This year I’ve been spending time in Montana as well as Idaho, both lovely states, and those who call either state “fly-over states” are very wrong. They both have lots of color and character, as I know other states do, but today I’m writing about the diners in Montana. We have stopped at several different diners, all individually owned, no chains or franchises.
Yesterday we ate at the Edgar Bar in Edgar, Montana, population 114, and the bar was so big that the entire town could have joined us and been seated for dinner. It had a roaring fire with lots of character and before we left, it had filled with customers. I had the best steak I had ever had, cooked to perfection from a cow that “used to live just down the road,” the server said. We split the 20-ounce ribeye and brought home another full meal. It was complete with a fresh salad, homemade bread, and fresh green beans. The servers joked and made us feel right at home. I recommend it highly.
On another outing we ate in the Old School House in Dell, Montana, boasting a population of 64. The building is a reconverted one-room schoolhouse with blackboards and a few of the old-fashioned school desks. We split a hamburger that came with homemade French fries that were the biggest we had ever seen, worth six or eight bites each. They carried Rocky Mountain Soda, a refreshing change from Coke and Pepsi. The Old School House was under new management, and the owner carried a pistol strapped on his hip. I felt safe but made sure we paid as we left.
We also stumbled on a lovely Italian restaurant called the Piccola Cucina at Ox Pasture in Red Lodge, Montana, population 2,200 at the edge of Yellowstone Park. The cute décor made me think of Italy, not Montana, authentic everything, Italian music and no animals on the walls. The servers spoke with Italian accents, and the food was amazing, and when I ordered coffee, it wasn’t Folgers!
We also enjoyed a lunch at a small bar called The Griz in Roscoe, Montana, population 16, which had plenty of animals on the walls. None of the locals were there and we had the place to ourselves. Good food, a variety of wines and beers, and fresh vegetables in a wonderful salad. A sign on the wall read “Where the hell is Roscoe?” and that was a good question.
I applaud these restaurants. Good food is always welcome and the thought of going to a small rural restaurant in a small town in a flyover state might be foreign to some, but the owners and staff work hard to do the best they can, and I, for one, enjoyed dining in these small-town landmarks.
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