Big Bear residents have long known about Wyatt’s Grill and Saloon at the Convention Center, for years open only on Wednesdays before Fridays were finally added and now Saturdays. It’s a local favorite for all the above reasons and more: huge portions at minuscule prices, family-friendly with stuff for kids to do, full bar service, great patio in summer under the pine trees with awesome outdoor stage.
Visitors who only know the Convention Center for hosting the annual Big Bear Oktoberfest are getting to know its restaurant side. Wyatt’s expanded its schedule to include Friday and Saturdays nights too, usually featuring live bands, so weekenders are finding out what locals have known for years.
The decor is pure Wild West, a virtual frontier town with intricately-designed facades depicting church, Marshal’s office, hotel, and more. Wyatt’s saloon fits right in as a place to whet the whistle and fill the belly, with a menu that’s always evolving with what owner Monica Marini calls “Comfort food with attitude.”
Pulled pork has been a staple for years, slow smoked for three to four hours in the morning to make sure it’s fork tender at night. Now it is slated to take a hiatus through the winter from the menu, set to return in summer. In turn Wyatt’s is introducing “killer” clam chowder, joining a menu packed with oversized burgers, chicken sandwiches, more.
Signature burgers at Wyatt’s are something to behold. Like the 50-50, a specially created burger that’s half Angus beef, half applewood smoked bacon, topped with cheese for $10.25. Then there’s Manny’s Southwest charro burger, with guacamole, pepper jack, jalapenos if you want them, served with handful of chips and homemade pico de gallo for $9.45.
Smoking Gun meanwhile sees Angus beef patty topped with pulled pork, coleslaw, onion rings and two slices of pepperjack. It takes a skewer to hold the sandwich together as it stacks up several inches high. Not just the usual one or two onion rings either but several.
And that’s not even the biggest burger at Wyatt’s! That honor belongs to Doc’s Double Barrel, featuring not one but two of those Angus patties, still with bacon, onion rings, etc. Check out the chipotle jalapeno burger for $8.99 topped with zippy homemade aioli. For tamer appetites there’s regular burgers with bacon, Swiss, mushrooms and such, still oversized and served with fries or salad.
Massive Cowboy cheese steak and half-pound marinated chicken sandwiches are other highlights along with street tacos with fish, beef, chicken or pork Chicken by the platter or kabob is drenched in Wyatt’s own Good Courage Ranch sauces like sweet or orange jalapeno.
There’s always entertainment and never a cover at Wyatt’s, Big Bear’s country dancing hot spot Wednesdays with DJ Evan and some weekend dates. Fridays and Saturdays typically feature live music at Wyatt’s with terrific talent.
Street Music Band is a regular, including Jan. 26, with longtime Big Bear musicians Steve Johnson, Terry Copley and Tom Burton. Southern Spirit is another, a favorite on the outdoor Wyatt’s Stage during Oktoberfest and indoors on Jan. 12-13.
The rest of the month’s lineup includes Born Country on Jan. 5, The Working Poets on Jan. 19, and Revelator with Terry McRaven on Jan. 27. Others occasionally performing at Wyatt’s include guitarist Duke Michaels and his wife Peggy Baldwin, the latter a worldclass cello player who has played with Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne, Yanni and others and has a host of television credits including a recent performance on The Voice.
Wyatt’s is at the Convention Center at Big Bear Lake on the boulevard at Division. (909) 585-3000.