Billings is Montana’s largest city, It is nicknamed the “Magic City”. It is truly a magical place for the outdoor enthusiast. It is also has a magical foodie scene that is sure to appease any discerning taste buds. There are unquestionably many dining establishments to choose from – during my brief stay, I only had time to check out a few. Here are my favorites.
The Sassy Biscuit has the feeling of a Southern country kitchen. It is welcoming and open, enticing you to come in and relax a bit. Whether you are meeting the family for Sunday brunch, having a girls day out, or a quick bite during the work week you won’t leave hungry.
The name pretty much says it all about what you will find on the menu. They have elevated the simple classic biscuit to near heavenly status. Using locally-sourced ingredients (I love supporting local) they create comfort food with passion and pride transforming the flaky goodness into waffle-pressed biscuits, biscuit french toast, and more – all topped with a variety of sauces both warm and cold. If gourmet biscuits didn’t entice your flavor flags, they also have a selection of sandwiches, chicken pot pie, and gumbo. Many of the menu selections are also available in gluten-free and vegan options.
SAM’S TAP ROOM IN RED LODGE
Located a short drive from Billing proper in the town of Red Lodge is Sam’s Tap Room, the pub side of Red Lodge Ales. If you are looking for really good German grub this is the place to go. I had an exceedingly delicious grilled pastrami Reuben sandwich. It may not sound like much, and honestly, I am not a sandwich person, but I couldn’t help myself.
Loaded between two slices of dark rye bread was shredded pastrami with melted swiss cheese and with a spoon of kraut on top of the pastrami all under a drizzling of thousand island dressing. The combination of the tart sauerkraut with the deep earthy flavor of the dark rye and pastrami was a perfect fusion. I washed it all down with a pint of Flathead Cherry semi-sweet cider. The cider had a beautiful red tint when the light shined through it. It was tart with just a slight sweetness. It went well with the Reuben panini.
Sam’s decor is a bit eclectic and fun. There are warm natural wood accents that give a welcoming vibe not to mention that the staff is friendly and willing to strike up a conversation with you if you sit at the bar. Two decor highlights I feel I need to point out is the wall clock and the cooler.
The wall clock is missing the number 8. Why you ask? Well, because in Montana it is against the law for breweries to sell samples after 8 pm. Thankfully, restaurants can sell adult beverages past the kiddos bedtime. Under the wall clock on the far wall, there are two refrigerator doors set into the wall that is plastered with stickers from around the world. These doors open to the coolers from which the servers retrieve cold beverages. I thought it was a fun idea and would love to figure out a way to incorporate it into my own home bar.
McCormick’s Cafe is strictly a breakfast and lunch location, but don’t let that stop you from checking them out. They have a wonderfully diverse menu full of tempting ingredient pairings. I had the Toucan which is a slice of country bread piled with cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon, and eggs. It was amazing! I tried hard to finish it but just couldn’t quite do it.
The atmosphere in their 1910 building located downtown is comfortable with exposed original brick and warm wood accents. The service was pretty quick so I was able to walk off that wonderful and hearty breakfast by exploring Billings’ walkable historic downtown.
Walkers is located in Billings historic walkable downtown. Walkers serves Mediterranean inspired cuisine influenced by seasonal ingredients harvested from local farmers and ranchers and. Their dedication to creating fresh meals infused with simple elegance in an upscale environment with a relaxed atmosphere was duly noted. As well as offering flavorful selections for vegetarians and carnivores.
The description of the dishes on the menu made my mouth water – I wanted to order all of it! Ever since my trip to Quebec City, where I had my first taste of Poutine, I just have to order it. Every chef creates Poutine just a bit different adding their flair and cooking style making this dish uniquely theirs.
If you are unfamiliar with Poutine, it is one of the best meals (I use the term loosely) to eat after an evening of bar hopping and binge drinking or when you just want a really good fried artery-clogging snack. In its most basic form, Poutine is french fries covered in brown gravy with cheese curds piled on top.
Walkers Peter V’s poutine put their fun twist on this savory dish by using ‘shoestring fries’ rather than the standard ‘home fries’. Adding a few other twists such as Shiitake mushroom gravy with thick slices of Shiitake mushrooms, malt vinegar mayo sauce, Italian herb gremolata all topped with a fried egg pushed their poutine from the snack category into a small meal. It was the perfect mix of savory gravy, melted curd, and crispy salty fries.
Walkers is also known for their hand-crafted cocktails created by knowledgeable mixologists using classic techniques blending infusions of fresh juices and liquor, regionally-brewed craft ale, and a wine list that specializes in lesser-known vintages from around the world.
Veronika of Veronika’s Pastry hails from Uzbekistan and brings with her the knowledge and finesse to create authentic Eastern Europe, French, and Russian pastry recipes that she learned from her grandmother. Each recipe is handcrafted from scratch using traditional old-world techniques to bring perfect pastries to your morning routine.
The tantalizing aroma of freshly baked buttery croissants, turnovers, pan au lait, and brioche rolls that emanate from this patisserie shop is so enticing it draws you in like a sailor to a sirens call. No trip to Billings is complete without a stop into this mouth-watering gem.
MōAV, coffee house
It was a chilly and rainy day when I stumbled on MōAV Coffee house. I needed a big cup of freshly roasted coffee to fight off the chill in the air and give me an afternoon boost of energy – that is exactly what I found at MōAv.
As I walked into this shop that now has two locations, I was greeted with the warm nutty fragrances of roasting coffee beans. The heady smell was enough to start warming me up. I learned of the passion and science that goes into creating the perfect cup of killer coffee.
MōAV believes that good coffee is best enjoyed with friends. Their coffee house is the perfect place to sit and chat with friends, quietly reflect on your day, or to use as a mobile office for those of us who are location independent. I was on the road at the time so the last perk was ideal for me as I enjoyed one of the most amazing cups of coffee – sorry Starbucks.
Last Chance Pub and Cider Mill
Located in a warehouse that is over a hundred years old, Last Chance Pub and Cider Mill is another gem to check out in Billings’ historic downtown. The artisanal dining in the casual atmosphere of the pub with a huge floor to ceiling stone fireplace was fabulous. They offer homemade mac and cheese which was incredibly rich and creamy. I also had an Indian Taco which was like no taco I have ever seen before! Piled on thick house-made fry bread (reminded me of a cornbread muffin the size of a pancake) were red beans, ground beef, salsa, shredded lettuce, sun-dried tomato tapenade, fried sage sour cream, and shredded cheese. Quite amazing.
Also on site is the cider mill where they create and bottle their cider. They use hand-picked apples from Montana and Michigan which are stored on-site. If you happen to be visiting between the months of October to March they press their apples on Wednesdays. You can either watch the procession while having lunch or call them to actually be a part of the pressing process.
Established in 2012, Überbrew’s staff of brewers brings a combined 100 years of knowledge and expertise in the microbrew and cuisine world. Situated in an old bottling plant, Überbrew not only offers a fun gastropub menu but also has a wide selection of ales, beer, and cider that has won both national and international awards.
With intriguing menu items such as whiskey chicken, grilled meatloaf, and German egg rolls – I opted for the cheese crunchies for a midday snack. Cheese crunchies are bite-sized grilled cheese sandwiches covered in a panko crust and then deep fried. Perfectly sized for a light snack. Not being a huge beer fan I decided on their Pink Slip Fruit Beer which is infused with raspberries and lime to make it a bit sweeter and lighter.
Originally, the owners of this craft distillery had plans to convert an abandoned asylum into a distillery but they found a more suitable home for their dream on Montana Avenue in Billings historic downtown. They decided to keep the theme (which some call morbid) and thus became Asylum Distillery.
Asylum produces small batch, hand-crafted spirits. Their specialties are smooth flavorful moonshines without the bite, barrel-aged whiskey, bourbon, and gin. All of their cocktails are created from their distilled spirits and several are aptly named after abandoned or fictional asylums such as Waverly Hills, Overbrook, Beechworth, Penhurst, and DC Comics Arkham. It may be a challenge to keep your wits as you sip their wickedly good concoctions. Pictured above is fellow travel blogger Tomiko with Passports and Grub.
Yellowstone Cellars and winery – Billings only winery
Billings only winery, Yellowstone Cellars and Winery is inspired, created, and run by a local Billings family. Yellowstone creates their wines from grapes grown on small family-run farms in the Yakima Valley area of Washington. Each batch of grapes are hand-picked and shipped directly to Yellowstone where they are processed and aged in American Oak barrels in their onsite cellar.
This cozy boutique offers free wine tasting of a selection of their red and white wines. And because no wine tasting would be complete without a few tasty morsels to pair with that wine, Yellowstone Cellars and Winery also offers plates of gourmet cheese, herbed flatbread, and cured meat on their menu.
During my visit, I tasted several varietals before deciding on a glass of the 2016 (406). When I read the description of flavorful notes, it was the “aromas of campfire smoke over black fruit” and “roasted coffee beans, cacao, and nutmeg” that got me. Those that know me, know I am a pushover for good ol’ fashioned campfires. My interest and curiosity was peaked. As I sat enjoying my glass of bold, red blend (406) and listening to the tunes of a local musician my thought was – “yup, this is a cozy winery that I would definitely make return visits to”.
So, the next time you are in Billings, take time out from exploring the Rim Rock to check out these hot establishments. There is more to Billings than climbing rock faces.
Thank you for reading this travel nugget of knowledge about where to eat and have a cocktail in Billings, Montana. This article may contain an affiliate link or two, which does not affect you in any way, but will allow Empty Nestopia to continue to bring you travel tidbits.
Happy and safe travels