CRUISING THE FOODIE (AND IMBIBERY) TRAIL: BOZEMAN, MONTANA

In Yellowstone Country, you need to fuel your adventure. Montana eateries believe in hearty meals, but they also offer a variety of fine dining, bar favorites, 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 Bozeman:

Squire House, 25 E. Mendenhall St.

Squire House is a new upscale upscale New American restaurant and lounge adjacent to the Element Bozeman hotel. The menu lists small plates, burgers and a host of creative entrees. My choice was jumbo scallops with roasted corn, chorizo, butter scotch beans with uni cream over oven dried tomatoes. Delish. The drink menu features classically crafted cocktails plus creative inventions and wines from small unique vintners.

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The menu at Squire House in Bozeman features creative fare like scallops with grains and greens.

 

I LOVED: The beets and greens salad with blood orange, Marcona almonds and hibiscus herb vinaigrette.

Starky’s, 24 N. Tracy Ave.

A neighborhood gem popular with locals, Starky’s is known for scratch cooking and Americana fare. The menu features big juicy burgers, inventive sandwiches, crisp salads and vegan options. Wine and beer, too. Relax on the outdoor patio in front of the restaurant.

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An excellent cheeseburger with crisp fries from Starky’s in Bozeman.

 

I LOVED: Black bean tostada. Add grilled sweet potato if you wish.

Montana Ale Works, 611 E. Main St.

Fashioned from a 1911 rail freight warehouse, Montana Ale Works presents one of the largest local and regional craft beer and spirits selections in the Northern Rockies. The menu is just as varied, with signature burgers, hand-cut steaks, sautes, leafy greens and share-able bites. For starters, the housemade chipotle pepperjack tater tots come with a punchy tomatillo ranch dipping sauce. Little wonder the locals love gathering here.

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At Montana Ale Words, risottos are the chef’s selection.

 

I LOVED: My chef’s selection chicken risotto with tomato and arugula.

Jam! 25 W. Main St.

On weekends, Jam! is packed with brunchers, but the wait it so worth it. Sit tight with a “beer-mosa,” a mild concoction of pilsner beer and freshly squeezed OJ. The fare is classic but with an elevated twist. Mine was a half-order of Basic Benedict (grilled maple-glazed ham and heirloom home fries) was anything but basic. I wish it had been a full order. You might prefer the Peanut Butter Cup pancakes. 

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A must-have at Jam! in Bozeman: cinnamon rolls.

 

I LOVED: The housemade mini-cinnamon rolls draped in caramel and toasted pecans!

Bar IX, 311 E. Main St.

Bar IX is a top Bozeman for nightlife and TV sports-viewing, but we arrived for a late lunch one quiet afternoon. (Call it “Bar Nine.) The menu is heavy on pub grub, pizza and apps, which is just what we were in the mood for. The bar runs daily food and drink specials like weekend bottomless Bloody Mary and mimosa brunches. The back room is filled with table games and video gambling. $2 maximum bed and $800 jackpot. 

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Pub grub  perfected at Bar IX in Bozeman.

 

I LOVED: Nachos and fried cheese curds because sometimes you just gotta splurge.

Backcountry Burger Bar, 125 W. Main St.

Don’t let the name fool you. Backcountry Burger Bar presents lots of delectable fixings in addition to juicy burgers made from local beef. The salads are enormous and chock-full of healthy goodies. Customize your mac & cheese with veggies, greens, meats and jalapeno. The wine and beer list is inventive.

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Bit Chop salad at Backcountry Burger Bar, tossed with avocado ranch dressing.

 

I LOVED: Jalapeno (potato) hash puppies with avocado ranch for dipping.

Lot G Cafe, 109 E. Oak St.

Located in the historic Cannery District, Lot G Cafe is an intimate cafe serving breakfast and lunch daily. The menu covers sweets and savories,  plus specialties like pancake lasagna: Buttermilk pancakes, sausage, bacon, white cheddar and maple bechamel. I had the Patatas Bravas, which consisted of roasted potatoes and two over-easy eggs smothered in blissful aioli and smoked paprika.

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Hearty comfort food and an aromatic selection of coffees and teas served fresh at Lot G Cafe.

 

I LOVED: Lot G Cafe is happy to customize each order to guest flavor preferences and dietary restrictions. Options include avocado, grass-fed beef and tofu.

CHEERS! LET’S DRINK TO BOZEMAN

Bozeman Spirits Distillery, 121 W. Main St.

Bozeman Spirits Distillery produces whiskey, vodka, rum and gin using pure Rocky Mountain water. All the spirits are distilled in copper and bottled onsite. The house motto is “Drink Local,” and so we did. We came for the Montana Cold Spring Huckleberry Vodka, and it was mighty fine. Just imagine the possibilities.

IMG_1845I LOVED: The gimlet made with huckleberry vodka, simple syrup, lime squeeze shaken and served on the rocks.

Mountains Walking Brewery and Pub, 422 Plum Ave.

A recent newcomer to town, Mountains Walking Brewery and Pub has big plans. Their aim is to create beers that are indigenous to Bozeman, considering the climate, altitude, native yeasts and the brewers’ own creativity. They’re off to a great start. We stopped in after an afternoon of hiking. The beers change frequently, but they’re sure to include classic lagers and hoppy IPAs. I tried the pilsner beer, which was light and clean. My companions ordered the four-beer flights. We shared some bites, too. The maple donuts with beer caramel went over big-time.

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The brews change daily at Mountains Walking Brewery and Pub.

 

I LOVED: The trout dip. We ordered it twice.

 

Thanks to Yellowstone Country Montana for hosting our media visit!

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