HIDDEN GEMS, WYOMING’S BEST EATS: Bustling Cafe Offers Community in the Shadow of the Bighorns

The Silver Spur Cafe, located on Main Street in Sheridan, serves diner fare with flair at affordable prices. It is open 362 days a year. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

By David Dudley

Special to the Wyoming Truth

SHERIDAN, Wyo.—It took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the darkness inside the Silver Spur Cafe, so I didn’t see the lone stool open at the counter. Nor did I clearly see the waitress who offered it to me.

I could smell the aroma of breakfast — bacon, sausage, peppers and onions — frying on the grill. I also heard a cacophony of voices coming from various directions.

“You going to the rodeo tonight?” one asked.

“Is the real estate market gonna crash?” asked another.

“We didn’t even have a summer this year,” said a third.

A cup of coffee appeared on the counter. It was just as I like it: strong, black and smoky. When my eyes finally adjusted enough to read the menu, I ordered a Rancher omelet ($13.00), which is bacon, green peppers, onions, cheddar and hash browns folded into three eggs. It comes with a choice of toast. Craving the combination of tangy dough, butter and strawberry jam, I chose sourdough.

The chicken-fried steak ($13.00) is a fan favorite at Michelle Underwood’s Silver Spur Cafe. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

As I waited for my food, a bee-hive of activity snapped into focus: Two waitresses zipped to and fro behind the 14-seat breakfast counter, topping up cups of coffee, taking orders from customers and delivering and taking away plates.

My food appeared as suddenly as the coffee. The omelet was fluffy and flavorful. Something alchemical occurs when you combine bacon, bell peppers and cheddar. I usually avoid hash browns, because too many cooks are content to serve soggy, limp potato noodles. The Silver Spur, on the other hand, serves them flat and crispy, lending a satisfying crunch to the omelet.

‘You need to learn to cook’

Michelle Underwood is the queen bee who keeps her chaotic hive humming.

If she knows you, she knows what you’re going to order. Underwood, 67, is a seasoned restaurateur. Her parents bought the Silver Spur in 1974, and her father once offered priceless advice: “Waitresses are a dime a dozen. You need to learn to cook.”

After her parents sold the Silver Spur Cafe in 1987, Underwood cooked for local schools and nursing homes. A single parent raising two kids, Underwood, who worked double shifts for $10 an hour, was keen to go into business for herself. The break she sought came in January 2014, when the then-owners of the Silver Spur Cafe wanted to sell.

“I jumped right in,” Underwood said.

Michelle Underwood, pictured here, is the owner of the Silver Spur Cafe.  (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

Since then, Underwood has earned a loyal following by serving diner fare with flair at affordable prices. Some favorites include the Calamity Jane French Toast Cinnamon Roll ($5.50), a cinnamon roll made from scratch, dredged in Underwood’s special batter and grilled; the Spur Special ($8.00), one biscuit with sausage gravy, one egg, choice of two strips of bacon or sausage links and hash browns; and the Horse Thief Special ($12.00), which comes with two pieces of French toast, choice of ham, bacon or sausage links and two eggs. Burgers ($13.00) are also popular.

The secret to Underwood’s success? “First, I serve only the best ingredients,” she said. “I get my meat from Legerski’s Sausage Co. The hamburger and sausage are always fresh-ground. My customers know what they’re getting, and they love it. That, and I show up seven days a week, 362 days a year.”

Underwood is not exaggerating.

“I’ve worked 362 days a year for the past decade,” she said. “I only close the cafe for three days annually: Thanksgiving, Christmas and August 11. That’s when I take my grandkids shopping for school clothes in Billings, Montana.”

Underwood said she’s grateful for all of her customers, but especially a group of seven men who come in seven days a week.

“They’re bachelors who have lost their wives or never got married,” she said. “They come in to drink coffee and talk about everything under the sun. When one of them doesn’t show up, I check the obituaries.”

Silver Spur Cafe, 832 Main St., Sheridan, Wyoming; (307) 752-3301. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed August 11, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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