Visiting Western Montana – Where to Dine and Stay in Glacier Country – Part 2
This is Part 2 from our trip to Glacier Country in Western Montana. In addition to great outdoor adventures, this part of Montana also has an evolving culinary scene. You can read Part 1 here:
Visiting Western Montana – Things to do in Glacier Country – Part 1
“Small Towns, Big Eats”
Glacier County has a wide array of casual and upscale dining options along with an up-and-coming craft brewery, winemaking, and distillery scene. Their intensive culinary arts program at Missoula College (a satellite campus of the University of Montana) is inspiring young students to become chefs and enticing them to stay in the area and open their own restaurants.
As you might imagine, food can be hearty in the winter months, with many restaurants serving local specialties like elk and bison. Big breakfasts are also a favorite to warm you up and get you going for all of the outdoor activities.
Noteworthy noshing stops in Missoula include: Breakfast at The Shack Café; lunch at Caffè Dolce; craft cocktails at Montgomery Distillery; and small plates at Plonk. For steak and American fare, Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern is a good choice and the classic French-inspired dishes at The Pearl Café were excellent. Mrs. Wonderful’s Marmalade Café in Polson (between Missoula and Kalispell) was a delightful place for lunch with really delicious and fresh seasonal dishes.
Kalispell is a quintessential western town (complete with a life-size horse and buggy above the Western Store). Stop at Kalispell Brewery on Main Street for local brews and libations early in the evening and then head over to DeSoto Grill for tasty barbecue fare and live music. Don’t miss a visit to the famous Moose’s Saloon, where you enter through the swinging saloon doors for a cold local brew and their surprisingly, excellent pizza. Add your initials to the rustic wooden benches, walls, or stalls that have been etched in and written on since 1957. If there’s any room left for dessert, Norm’s News, a throwback to the classic old-fashioned soda and candy shop, whips up a mean Huckleberry Milkshake and they’re just across the street. Huckleberries are a regional favorite in Western Montana and can be found in ice cream, pies, cobbler, preserves and sauces all around the area. For a casual and quiet evening with excellent food, try Hop’s Downtown Grill.
Whitefish is a charming little town with views of the mountains from their main street, Central Avenue, and there are a surprising number of great dining spots. Tupelo Grille is a nice choice for a dinner with a Southern and Cajun spin (think Shrimp & Grits) or try Pescado Blanco for a unique take on Mexican dishes. For a special evening out, head up the mountain to Café Kandahar at Kandahar Lodge at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Prepare to be wowed by Chef Andy Blanton’s beautifully presented Chef’s Tasting Menu, featuring local specialties, and paired with wines from their Wine Spectator award-winning wine list.
Where to Stay
In the warmer months, there are many choices for your visit as the beautiful historic properties are open for the season in and around scenic Glacier National Park. In the wintertime, smaller properties and chain hotels and lodges in Missoula and Kalispell are open, which are close to where you’ll want to be for most of the activities and restaurants. The Red Lion Hotel, located on Main Street Kalispell, is a good option, and offers shuttle service to the airport for its guests.
In Whitefish, the popular ski town and resort area, Grouse Mountain Lodge, just minutes from the center of town, is an excellent choice. They also have a shuttle to the airport. The Firebrand Hotel, a modern boutique property, and one of Montana’s newest hotels, offers a number of amenities such as a spa and rooftop patio. Cedar Creek Lodge, located just outside of Whitefish in Columbia Falls, is also a newer property and its design was inspired by the original lodges in the park.
Make plans this winter to visit Glacier Country for spectacular scenery, outdoor adventures you’ll remember forever, and a surprising culinary experience.
How to get there
The two airports servicing this area are Missoula International Airport, 5 miles from the town of Missoula, and Glacier Park Airport, which is located between Kalispell and Columbia Falls. Many flights coming from the east are routed through Salt Lake City. It’s a short flight from Salt Lake City with beautiful views of the mountains along the way, so be sure to get a window seat so you don’t miss nature’s majestic beauty from above.
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Disclosure – We worked with Glacier Country Tourism on this trip. As always, the opinions expressed are our own.