An hour of strenuous hiking burns about 400 calories; biking, close to 500; casual sightseeing around 200. That’s good news for people visiting Billings because you’ll need to stay active after exploring its exceptional and creative culinary scene. Wild mushroom bisque? A huckleberry hatch chili sauce burger? Indian bison Tacos? Custer’s Last “Stout” beer? And, that’s just a sampling. Did we forget to mention Billings houses the state’s largest gathering of award-winning microbrews. Get ready for good food, good drinks, and good times in Billings.
From casual cafes to fine dining and practically everything in between, it might be wise to plan your day around the abundant food offerings. There are over 100 restaurants here, most of which are concentrated in the vibrant downtown neighborhood. Be sure to check out Alive After 5, every Thursday night throughout the summer, for music, dancing, entertainment and just good ol’ socializing.
First up on the must visit spot is The Burger Dive. Smack dab in the middle of downtown in an unassuming brick building, The Burger Dive is so good it placed Montana meat on the world stage thanks to an innovative menu and a visit from the Travel Channel’s Man vs Food. Chef Halston has been crafting award-winning burgers since 2010. Be sure to try the World Food Championship “Burger Champion”. The “I’m Your Huckleberry” features huckleberry hatch chili barbecue sauce, bacon, goat cheese, roasted red pepper mayo, and arugula. Or, settle for the simpler but spicier “Magnum P.I Burger” with pepper jack cheese, guac, Pico de Gallo and jalapeños. Pro trip: Be sure to arrive early because the line regularly spills onto the sidewalk, but trust us, it’s worth it.
A block away you will find Walkers. Started by two brothers back in 1993, the ambience is urban and contemporary, with the famous Montana hospitality of servers that treat you like you grew up next door. Chef Nick Steen believes in keeping his menu fresh and daring while still paying homage to some of the longtime fan favorites. The food is handcrafted – the décor, modern and artistic. The Montana Rainbow Trout is a house (and locals) favorite with a fresh pistachio mint aioli. Finish it off with a specialty cocktail, Walkers has been known to have the best Old Fashion in town. Pro tip: Stop by on Sunday to enjoy everything Walkers has to offer with the added vibe of live music.
Also downtown, and a few blocks over from the Museum of Women’s History and Wise Wonders Children’s Museum, you’ll find Stella’s Kitchen and Bakery. A carved wooden bear wearing a green apron greets every patron out front. This place is all about comfort food in a comfortable setting, a full-on bakery that serves breakfast all day. The softball-sized giant white cinnamon roll is a good starter, or enough to hold you until lunch. Hop in for lunch to try popular menu items including salads, burgers, wraps and homemade soups.
All foodies should check out the Fieldhouse. Chef Ben Harman has elevated Billings’ dining with local ingredients creating out-of-this-world dishes. Just about everything on the menu is made from scratch — even the ketchup! On Saturday and Sunday, he serves a killer brunch, too.
Celebrating a special occasion or into fine dining? Treat yourself to TEN which is located in the Northern Hotel. The hotel’s history dates back to 1904 when it opened as the first modern hotel in Montana. Unfortunately, it burnt down in 1940 but was rebuilt more sophisticated and beautiful than ever. TEN brings back memories of the original hotel as the place to meet, greet and enjoy great food. They are renowned for their innovative Montana cuisse with fresh, regionally sourced flavors. Start off with a Nelson’s Cucumber cooler which consist of spotted bear gin, St. Germaine, crème da Violette, cucumber, and lime. Then order the Crispy Skinned Duck Breast whipped potatoes topped with Cumberland sauce and served with seasonal vegetable. Make reservations if you can.
Billings also has a thriving food truck scene. The Bayou comes to Billings via Cajun Phatty’s. Operators Shane and Ashley Robichaux recently relocated from Louisiana and they’re churning out a variety of tasty, authentic Cajun food — even fried alligator.
For a dinner with some intrigue, you won’t want to miss many Murder Mystery Dinners happening around Billings. Enjoy a three-course meal with craft beer and local wine while figuring out whodunit at a two-hour interactive dinner show. Join a group of guests at a party with a fun mystery theme. Mingle, meet new people, and solve the murder.
Food isn’t all that’s getting raves. Want a brewsky? Billings’ beer scene is exploding. Billings is home to the Billings Brew Trail, the only self–guided, walkable brewery tour in Montana. This unofficial “brewery district” is includes six breweries, two distilleries, and a cider house all within a walkable 1.5 mile route. We’ve got just the right brew to quench your thirst, hoppy IPA, hearty stout, Belgian wheat, and crisp cider. If you like ale, Montana Brewing Company is a brewery, sports bar and restaurant all in one. Aside from great beer, the brew pub features a menu of certified Angus beef burgers, macaroni and cheese and wood-fired nachos. Or try Uberbrew, awarded Small Brewing Company of the Year at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival. You might say Billings is a beer paradise. Download a map of the brewery tour here.
There’s no question that Billings and the surrounding areas feature some of the most breathtaking landscapes in America. Combine that with western hospitality, an inviting vibe not found in most cities this size, and restaurant options it would take weeks to experience elsewhere, and you have the makings for a great Montana getaway. Hungry yet? We’re waiting to serve you!