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Montana Food & Drink

When most visitors arrive in Montana, they’re often expecting to eat a certain kind of food: wild game, huckleberry glazes, and some of the best beef in the country. And they’re right! Montana’s local cuisine reflects the state’s authentic, untamed personality, and there are plenty of places to sample it.

Dining Halls and Food Markets in Montana

Though Montana is known for its steakhouses and bars dating back to the Old West, you can still find plenty of modern dining halls here, each with its own unique flavor.

Many of the dining halls are located on college campuses throughout the state, such as the University of Montana in Missoula or Montana State University in Billings.

There are also a few notable food markets in Montana where you can browse through handmade or locally sourced food and even sample some options. These are great for the freshest grocery hauls.

Dining Halls

Food Markets

Farms and Farmers Markets in Montana

Known for its rural nature, Montana is home to a great many farms. You’ll find farms that specialize in everything here, from cattle to berries, eggs, and even flowers.

Many of the farms offer tours and visits, allowing visitors to purchase goods directly from them. Others market their produce at local farmers’ markets, of which there are many in Montana.

Like regular food markets, farmers’ markets are a wonderful way to obtain the freshest produce.

They also usually have fun atmospheres and provide an entertaining morning out for the whole family. You’re likely to strike up a conversation with the friendly stallholders while enjoying live music and sipping on a coffee or organic juice.


Farmers’ Markets

Fast & Casual Food Chains From Montana

There aren’t too many Montana fast food chains, but there are plenty of fast food chains in Montana. 

Just as you can find local favorites, you can also find national favorites, from McDonald’s to Wendy’s. If you’re in the state for a while and miss your usual go-to fast food, there’s a good chance you’ll find it here (especially if you’re in a larger town or city). 

There are also a few Montana-specific chains that were either started in the state or don’t operate in many places outside Montana borders.

We recommend visiting these before the national options, just so you experience as much of authentic Montanan cuisine as possible!

Historic Bars & Restaurants In Montana

One thing Montana is definitely known for? Traditional bars dating back to the time of the cowboys.

In cities like Billings and Missoula, you can find plenty of chic new bars to try. But during your Montana trip, also be sure to visit some of the old-fashioned bars that have been standing for close to 100 years or more.

Often, you’ll find these saloons in cities and towns that thrived during the gold rush, including Miles City and Virginia City.

At any Montana bar, remember to order a whiskey ditch, which is thought to be Montana’s signature drink (via Your Big Sky). Not for the faint-hearted, a whiskey ditch is basically slightly watered-down whiskey.

When it comes to restaurants, Montana has both the old and the new. Along with trendy spots that have only popped up in recent years, you also have your old faithful options, many of them family-run establishments that have served locals for generations.



Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Montana

Given Montana’s affinity for beef and wild game, this isn’t the first destination you’d think of when you hear the words “vegetarian” or “vegan”.

Truthfully, there aren’t many vegan or vegetarian-only establishments, but there are plenty of places that have tons of plant-based options on their menus.

Remember, Montanans are known for their hospitality, and most places will be more than willing to accommodate your needs. The following restaurants and cafes boast a good range of vegan or vegetarian dishes along with their meat dishes.

Guide to Restaurants, Food and Dining in Montana

The cuisine in Montana is made up of classic American fare with a few special local touches that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the world.

In a state that is known for its rural nature and hunting opportunities, the local food scene often features various types of game that you may not have tried before, like elk or moose.

As Only In Your State explains, one of the most famous Montanan dishes is a burger made from either elk or bison meat. It’s served like any other burger in any other state, but is made using this special game rather than beef. Bison stews are common, too.

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That said, beef is still popular in Montana, and is often farm-to-plate fresh. Steak is another classic dish you can look forward to enjoying while visiting. You can also order freshly cooked trout at many establishments, which is in abundance in Montana.

Though less iconic, chicken is still widely available in Montana.

In particular, locals enjoy Hutterite chicken, a recipe passed down by the Hutterites of the local agricultural colonies in remote areas of the state (via Food Network). This chicken is often found in grocery stores and is loved for being hormone free. 

Along with wild game, certain plant-based foods are also regularly eaten in the state. 

Huckleberries are considered a Montana specialty, and you can get just about anything flavored with huckleberries, from ice cream to huckleberry bear claws from the Polebridge Mercantile (which you can get during a trip to Glacier National Park).

Also be on the lookout for Flathead cherries and chokecherries.

Rocky Mountain oysters, or deep-fried floured calf testicles, are another specialty. 

You can’t come to Montana without tasting the Butte Pasty, an Irish-inspired pastry shell filled with chopped meat and vegetables, per The Taste of Montana.

Of course, American staples, such as chicken-fried steak, fry bread, prime rib, all types of pie, pizza, and ribs can all be found widely in Montana.

There are also Montanan adaptations of well-known recipes, such as the hoot dog: a hot dog that has been skewered, battered with fry-bread dough and deep-fried.

You can sample local Montana fare in any city or small town, and the most authentic food is usually served in smaller cafes, coffee shops, bakeries, and diners frequented by locals. For steak and wild game, try the higher-end steakhouses which are dotted throughout the state.

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