WEST YELLOWSTONE AND GARDINER
In Yellowstone Country, you must fuel your adventure. Montana eateries believe in hearty meals, but they also offer a variety of upscale dining, pub grub, casual fare, gluten-free and vegetarian options. You’ll find locally raised meat and produce as well as bison and elk on menus. Grab all the huckleberries you can. They’re a delicacy–sweet blueberry-like fruit grown in the mountains. Bears like them, too.
Here are my culinary discoveries in Gardiner and West Yellowstone, both entry points for Yellowstone National Park. (Note that some of the restaurants may not be open year-round, and not all have websites):
Yellowstone Pizza Company, 404 Scott St. W.,Gardiner
At Yellowstone Pizza Company, pizzas are a prepared in a stone oven with light sauce and light toppings on handmade dough. The red sauce is made from imported Roma tomatoes. A vegetarian choice is the Artesia, which is topped with pesto sauce, roasted red peppers, garlic, artichoke, kalamata olives and fresh spinach. Choose-your-own toppings include elk, bison, roasted yellow tomato and three types of olives.
I LOVED: I built my own pizza with Italian sausage and artichoke hearts–the tomato sauce is divine!
Yellowstone Grill, 404 Scott St. W., Gardiner
Yellowstone Grill is a friendly, low-key, family-run cafe just outside the Gardiner entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The extensive menu lists breakfast, burgers, burritos, sandwiches, wraps and salads plus espresso, specialty teas, wine and beer. Homemade cinnamon rolls are the house specialty. PAM’S TIP: Stop here to pick up your lunch fixings before visiting the park.
I LOVED: The guitar duo who accompanied our breakfast!
The Raven Grill, 118 Park St., Gardiner
Serving upscale food in a casual, homespun atmosphere is what the Raven Grill is about. The menu lists continental classics with Montana influences–elk lasagna with homemade mascarpone cheese, for one. Other choices were duck breast with saffron risotto and Jamaican jerked chicken with fruit salsa. My choice was the house-smoked trout salad adorned with cumin creme fraiche and watermelon.
I LOVED: Huckleberry margarita–rimmed with or without sugar.
Euro Cafe, 237 Firehole Ave., West Yellowstone
Here’s a small but sweet cafe with international influences. Open for lunch and breakfast, Euro Cafe offers fresh baked goods and homemade soups daily. Servings are generous. The protein-rich tuna and corn salad came topped with a hard-boiled egg, and my Eiffel Tower burger with brie and gruyere cheeses came with two patties.
I LOVED: The piece of blueberry lemon cake I grabbed from the bakery case on our way out.
Madison Crossing Lounge, 121 Madison Ave., West Yellowstone
Long-time locals recall that Madison Crossing Lounge was once the site of West Yellowstone’s first schoolhouse, built in 1918. The restaurant floor and ceiling beams are original. The menu, however, is on the decidedly modern and upscale. Entrees are hearty fare, listing wild game, steaks, burgers, risotto and pasta. Bison is a house fave. I became a fan of ruby-red trout, which was prepared with a pink pepper and citrus beurre blanc. Bar offerings include dozens of microbrews and fine whiskeys.
I LOVED: Huckleberry ice cream!
Thanks to Yellowstone Country Montana for hosting our media visit!