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A blog about food

Pioneer Saloon—Surviving the Test of Time

Mar 8, 2011 - 04:39 PM
Pioneer Saloon—Surviving the Test of Time

“Steakhouse.” The meaty word conjures up images of Outback, Ruth’s Chris and ummm… Sizzler. What do these three eating establishments have in common? Cities—all are located in cities. And chains—all of them are national restaurant chains. So how lucky are we to have the Pioneer Saloon as our local “steakhouse?” A one-of-a-kind restaurant in our one-of-a-kind, kind of town.

The Pioneer Saloon (located at 320 N. Main Street, Ketchum) has been serving up mouthwatering steaks since 1950, and has long been a dining and imbibing tradition for both locals and visitors alike. Its red leather booths, cocktail waitresses clad in denim skirts and cowboy boots, and classic menu seem to never change.

The “Pio” bar is one of my favorites. They know how to do ambience. Dim lights, warm wood surrounding you, and mounted game that seem to approve as you wash down those free chips and salsa with your third or fourth drink.

We dine on a Monday night. The bar is PACKED. But it’s the bartender’s 80th birthday, so it’s sure to be clear by 9pm (Zing!). We only wait 15 minutes or so for a table, despite the standing-room-only bar and head to our seats.

Idaho Trout is flaky and tasty at the Pio; Sirlon Steak with carmelized onions is mouth-watering.


I forget how friggin’ small the Pio’s kitchen is. We pass by it on our way to our table downstairs. This is one small kitchen. Like, tiny. It looks like room for only two people, and I’m guessing they better get a long preeeetty well. Nonetheless, they crank out some incredible food.
We arrive at our table and are seated next to the classic Pio patrons. Six guys with huge plates of prime rib, several holding their knives and forks like spears. I love it.

Mounted animal heads keep you company at the Pio bar.We quickly scan the menu, but each of us seems to have already made up our minds before we sit down—Sirloin Steak ($16.95) for our friend, Kevin, Idaho Trout ($18.95) for Peter and the Pioneer Sirloin Burger ($9.95) with sautéed mushrooms for me. Each dinner comes with a dinner salad that is not skimpy. Lots of lettuce, tomatoes and croutons topped with an excellent balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Shortly, our meals arrive and we are all pleased. My burger comes with rice or baked potato, and neither seemed too appealing to me with my burger, so I had my salad on the side and I was happy as could be. (Although the Idaho baked potatoes ($2.95 with dinner) are the size of hiking boots and can be dolled up with all the fixins' if you are feeling slim) Peter’s trout was flaky and tasty and Kevin’s sirloin was like butter. The only bummer was we all had a craving for the cobbler the Pio is famous for, and they had replaced it on the menu with a rootbeer float. Humph. Hopefully—hint, hint, nudge, nudge—they will bring the cobbler back soon!

We stayed for several hours talking and drinking and eating… and drinking… we couldn’t help but talk about how Ketchum has changed in the past 20 years. (Crap! We’ve become those people!) But one comfort for long time lovers of the Valley is that the Pio hasn’t changed a bit—(except for maybe the cobbler).



Pioneer Saloon on Urbanspoon




Sun Valley Magazine encourages its readers to post thoughtful and respectful comments on all of our online stories. Your comments may be edited for length and language.

Old to new | New to old
Mar 9, 2011 11:33 am
 Posted by  kailey.fowler

Great article, Julie! I don't eat a whole lot of meat, but it sounds delicious :)

Mar 9, 2011 02:32 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Kailey! You would LOVE the Idaho Trout. My photo doesn't do it justice at ALL. Maybe someday we can all eat there together!

Mar 9, 2011 05:07 pm
 Posted by  Boisemma

Hola mma: I think your depiction of the bio is well described and made me long for a piece of prime rib. Ahh the lure of the bloodfest! The Pioneer truly is a one-of-kind joint in a one-of-a-kind town. Thanks for doing it justice.
Yours Truly

Mar 10, 2011 05:52 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I remember the Pio, it was a lot of fun and good food, thanks for the reminder, another place we need to get back to soon. Yes, i'll have the trout please.

Mar 14, 2011 12:57 pm
 Posted by  rjwalton

Aww, the Pio ... and old favorite. Can't wait to visit again.

Mar 14, 2011 09:09 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

The cobbler is back!

Jun 28, 2011 06:55 pm
 Posted by  levimike

OH,OH,OH THE PIO! You just can't get a better Prime rib anywhere. Even if you went to Boise. Glad the Cobbler is back. Always had a great time at the PIO!

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From growing it, to preparing it, to enjoying it. Yum is all about our love affair with food.

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