Northwestern Montana Trip
Hi ! I am happy to recommend some of my favorite eats in my hometown and favorite place, Missoula.
All the places I would recommend are in the downtown area-- I dont know where you'll be staying, but if you can stay in the downtown area (instead of out on the "strip" where most of the chain hotels are) you'll have a better experience of Missoula, because you can stroll around on the beautiful summer evenings.
Two great bakeries are located on the south side of the river: Bernice's, on 3rd street, great fo cookies, bars, and strong coffee; and Le Petit Outre, on 4th, for awesome baguettes, artisan breads, and french-ish pastries. (The bread makes out-of-town visitors take a second look at this little town.)
Just around the corner from Le Petit, on 5th, is Big Dipper Ice Cream, homemade flavors like yellow cake, blueberry corn bread, bacon brittle, mexican chocolate, huckleberry, etc.
My two favorite 'special' restaurants are 1) the Red Bird (which has a fine dining room and a casual-upscale wine bar.) The menu varies seasonally but is ALWAYS creative and delicious. The chefs house-cure their own meats and use local ingredients whenever possible.
2) Scotty's Table, located in the historic Wilma theatre and hotel (it's not a hotel any more, though.) Yummy delicious food and a great staff. When my son was 2 weeks overdue, everyone recommended that I order the Pasta d'Abruzzi (spicy, hearty red sauce with house sausage) -- it has a reputation for "getting things going". It didn't, but it sure was good!
The Catalyst is my favorite spot for lunch -- fresh, homemade soups and salads served with bread and butter-- and is also the unofficial home of Missoula's gay and lesbian community. (They also make a great breakfast burrito.)
Great pub food also abounds in Missoula, and I recommend the food at the Iron Horse (including sweet potato fries with chipotle ketchup--Mmm.) or Sean Kelly's (don't be put off by the chesy motto--'where the gaelic meets the garlic"-- the food IS actually very good!) . My favorite, though, is the Dinosaur Cafe, located in Charlie B's . Charlies doesn't have a sign, but ask anybody and they'll point it out to you. If you're opposed to eating in a bar, (smoking is still allowed there, though not in most places) maybe pass on it, but I love the place, as doe most everyone who has made Missoula their home-- the walls are lined with large close-up photos of Charlies' patrons from eras gone by and the place doesn't HAVE character, it IS character. And in the back, the tiny Dino cafe makes hot sandwiches, gumbo, etouffe's, creoles, and daily specials that are good and priced well.
If you happen to be in town on a Saturday AM or Tuesday evening, two great farmers markets take place at either end of Higgins Ave (the main downtown street).
Have a great trip and enjoy Montana!
Thanks Missoulagrace. What a great post.
We're only going to be in Missoula two nights so the hard part is going to be deciding which of your favorites to try. Do you know which places are closed Sundays and Mondays? Also, where would we get the best cup of coffee in the morning? Thanks again for taking the time to post such a thorough list of recommendations.