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Good Eating in Billings, MT?

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I might be moving to Billings, MT in the near future. I am originally from NYC, and kind of nervous about the chow options in Billings. Based on all of the research that I've been doing, the pickings look really slim. I did a search on Chowhound already, and the most recent posting that came up was from 2000. So, with that said, can anyone tell me of the eatings in the area? I am a vegetarian, so my hopes are really not all that high. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. Also, what kind of supermarkets, health food stores, gourmet groceries, ethnic groceries are in the area? Thanks!

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  1. Its been a while, but one the best restaurants I've kown is in Butte...the Uptown Cafe (they have a web page). Really good. Its a nice drive from Billings, and you can see the copper mines.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Jim H.
      m
      Ms. Cynthia A Siragusa

      I too haved just moved from NYC to Rapid City, South freakin' Dakota, where I cannot even find Italian flat leaf parsley! Not to mention pancetta and sage. There is ONE excellent Italian restaurant, BOTTICELLI'S downtown, but alas it features Northern Italian cuisine and I am half Sicilian. Any tips on restaurants and food shopping out this way is much appreciated.

      1. re: Ms. Cynthia A Siragusa

        Hi' My name is Ron I'm in Billings Montana. Flat leaf parsley is very hard to find in SD. Mainly because of the short summer season there.
        Not to many people grow flat leaf parsley because it is hard. I do grow it where I'm at with many other types of herbs.

        1. re: Ms. Cynthia A Siragusa

          It is very seasonal to find fresh flat leaf parsley to. I'm not sure about there but here in Billings Montana there is a health food place that sells it.
          To grow it you need at least a 12" pot and lots of seeds. Main thing it not to much water.

        2. re: Jim H.

          Butte is a long drive from Billings...but a nice one indeed. You better love driving if you move to Montana. I lived in Billings for many years..but that was 20 years ago. I have eaten at Jakes downtown (when I visit relatives) but it is a steak spot. I'll check with my very healthy neice who lives there and get back to ya!

          1. re: Jim H.

            My husband spent the night in Butte in route from Mineapolis to Seattle. We ate at the Uptown Cafe. Excellent 3 course gourmet meal, white linens, excellent service and excellent presentation and excellent taste. We would highly recommend this resturant.
            Liz B

            1. re: Jim H.

              I move from the tennessee to Billings Montana, I cant find much of anything that I like here, Pretty boring Place, Been here 2 years now, resturants are far and few between, Not meaning that there arent a lot of places to eat here, just that if u want it , then you better stay where you are, I found that it helps to complain, like by e-mail to your local food stores if they dont have an item you are looking for, , And complain I have done. Resturants and fast food , that they dont have, Butchers Block, Ryans, Captain Ds, Long Johns, , They have plenty of bars , small though they are, they list goes on,. They do have GNC and ethic products in the Stores, Stores include, Albertsons , Wal Mart, two more I have seen ,but cant think of their names, Here if you want something more then likly they want have it , buy what they have or order it, is the only two choices you have, drives me nuts.

            2. Wow, good luck there. First trick: lower the expectations. More.
               
              There are a couple of ok, high-end places downtown which will be easy to find. Down on Montana Ave and about 1st Avenue north are a couple of lunch places--McCorMack Cafe and The Beanery, where I usually go when I arrive at the airport. Unremarkable food, but the atmosphere at both is good for recallibrating to Billings-time. Down the street is the Club Carlin, an... interesting... bar with an occasional good show.
               
              Both of the places in town which I'd say are particularly good are Mexican: El Burrito Cafeteria next to the new federal building downtown (it's been there forever and has gorgeous rich tortillas), and Torres', which is on the frontage road just west of the Holiday Inn and the waterslide.
               
              The Muzzle Loader was basically the only restaurant in town when my parents got there decades ago--a really, really good place to drink Miller lite (and keep it Miller--that's who buys the farmers' barley). Going to dinner there can be intriguing if you use your imagination.
               
              In Laurel, I really like a Chinese place just north of the railroad tracks and 3 blocks west of the 1-block-square "downtown". Open Christmas eve.
               
              In Red Lodge, Bogart's. Because of the Ceiling. And because you want to avoid the Bridge Creek. Up the valley from there is the Old Piney Dell. *Very* good local fish hauled out of some beartooth lake daily. Make reservations by the back window any mild summer night.
               
              In Fishtail, the Cowboy Bar.
               
              There is Bonanza healthfoods, a very old-school kind of a place, on grand ave. And there is a farmers' market downtown on the weekends where I hear people from the Hudderite community bring organic vegetables. And land is cheap and fertile, if you want to farm your own (beyond the drafts of the many, many crop-dusters). Other than that, you're screwed in the grocery area until and unless you can make peace with Safeway.
               
              Be brave; it does have its charms.
               
              A
              los angeles

              3 Replies
              1. re: hormiga
                r
                Red Lodge Res

                In response to Red lodge choices. Piney Dell? The serice and food are to inconsistent to count on. Depends on the Day. Bridge Creek has its merit. Bogarts, consistently some of the worst food in town. OK atmosphere, but don't have any real expectations.

                1. re: hormiga

                  If you want any type of authentic mexican Guadalajara's is really the best, and Bogart is ok if you only want pizza. Breakfast at McCorMack Cafe is really good and they make crepes (fresh), you have to get there before 10 though due to it is a small kitchen and the space they use for crepes is where they make the soups for lunch. I really like their falafles (spelling may be off). And Fours Seas is good chinese, my daughter loves the potstickers. they have an excellent lunch and dinner buffet.

                  1. re: hormiga

                    i was looking forward to El burrito Cafeteria - i had heard from a few other people that it was good but it has closed! and has turned into a sarah mex place - did not try it. instead we ate at Jakes- good steaks and also good homemade potato chips.

                  2. Just had dinner at Jake's Restaurant in Billlings. Atmosphere is upscale. Wine and beer choices are excellent. Our table had a varieety of salads, steak, prime rib, rack of ribs and duck. All excellent. Beef came out as ordered. Side dishes all nicely presented and abundant. The place is noisey because of poor acoustics - tin ceiling and hard walls. The waitresses were all rushed. Overall meal very good for the price.

                    1. Well, if you were moving to Missoula, Bozeman, or Helena..you'd be in luck re: vegetarian fare. Josephines Bed and Breakfast in Billings boasts of serving vegetarian food. You might write to them and ask where they buy their food..or if there is a vegetarian society there. Also, VegSource has a message board.

                      The following places should offer some vegetarian plates: The Athenian on N. 29th, Enzo Mediterranean Bistro, and Four Seas Chinese on Grand Ave and Hong Kong Cafe as well.

                      I loved living in Montana and Wyoming...such beauty in that area. If you are not into scenery, hiking, skiing, etc., you best stay in the "big city". Billings is the largest city in Montana..but not as infiltrated by those of the vegetarian slant- as yet. We used to go to the Huterite farms and pick our own produce. I know they do not use pesticides, so if you can get their produce...fantastic!

                      1. I just got an email back from Bobbi at Jospephines B&B (they offer vegetarian menu's). Here are her favorites in Billings for vegetarian options...and just other great recs!

                        The Athenian (run by a nice Greek family)
                        Walkers Grill (tapas)
                        Julianos (Mr. Kurakawa has vegan/veggie items)
                        Sweet Ginger for Thai
                        Thai Orchard (tofu and vegetarian dishes)

                        Mongolian Grill and HuHut Grill...grilled as you watch.

                        Good Earth Market
                        Bonanza Health Food Store (used to go there with mom..great store!)
                        Mary's Health Food

                        and she likes the Albertsons at 511 Central for organic items.

                        Hope this helps! Best of Luck.

                        Melly www.sacramentofoodgroup.org

                        1. Just went to Billings, and agree that it's slim pickings. I think Walker's Grill will make you feel at home. Good food in a modern setting. Nice bar. Friendly people.

                          1. I live in Bozeman, and I agree with Melly, you want to love the outdoors here. It's amazing. My husband and I moved back from Seattle and realized early on that there is a tradeoff as far as restaurants/mountains are concerned. We've also gotten better at cooking ethnic meals at home.

                            My main reason for posting is to say that I think Bridge Creek in Red Lodge is wonderful. We used to drive there (2 hours) about once a month to eat there, then drive back. We have a 2 year old and a 3 year old now and haven't gone recently. I hope they haven't lost their knack for interesting and chowish dishes. I say go down and give it a try sometime. There are few places in the state with such a great wine selection.

                            And, if you ever make it to Bozeman, I'd say try Plonk and La Tinga, both on Main. Enjoy MT!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: hungrymom

                              the blueberry brunches are excellent.

                              1. re: darmom59

                                Jelo- can't seem to say organic and Billings can be written in the same sentence. Granted Farmer's Market is due to start up in a couple weeks and having only lived here 5 months myself find it hard to buy in an international or organic manner. They do have a World Market, but that is mainly staples, not fresh produce and meats. Bozeman has a great orgainic Co Op.

                            2. Hey, this is my first post to anything ever... My husband and I are maybe moving to Billings from the New Orleans area in coming weeks, and I'm wondering about the availablity of organic and specialty groceries (including inernational stuff), as well as what the farmer's markets are like. We have two little kids, so restaurants interest us less. Thanks!

                              1 Reply
                              1. Walker's Grill downtown is a great spot to eat. Their key lime martinis are excellent!! McCormick's is also really great for lunch. A good greek place is the Athenian downtown. But, the atmosphere isn't great. Basically stick to downtown and you will be safe! As for Red Lodge, Bridge Creek is really good and worth the scenic 1 hour trip. For organic food, Good Earth Market downtown has the best produce and meat. It is more expensive than Montana Harvest (on Grand), so I go to Montana Harvest for everything else. Good Earth Market also has good lunches. A fun wine shop is also on Grand, called City Vineyard. Hope this helped!

                                1. + 1 for the suggestions for Walker's Grill. They had the best martini in town when I was there a year ago - and overall, the most interesting food.

                                  The Carlin can be very amusing for a night out! And don't forget to go shopping at Lou Taubert's - the Billings branch of this Wyoming retailer of Western wear is kitted out in high-plains kitcsch. It's good fun, and their merchandise is always top-notch, if you're looking for boots and britches.

                                  -----
                                  Walker's Grill
                                  Billings, MT, Billings, MT

                                  1. What type of places you like to go to? What kind of food you like?
                                    you said you are vegetarian, yes, you can go to many places and eat what you want.
                                    Depend on the food you like and flaver, do you have alergies?
                                    Please mail me back.

                                    1. This post looks awfully old, but if you (or anyone else on here) is still around the area and interested, I have about 1,400lbs of Belgian Blue beef for sale.
                                      From Roberts MT, processed by a federally certified packer, vaccum sealed, young animals, and fresh.
                                      I have everything priced competitively below Certified Piedmontese as they are the closest comparable for this breed, as well as competitively priced with other local farm-to-table producers.
                                      If you're not familiar with Belgian Blues, they are an extremely lean and muscular breed known for their "double muscling" characteristics which simply means they have more muscle fibers than other breeds, not bigger muscle fibers; the butcher said they were some of the most tender animals they have seen.
                                      I am available for delivery accomodations as well.
                                      If you're interested, feel free to contact me at colterjames@live.com