The Best Food to Try on Your Montana Vacation
When it comes to hearty meat-laden meals, delicious produce, and yummy treats, the food in Montana takes top prize.
As locals, we have some favorites we think you should try; read on for our top 10 Montana foods to taste during your Montana vacation!
Forget a hamburger; in Montana you want to try a bison burger. It’s healthier, too, due to being a leaner meat.
The cherries grown on the banks of Flathead Lake are exquisitely sweet and juicy. We always like to pick some up from streetside stands when driving through the region. Eat them plain right off the stem or take some home to make some delicious Flathead cherry pie.
Head to western Montana and you can’t miss trying something Huckleberry. It’s hard to miss! You’ll see Huckleberry products being sold in most gifts shops (like Huckleberry syrup and Huckleberry candy).
Head into a cafe or restaurant to try a Huckleberry Pie or Huckleberry Float. We especially love the Huckleberry Bear Claws at Polebridge Mercantile near the northwest corner of Glacier National Park.
Huckleberries are grown all around western Montana as they thrive in the crisp mountain air and soil.
Montana-Inspired Ice Cream
Montana is home to some incredibly delectable and creamy ice cream shops.
In Glacier Country, don’t miss a scoop or two (or three!) from Sweet Peaks, a local ice cream chain that started in Whitefish and now also has locations in Kalispell and Missoula. Try one of the locally-inspired ice cream flavors like Huckleberry, Mountain Mint (featuring mint grown at a Montana farm), or Wustner Bro’s Honey Cinnamon (mixes in honey from a Montana apiary).
If you’re in Billings, check out Wilcoxson’s, which is also sold in supermarkets throughout the state. They have more than ice cream, too; our family is obsessed with the fudgesicles and my grandparents always have a few boxes in their freezer!
Best Montana Sweets
Two sweets that are local favorites that aren’t ice cream are Bequet Caramels and Caramel Waffle Cookies (I guess we like our caramels!).
Bequet Caramels are buttery, chewy goodness and are made in Bozeman and sold in stores across Montana (and beyond).
The Caramel Waffle Cookie Company is based in Billings and specializes in delicious stroopwafels. The caramel sandwiched between two thin waffle-cookie pieces are baked fresh daily and can be purchased from their store in Billings, which has an adjacent bakery and cafe. They’ve been around since 1981 and my mom used to have to hide them from us when we were kids so we wouldn’t eat them all!
Farmers Market Fare
The farmers markets in Montana are much more than just produce being sold. You’ll find local caterers and farm-to-table meals sustainably presented, like the polenta and lentil chile meal I had from Farm to Fork at the Bigfork Farmers Markets (held every Monday in downtown Bigfork during the summer).
Other popular farmer markets to check out include the ones in Missoula (Tuesdays and Saturdays), Whitefish ( Tuesdays), Kalispell (Saturdays), West Glacier (Fridays), Columbia Falls (Thursdays) and the large Yellowstone Valley Farmers Market in Billings (open daily from mid-July to early October).
Those are some favorites, but you’ll find farmers markets in just about every town, city, and region in Montana during the summer and fall months.
Speaking of Farmers Markets, lets give a shout-out to Dixon Melons. They are famous around Montana! The Dixon Melon truck makes the rounds to Montana farmers markets from late summer to early fall and you’ll see a line of people waiting to get sweet, juicy, vine-ripened honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, and crenshaw melons right from the Dixon Melon truck. Check the Dixon Melons Facebook page to see where they’ll be when you’re in town.
Morel Mushrooms are a true Montana delicacy. They are rare, but grow in Montana from mid-May to mid-June. See if you can find a restaurant with some on the menu or try finding your own!
Pasties can be found in restaurants throughout Montana, but Butte is where to go to try some of the best. Butte has a strong mining past, and Irish miners would often eat pasties as a meal when they were down in the mines. Though the mining days are long gone, the Butte Pasties are still around and delicious.
Butte Pasties are pastry pockets stuffed with meat and potatoes and then covered in gravy sauce. Two good places to try them in Butte are Nancy’s Pasty Shop and Joe’s Pasty Shop.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
These are bull testicles fried in batter. I’ve tried it…once, a long time ago. That was enough for me! But some people love them, and they’re an adventurous food item to say you’ve tried! You’ll typically find them listed as an appetizer at restaurants that serve them.
One of my favorite Montana food memories is going to a local multi-town meet-up in Treasure County with my mom and grandparents, held in a former one-room schoolhouse that’s now an event space and houses a cool little antique store. Everyone knew everyone (or at least someone they were related to!) even though they came from all around the county. The meal was deliciously simple country food.
If you don’t have your own family to tag along with in Montana, don’t worry: I have some other options and tips for how to get some homestyle Montana cooking.
Restaurants with Homestyle Montana Cooking
- Montana Club in Missoula or Kalispell
- East Shore Smoke House in Polson
- Minnie’s Montana Cafe in Thomspon Falls
- Wheat Montana Delis in Three Forks, Great Falls, Kalispell, and Missoula
- Buffalo Block Prime Steakhouse in Billings
Dude Ranch Meals
Staying at a dude ranch in Montana is also a surefire way to enjoy excellent Montana food favorites. Dude ranches usually have a dining room or house onsite where guests enjoy three meals a day all cooked on the property by skilled chefs.
Which of these Montana foods are you most excited to try?
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