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Laramie, WY

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This town of 27,000 (when the 12,000 students are around) has precious few restaurants. Worth trying in the "downtown" area - a few blocks of businesses below (south?) of the campus.

Sweet Melissa - a vegetarian restaurant, but vegetarian in the sense that there is no animal protein. It isn't really vegetarian cooking. Salads, three-bean chili, and the like. Everything in desperate need of spice/flavor. However, the food is fresh and prepared well. The place is shabby but the service is very friendly.

Coal Creek Coffee - very good selection of coffee, though it isn't stored in vaccuum-sealed bags, so freshness may be an issue. There is a roastery next door, so you know that the beans are fresh-roasted, but how fresh they are before they are roasted no doubt depends on how many customers walk in on any given day, and with the students out for the summer, this place is a ghost-town. So beans may be sitting around quite a while before being roasted.

Corona Village - a real find! This is actually on the other side of the campus - when you come into Laramie from the highway, you go through the Walmart part of town - passing the grocery store, McDonald's, gas stations, etc. This wonderful little place is in a tiny strip shopping center on the cross street that borders the Albertson's (grocery store). A wide selection of burritos, tacos, enchiladas - but hardly the usual crappy comidas typicas. The cooking is very good, the ingredients fresh and good quality. I had chicken enchiladas with a slightly spicy mango sauce (not a chunky salsa, it was actually a puree) with black beans and rice. When the enchiladas were gone, I mixed the black beans and rice with the remaining mango sauce and it was terrific. I could easily have had that for the main meal without the enchiladas. Wish I'd discovered this place on my first night in town. My friend had a vegetarian burrito that was huge and delicious. Very inexpensive.

Jeffrey's - this is the mainstay. Also in the downtown area. Varied menu, leaning towards the "healthy" but not quite getting there. Pretty much every dish has cream-based sauce and/or cheese. I didn't eat there so I can't comment on the quality, but here's the website: http://www.jeffreysbistro.com/

The Whole Earth Grainery - from the outside, it looks like your basic crunchy granola health food store, and when you first walk in, that's what it is. But this tiny place has a very nice selection of health food and gourmet food, including fresh cheese. They don't have much in the way of prepared food, but you could purchase ingredients for a nice sandwich. Great selection of tea, coffee (in vaccuum-sealed packages), chocolate, cheese, and other foods.

Corona Village (sit-down branch on other side of town - on Boswell Avenue) - as bad as it's sibling is good. Reportedly owned or managed by the brother of the other one. Noisy, big family restaurant. Friend ordered a margarita straight up, no salt. Got margarita rimmed with salt and load with ice cubes (not even crushed ice!). Said it was awful. I ordered a Mt. Gay and Tonic, saying that if they didn't have Mt Gay, I'd take a mojito. Waitress returns with a glass of clear fluid. I tell her it can't be Mt. Gay, because Mt. Gay is dark rum. She insists it is. I tell her it is white rum. She takes it back and returns to say that the bartender said they didn't have Mt. Gay. I told her to tell the bartender that customers aren't stupid and that she shouldn't lie to them about what is in the glass. She asks if I'd like something else. Yes, as i said before, if you don't have Mt. Gay, I'll take a mojito. It was undrinkable. It was vile.

Friend had some sort of shrimp dish. It looked unpleasant. He did not like it. I ordered chicken mole. It was awful. Some light brown, flavorless sauce that was supposed to be mole. They would have been much better off just using Dona Maria from the jar. This place sucks.


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