Montana’s cattle ranching roots and cowboy traditions have been the biggest influences on its local dining scene. This is a state of meat and potatoes, fresh river trout and seasonal cherries and huckleberries. Most steaks came from locally raised cattle and are among the best you’re to eat in America. Evening entertainment largely revolves around casual bars where beers trump cocktails and shooting pool is the preferred form of exercise. In all categories, you can expect good value for your dollar.

Bars and Pubbing in Montana

In recent years, Montana’s craft brewing scene has exploded into somewhat of a regional phenomenon. Every town of size offers up at least one local brewpub, a source of pride for the community. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything resembling a nightclub in this state, but a cool, comfortable tavern is never far from hand. Listening to live music is the usual form of entertainment. Even the smallest hamlets have one bar in town and as a general rule, if there is a post office, there is a bar.

The larger cities like Missoula, Billings and Bozeman have the widest range of options for fun after dark. The lively university town of Missoula is a particularly rowdy place, with its downtown featuring everything from Irish pubs like Sean Kelly’s (130 W. Pine, Missoula) to an impressive lineup of breweries such as Kettlehouse Brewing Company (602 Myrtle Street, Missoula). Sports bars are another common feature on the Montana nightlife scene and Iron Horse Brew Pub (501 N. Higgins Ave, Missoula) is great to catch a local game.

Montana’s cities with western flair have more cowboy bars where the music tends toward country and the drinks are stiff. Stop by The Rainbow Bar (2403 Montana Ave, Billings) for a classic Billings experience or grab a beer at Carter’s Brewery (2526 Montana Ave, Billings), one of four local brewpubs within walking distance of each other. Last call in Montana is 1:30 a.m., with venues usually shuffling patrons out by 2:00 a.m.

Dining and Cuisine in Montana

Eating out in Montana typically includes standard American dishes like steak and potatoes alongside classic cowboy food such as beans and chili. Most beef and produce is locally sourced so you can expect tasty, filling cuisine at any neighborhood café. Head to the big cities of Billings, Missoula and Bozeman, and you will have international flavors to choose from.

You can always find a good breakfast or lunch in Montana’s towns. Just look for the crowds of locals in places like McCormick Café (2419 Montana Ave, Billings), Hob Nob (531 S. Higgins Ave. Missoula) or the historic Shack Café (222 W. Main Street, Missoula). The prices are right and the food fantastic. The big cities have a selection of more inventive restaurants like Billings’ Walkers Grill (2700 1st Ave N., Billings) or Missoula’s Red Bird (111 N. Higgins Street, Missoula), but you'll pay big city prices in these trendy New American bistros.