Outside, downtown Elko, Nevada, is in the throes of modern bustle. The main thoroughfare, Commercial Street, is a gauntlet of leather shops and antique stores and boutiques and coffee shops. An evening stroll along the sidewalk elicits a “howdy” from a stranger. In short, it’s the modern West; a town alive with growth and cash and a horizon of possibility.

But inside the Star Hotel, things have hardly changed since the place opened in 1910. The idea then was to provide refuge for Basque herders, many of whom journeyed to the American West in search of better fortunes. The Star offered lodging and food familiar to their isolated Spanish homeland, and still does. Though today, as the region’s premier Basque steakhouse, it provides refuge to pretty much anyone who seeks it.

A mounted steer, cougar and salmon greet you at the bar. White, spotted tablecloths and family-style seating await in the dining room. Every meal — whether you’re a party of eight or one — comes with Basque cabbage soup (please, please try the soup), sliced French bread, Basque beans, garbanzo beans, green beans, spaghetti in red sauce, a bowl of croutons and skillet frites.

Shalene Manning, Star Hotel server and kitchen manager, poses for a portrait holding baked lamb and an assortment of side dishes outside of the Star Hotel in Elko, Nev. | Kristin Murphy for the Deseret News

The steak, should you ask for it (and you should ask for it), arrives with a mound of sliced, sauteed garlic atop its flame-seared crust. In here, biting into a slab of salty, savory beef perfected over a century, there is no outside. There is no bustle. There’s a fork and knife, a meal and an immigrant story. 

The Star Hotel

246 W. Silver St.

Elko, Nevada