“Welcome to Hudson: World’s Finest Food,” says a sign on Main Street. An overstatement, perhaps, but High Plains folk who travel the two-lanes through the land of the Arapahoe to dine at Svilar’s gladly attest to the fact that this fine old place serves the best and biggest meals in their state. By definition in this part of America, that means beef.
In fact, red meat wasn’t even on the menu in 1942 when Bessie (Mama) Svilar started serving food at her husband’s bar and billiard parlor, then called The Buckhorn. During World War II, beef was a rare commodity even in Wyoming. Miners, ranchers, and farmers came for Mama’s fried chicken, spaghetti and ravioli, and for sarma. Sarma is an old Balkan dish that is a thick, boiled-tender leaf of 14-day pickled cabbage rolled around a tightly-packed filling of ground pork and beef with onions and a hail of spice.
After the war, The Buckhorn became Svilar’s. The fried chicken and Italian food that originally made Mama’s kitchen so beloved are still available, and sarma is a must. But beef has become 21st century Svilar’s claim to fame: filets, ribeyes, t-bones, ground sirloin, weekend prime rib with a ramekin of delicious au jus. All come on hot metal platters, cooked pretty much the way you want (although the hot platter can actually add cooking time). It’s grass-fed beef (as opposed to corn-finished), meaning it isn’t as soft and fatty as one of those high-priced steak house steaks. But the flavor is a powerhouse.
No, Svilar’s is absolutely nothing like the typical $100+ expense-account beef palaces found in urban centers. It is an old-fashioned high plains supper club, well-worn and utterly local: a Roadfood treasure.