A university city with a marked cultural heritage, Missoula is home to every type of restaurant imaginable. From steak joints to traditional brunch haunts, contemporary wine bars to eco-friendly cafés, there’s a restaurant to suit every culinary desire. Here’s an updated selection of 10 restaurants that you should visit while in Montana.
The Buttercup Market and Cafe Courtesy The Buttercup Market and Cafe
The Buttercup Market and Café
Cafe, Market, Tea , Vegetarian, Vegan
Popular with eco-friendly locals and students, The Buttercup Market and Café is a cosy café dedicated to supporting local farmers, coffee roasters and artists. An ideal spot for a lazy breakfast, the burritos are overflowing with a whirlwind of inviting flavours, the local yokel sandwich is the epitome of Montana dining, and the English muffin topped with scrambled egg, white cheddar, and bacon simply melts in the mouth. Also serving delicious empanadas, seasonal soups and crisp salads at lunchtime, The Buttercup is a thriving eatery at all times of the day. The rotating calendar of art exhibitions, discussions, and meetings complete the creative atmosphere of this little cafe.
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A little Venetian eatery in the heart of America’s Missoula, Caffè Dolce is beautifully decorated, complete with a painted ceiling and airy feel. Just a few blocks away from the University of Montana campus, Caffè Dolce specialises in classic Italian dishes. The wild mushroom and truffle pizza is expertly prepared to be both crisp and indulgent, whilst the selection of pasta dishes and antipasti on offer is unrivalled. Specials rotate with the seasons to make the most of local produce, just like chefs in Italy do. Also a great spot for Sunday brunch, the strong espressos and breakfast sandwiches make for the perfect start to the day.
Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, American, Coffee, Vegetarian, $$$
Serving all-day breakfasts and delicious lunch plates to the people of downtown Missoula, Catalyst Café & Espresso Bar has grown hugely since opening as a coffee cart in 1991. Now a thriving café, visitors are welcome to stop by for a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee, and a bowl of granola or a three-egg omelette. Lunchtime at Catalyst means sandwiches, salads and soups, with plenty of gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options available too. The arugula and roasted beets salad, topped with hazelnuts and goat’s cheese is particularly good, as is the spinach and strawberry salad.
Having remained one of Missoula’s favourite culinary destinations for more than 40 years, The Depot is a premier steakhouse serving only the highest-quality, locally sourced cuts of meat. Try the naturally aged, blackened prime rib for a truly succulent steak, or for something lighter opt for a seafood dish such as the beer-battered shrimp, or the Alaskan king crab. The restaurant’s walls are adorned with colourful paintings by local artist Larry Pirnie, emphasising The Depot’s strong connection to the city’s heritage. After dinner, guests can head outside to the adjacent Deck Bar to enjoy a perfectly mixed drink in a more casual setting.
No longer the new kid on the block, Five on Black has found its place as one of the trendiest restaurants in Missoula. Featuring a gluten-free, make-your-own, Brazilian menu, Five on Black showcases the freshest of ingredients in a uniquely flexible attitude to cooking. Dinner is served in a bowl which each customer builds themself from start to finish. Diners choose the base, add the fillings, and top with a range of sauces and extra additions to create the perfect Latin American flavour explosion for them. The portions are generous, the dishes are cooked fresh to order, and the décor is chic and warm, enhancing Five on Black’s effortless sophistication.
Le Petit Outre Bakery | Courtesy Le Petit Outre Bakery
Regularly voted Missoula’s best restaurant, The Pearl Café lies at the heart of the city’s fine dining scene. Perfect for an evening of pure culinary indulgence, the menu is a mouth-watering blend of European-inspired cuisine and local regional flavours. Diners can choose to be transported to the cobblestone side-streets of Paris, with a perfectly presented plate of herbed rabbit in a red wine sauce; or they can stay put in the bustling USA, with a pan-seared Idaho trout, served with a rich and tasty Dungeness crab stuffing. The restaurant itself radiates charm, with its rustic décor and wooden features making it the ideal venue for romantic, candlelit dinners.
Providing the people of Missoula with delicious, freshly baked breads and pastries each day, Le Petit Outre Bakery is the place to go for the city’s best hearth breads, European pastries, artisan cheeses, meats, and extra virgin olive oils, sourced from around the globe. The baskets full of sweet-smelling croissants, turnovers, palmiers, and baguettes, and the unbeatable aroma of freshly brewed coffee is enough to tempt anyone into staying for a spot of breakfast or a tasty snack when popping in to stock up on cupboard staples such as chutneys, jams, olives and sardines. Bring a newspaper or a book, and spend the morning people-watching from the cafe or the bright yellow bench at the front of the bakery.
An American bistro on a mission to bring customers the very best of Western Montana cuisine, Scotty’s Table sources its ingredients from local farmers, growers and producers. Located in the historic Wilma Theatre, Scotty’s makes for a great pre- or post-theatre dinner, lunch or weekend brunch. The wholesome menu is full of dishes made from organic vegetables, heirloom tomatoes, wild mushrooms, fresh fish, local meats and fresh mussels. Go for lunch and enjoy a steaming bowl of seasonal soup and a plate of fried fennel pasta, or stop by for a dinner of albodingas and pork cassoulet, or book a table for brunch to enjoy a three-egg omelette with mushrooms, spinach, goat’s cheese, paprika aioli, toast, and potatoes.
Diners are invited to take a culinary journey around the world at The Silk Road globally themed restaurant. The menu is divided up into five sections: Asia, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, Africa and the Americas, enabling guests to pick a dish from whichever corner of the world they fancy. Bring a group of friends and order the togarashi skewer from Japan, the fattoush from Egypt, the fasolaki salata from Greece, a date and orange salad from Morocco, and the carne asada from Mexico, to share in a medley of flavours rarely ever appreciated side by side. Don’t forget to return to the USA at the end of the meal, with a portion of brandied apple crisp to satisfy the sweet tooths at the table.
Primarily a music venue, Top Hat Lounge is located in the heart of downtown Missoula and is the place to go for a night of top entertainment and tapas-style dining. The menu can seat around 600 people, and features a range of genres catering to every demographic. As well as music gigs, a host of comedy and film nights and live performance art also take place here for guests’ enjoyment. Book a table in the restaurant to enjoy an array of delectable small plates to share with friends, before settling down to enjoy the night’s show. For the perfect mix of dishes order the caprese salad, ahi tuna tacos, crispy calamari, lamb empanadas, portobello mushroom lettuce wraps, goat’s cheese fritters, spinach and feta hummus, and a stone-fired flatbread topped with mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and basil.