Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel and Restaurant

A Pretty Good Prime Rib Buffet Dinner in Cody, Wyoming

Thursday, August 28 2008 12:13   Steaks and Seafood
We love it when we can literally step into Old West history, pull up a chair and chow down on one of our favorite foods-prime rib-and that's exactly what we did when we visited Cody, Wyoming and had dinner at Buffalo Bill's Irma Hotel Restaurant and Saloon.

The Irma Hotel is real Wild West history, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. Buffalo Bill (real name William F. Cody) was instrumental in founding the town of Cody in the late 1890s. Ever the showman and entrepreneur, Cody believed the town could be viable as a base camp for people wanting to visit the wonders of Yellowstone, or on their way to the growing number of dude ranches in the area.

As part of his grand vision, Cody set about building a hotel (with the help of a few investors), naming it after his daughter, Irma Louise. The Irma opened for business in 1902, with major additions occurring in 1929 and 1976.

One of the unique features of The Irma, which still operates as a hotel for visitors to Cody, is the cherry wood bar and back-bar in the saloon. Made in France, it was a gift to Buffalo Bill from England's Queen Victoria in appreciation for his command performance of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. The mirrored bar is absolutely gorgeous.

Part of the overall ambience surrounding The Irma is a gunfight re-enactment put on June through September by the Cody Gunfighters, Monday through Saturday, starting at 6 p.m., and taking place on the adjacent street. The show is free to watch, offers up plenty of Old West melodrama, and is a real tourist draw for the hotel as well as other businesses along Sheridan Avenue.

All of it-the gunfight re-enactment, the history of the hotel, and the drawing power of Buffalo Bill-bring in a lot of tourists, but enough about the hotel setting. We're here to talk food.

The restaurant definitely has an old-fashioned feel to it, with dark leather table booths along one wall, the famous cherry wood bar on the other side, and plenty of wood tables in the center. The room has a very high ceiling which gives the dining area a feeling of spaciousness.

We added our name to the waiting list (told it would be at least a half-hour wait), had a cold beer at the Silver Saddle Lounge (a bar that reminded us of other crowded watering holes such as Hussongs Cantina in Ensenada), and wandered through the hotel's Gift Emporium.

After feeling sticker shock from the price tags on the clothing and other gift items, we went out onto the hotel porch to watch the re-enactors setting up on the street for their gun battle, then finally got called to dinner. We ended up in one of the booths.

The menu was inviting, ranging from the simple to the sublime. We were tempted by such dishes as "Wild West Salmon Sensation" ($12.50), a grilled Pacific wild salmon fillet placed on a bed of rice and served with a bourbon glaze; "Rocky Mountain Rainbow Trout" ($15.95), allegedly from the "blue ribbon streams of the Rockies;" "Baby Back Ribs" (whole rack $18.50, half-rack $12.95) that were promised to fall from the bone, and "Irma's Meatloaf" ($11.95) that the menu said was fresh, slow baked and lightly seasoned, served with plenty of mashed potatoes and gravy.

Well and good, but we wanted beef. The menu offered up the usual list of sirloin steaks, rib-eyes and filet mignon (even buffalo steaks, if desired), and added that all beef is graded Choice or higher.

What caught our eyes, however, (and our noses) was the wonderful view and smell of the buffet line, with a chef busily cutting away at a huge chunk of just-out-of-the-oven, crusted prime rib. Normally, buffet lines aren't our dish, but what we saw drew us in.

Along with the prime rib, the buffet line included BBQ ribs and chicken, lemon-buttered cod, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes (with a little garlic added for zest), two vegetable dishes, a nice salad bar, two soups, and at the end, a little pudding for dessert. We were told that sometimes a few surprises are added to the line, such as Oysters Rockefeller.

We went back a couple of times to sample everything, and were even pleased with the fish. During the summer the buffet is served nightly; during the off season it's available Friday and Saturday nights. The buffet starts at 5:30 p.m., and the price is $20.95 per person.

The wine list is not the greatest in the world, and we didn't care for the prices, so we each stuck to a glass of water to wash down our meal. We had come for the prime rib, and we left very satisfied. Later, we heard from some folks who had tried the buffet line before and said that the fare can have its ups and downs. The night we were there, it was definitely an "up" night.

Servers were very busy, almost running (fast walking?) between their tables. Our server was friendly and helpful, but we had to be patient when trying to flag her down for service. Perhaps they were short-handed that night.

The Irma also serves breakfast (beer batter flapjacks are available), and we hear the food is excellent. It also has a kids menu, and breakfast and lunch buffets. We plan to go back to The Irma's restaurant again, but not on a Friday or Saturday. We want to try items on the menu and not be tempted by that lovely buffet line.

The restaurant is moderately priced. Major credit cards accepted. Irma Hotel is located at 1192 Sheridan Avenue, Cody, Wyoming. Telephone: 800-745-IRMA. The Web site can be found at

Buffalo Bill's Irma Hotel
and Restaurant
1192 Sheridan Avenue
Cody, WY
(800) 745-IRMA
Steaks and Seafood, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


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