In many resort towns, the help tends to be young, transient and somewhat unreliable. But at Running Bear Pancake House, in West Yellowstone at the western entrance to Yellowstone National Park, the waitresses are certainly experienced, efficiently handling two spacious rooms full of tourists while maintaining a relaxed banter with the customers.
“Looks like you got a bit of sunburn on your neck,” says one to a blistered eater. “Boy that looks good, hon. Would you like some more steaming coffee, and should I pour out what’s left in your cup?”
This is not to say they don’t work hard. My server says they wore pedometers one summer and discovered they walked nine miles a day waiting tables.
Given it’s a pancake house, I follow the theme, albeit with a twist. My pancake sandwich ($8.75) features two voluminous, somewhat gummy cakes swallowing three strips of bacon and topped with an over-easy egg in lieu of syrup. Nothing fancy, just a basic breakfast in a comfy setting. With all those carbs roiling around my stomach, I need to look for a nine-mile hike.
Running Bear Pancake House
538 Madison Avenue, West Yellowstone, Montana
Daily 6:30 am-2 pm and 5 pm-9 pm
In an old-fashioned tourist town like West Yellowstone, it’s nice to see a fairly new trend. I’m talking about the taco truck. Sure, it’s a take on the ages-old Mexican taco stand. But it offers something the road tripper in me loves: cheap, casual, good food, usually family run.
Taqueria Las Palmitas certainly meets all these criteria. The four-year-old seasonal business serves up paper plates full of tasty burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas and the like to customers who retreat to a handful of picnic tables. My three double-shelled tacos (asada/steak, carnitas/fried pork and pastor/spicy pork), doused with a pungent salsa, hit the spot, for less than $5.
But it’s the family aspect that blows me away. Yes, owner Carlos has family helping run the place. But when I mention a very similar-looking taco bus in Dillon, Montana, he says, “That’s my brother’s.”
“So, who’s the better cook?”
“I am. But he’d probably say he is.”
I’d say you can’t go wrong either way.