Taylor, owner and chef of the Branding Iron, is a vivacious
redhead who stands just over five feet tall. Her petite
frame belies the exuberance and energy she radiates. You
just want to like her, and in getting to know her you realize
that you have every reason to do so. Susie is the type of
hostess you want to be invited by to come in, kick up your
feet and eat some of her good home cooking. Which is exactly
the sort of down-home, earthy charm and food the Branding
Susies father, Karl Tangren, originally came up with
the idea of opening a hamburger joint along the highway
thinking that travelers would enjoy a quick stop. He built
the establishment out of a double wide trailer, split in
the middle where an elevated ceiling and dance floor now
reside. The two additions that Susie eventually added on
obscure the restaurants modest trailer origins, but
if you look beyond the cute wood fence out front and the
side rooms inside, you can still make out the basic rectangular
didnt take over the Branding Iron right away. While
Karl was running the burger joint, a woman by the name of
Anna Williams made him an offer to buy the place. Susie
remembered the restaurant as a fun place to be, which galvanized
her into buying the place back in 1994. Having no real experience
in the restaurant business, she relied on her background
as a ranchers wife, cooking for upwards of twenty
people during the busy season. So, when the Branding Iron
claims to offer a real cowboys menu, you know youre
getting the authentic deal.
The difference between running a ranch and a restaurant,
however, seemed rather significant to Susie when she began.
She succinctly describes it by explaining, On the
ranch I was used to telling them when to eat and what they
were going to eat. Here, they tell me when and what.
She quickly adapted to the business and has been successfully
serving up her prime rib, home-made fry bread and taquitas,
among other specialties, for going on nine years.
unexpected aspect of this down-home cowboy restaurant is
the inclusion of karaoke. Eight years ago, Randy Stephens
offered to bring the equipment and run the karaoke system,
which takes place every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Participants with melodic voices can compete in the two
contests that occur every year over a series of weeks, slowly
eliminating singers until the best one wins.
But the real winners, in my opinion, are diners who order
the prime rib, the specialty of the house. The meal includes
salad, homemade fry bread, baked potato with generous dollops
of sour cream and a flavorful gravy. The Navajo tacos, homemade
chili and taquitas are other items Branding Iron customers
rave about. For diners with a less robust appetite, the
menus extensive offerings include a halibut dinner,
veggie burger, chicken breast salad and a young buckaroos
selection for the little people. Beer and wine coolers are
available for those in search of firewater,
as the menu lists them. Susie put together the menu herself,
inspired by foods she knew and liked to cook. When the menu
beckons you to Come taste the West, you know
you really will with Susie in the kitchen.
The authenticity and genuine goodness of the food is the
primary reason the Branding Iron enjoys such a loyal following
among locals in town. The restaurant stays open year-round
and Susie claims that she actually does better business
in the winter, an anomaly for Moab. As Susie puts it, We
are blessed with the regulars, and the appreciation
she and the staff feels seems genuine. On the night I interviewed
Susie, I was so taken with her warmth and comfort of the
restaurant that I invited my family to join me and eat there.
We were especially impressed with the hearty, personal greetings
the customers received when entering.
menu is affordable, with most entrees under $10, the ambiance
is rustically charming and the food is pleasing and plentiful.
If youre a regular and the Branding Iron has already
left its mark on you, I hope you recognize my description
of it. And if you havent tried it, there is no time
like a cold winter night in the valley to try this local
landmark and enjoy a little taste of the West.
The Branding Iron is located at 2971 South Highway 191,
just three miles south of Moab. The telephone number is
(435) 259-6275. They open at 10 a.m. every day of the week
and close at 10 p.m. on every day except Karaoke nights,
when they are open until 1 a.m. No credit cards accepted.