Ya’ll come now, ya hear? That’s pretty much the exhortation on Oregon’s high desert. By unofficial polling, it looks like the majority of folks out here wear western boots and drive pickup trucks. They also develop hearty appetites. If your roaming takes you anywhere near the Silver Lake area, you owe it to yourself to make a stop at the Cowboy Dinner Tree.
Lore has it that back yonder when cattle drives came through the area, one old particular tree marked the end of the day for many outfits. “Old Cookie” would fire up the evening fire and cook those hungry boys a dinner to hold them over until the next meal. That same spot is now home to the Cowboy Dinner Tree Restaurant. Of course you’re not expected to sit outside to eat (but you can if you wish). Diners are hosted in a rustic cabin with fans cooling in the summer and wood heat come winter.
The ambiance is heightened by the apparent dress code for waitresses: Period cowboy. Expect your drinks to be served in a canning jar. Rest your feet on the table foot rests–appropriately built out of retired horse shoes. And then there’s the food.
Not a lot of choice on the menu. When you call to make your (mandatory) reservation expect to be asked if you want steak or chicken. On arrival your waitress will bring you garden salad, home made soup, and home made dinner rolls–all served family style in with refills a’plenty. After you’ve plowed through these courses along comes the main part of the meal. For those who ordered chicken, a WHOLE chicken appears, minus the feathers and cooked. Beef lover? Hope so, because the steak tends to be around three to four inches thick and covers a major portion of the (non-matching) dinner plate. An oversized baked potato will compliment.
After you’ve requested a “take home” box to handle what’s left of your steak or bird, the waitress will hustle out with dessert. For us it was a fruit cobbler-like affair, and it was the perfect send-off. Happily the deserts aren’t on the Philistian-size scale, but far more manageable.
If you’ve come with your RV, just ask about staying overnight in the dry camping lot across the road from the restaurant. And if for some reason you don’t have time to take the RV in, ask about the nearby airstrip where hungry pilots put down. How they ever get off the strip after eating a meal this size does make a fellow wonder.
Hours are limited; cash or checks only. Reservations are a definite must. Check out the outfit’s website for more information.