Magical Missoula Montana

We thank Destination Missoula for hosting the visit. Thanks also for the lovely accommodations of the DoubleTree by Hilton Missoula – Edgewater. We were not financially compensated. All opinions we provide are our unique views and reflect our experiences. We pledge to provide our audience with truthful and honest reviews.

Missoula Montana is one of those places you may not have on your food travel radar. Well, tune it up because you should. I had the opportunity to experience this magical city in the beautiful western part of the state. Not only did I feast on some amazing food and beverages, but my eyes and soul feasted on the relaxing, understated vibe of this subtly sophisticated town.

One of the best things about traveling in the winter is seeing Mother Nature in her abundant glory. The Northern Rockies surround Missoula. And they follow you everywhere. You don’t walk out of a restaurant or into a bar or down the street or into the hotel without seeing them and even feeling their presence.

Missoula Mountain RIver View Food Travelist

Missoula is a deceptively seductive destination. The first thing you notice is the surpassing beauty all around you. Then you get into a relaxed, casual, even mellow mood. You absorb it from the people around you. When you do a little exploring, you sense the college town vibe as subdued but pervasive.

And, before you know it, you’re totally hooked. The second largest city in Montana, Missoula has about 72,000 residents. As the home of the University of Montana, Missoula also has an incredible amount of cultural, culinary and recreational attractions that will keep you busy for as long as you decide to stay.

DoubleTree Double Take

I got my first hint of the beauty surrounding me when I looked out the glass door of my room at the DoubleTree. I saw the lazy Clark Fork River flowing past me. The river made gentle sounds of flowing water and I stood there enjoying the scenery.

River View Missoula Food Travelist

In the evening, I could see a lighted bridge in the distance and the sounds of the water surely would lull me to a restful sleep.

Lighted Bridge Missoula Food Travelist

The DoubleTree by Hilton Missoula – Edgewater houses Finn & Porter a relaxed and elegant restaurant offering fine dining on steak and seafood, with the added benefits of a wood-fired pizza oven and fresh seafood appetizer bar.

Appetizer Bar DoubleTree Missoula Food Travelist

Breakfast is as complete or as simple as you like it. Because I knew I had a full day of eating ahead, I opted to keep it simple with some perfectly prepared eggs over medium and a crispy toasted English muffin, just the way I like it.

No matter what I ordered, it would be enhanced by the spectacular view from the huge windows offering a gorgeous view. In the warmer months, the outside dining is something you won’t want to miss.

Finn & Porter Missoula Food Travelist

Of course, as a Food Travelist, I happily needed to leave my comfy nest and explore the wide variety of options available for eating, drinking and eating some more. Missoula is deceptively dense when it comes to great food and drink offerings. From fun and funky to fabulous fine dining, Missoula has something for every mood. Here is just a sampling of some of my favorites.

The Notorious P.I.G. BBQ

Notorious P.I.G. Missoula Food Travelist

I love me some good Q. But good Q can be hard to find. So I was delighted that my first taste of Missoula was at the awesome Notorious P.I.G. BBQ, an unassuming spot that apparently everyone knows about and loves. The menu offers sandwiches or plates and sides in a simple straightforward way. I decided that I’d be kicking myself if I’d gone to a place named Notorious P.I.G. and didn’t try the pulled pork. So that’s what I ordered with the assistance of my cheerful guide, along with coleslaw and baked beans. The potato salad is also a favorite, but I was already feeling like a p.i.g. myself so stuck with the standard number of sides.

Notorious P.I.G. Missoula Menu Food Travelist

On the table, you’ll find various styles of sauce to douse your eats with from vinegary to mustardy to spicy to my favorite, tangy and sweet. As hard as it is to give the meat it’s perfect texture and smoke, a lousy sauce can be it’s undoing. Fortunately, the Sweet Cady’s sauce here was fantastic and made me do a happy dance in my mouth. The bbq beans are also noteworthy as they had a bit of chewy caramelization along with the meaty, tangy and sweet goodness that was cooked into them through patience and a really good recipe.

Notorious P.I.G. bbq lunch Food Travelist

I also got my first taste of a local brew, the popular “That’s What She Said” cream ale from Draft Works Brewery. If I didn’t know what a cream ale was before, there’s no doubt in my mind now. It’s mild and has a sweet finish. No bitter afterbite on this one, which paired perfectly with my sandwich and sides. And so I left stuffed and happy as, well, I bet you can guess.

Shopping and Strolling

Missoula, even in winter, is a highly walkable city. Several streets offer a wide array of shops, galleries, and points of interest that encourage you to stroll and explore. You can pop into a beautiful garden shop, check out some musical instruments,

Music Shop Missoula Food Travelist

catch a movie,

Roxy Cinema Missoula Food Travelist

enjoy public sculpture and art,

Public Art Missoula Food Travelist

explore a gallery,

Art Gallery Missoula Food Travelist

look at books & stuff,

Books & Stuff Missoula Food Travelist

or get lost inside the “We Buy Anything” store

We Buy Anything Store Missoula Food Travelist

(which really does seem to buy anything!)

We Buy Anything Store Inside Missoula Food Travelist

all within a few blocks.

If you’re feeling adventurous you can venture out a little further and be rewarded with even more fun surprises. Rockin’ Rudy’s is well-known by locals as the ultimate place for tchotchkes. This store is huge!

Rockin' Rudy's Missoula Food Travelist

It has everything you can think of in the sundry category – shirts, jewelry, cards, and gifts of all sorts. It also has teas, videos and tons of other great stuff. With 8 rooms to browse, you could practically make a day of it.

Rockin' Rudy's Stuff Missoula Food Travelist

But you’ll want to leave in time to explore another local treasure, a Carousel for Missoula.

Carousel for Missoula Food Travelist

This charming attraction has a special meaning to Missoula and each of the carved figures has its own special story. There’s a magical connection with the community and even dragons.

Unique Carousel Missoula Food Travelist

And, there are ongoing efforts of restoration that keep this special attraction in tip-top shape for visitors of all ages to explore and enjoy

Time for a Snack

With all that shopping and strolling, you’re likely to get hungry. There’s no lack of places to get a quick bite or a treat. Try a cone at the Big Dipper, some of the tastiest ice cream anywhere.

Big Dipper Ice Cream Missoula Food Travelist

You can find a tasty gyro or piece of baklava made from yiayia’s special recipe at The Green Pastry Shop.

Baklava Missoula Food Travelist

Grab a slice of pizza at The Bridge or Pie Hole.

Pie Hole Pizza Missoula Food Travelist

Or a freshly baked pastry from Bernice’s Bakery or Le Petit Outre.

Croissants at Le Petit Outre Missoula Food Travelist.

You can get some cookies from Mary’s Mountain Cookies

Mary's Mountain Cookies Missoula Food Travelist

or something from Posh Chocolat to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Posh Chocolat Missoula Food Travelist

As you explore Missoula, you will encounter signals that make you feel comfortable and let you know that know that everyone is welcome.

All Gender Restroom Missoula Food Travelist

Quench Your Thirst

By now, you’re likely to be working up a little thirst. But don’t worry because, in addition to delicious local coffee and tea options, Missoula is crazy about making its own carefully crafted beer and spirits.

Montgomery Distillery offers up some incredibly smooth and sultry cocktails. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try their homegrown version of the Moscow Mule, complete with the copper mug.

Montgomery Distillery Cocktails Missoula Food Travelist

There are many other classic pubs and bars. One that’s especially popular with the University students at the end of a long night is Stockmans Bar and Cafe. It’s been around as a classic haunt for ages and has the cool old school sign to prove it.

Stockmans Bar Missoula Food Travelist

If you want a little entertainment with your libation, the Top Hat Lounge will fit the bill.

Top Hat Missoula Food Travelist

To quaff a brew you’ve got another ton of options. Tamarack Brewing Co. makes some seriously yummy beer. And, they also serve the largest plate of nachos I have ever seen!

Tamarack Brewing Co. Missoula Food Travelist

While there are lots of other great brew houses nearby, if you’re willing to take a little jaunt maybe 15 minutes away, you will be rewarded with the incredible Highlander Brewing Company.

Higlander Beer Missoula Food Travelist

It’s in the fun and funky category, with great decor, fantastic brews and, I was told by a local enjoying a slice, delicious pizza, and bites.

Higlander Beer Flight Missoula Food Travelist

Ethnic Eats Abound

You might imagine eating lots of meat and potatoes when you think of Montana dining. And you can certainly get your share of beef or venison steak and elk sausage, it’s true. But there’s so much more than that to explore and Missoula offers a stunning array of ethnic and fine dining options to satisfy whatever your mood may be.

Among the variety of options, you will find authentic Indian and Mexican,

El Cazador Missoula Food Travelist

Cajun and Asian,

Iza Asian Restaurant Missoula Food Travels

Argentinian and Brazilian

Five On Black Brazilian Missoula Food Travelist

and, of course, Italian eateries. Missoula has also mastered the food truck scene, which in the temperate months will offer you just about anything you could possibly want from tamales to pho, ceviche, Cuban sandwiches,  gluten-free waffles, gumbo, bar and more.  You won’t miss out on the latest crazes at Missoula’s casual eateries either where you can find tapas, ramen, sushi and even poke to enjoy.

Poke Missoula Food Travelist

Fine Dining Is Just Fab

For fine dining, you’re also blessed with plentiful options. I had a wonderful meal at Scotty’s Table, a sleek and upscale ambiance service fresh and creative Mediterranean fare. Best of all, the star of the show at Scotty’s Table is the incredible local ingredients that provide total satisfaction. Not only does everything taste incredible, but you know that you’re supporting local farmers and ranchers with a focus on thoughtful sustainable, eco-friendly business practices.

Scotty's Table

At my table, I couldn’t resist trying the fried Brussels sprouts and cauliflower appetizer. It came with bacon lardons, mustard crème fraiche, and apple cider reduction. And yes, it tasted just as good as it sounds. And there’s plenty to share with your dining companions.

My dinner companion couldn’t resist the beef duo, which featured braised local beef with rosemary-balsamic jus and chef’s select cut with a Montgomery whiskey, cherry pepper-blue cheese sauce. As if that weren’t enough, Asiago mashed potatoes and seared greens rounded out the plate. Utterly delicious.

cotty's Table Beef Duo Missoula Food Travelist

As for me, I was not about to pass up the grilled local apple brined pork chop. Accompanied by a root vegetable puree and potato, beet and parsnip hash and finished with a roasted cipollini onion,  apple, and mustard marmalade, it literally put me in hog heaven.

Scotty's Table Pork Chop Missoula Food Travelist

As if that weren’t enough Scotty’s Table also offers wonderful desserts, often highlighting seasonal and local ingredients.

Scotty's Table Dessert Missoula Food Travelist

The attentive and amiable service is well-suited to the ambiance, encouraging everyone to relax and enjoy a fantastic meal.

Frenchie Food? Mais Oui!

As you know, the Food Travelist palate loves to revel in delicious French-inspired fare. You probably also know it can be difficult to find such a treat when traveling. So it may surprise you that a Missoula institution on the dining scene is The Pearl Cafe, a chef-driven restaurant with inspired French cuisine courtesy of Executive Chef Pearl Cash. Travels in France inform not only the excellent cuisine but also the casual elegance and comfortably inviting environment surrounding you as a diner.

Pearl Cafe Inside Missoula Food Travelist

Dishes are carefully composed, with attention paid to every detail. You can choose from a wide array of appetizers ranging from classics like French onion soup gratinee and escargot, to something more nouvelle such as prosciutto and fig salad or curry beef spring rolls. We opted for a lovely chicken pate with a reduction of port and Madeira, served with sliced apples and French bread.

Entrees also offer a wide variety from duckling with pomegranate cherry sauce to filet mignon with green peppercorn sauce or grilled salmon with mustard butter. We tried the walnut and herb prawns, served with tomato remoulade, fresh vegetables, and frites.

Pearl Cafe Shrimp Missoula Food Travelist

and the irresistible filet mignon topped with port wine and Roquefort cheese sauce served with fresh veggies and creamy mashed potatoes. What a fabulous feast.

Pearl Cafe Filet Missoula Food Travelist

Service here is also as you would hope, friendly and helpful. Diners around us were happily chatting and enjoying every morsel, creating an environment in which we felt fully at home. If you have room for dessert, there are lovely options like creme brûlée, flourless chocolate torte, Grand Marnier cheesecake and more.

Wait, There’s More!

I’ve tried to provide a peek into what’s waiting for you in Missoula. But to be honest, I’m leaving out even more than I’ve been able to include. From a fantastic vintage scene full of boutique shops on the Hip Strip,

The Hip Strip Missoula Food Travelist

where you will also find a store full of upcycled goods,

Upcycled Inside Missoula Food Travelist

to the farmer’s markets, impressive Missoula Art Museum with, get this, FREE admission, the public art park, the local music and theater scenes, bakeries, tea and coffee houses, and even a cool art house film and music venue (The Wilma), I have barely scratched the surface.

Honestly, I could just drive around looking at the beautiful houses and the snow-covered mountains and be totally happy.

Missoula Town Missoula Food Travelist

The fact that everyone is so mellow, friendly and helpful just is icing on the Montana cake. As you can probably tell, I was completely enthralled with my time in this magical city. And, it seems as though I’m not alone.  San Francisco may steal your heart, but you will find your soul happily hanging out in Missoula.

In Love With Montana Missoula Food Travelist

Pin For Your Missoula, Montana Travel Planning

16 thoughts on “Magical Missoula Montana

  1. Looks like a great trip! We went to Montana for the first time last year and I was very pleasantly surprised. I think we will move there some day. Missoula looks like another great city to add to the list.<3

    1. It really was Michelle. We’d move there in a heartbeat if the winters weren’t so darn long. I don’t mind winter but after a while it’s a bit much.

  2. Wow! What a fabulous trip! The BBQ, the pizza, the poke – it all looks so delicious! I have to admit Missoula, Montana was not on our list before your yummy post, but it certainly is now. Awesome photos, too! Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Despite my many drives through Montana, I’ve never stayed in Missoula. Our friend who moved there loves the outdoor activities. Looks like there are plenty of eateries, too!

  4. Just passed through Montana. This vibe you are talking about is good to have. The food you describe is awesome for a city of only 72,000. Next time I should stop for a few days!

  5. We never realized just how much there is to see in Missoula, Montana. There seems to be no lack of dining options, and the food pictures certainly inspire a desire to visit. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I have got to get to this part of the world. It looks amazing! And aaaah, those shots in the snow and the bridge looks magnificent. You captured well how ‘magical’ this place can be!

  7. With the weather being so tough this winter for others, I feel a little guilty gushing about the snow as a California girl. It is just so gorgeous! I would love to visit Montana. Looks like you’ve found a wonderful destination to soak in the beauty.

  8. It might be a sign. I just talked to my husband about going to Montana to visit his family in the fall. I will make sure we stop by in here because it looks like a great place to visit. Great pictures

  9. I love to visit places like Missoula Montana. I think that there you’ll find the real soul, the real life. You made a lot of awesome pictures!

  10. Wow! Food + all the amazing shops! This looks like a great place to visit! I adore the view too from your vacation spot. I would definitely love to visit a place like this with my family. Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. The lit-up bridge looks magical and beautiful in the winter time. I would love to stroll through and take some nice evening-time photos are the sunsets. The BBQ beans look like they would be out of this world good and tasty.

  12. I went to Montana a long time ago for a church retreat. We didnt get to explore much but I thought the area we were in was beautiful. We hope to visit with the kids one day for a road trip.

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