HIDDEN GEMS, WYOMING’S BEST EATS: 70 Years of Food and Family at Cheyenne’s Diamond Horseshoe Café

The bacon cheeseburger is popular with diners and employees alike at the Diamond Horseshoe Cafe. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

By David Dudley

Special to the Wyoming Truth

CHEYENNE, Wyo.—There’s a little café situated south of the Union Pacific railyard that cuts through downtown. It’s easy to miss, because it’s set back from North Greeley Highway, on Central Avenue.

For those lucky enough to find the Diamond Horseshoe Café, which has been there for 70 years, exceptional diner fare, affordable prices and a friendly atmosphere await.

The café has room for 65 guests, spread among its booths and stools at the counter, so there’s rarely a wait.

“Our breakfast burritos ($7-$11) are popular,” said Hailey Chafin, the 24-year-old daughter of owner Kendra Scott, while greeting customers on a recent morning. “They come with two eggs and your choice of meat, smothered in pork green chili. But if you want a traditional breakfast, the Classic is the way to go.”

Customer Rachel Church discusses menu items with hostess Hailey Chafin. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

The Classic comes with two eggs, hash browns and choice of toast ($8). From there, diners can add their choice of meat for a few extra dollars. Bacon or sausage adds $3 to the total, while German sausage, chorizo or corned beef hash will add $4. For those who are really hungry, a hamburger steak, pork chops, ham or chicken-fried steak are $5 extra.

During my last visit, I had the Classic with chicken-fried steak — a 10 ounce portion of cube steak dipped in an egg and breadcrumb batter. The steak is tender, and the breadcrumb batter is crisp and flavorful, just as cooks James McCord and Willie Banks like it.

“If you ordered that, you might need a box for leftovers,” said Banks, who’s cooked in various kitchens around town since 1977.

I didn’t need a box, but I couldn’t eat another bite.

One of 39 unique mugs that belong to Diamond Horseshoe Cafe regulars. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

‘We almost went under’

During a previous visit for lunch, Scott suggested I order pork chops, fried chicken or liver and onions with choice of potato, veggies, soup or salad ($13.50 each). I chose the bacon cheeseburger ($11), served with subtly sweet, smoky bacon atop a juicy ground chuck patty. The French fries — crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside — are the perfect companion to the burgers.

Scott inherited the Diamond Horseshoe Café nearly seven years ago, when the previous owner suddenly died. There was no one else to take the reins, and having worked at the diner as a server for 15 years, Scott was a natural fit.

“That doesn’t mean it was easy,” said Scott, 41. “I was trained to understand the business of running the café, to keep the books straight. Still, we almost went under.”

Scott did what was necessary to stay afloat. She took out a bank loan and relied on family and employees willing to work extra hours. Scott didn’t want her co-workers to lose their jobs. Nor did she want her customers to be forced to find a new place to eat.

Cook Willie Banks studies his next order. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

“We had some hard times with COVID, and people not wanting to work,” Scott said. “But our customers kept us going.”

It’s more than food

There’s an eclectic collection of coffee mugs—39 of them—hanging on the café’s eastern wall. They belong to Horseshoe regulars.

Jim Ruby is one of them. He’s been coming to the café nearly every day for the past decade. Ruby’s go-to breakfast is chocolate-chip pancakes (three for $7.50) with a side of bacon (add $3).

When he wants a change of pace, Ruby orders French toast ($7.50). But his love for the Horseshoe extends beyond the food.

“It’s the people, plain and simple,” said Ruby, 65. “I’m friends with James McCord, the head cook. I’m friends with Margaret, one of their servers. They’re like family to me.”

Pictured above is Diamond Horseshoe Cafe owner Kendra Scott. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

Ruby was referring to Margaret Lovato, who has worked as a server at the café for 48 years under five owners and is almost always in motion. She zigzags through the aisles between booths, chatting with customers, pouring mellow medium-roast coffee into mugs and bringing plates piled high with food. But Lovato, 61, stops when she sees a familiar face.

“I know a lot of our older customers,” Lovato said. “I have their phone numbers. I help them run errands, buy groceries for them, things like that. If I don’t see them for a while, I call to check up on them.”

For Lovato, serving is more than a job, and the people are more than customers.

“Serving others is like therapy for me,” said Lovato. “These people are family. I don’t know what I’d do without them.”

Diamond Horseshoe Café, 404 Central Ave., Cheyenne, Wyoming; (307) 638-8255. Open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Spread the love

Related Post