Top 10 Must-Have Montana Meals

Don’t tell me what a place is like—just show me the food.

Good food reveals a lot about any destination and nowhere is that more true than good ol’ Montana.

Driving from the top of the state down to its southernmost corner, I discovered Montana’s wintertime cuisine has as much heart as the sky is big. After eating so well on my journey across the Treasure State, I compiled my own list of culinary treasures below. (Given that my sample size was limited to a mere 10 days, you are most welcome to leave other nominations in the comments.)

. . . and if it seems to you that all these things involve meat and sugar, well . . . it’s Montana, people.

My Top Ten Must-Have Montana Meals (in no particular order):

  1. Huckleberry Macaroons, Polebridge Mercantile, Polebridge, Montana (Worth that extra drive north!)
  2. Bison Meatballs, Haskill Station, Whitefish, Montana (Labelled an appetizer but a solid meal)
  3. Breakfast frittatta, Hidden Moose Lodge, Whitefish, Montana (Best breakfast in the state, hands down)
  4. Steak and Potato Pasty, Joe’s Pasty Shop, Butte, Montana (Miner’s delight–get it with gravy!)
  5. Lifty Dog, Yeti Hot Dogs, Big Sky, Montana (Two words: cheese and bacon)
  6. Elk Burger, Slippery Otter Pub, West Yellowstone, Montana (I love this place & their menu)
  7. Bison Potstickers, Montana Ale Works, Bozeman, Montana (Also try the parmesan pepper fries!)
  8. Rancher’s Pizza, Mackenzie River Pizza Co, Butte, Montana (Western-style pizza extraordinaire)
  9. Buckwheat pancakes, Running Bear Pancake House, West Yellowstone, Montana (Read here)
  10. Sleigh Ride Dinner, Lone Mountain Ranch, Montana (The best way to eat steak in winter)

Comments

  1. Katrina
    Thompson Falls, Montana
    February 3, 2013, 5:26 pm

    While in Butte, you missed out on the Pekin – 100 year old Chinese restaurant still ran by the same family, Pork Chop John’s delux, the wop chop at Muz and Stans, the best burger and fries ever at Matt’s and Lydia’s homemade raviolis…yes, you missed out on a whole buffet of history served with a side of ‘yous guys’.

  2. Thomas
    United States
    February 3, 2013, 10:50 pm

    While in the Flathead you missed The Echo Lake Cafe near Bigfork. Voted by the valley as having the “Best Breakfast” in the Flathead many years in a row.

  3. Donna Hull
    http://myitchytravelfeet.com
    February 4, 2013, 10:47 am

    Do you like pancakes, Andrew? The next time you’re in Montana, I’ll take you for breakfast in the Bitterroot (valley) for pancakes that will literally melt in your mouth at Memories Cafe in Corvallis.

  4. Acer Liquid C1 GPS
    Australia
    February 4, 2013, 9:13 pm

    When visiting a place or country for the first time, you really want to eat and experience how they foods are. Right? You want to know what makes it so special and delicious and if you could copy and have one in your home. http://www.backcountrynavigator.com/

  5. Jim
    Texas
    February 7, 2013, 1:18 am

    You never had a burger at the “bull dog” in whitefish MT.
    You have not lived.

  6. Corinne
    Schweinfurt, Germany
    February 8, 2013, 12:52 pm

    I go to Montana often…I’ll have to try these on my next trip! Great ideas.

  7. David
    Minnesota
    April 2, 2013, 7:09 pm

    Sushi fans owe it to themselves to stop at Wasabi in Whitefish; for a decadent sampler, try the Tokyo platter.

  8. Jacki Schonbachler
    Missoula, MT
    August 7, 2013, 5:39 pm

    Andrew, come to Missoula and experience a Mo Burger at the Mo Club or even at the Oxford.

    • Andrew Evans
      August 8, 2013, 4:43 am

      Added to my “must-eat” list. Thank you! AE

  9. Nico
    In the woods of the North Fork.
    August 11, 2013, 11:08 am

    The Huckleberry Macaroons from pole bridge are really good but have you had their Huckleberry bar? It Takes a gallon of huckleberry juice to make a sheet of it so they don’t make it everyday and when they do its limited so you have to get there early. If they have them, buy a few; you’ll thank me.

  10. Mike Fantasia
    Libby, Montana
    August 19, 2013, 5:50 pm

    I’ve had some of your top ten, all good choices! But the best is a 2″ steak cooked over coals in my fire pit, 12 miles east of Libby, Montana.

  11. Lindsey J.
    North Dakota
    September 21, 2013, 10:46 pm

    The huckleberry macaroons from Polebridge were the best sweets I’ve ever tasted. To call them cookies doesn’t do them justice. For a place like Polebridge which is off the grid and (almost!) off the map, they are *definitely* worth the drive. Although my mother was partial to their Bear Claws…

  12. Karen Hanssen
    United States
    May 29, 2014, 3:18 pm

    One of my favorites is the Stockyard Cafe in Bozeman. Wonderful breakfast place if you can find it!!

  13. Ashley S.
    Montana
    January 29, 2015, 5:05 pm

    Also come to the Bitterroot Valley, where at Naps they have the best burgers! And Second Street Sushi in Hamilton is also amazing.

  14. Shane H Molendyk
    Belgrade, MT
    December 22, 2015, 9:27 pm

    You guys have failed epically…you don’t know food until you have tried the ribs at the Willow Creek Cafe and Saloon. Literally can’t beat them!

  15. Sam Beeber
    Glendive, MT
    December 22, 2015, 9:53 pm

    You missed out on a lot of Eastern Montana, About 20 miles from where I live in Wibaux, MT, the Shamrock Club which is a bar and grille has an amazing burger called the Shamrock burger. Double half pound burger, but it is so amazing.

  16. Tina
    Huson, Mt
    December 22, 2015, 10:02 pm

    Naps in Hamilton, Mt has the biggest, messiest burgers

  17. Josie
    Butte, MT
    December 22, 2015, 10:27 pm

    Joe’s Pastys is good, but Mackenzie River Pizza Co is a chain! And they’re newcomers in Butte! WTHey? They’re not local! For local, Montana goodness in Butte, you need to go to Pork Chop John’s!

    And for an original Missoula taste, you need to go to one of the Hoagieville locations and try something with their special sauce and mushrooms!

  18. Melissa
    bozeman, mt
    December 22, 2015, 10:58 pm

    oh man, left out so many!! Montana Teds in bozeman has the best bison burgers, willow creek bar in willow creek has the best ribs, oasis in Manhattan has the best prime rib (and everything else) , pork chop johns in butte has the best pork chop sandwiches and wings, and last but not least, original pickle barrel on college in bozeman has the best cheese steaks in the world. And the turkey sandwich is the best ever too:) so so many left out!!!

  19. John Cole
    United States
    December 22, 2015, 10:58 pm

    This guy obviously does not get out much. Naps Hamilton, Montana Club Missoula, Spice of Life Hamilton, Catered Table Stevensville, Finn and Porter Missoula

  20. John Cole
    United States
    December 22, 2015, 11:01 pm

    I forgot the Wild Mare Corvallis

  21. Holly Seaton
    Winter Garden, FL
    December 22, 2015, 11:24 pm

    Having grown up in Great Falls, I feel it’s important to mention Howard’s Pizza for their ‘Special’, Borrie’s for their pasta and sauce, Taco Treat for… Anything and an after-cocktail at the Sip ‘N Dip Lounge to watch the mermaids. After all, if a lounge in Great Falls gets written up in GQ Magazine, you have to check it out!

  22. Samantha Finley
    Pablo, MT
    December 23, 2015, 12:58 am

    Two things.

    Hazel Burger Basket at Lynns in Ronan, MT and

    Ribs at Cherries BBQ in Polson, MT

    Both are to die for and I fully intend to feed them to my love so that he gets addicted to Montana and never wants to leave.

  23. Bri
    Bigfork, MT
    December 23, 2015, 10:11 am

    Pocketstone Cafe on the bay in downtown Bigfork is the best. So unique in such a homie, traditional way. And you can’t go wrong with anything there. Great pastries, everyday, awesome soups like the Chuckwagon chowder, the best way to have cornbeef. And Karie’s Pancakes! Orange Honey homemade syrup. It’s all to die for.

  24. ljg
    Billings
    December 23, 2015, 11:08 am

    They missed The Burger Dive and Blues B B Q in Billings that have consistently won awards as best in the nation for entre’s on their menu. Don’t forget Don Luis in Billings as well for great Mexican cuisine.

  25. Melodie
    Hamilton Montana
    December 23, 2015, 11:26 am

    Don’t forget about Merc Market and Grill in Corvallis!! They have the best jojos and chicken strips

  26. Chad cagle
    Sylva NC
    December 23, 2015, 8:45 pm

    Love staying at our place in Radersburg MT never go to Montana without eating a steak at the Land of Magic in Manhatten so far best steak in Montana!!

  27. Colin Higgins
    United States
    December 24, 2015, 10:42 am

    Great choices all around, congrats to everyone for making this awesome list!

  28. McKenna
    Wisconsin, USA
    April 11, 10:30 am

    Yummy!

  29. cole williamson
    minnesota
    April 18, 9:08 am

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