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Helena, Missoula, and Bozeman Montana

  • j

I will be visiting Helena, Missoula, and Bozeman Montana for a week next month. I am looking for suggestions for lunch and dinner. Any cuisine...all price ranges. It is my first visit to Montana so your suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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  1. Joan, I know you've had a hard time getting responses to your requests. Same thing happened to me last year before our trip, so I just started googling around "Montana". I found this site about Big Sky (Montana) bloggers--maybe try contacting some of them for more specifics about dining. Plus you'll learn a bit about Montana. (consider the fact that for that huge state, there's only one area code. For all telephones, faxes, computers, etc. Not a lot of folks up there!)

    I posted about our experiences but they were all in western Montana. (none in Missoula)

    Good luck!


    Link: http://bigskyblog.com/index.php?p=199

    1 Reply
    1. re: toodie jane

      Thanks...I appreciate your help. I will post when I return.

    2. You may also want to try the Pacific Northwest board, as I have sometimes seen reviews of Montana restaurants posted there.

      1. The Depot in Missoula is a favorite of ours! Great steaks and local trout. I am sure local beef! Nice dining experience.

        1. Be sure to drive over to Livingston from Bozeman (20 minute drive) for dinner at Russell Chatham's place. Ask anyone where it is...amazing food, and Russell is known to work the door sometimes! Also in Livingston, there's a hotel that has a new restaurant on the bottom floor...I'm blanking, but it's great!

          1. I do not have my travel notes or my guidebooks with me. However, there is an EXCELLENT old-fashioned soda fountain located in the downtown Helena area.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jlawrence01

              The soda fountain in Helena is the Parrot. It is a great, very old place. Actually a candy store with a soda fountain. Next door, or a couple of doors away, is a bar that serves great lunches and hamburgers. In MT, often the best food comes out of the old bars.

              Off Broadway in Helena is a good choice for dinner, as is the Windbag Saloon on The Gulch.

              In Bozeman, I wouldn't miss John Bozeman's Bistro, along with the other fine suggestions from this group. If you drive from Bozeman to Helena, be sure to stop at Wheat Montana.

              Missoula has so many fine places to eat I can't even start to list them.

            2. An interesting lunch choice (there's one in Helena and one in Missoula) is the Staggering Ox, where what they call sandwiches could just as easily be called salads in bread bowls -- they come in hollowed-out loaves in the shape of tin cans, the lettuce and cheeses are shredded, and there's a choice of sauces that might as well be dressings.

              In Bozeman, the "Roadhouse" branch of the MacKenzie River Pizza chain has a signature flank steak served with horseradish butter and blue cheese that I quite enjoyed.

              1. I forgot to recommend the Cateye Cafe in Bozeman for breakfast. It is open for other lunch and dinner, but I have only been for breakfast.

                1. See the post on this board about Bozeman and Missoula. Some good reviews on places. It was posted by Tripper.

                  1. I'm a native who lives outside MT now, but goes back. My suggestions for Bozeman may be a little dated...

                    First, Bozeman's a college town, so a lot of the best eats are geared towards that crowd. One of my favorites is the Mackenzie River Pizza chain, the original of which is in downtown Bozeman. Very decent "creative pies". The local favorite is Columbo's Pizza on College between 10th and 11th Streets -- they have red, white, pink and green. You might also try Pickle Barrel sandwhiches (College and 8th Street); I don't actually care for them, but they are a local legend. Very big with lots of fillings. There are also independent burrito places, a decent cajun place, etc., so you can eat fairly cheaply and well.

                    Second, the nicest spots for dinner in Bozeman are probably John Bozeman's Bistro and perhaps Boodles (though Boodles is priced very high). Downtown's Plonk is the most yuppie spot in Bozeman; it has a great wine selection and "small plates" -- tapas -- that are popular at places like LA's AOC and Seattle's Lark. It's currently my favorite place in town. You might also consider the "Mint" in downtown Belgrade -- 8 miles west of Bozeman. I've also heard the Gallatin Gateway Inn has made a resurgence and it's probably the nicest room in the area. Gallatin Gateway is about 15 miles to the southwest of Bozeman, but a very nice old railroad hotel.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: brownhound

                      I tell you what. If I visit Montana again, particularly NW Montana or Lincoln County, I would consider my time well spent to scour each little town for a soda shop. Ask for a huckleberry milkshake.

                      It's not usually why I look into Chowhound, but there isn't anything better than a freshly made huckleberry milkshake from Montana.

                      1. re: will bass

                        huckleberry lemonade Hamilton is pretty great, too
                        ditto huckleberry gelato in Kalispel

                        huckleberry pie, oh my, ANYwhere you can find it.

                      2. re: brownhound

                        Although I am from Upstate NY, I went to college at MSU-Bozeman in the early 1970's. Just by your post I can see things have changed a lot in 35+ years. But I am glad to see the Pickle Barrel is still around.Yes, the subs are HUGE, and at that time, they were very inexpensive, good for college folk. There was also a Montana-based pizza chain called "Little Big Men" named after the Dustin Hoffman movie. They made deliveries in these little VW dune buggies called the "Pizza Ponies". At that time, there were no McD's, or BK. There was a Big Boy in town, A Sambo's and a couple of small western-based pizza chains and that was about it. Bozeman is a great town, I hope you enjoy your trip.

                        1. re: mack184

                          Pickle Barrel hasn't changed much at all.

                          Little Big Men has been gone since, I'm speculating now, about 1990. It was killed off by Pizza Hut, Dominos and Godfathers. The Village Inn stuck around until it turned into a casino around 2005 or so.

                          I think Big Boy's still there, but Sambo's is, I believe, dead and buried.

                          I suspect there was an A&W you may have patronized at the corner of 11th and College. It's now a mini-mall with a Kinkos, coffee shop, etc.

                          1. re: mack184

                            ah unfortunately th elittle big man pizza has fallen by the wayside ;c(

                        2. I just have to chime in to say that Missoula is actually a real hotbed of grubshedding and there are several really excellent restaurants that pride themselves on using almost exclusively locally produced ingredients-- no small feat given the short Montana growing season! The Red Bird and Scotty's Table both serve delicious and special food; Bernice's Bakery and Le Petit Outre are two incredible local bakeries-- the first for treats like turnovers and bars, the second for artisan breads.
                          In any case, I had to add the thought that Montanans enjoy good food of many types-- it's not all about venison steaks and huckleberry shakes.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: missoulagrace

                            Well, perhaps for us folks who are visiting Montana from other parts of the country, maybe it is all about Venison Steaks and Huckleberry Shakes and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

                            I can get artisan breads and turnovers locally.

                          2. Joan:

                            In Bozeman try Plonk on Main Street also on Main John Bozeman's Bistro. In Belgrade t(8 miles west of Bozeman) The Mint Bar has great food.