Oregon's Cowboy Dinner Tree

A restaurant near Silver Lake, popular since the 1870s, serves huge steaks and whole chickens.

Don Ramage of the Cowboy Dinner Tree near Silver Lake, Oregon, image

Portion control: Don Ramage of the Cowboy Dinner Tree hefts a sirloin.

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Like the restaurant’s famous sweet rolls, the Cowboy Dinner Tree, near Silver Lake, Ore., has more than one special ingredient. Some patrons come for the history: In the 1870s cowboys began stopping here for meals under the branches of a nearby juniper tree during twice-yearly cattle drives to Sycan Marsh. Others come for the friendly service and ambience in the artifact-filled dining room, or to beg for the sweet roll recipe.

But the biggest draw is the steaks. Owners Don and Connie Ramage designed a cut of top sirloin that weighs at least 26 ounces—over twice the heft of the largest sirloin at Outback Steakhouse. “When we told the butcher what we wanted, he said, ‘You’re really going to serve that in a restaurant?’ ” Don says. They do, as many as 300 portions on a busy summer weekend. And before the main course arrives—the other choice is a whole chicken—diners get Connie’s salad, soup, rolls, and a baked potato. “I expect at some point it won’t be as busy,” she says. “But people just keep coming back.” Reservations are required. (541) 576-2426, cowboydinnertree.homestead.com/main.html.

Photography by Don Frank

This article was first published in September 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

 

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