Top 5 myths about guest ranch dining

Food and wine has become much more important to today’s vacationers, and guest ranches understand that and are responding. In fact, many ranches have made some of their biggest changes in their dining rooms (and most don’t ring the dinner gong anymore, like the cartoon character below). Now all they have to do is convince some suppertravelers that their old ideas about ranch food are, well, so yesterday. Here are the top five dude ranch food and wine myths, debunked.

Myth No. 1: Guests dine every night on barbecue beef, and a plate of beans.

TRUTH: Well, once that was the idea of a perfect meal at a dude ranch. And while that’s perfectly delicious food, the average menu at today’s guest ranch now goes far beyond that in sophistication. At New Mexico’s The Lodge at Chama, Executive Chef Kirk Vandermaat and his staff have one goal: that guests “cherish their days and evenings here at Chama”. Each morning, you  choose your coming evening’s fare from your own personalized menu; options: native selections of elk, bison, trout, and quail; oh, and of course choice steaks.

Myth No. 2: I am trying to stay on a special diet, and a ranch can’t adjust its menu for me.

TRUTH: Many ranches now can accommodate special diets and reasonable requests for options; overall, the result is better quality and more variety. “Food is often fad-driven,” notes Russell True at Arizona‘s White Stallion Ranch. “We’ve done macrobiotics for some guests, vegetarian menus; and we adjusted to the no carbs/ high protein movement. Now, were back to less extreme fare,” True says. “We’re not a gourmet ranch, but we try to adjust to mainstream tastes and offer options to people, whether its more chicken or lighter fare. ”

Myth No. 3: I know I can get a nice steak on a ranch, but by the end of the week, I’ll be starved for some fresh veggies.

TRUTH: The ‘locavore‘ movement (where the goal is to eat food grown/produced nearby) has hit the ranch, too; many guest ranches team up with local farmers to make sure that plenty of fresh, local produce is available to their guests. At Three Bars Cattle & Guest Ranch in British Columbia, Tyler Beckley contends that “all of our meals use the finest fresh vegetables available and are cooked to perfection.”

Myth No. 4: I’m on a low-sodium diet, and won’t find anything to eat at a ranch.

TRUTH: Most ranches can offer you low-sodium options—especially if you alert them ahead of time. “We can do low-sodium easily,” says True. “If they want a nice grilled swordfish instead of steak, we’re happy to make the change to healthy options and adjust.”

Myth No. 5: If I want a decent glass of wine with dinner, I’ll have to bring a bottle myself.

TRUTH: At many ranches, you’ll have trouble deciding what wine to try from their wine list. British Columbia, for example, is home to some great white wines, and local ranches will introduce you to some real finds. “We have access to some great, affordable wines in Canada that you don’t see a lot of in the US,” says Tyler Beckley. “My wine list is not over priced or pretentious, and the fun is in finding great wines that are not expensive.” Three Bars also also carries wines from Argentina, Chile, France, Spain, and New Zealand.

White Stallion Ranch brought in a sommalier to put together a wine list that includes selections from all over the world. “It has been hugely popular,” says True.


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