Frontier Fare columnist Sherry Monahan has researched Old West restaurants for her books, most notably Taste of Tombstone. Every town had at least one restaurant, and meals were also served at boarding houses and saloons.
She says many frontier menus in the 1870s were limited to the basics and locally available fare. Meals consisted of meat, breads, syrup, eggs, potatoes, dried fruit pies, cakes, coffee and seasonal vegetables. And beef. Lots of beef, since cattle were plentiful.
By the 1880s, classic French food was all the rage, and restaurants were serving varieties of meats, fish and vegetables, sauces of all kind, fancy desserts, cheese and milk. The big trend was also oysters that were shipped in from the coast.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org