Built in 1891, the Lake Yellowstone Hotel stands grandly on the waterfront of Lake Yellowstone. Its classic white columns highlight the yellow exterior, which contrast with the surrounding emerald forest and golden meadows, depending on the time of year. The Lake Hotel dining hall falls nothing short of the hotel’s elegance with breathtaking views of the lake from the dining room’s windows.
“You are sitting in a recently renovated dining room overlooking the beautiful Lake Yellowstone with fine china and white linen tablecloths,” says Lu Harlow, food and beverage director of Yellowstone National Park Lodges under Xanterra, Yellowstone’s official concessionaire.
A Dream Dinner In The Forest
Lake Hotel’s dining room serves a wide range of items during breakfast, lunch and dinner. What makes the Lake Hotel dining experience is the ingredients.
In all the dishes, the restaurant aims to provide a slew of sustainable and local ingredients for diners. Fresh produce is from local family farms and ranches just north of the park near Bozeman, Mont. The natural lamb sliders and steaks come from Montana and the salmon is wild from Alaska. Trout arrives from Idaho and the bison tenderloins are from Buffalo, Wyo. Sustainable, organic and local food is the Lake Hotel restaurant’s ambition.
“Lake Hotel is the location where we have focused on the use of local and sustainable items there,” Harlow says.
She goes to extensive lengths to find local farmers who meet high-quality standards and can sell at a high volume.
The classic hamburger on the menu is a Wagyu beef burger from Montana. Popular items include seared lemon lobster sliders with aioli, bison tenderloin with garlic mash potatoes, prosciutto and gruyere-stuffed red bird natural chicken and sautéed trout with lemon and parsley and wild rice pilaf.
“We buy a lot of food,” Harlow says. “We had over 4 million visitors [in 2017], served over 2 million meals, and we have another 2,000 employees we feed breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
Those looking for a quick bite opposed to a full on meal can stop by the Lake Hotel Deli for fresh soups and sandwiches.
Food For A Better World
The park gives back to local people and economies while providing a global message. Nearly two decades ago, a large number of Montana family-owned ranches and farms were going under, Harlow explains.
“We started this almost seventeen years ago to pair up with different organizations and trying to help,” Harlow says.
“We have done everything from buying whole cows and cuts people don’t want. You have to support the agriculture economy. Otherwise, you will lose it. You will lose the beautiful land, the families and kids born and raised on these farmlands.”
Within the last couple of years, the park restaurants made a switch to non-genetically modified oils and shortenings in all their products. The staff even removed shrimp and salmon from the menu because the harsh environmental effects shrimp and salmon farming have on the ocean, Harlow says. Industrial-scale aquaculture destroys coastal ecosystems by negatively impacting the water quality consequently killing off plants and marine life.
“It’s a combination of supporting the local community but the other side of it is creating a global world,” Harlow says. “We buy a lot of food in the year – almost $11 million in food. If me not buying $50,000 worth of shrimp gives somebody a message that they have to do something different, then I hope they do something different.”
When is the best time to eat at the Lake Hotel?
The Lake Hotel dinner reservations starts May 1 for the following year. Don’t miss out on dining at one of the Yellowstone restaurants.
“They offer a one-of-a-kind experience that people are looking for,” Harlow says. “Most people don’t ever want to leave.”
In summer 2022, advance online dinner reservations are available only to overnight in-park lodging and campground guests. Guests with reservations at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel can make reservations up to 60 days prior to arrival. Guests with reservations at other Yellowstone National Park lodges and campgrounds can make reservations up to 30 days prior. Non-lodging guests can go to the host stand for same-day availability.
For more information:
Make Dinner Reservations:
Breakfast and Lunch are on a first-come, first-seated basis.