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May 18, 2003 05:19 PM

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.
      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.
              los angeles

              3 Replies
              1. re: hormiga
                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'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.