Wyoming has tall mountains, abundant wildlife, clear mountain streams, tall pine trees, and a lot of blowing dust.
It was the latter that prevented us from eating on the porch at Payá’s Deli, Pizza, and Catering in downtown Dubois (WY) during our two recent visits. So, instead, during both visits we took stools along the counter and watched both locals and tourists through the front windows.
Payá (Spanish slang for “over there”) is owned and run by Barb and Patrick Hotaling, who arrived in Wyoming from Seattle and California, respectively. Barb graduated from the South Seattle Community College’s culinary program and worked in Yellowstone, a cruise boat on the Columbia River, Alaskan cruise ships, and a number of other jobs in the food service industry.
Patrick is originally from San Francisco and operated a bakery with his mother in Concord, CA. He eventually landed as the kitchen manager at the Togwotee Lodge (on the main road between Dubois and the Grand Tetons), where he hired Barb as a member of his staff.
Payá has a salad bar, a soup bar, daily hot entrée bar, sandwiches, and wood oven pizza. On our first visit we both went with sandwiches. For me, a turkey and corned beef Reuben (thin sliced turkey, corned beef, cole slaw, 1000 Island Dressing, and Swiss cheese on marbled rye; for Chuck the roast beef on flat bread (thin sliced roast beef with green chilies, grilled onions, Swiss Cheese, horseradish cheddar, and Dijon mayonnaise). We shared an order of potato salad and, for dessert, blackberries with crème fraiche.
Let’s start with what didn’t work so well – my sandwich. It seemed to have been made with good quality ingredients, but was very dry. My two experiences with Wyoming cole slaw have both been negative, and both slaws have had a very limited amount of non-creamy dressing. And I could not detect much 1000 Island Dressing. The marble rye hinted of caraway, but the bread may have been over-grilled and had a hard exterior.
On the other hand, the roast beef flatbread was delicious. Now Chuck is no fan of horseradish, but he did admit that the horseradish cheddar enhanced the combination of mild green chilies (to me the chilies could have been hotter), onions, and Dijon mayo. I usually think of flatbread as thin and crisp, and this was more like a folded pita. Still, the roast beef was thin and moist and the toppings delicious. Simply put, this was a great sandwich.
The homemade red skin potato salad was full of chopped egg, onion, and celery in a creamy dressing.
The blackberries were enormous, and the sweetened crème fraiche was a perfect counterpoint to the tart berries.
Our second trip was for pizza, and we ordered the standard combo – one sausage and one Margherita style. While the crust was thicker than one normally sees on a wood oven pizza, it was light and crisp and quite good. The red sauce on the sausage was slightly sharp and the sausage well seasoned. The Margherita included a profusion of tomato slices and a generous amount of small roasted garlic bits. (Love the sweetness that roasting gives garlic!)
So what was wrong? Are Chuck and I the only two persons on earth who think that lots of cheese is not a good thing? After making a light crisp crust, the restaurant served a heavy pizza with too much cheese.
I am not sure what rating to give Payá. It had some high points but too many low points. As much as I would like to give them 4.0 Addies, upon reflection I cannot go higher than 3.5 Addies.
An atmosphere of trust pervades Payá. When customers finish their meals, they go from their outdoor tables or second room tables into the main room to tell the cashier what they had to drink and ask for their bill.
A refreshing way to do business.