Montana from The Best Food and Drink in Montana for 2018 Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Montana for 2018 Gallery
From Kalispell to Billings, Montana is full of delicious dishes, many of them inspired by nature. To celebrate all the great food and drink that our country’s 41st state has to offer, we’ve rounded up 14 of Montana’s claims to culinary fame as part of our first annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
Big Sky Country offers more than just breathtaking wilderness: Its natural bounty includes huckleberries, chokecherries, trout, bison, and some of the finest beef in the country. Montana is tops in the nation for pulse crop production, including lentils, peas, and chickpeas. Lentils are the star of such dishes as the lentil-mushroom pate at Claudia’s Mesa, a boutique food emporium in Bozeman. If you find yourself in Lewiston, try the state’s famous beef by sampling a Wagon Wheel. It’s a burger placed in between two pieces of toasted bread that’s been crimped and sealed along the edge. People go crazy for them at the Dash Inn, especially when washed down with a Hot-n-Tot (Coke spiked with a homemade cinnamon syrup).
Photo by L J. via Yelp
Best Bar: Charlie B’s, Missoula
Charlie’s Bar (aka Charlie B’s) is a dive that has been around for decades. With a bar that runs down the entire space, a pool table, and a small-town vibe, even out-of-towners will feel welcome at the cash-only establishment that caters to everyone from college students to retirees. (This same lack of pretension led us to also name Charlie B’s the best dive bar in the state for 2017.) The back room, the Dinosaur Café, serves burgers and Cajun and Creole cuisine that’s absolutely worth trying.
Courtesy of Big Sky Brewing Company
Best Beer: Big Sky Brewing Company’s Ivan the Terrible
Big Sky Brewing Company’s Ivan the Terrible is a thick, dense Russian imperial stout, but don’t think that means it’s difficult to drink. It’s surprisingly easy sipping. Brewed in the traditional style using English hops and American malts, this brew tastes of dried fruit, roasted cocoa, and bourbon.
Chau P. via Yelp
Best Chinese Restaurant: China Garden, Missoula
A Missoula staple since 1983, China Garden is a beloved neighborhood standby for its wide variety of Americanized Cantonese and Szechuan dishes and comfortable, modern dining room. House lo mein, Szechuan beef, shrimp fried rice, fried prawns, moo shu barbecue pork, and Hong Kong-style chow mein are all favorites, and all dishes are made with fresh and high-quality ingredients.
Christi V. via Yelp
Best Cupcakes: Bernice’s Bakery, Missoula
A Missoula landmark, Bernice's Bakery has been around since 1978. Its baking philosophy is centered on providing quality food at reasonable prices and striving to build community through friendly service and sustainable environmental practices. At least eight cupcake flavors are kept in rotation at all times, ranging from traditional vanilla and chocolate to the more eclectic pancakes and bacon. Want a Montana cupcake adventure? Ask for the chocolate cherry Coke.
Best Doughnut: Granny’s Gourmet Donuts, Bozeman
P G. via Yelp
Best Grocery Store: Community Food Co-op, Bozeman
Community Food Co-op is a local, independent grocery store with two locations in Bozeman. As their website says, they “offer local, organic produce and meat, deli prepared meals, artisan bread, organic non-GMO groceries, hard to find ingredients, natural supplements and body care, and much more.” Locals say it’s “the best place to get a variety of bulk items and a pretty good selection of local produce, bread, and local and regional meats. It's small, but a great place to shop. I really don't go anywhere else for groceries in Bozeman.”
Best Italian Restaurant: Lucca’s, Helena
Lucca’s is a high-end Helena hotspot that’s been named the best restaurant in Montana by Business Insider. And with good reason: Chef-owner Frederick Stout has created a supremely elegant dining room serving expertly prepared dishes using the freshest ingredients possible. Don’t miss the shrimp fra diavolo (not coincidentally The Daily Meal’s choice for best pasta dish in the state): angel hair pasta with big shrimp, fresh grape tomatoes, and spicy cream sauce.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Taco Del Sol, Missoula
There’s nothing like a great taco to stop you dead in your tracks in the middle of Missoula, Montana. But that’s exactly what you’ll find at Taco Del Sol, which has a handful of locations in town and additional outposts throughout the state. Modern and inviting, this Mission-inspired taquería has been going strong since 1997, serving tacos in soft flour, soft corn, and crispy corn shells. Though the pulled pork and grilled steak tacos are great, it’s the fish taco (baked Alaskan cod, beans, shredded cheese, fresh salsa, shredded cabbage, white sauce, hot sauce, and jalapeños) that’s a symphony of deliciousness, and our choice for the best taco in the state.
Most Expensive Restaurant: Ten, Billings
This white-tablecloth restaurant, located in the Northern Hotel, is a destination for locals with some cash to burn. Chef Nick Steen’s menu puts local ingredients to good use in dishes like Montana-raised veal porterhouse with pesto couscous, sun-dried tomato cream, artichoke hearts, fried onion, and bourbon barrel-aged sherry vinegar, but you’ll want to wait for a special occasion to dine there; a tomahawk rib-eye costs $65, a Kobe rib-eye costs $51, and salmon costs $32.
Yelp/ Rob R.
Best Pizza: Eugene’s, Glasgow
Founded by Eugene Barger in 1962 and sold to Arlie and Mary Sue Knodel in 1967, Eugene’s is today run by the Knodel’s two sons, Jeff and Sam. To give you an idea of how popular Eugene’s is, they sell a full line of branded merchandise, they’ll ship half-cooked frozen pies anywhere in the country, and they go through an average of 1,333 pounds of cheese per month. You can choose from one of their “Time Proven Combinations” (Arlie’s Special, with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, and homemade sausage, is a popular favorite) or take your pick from 22 different toppings, including hot or cold tomatoes, sauerkraut, and even mandarin oranges.
Best Sandwich: Pork Chop John’s Sandwich Shop, Butte: Pork Chop
Pork Chop John’s has two Butte locations, and as you might have suspected, pork chops are the specialty here. Pork chop sandwiches, in particular: A lean slice of boneless pork loin is pounded, dunked in a corn meal batter, and then fried, put in a bun, and topped with mustard, pickle, and onion. It’s been done the same way since John Burklund first started serving them from the back of a wagon in 1924, and it’s sandwich perfection.
Yelp/ Spencer D.
Best Soup: The Garage Soup Shack & Mesquite Grill, Bozeman: Tomato Basil
Reminiscent of a 1950s-style mechanic’s garage, The Garage is a great spot for a hearty meal and a big bowl of soup. The restaurant boasts a soup bar, where six kinds of soup are available for the taking — pork chili verde, clam chowder, chicken soup, tomato basil, and two daily specials. Go for the tomato basil; it’s super rich and creamy, and about as comforting as a bowl of soup can get.
Best Steakhouse: Jake’s, Billings
Since 1979, Jake’s has firmly held onto its reputation as the state’s finest steakhouse, with a “cowboy chic” atmosphere and steaks that are sourced locally and cooked perfectly. Their prime rib (the house specialty) is the stuff of legend, slow roasted and served with horseradish and jus, but you also can’t go wrong with 16-ounce rib-eye (dusted with house seasoning), 14-ounce center-cut New York strip, or 8-ounce baseball cut top sirloin. Their Big Montana Steak Salad is another top seller, and make sure you start with their hot Dungeness crab dip. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2018.