Have Breakfast at Cafe Regis, Red Lodge
Cafe Regis rightly bills itself as “your community diner.” The combo grocery, organic garden, and breakfast/lunch cafe is a year-round gathering spot. Owner Martha Young hosts a free ice cream sundae day to celebrate the first fall snow, has local author book signings, and, as much as possible, uses locally grown and produced ingredients. “We make all the food from scratch and harvest from our backyard,” Young says. “Having our own gardens creates a connection to the food that you don’t get other places.”
Young also has incorporated sustainable practices, such as composting, solar panels, and recycling. “We try to use up everything, and try to demonstrate that the choices you make can have an impact,” she adds.
Her attention to detail extends to the menu, designed to make the Regis “everybody’s favorite place to eat,” she says. “When you’re eating out, somebody usually has to sacrifice. We do a good job of pleasing grandpa, the parents, and the four-year-old on one affordable menu.” Dishes range from The Full Montana sandwich piled high with roast beef and grilled onions to the BBQ Tofu.
Inside tip: The name is REG-is, as in “registration.” “That’s how we tell who’s from around here,” says Young.
Tuck Into Burgers and Beer at the Grizzly Bar & Grill, Roscoe
A favorite of local ranchers and visiting hunters, the Grizzly Bar & Grill, or Griz, is known for its sizzling steaks, juicy burgers (try the Roscoe oozing with BBQ sauce, jalapeños, and cheddar cheese), cold beers, and off-the-beaten-path location. The restaurant’s website address—wherethehellisroscoe.com—is the first indication that you’ll have to hit the back roads to find the place.
It’s worth the drive for the setting, local atmosphere, and the food, says customer Kathy Barch. “Highway 78 to Roscoe is a gorgeous ride—winding roads, mountain and river views. What better way to celebrate the beauty than to stop for a perfectly prepared steak at the Grizzly?”
The Griz, a Roscoe gathering spot since the 1930s, is owned and operated by locals Patrick and Jennifer O’Shea. In fall, the O’Sheas also work (he guides, she cooks) the private elk and deer hunts at the nearby Lazy E-L Ranch. To meet some of the locals and learn a bit about Roscoe, sit at the bar and ask the barkeep a question about any of the hunting trophy photos or antique Winchester rifles hanging on the wall.
Do Date Night at Red Bird, Missoula
Located in the lobby of the former art moderne Florence Hotel, the fine dining and somewhat pricey (for Montana, $25-$40 entrees) Red Bird Restaurant may not seem particularly local. A closer look at the seasonally fresh menu and the patrons—mainly local foodies and couples out for special occasions—reveals that celebrating “local” is what this place is all about.
“We make everything from scratch, from our ketchup to sriracha sauce, and our ice cream to our bacon,” says Red Bird owner Laura Waters. “That way, we can control the quality of foods that we serve our guests.”
The extensive draft and bottle beer menu also showcases several local artisan microbrews, such as Big Sky Scapegoat Pale Ale and Lewis & Clark Tumbleweed IPA. Intermingled with the local options are Japanese, Belgian, Scottish, and other international ales. “Our beer collection enables our guests to travel around the world,” Waters explains. “People enjoy sampling bottles from places they have yet to travel or that allow them to revisit favorite destinations.” Another local touch: the handmade bar in the Red Bird’s wine bar. Reveals Waters, “It may look like some exotic black wood, but it’s really stacked plywood.”