HIDDEN GEMS, WYOMING’S BEST EATS: Saratoga Burger Joint Hits the Spot
- Published In: Hidden Gems: Wyoming's Best Eats
- Last Updated: Oct 10, 2023
The Malt serves elevated burgers, fries, boozy shakes and more in Saratoga. (Wyoming Truth photo by Bob Wooley)
By Bob Wooley
Special to the Wyoming Truth
SARATOGA, Wyo.—Driving into the small, southern Wyoming fishing and hot springs town of Saratoga, the scenery lets you know you’re in for something special. The mountains are beautiful and the North Platte River winding its way through town is stunning.
Spectacular scenery is easy to come by in Wyoming. But you won’t find the delicious burgers and expansive bourbon selection at The Malt around every winding road.
I first learned about The Malt, opened in October 2022 by restauranteur Danny Burau, when I was looking for something unique on a swing through the south central part of the state. An easy walk from just about anywhere near the town center, The Malt is casual and comfortable, with a clean, modern-West, airy vibe. But sitting outside at one of the community-style tables overlooking the river is the winning move — weather permitting.
The fries, crispy, salty and fresh, are a strong way to start; I opted for sweet potato ($4.99). The burgers are exceptional—and you can design your own. But with signatures like the devil on horseback ($9.99) — a flat top burger with date puree, goat cheese, peppered bacon and grilled poblano peppers served on a brioche bun — why would you?
For my main course, I chose the blue and bacon burger ($11.99), featuring peppered bacon, Gorgonzola Dolce, black garlic aioli, lettuce and tomato served on a pretzel bun. The funky cheese and bacon are what make this one shine.
Needing a sugar buzz from hours spent traveling, I opted for the boozy, bourbon-forward caramel shake ($9.00) and the salted chocolate chip cookie ($3.00) for dessert. The shake was excellent. The cookie, however, was borderline genius: chewy and crispy, with melting morsels of chocolate and little flecks of sea salt to make it infinitely more interesting—a true revelation. The prices are budget friendly, with sandwiches and burgers running between $10 – $14.
Burau may be the business mind behind the operation, but new chef Kari Davi is the star in the kitchen. Davi, who hails from nearby Rawlins, earned a culinary degree in Tucson, Arizona, before perfecting her cooking chops and local sourcing ethos in Rochester, Minnesota.
“She’s being under-utilized in a quick-serve burger bar. But her ability to sense flavor and construct a plate is just incredible,” Burau said.
The restaurant’s name is an homage to its menu, as well as a link to a key ingredient in its vast beer and whiskey selection.
Knowing that the burger industry was growing and that Saratoga was light on quick-serve options, Burau said a transition from the nearly fine-dining approach of its predecessor, the Firewater Public House, made good business sense.
“There’s something nostalgic about a burger and fries joint — like an old malt shop,” he said. “So with the milkshakes added in, we had this old malt shop vibe. And we have all of this whiskey — we’ve got beer. So that’s how we came up with the name.”
If you’re a bourbon drinker, The Malt is a find. The restaurant offers over 200 brands and varieties from around the globe—all displayed on a wall behind the bar.
Along with the bourbon, burgers and fries, The Malt serves a variety of chicken dishes (from sandwiches priced at $12.99-$13.99 to wings for $8.99), a barbecue pork sandwich ($13.99), cheesesteaks ($10.99) and a black bean patty ($9.99). There are soups, salads and classic kids’ favorites to round things out, including a Wyoming take on the iconic Chicago Dog ($9.99).
And most days Burau is right there, bartending, tasting, making sure the vibe is right — all the way down to the music and lighting.
The Malt, 110 East Main Avenue, Saratoga, Wyoming; (307) 326-3572. Open Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.