By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily
About 30 miles north of Buffalo and about 10 miles south of the Montana border is the town of Sheridan. With it’s back against the Big Horn Mountains, it’s home to approximately 17,000 hearty souls.
Small but mighty, Sheridan has a rich and storied history. Famous showman William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, used the local Sheridan Inn as the headquarters of his legendary “Wild West” show.
From 1911 to 1924, Sheridan was home to one of Wyoming’s first electric streetcar trolley systems.
At the turn of the 20th century, the town was best known for its flour and sugar mills and the Sheridan Brewery, but with prohibition, the breweries started making “soda pop” and the underground black market for alcohol spurred a subculture of speakeasies, gambling and prostitution.
Today, Sheridan is more civilized, but the Wild West history is well remembered. One of the reminders of that time 100 years ago the little P.O. (Post Office) News and Flagstaff Cafe on the corner of Sheridan’s South Main Street and East Loucks Street.
The P.O. News has changed little since the Sands Smoke Shop opened there in 1905 and it continues to offer premium cigars and pipe tobaccos as it did when it first opened its doors.
Connected to the P.O. News is the Flagstaff Cafe, established in 2007. Owner Mark Demple and his wife Janine have been owners of the cafe since 2015. As a friend once told me, when he arrived in Sheridan on his first visit, he wanted two things, a reuben sandwich and a cigar. Both of those needs were met in one location.
Being a nonsmoker, I had to take my friend’s word on the cigar part. I, on the other hand, was hunting breakfast when I opened the door. I wouldn’t be disappointed.
When I sat down, I was greeted by Lorraine, my friendly and flirty server. Lorraine made me feel like I was a regular customer before my backside even warmed the booth. Looking at the menu, there’s lots to choose from, even biscuits and gravy. On the Flagstaff’s menu, the dish is called “Biscuits & Good Gravy.”
As readers of this column might know, it’s normally my breakfast quest, but finding good biscuits and gravy is hit or miss in Wyoming. Being the gambling type, the friend I was with ordered up a plate just to see if the dish lived up to its name. However, I was less decisive.
The menu features selections such as thick-sliced French toast and the “Big Horn,” which is two eggs any style, ham steak, two sausage patties, three slices of bacon, hash brown and toast. Then there’s “The Gordo”, an 8-once black Angus steak, with two eggs, hash browns and toast. I was there after noon, typically lunch time, but I hadn’t even reached the burgers and other lunch fare.
I turned to Lorraine for help, telling her I was still in the mood for breakfast. Lorraine pointed to the breakfast burrito, a massive breakfast offering containing two eggs, ham, bacon or sausage with cheddar cheese and optional pepper and onions, smothered in chili verde.
I ordered the sausage option, sans chili.
While waiting for our order, owner Mark Demple, stopped at the table to see how we were doing. He agreed with Lorraine that the burrito was a great choice.
“The sausage is from Sackett’s Market,” he said, a Sheridan butcher shop.
The rest of the menu also features fresh offerings from around the Sheridan, Demple said.
“Beef for the burgers is ground fresh daily at Legerski’s Sausage Company,” he said. “(Owner) Jimmy (Legerski) will come up every morning and ask how many burgers we will need, and then he goes back and grinds them.”
While shut down for one and one-half months during the COVID pandemic, the cafe opened for take out and delivery, taking advantage of a little used walk up window in the building. The business has since rebounded, said Dimple.
“Business has come back pretty strong,” he said. “We have a great local follow here, and we are really blessed with that.”
It was then that Lorraine arrived with our meals. I noticed two things right away. First, the sausage gravy and biscuits did indeed look like “good gravy.”
Second, the breakfast burrito should have been delivered with a forklift! This thing is massive!
The sausage gravy and biscuits lived up to the hype. There were big chunks of sausage in a good, smooth southern style gravy that got four forks up from my friend. Time for the burrito. This isn’t the type of burrito you get at the Golden Arches or the King, and you won’t be picking this up with your hands to eat it.
The flour tortilla was tender, soft, and filled to bursting. The first bite was loaded with eggs and sausage as promised. The hash browns inside weren’t mushy and nondescript as in most morning wraps. They were crispy! Yes, crispy I tell you!
I’m still trying to figure out how they pulled that off. Let’s face it, most hash browns in a burrito are often little more than filler. Not these however!
The crunch played well with the eggy goodness, the spice of the sausage and the melt of the cheese. Every bite was better than the one before it. I kid you not, no one is going to beat this for breakfast! I’m not exaggerating either.
There was one problem with the burrito. There was no chance I could finish it in one sitting.
As Lorraine said, it’s big, REALLY BIG! When I said it was massive, I mean as big around as my forearm, and every bit as long! It’s a good thing I could get a to-go box.
The Flagstaff Cafe is open 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. Get there early and bring your appetite!
You can find them at 1 N Main St, Sheridan or on the web at www.ponewsflagstaffcafe.com or look for them on Facebook.
P.S. The second half of the burrito made for a great breakfast the next day, and I swear by my fork, the hash browns in it were still crispy!