Candles glimmer on the marble bar as the late afternoon sunshine filters through huge, eastern-facing windows. Inside Teton Tiger – formerly The Indian – the staff prepares for another night of Indian and Asian-themed food and an onslaught of happy, satisfied customers. The smells of bright, fresh citrus and warm spices drift from the kitchen: promises of bold and satisfying flavors.
Ryan Haworth, owner and visionary behind Teton Tiger, says the rebranding of The Indian came after much reflecting with his wife and chef, Sununta, whose mother was involved with the very first Thai restaurant in Jackson.
“We felt that we needed a name that better suits our dynamic, eclectic menu. We offer so much more than just Indian food, and it’s exciting to cook, assemble and taste these dishes. We know we’ve got it right when they transport us to the place where we ate them for the first time.”
Just celebrating its second birthday this month, it’s clear that so far, Teton Tiger has cultivated quite a faithful following. Featuring crowd favorites like crispy pappadom and garlicky naan baskets, Teton Tiger also broadens beyond what’s expected of it. Kimchi noodle soup, bison pho, and panang curry with seared ahi or pork belly dot the menu, filling in gaps between classics such as lamb vindaloo and chicken tikka masala.
Always listen closely to the Rambler, or chef’s special, and enjoy what chef Mike Kitami, whose parents started the first sushi restaurant in town (Masa Sushi), is whipping up in the kitchen. In recent weeks, it’s been an unagi-don (Japanese style, charcoal-grilled eel bowl), Szechuan beef, and a cumin-coriander Thai fried chicken with spicy house-made salsa.
“It’s been really cool to see Sununta and Mike collaborating. Together they have created some dishes that we are all very proud of,” says Haworth.
In addition to the rotating dinner specials, bartenders stir up new drink concoctions nightly. All cocktails feature exotic whiffs of a faraway land: almond milk, cardamom, Falernum almond syrup, and cinnamon sprinkle the menu with a different twist on classic libations.
One of the shining stars, however, perhaps for its simplicity and for its dependability, is the Cavalry Gin and Tonic. The gin, infused for days with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf, mixes smoothly with tonic and lime for a botanical taste on the classic. Initially popularized by the British East India Company, the gin and tonic was originally developed as a way to disguise quinine in tonic, thought to relieve malaria. A couple of hundred years later, the drink is still praised for its cool, effervescent qualities – especially complimentary to the rich spices of traditional Indian cuisine. Here, the surprising twist of lemongrass and kaffir lends an exotic and pleasantly curious twist on the tried-and-true classic. With spring on the breeze in Jackson Hole, it’s impossible to sip this refreshing blend without dreaming of summer days to come.
Teton Tiger’s unique vibe – dark, wood-paneled, masculine, yet cozy – makes you want to forget the world outside for a bit. Prepare to relax and stay a while – order a second cocktail, savor the impeccably prepared mussels and prawns, get a second basket of naan to soak up the last drop of the murgh makhani. From the deep recesses of a cushy leather booth, it’s easy to lose track of time and place and to allow the dining experience become completely sensory.
In the weeks to come, look for more exciting culinary changes to Teton Tiger’s menu, featuring new highlights such as Chinese lettuce wraps and Korean pork ribs with house-made kimchi. Whether you’re swinging by for a signature cocktail at happy hour, or looking to refuel after a day of adventure, Teton Tiger won’t let you down.
Images © Taylor Glenn