bratwurst. They also offer other unique dishes, like Buffalo ribs – which tend to be 2-3 times larger than your average pork rib – and, right along with the restaurant’s unique décor, often make the cut for visitors’ photos. Mark explained,” If you want to experience Jackson’s true culinary side, this is the place to go. There’s a large variety of options here that a lot of folks just can’t get in their hometowns.”
Like many businesses in Jackson, the summer months is when the Gun Barrel really heats up – sometimes serving over 500 people a night. “From the moment people walk in, they’re walking around taking pictures of the artifacts, the grill, the taxidermy… really just everything,” Mark said. “There’s a contagious energy in here, and the staff feels it too. We’re happy when we’re busy.”
What makes this restaurant special isn’t just limited to what’s on your plate. From the history of the building to the decorated walls to the chorus of customers dining at peak hours, it’s clear that the Gun Barrel is a one-of-a-kind Jackson dining experience that shouldn’t be missed.