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Montana Restaurants

Babb Bar Cattle Baron Supper Club
U.S. Highway 89
Babb , Montana
Tel: 406 732 4033 (summer)
Tel: 406 732 4532 (winter)

The best follow-up to a trip through Glacier National Park is a mountain-size cut of beef at this top-notch steakhouse, just east of Many Glacier. Pull up a red captain's chair in the bar and toss back a beer with the Blackfeet Reservation locals before heading upstairs to the cavernous dining room, decorated with taxidermy and Native American art. The 28-oz. rib eye is the most popular item on the menu, but it's not just about quantity: This is some of the best beef and bison in the West. The dress? Montana formal—don't bother changing out of your jeans, but you should probably tuck your shirt in.

Open daily 5 to 10 pm, May through mid-October.

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Blackbird Kitchen
140 East Main Street
Bozeman , Montana
Tel: 406 586 0010

It may be in Bozeman, but peasant-chic Italian restaurant Blackbird Kitchen could easily hold its own in Brooklyn, San Francisco, or any other urban hipster center. Here, local foodies and in-the-know tourists gather to recount their day on the ski slopes. Ingredients are local, organic, and fresh, giving bright flavor to otherwise simple dishes; the bucatini and meatballs made with organic pork, beef, and lamb is a prime example. Start with the tricolor salad of pecorino cheese and champagne vinaigrette topped with a drippy fried farm egg or the white bean, olive oil, and herb crostini, both sure to take the edge off your hunger as you wait for round two. The Neapolitan pizzas pack loads of savory flavor onto a thin, perfectly charred crust; the Bianca with Castelvetrano olives, grana padano, basil, garlic, and red pepper is not to be missed.—Isabel Sterne

Open Tuesdays to Thursdays 5 to 9 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 10 pm, Sundays 5 to 9 pm.

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Buck's T-4
46625 Gallatin Road
Gallatin Gateway , Montana
Tel: 406 995 4111

Don't let the location fool you. Although Buck's T-4 is part of the Best Western on Highway 191, any carnivorous epicurean within a few hundred miles will point you in this direction. Originally a base camp for hunters, Buck's was established in 1946, and it's been serving up steaks and chops ever since. The main dishes usually consist of a thick slab of wild game—perhaps New Zealand Red deer or Great Plains bison—augmented with an ambitious side, such as golden beet–truffle risotto or Amaltheia goat cheese gratin. You could just stop in for a quick beer after a long day of hiking (the bar menu is passable), but the menu served in the main dining room—a timber lodge adorned with taxidermy examples of the entrées—is why you're here. The extensive wine list includes a number of well-priced Burgundies and Bordeaux.

Dining room open daily 6 to 9:30 pm; bar open daily 5 to 10 pm.

Iron Horse Brew Pub
501 N. Higgins Street
Missoula , Montana
Tel: 406 728 8866

Maybe it's Missoula's northern latitude and long summer evenings that call for lingering downtown, getting an outdoor table, and grabbing a simple grilled burger with a local pint from Kettle House Brewing. The Iron Horse, near Missoula's historic rail station, is a fine place to eat, kick back, and watch the crowds pass. While a 2004 renovation brought a new lounge upstairs and an expanded menu with highfalutin' dishes such as sashimi tuna salad and wild mushroom ravioli, the classic Griz Burger—a half pound of Black Angus topped with bacon, blue cheese, and mushrooms—is still the best thing on the menu.

La Provence
408 Bridge Street
Bigfork , Montana
Tel: 406 837 2923

After turns at the Four Seasons London and the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida, chef Marc Guizel brings southern French cuisine to Big Fork, an upscale resort town on Flathead Lake that attracts Gold Coast golfers and sailors along with wealthy second-homers (kind of like Naples—no wonder Guizel feels at home). Sit in the garden patio, not far from the lake's eastern shore, and try the perennial favorites of French onion soup with Gruyère and fresh fish garnished with grain mustard and saffron risotto.

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Montana Ale Works
661 E. Main Street
Bozeman , Montana
Tel: 406 587 7700

The smoke-free atmosphere—a rarity in live-and-let-live (and free-to-light-up) Montana—is a favorite of Bozeman's younger crowd. You'll find young lawyers next to Montana State coeds in this lounge/grill/billiards hall, part of which is housed in a former railcar. The menu includes steaks and pasta, but the grilled sandwiches—such as the Val d'Isère, a Cajun-grilled chicken with zucchini, roasted red peppers, and melted Brie—are mainstays. The fries, seasoned with pepper and Parmesan, are alone worth the trip. From the 40 microbrews on tap, we suggest the Mainline IPA, brewed by Blackfoot River Brewing in Helena.

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29 E. Main Street
Bozeman , Montana
Tel: 406 587 2170

With over 600 different wines in the cellar and chef David Whieler (formerly of New York City's Russian Tea Room and Vail's Game Creek Club) in the kitchen, Plonk is Bozeman's top destination for refined palates. A tin ceiling, screen prints of town founder John Bozeman, and soft lighting are a sore sight for downtown eyes tired of bison heads and rough-hewn timbers. And a Holy Roller, a blend of house-made pecan-infused bourbon and brown sugar, can make you forget you're in Bozeman at all. The menu rotates every three months—as do 30 or so wines on the pour list…but expect New American dishes made from local, organic ingredients such as duck confit with maple leaves or bison tenderloin.

Open daily from 11:30 am to 2 am.

Second Street Bistro
123 N. Second Street
Livingston , Montana
Tel: 406 222 9463

Livingston, a tiny town at the mouth of Paradise Valley, is home to writer, artist, and actor transplants (including Tim Cahill, Peter Fonda, and Margot Kidder). The Second Street Bistro, located in the vintage Murray Hotel, caters to the unusual local population with French bistro fare with some North African and American twists. Although the dining room's design (basic bar stools pulled up to plain-set tables) is nothing to write home about, dishes like lamb seasoned with Moroccan spices and fried in phyllo dough, flash-fried soft-shell crabs, and pan-seared sea scallops over a crawfish-and-basil risotto are a refreshing change of pace after a few days on the beef-heavy Montana diet.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 5 to 9 pm, Sundays 10 am to 2 pm.

Sir Scott's Oasis Steak House
204 West Main Street
Manhattan , Montana
Tel: 406 284 6929

The best steakhouse in Montana. You'll find yourself in front of a phonebook-sized T-bone steak so tender you'll wonder why your server brought a steak knife. Sir Scott's is 20 minutes west of Bozeman in the tiny town of Manhattan. (For the best steaks in that other Manhattan, check our New York City restaurant guide.) The license plates in the parking lot are mostly local, and the menu is simple, offering a dozen or so steaks in various sizes and cuts, including a prime rib that's aged in-house for a month. The bar is a popular after-work stop for beers, a game of pool, or a 14-ounce steak for 12 bucks.

Stockyard Café
1018 E. Griffin Drive
Bozeman , Montana
Tel: 406 586 9728

You'll know that you're almost to the Stockyard Café when you see the old grain elevator. This favorite hole-in-the-wall is known for its hearty ranch-style breakfasts and prickly, but efficient, service. It's no bigger than a spacious garden shed, but on Sundays and Mondays (the only two days it's open), locals and in-the-know tourists cram into the one-room shanty to fill up on some of the best eggs around, always made to order and cooked to perfection. For sweet-toothed brunchers, the cornmeal pancakes and banana-bread French toast are a must. Orders fly quickly, and there isn't much patience for hemming and hawing or specialty requests for egg-white omelets with grease on the side. What you see is what you get. But with breakfast like this, there is no need to request otherwise.—Isabel Sterne

Open Sundays 7:30 am to 1 pm

Tupelo Grille
17 Central Avenue
Whitefish , Montana
Tel: 406 862 6136

An intimate place with a likable mix of influences, not unlike Whitefish itself, a logging and rail town turned high-end resort community. You'll find tourists and second-home owners eating Southern dishes such as a Cajun combo with crawfish étouffée and jambalaya, and cow-country standards like bacon-wrapped tenderloin. Good stuff.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.