The Gusher Pizza and Sandwich Shoppe
West Yellowstone, Montana
It’s not all work, travel, work for us here at Proud American Traveler every day of the year.
It just is most days.
But on the rare occasion I’m on the road and get the chance to “kick it,” I like to make sure I eat not only the best food — but also see the local area landmarks and whatever else a town might be known for.
Which is exactly what had me in West Yellowstone, Montana looking for a bite to eat.
I had just finished touring Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming on the last day it was open for the season — checking out Old Faithful, the bears, elk and buffalo so plentiful in the park — and was heading back to my hotel.
I was hungry. And I needed a beer too.
Fall isn’t exactly prime tourist season in West Yellowstone. Actually, the place was dead.
Only a few restaurants were even open. One of them was The Gusher.
And it turns out, I hit The Gusher on their last day of the season too.
Normally, this isn’t the type of place I’d stop in.
It just looks like a tourist trap. First, you walk in and there’s a cafeteria-style restaurant on the left, which usually means the food stinks.
Second, video arcade games are everywhere. Some for the kids, gambling machines for adults (it’s legal in Montana), and a bar on the right.
It just seemed like it was trying to be all things to all people — the kind of cheesy place you find in a tourist area that isn’t serious about its food.
But walking into the bar, I realized there’s a chance this place could actually be good.
First, it was gaudy.
Not touristy gaudy, but “decor-hasn’t-been-updated-since-1973” gaudy, with loud wallpaper, neon lights and everything.
That usually means the staff is too busy making awesome food to care about ambiance!
Nice. Ambiance is overrated anyways.
Secondly, while they didn’t have many beers on draft, their choices were respectable.
There was only one American puke beer — Budweiser.
After that, they had a couple microbrews. A Pale Ale and a New Belgium’s Hoptober.
Not bad I thought, considering that usually in a get up like this, your three choices would be Budweiser, Bud Light and Miller Lite.
After ordering a beer, I asked the bartender what he recommended from the menu. He said, “The Poor Boy.”
Now, this is nothing like a Louisiana “Po’ Boy.”
It’s a burger with ham, cheddar cheese, a fried egg and “special sauce.”
“Hit me,” I said, going with the ham and bean soup as my side instead of fries.
Before I downed half my beer, the bartender was back with my plate of food.
One look at the Poor Boy and I knew I would enjoy it. But I tried the soup first.
It was cold that day, and I had that chilled-to-the-bone feeling that God created soup to fix.
I was sold on the first bite.
Most restaurants wouldn’t put a soup like this on the menu.
It wasn’t particularly salty and — instead of huge chunks of ham running the show — the beans were predominant.
Because of that, every bite had a hearty, earthy flavor.
After my soup, it was time to try this Poor Boy. Before I describe it to you, check this out.
Do you see that?
Do you see how melty the cheddar cheese is? Do you see all the juices making this Poor Boy glisten? Do you see how the bun-to-meat ratio is perfect?
I’m asking you all these questions because it’s almost impossible to describe just how good this burger was.
“Oh, maaaaaan,” I groaned after my first bite.
Everything was perfect. The cheese stayed in a permanent state of melty awesome. The burger was cooked perfectly for a “from-the-freezer-patty”, it wasn’t dry at all.
The egg was perfectly cooked too — just enough to keep gushes of yolk from running all over your sandwich. (See what I did there?)
After finishing my Poor Boy, I ordered another Hoptober and another cup of soup and thought, “Great job, Gusher. Great job.”
I was totally ready to head back out and face the cold.
Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying the Shirt