The Red Pony Cafe
A Western bar’s jukebox breaks. That might not breaking news to city folks, but in the boondocks that could very well mean there’s no heaven on earth. B7, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, plays on a loop. This isn’t the jukebox’s first rodeo with this issue. It happened before in 2012 when the owner took away all the country music and replaced it with metal and rock.
But the Red Pony Cafe is still the place in Absaroka County, Wyoming where one can seek salvation at bottom of an empty bourbon glass. Dimly lit by dangling ceiling Christmas lights and a neon Red Pony behind the bar, people are always better looking and older than they actually are. Some down pints of Raineer beer. Others shoot shots of Wyoming Whiskey. There’s standing drinkers, slumped regulars looking for free therapy, secluded romantic couples in one of the several rear tables, and others laughing and having a good time.
Bison and elk heads mounted on the walls and fireplace leer at anyone who tries any funny business. The rest of their bodies are menu items. Charcuterie is just called jerky in these parts. It’s inherently fragrant with the simple cure consisting of time, salt, and itself. Vegans might only want to drink because in the land where the buffalo roam, that’s what you’re going to get. Minced and marinated buffalo steak with taco essence is plopped over shredded lettuce, locally grown Wyomatoes, and fry bread, aka, a Wyoming tostada. Cast iron skillets filled with soda bread soak up all of the suds. Wild caught fried trout skin replaces the bacon in the Pony’s BLT and only enhances it.
The Red Pony Cafe isn’t trying to meet anyone’s approval. Awards and accolades don’t mean a thing. There’s no mention of a new craft IPA or have an extensive wine list. Its main goal is to make one comfortable and fit in even if they feel they don’t. And that’s why it’s going to stand the test of time.
The Red Pony Cafe
ATMOSPHERE: Rugged residents rooted in a century’s-plus of blue collar work find their culture and religion at the same time.
SERVICE: You get a beer, therapy, and a threatening showdown all within the hour
SOUND LEVEL: A tense quiet and always below the sounds of the jukebox
RECOMMENDED: Raineer beer and the jerky
DRINKS AND WINE: Yes
OPEN: 7 days a week from 10am to midnight
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes