Most people think of Billings Montana as an oasis for outdoor lovers. But what you may not realize is that Billings is also a center of thriving culture – particularly of the culinary nature! In fact, Billings is home to some truly superb restaurants – from fine-dining establishments to comfort food hole-in-the-wall joints, there is something for everyone to eat in Billings. Read on to learn more about 4 of the city’s most delicious restaurants.
Joanie Swords does something just right with Harper and Madison, a bakery, café and market located in the heart of downtown Billings. Swords designs her menu around what’s fresh, changing it for the seasons. Their menu isn’t even printed – it’s written on a chalkboard because it changes so regularly. Harper & Madison is an elegant, yet relaxed place, and it attracts diners of all ages – touting comfort food with an haute cuisine twist. People rave about the baked goods there, like caramel scones and red velvet cupcakes. For entrée food, Swords offers a good variety of sandwiches, grilled paninis, and quiches. Harper and Madison is a family type of place, and diners say they love it for its ambience as much as its food (which is a lot!) The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch, and they sell take-home dinners to heat up and eat in the comfort of your own kitchen.
For the more sophisticated sort, check out Lilac – a relatively new wine bar and restaurant focused on local, responsible cooking. The chefs at Lilac only prepare their food using local produce, and the menu features upscale American food. The food selection has a sophisticated, haute-cuisine flair, but the environment at Lilac is approachable, or, in the restaurant’s own words, “Modern American food with a fistful of approachability.” The menu changes regularly, but some of the dinner staples include a goat cheese soufflé with pistachio and raisin chutney, as well as a coffee cured hangar steak. The restaurant also serves wine and a variety of locally-brewed beers. Lilac is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday and for Sunday brunch.
Also located in downtown Billings is Walker’s American Grill and Tapas Bar, a staple favorite among Billings locals. Walker’s first opened its doors in 1993, and it moved into its current space in a renovated historic downtown building in 2003. The interior of Walker’s is upscale, but it pays homage to its Montana surroundings, with suede and leather adornments and barbed wire light fixtures. Walker’s was the first tapas-style restaurant in Billings, where diners get to sample and share small plates with friends. The tapas menu at Walker’s features over 25 small plates, like bacon wrapped dates and Yellowstone Grassfed Beef Carpaccio. The full course menu at the restaurant features classic meat dishes inspired by the Wild West – like Grilled Angus Ribeye and Grilled Lamb Chops (fear not — there are things for fish-lovers and vegetarians too). On Sunday nights at Walker’s, there is a jazz concert, featuring some of the best musicians in the region, and there is also a full-bar, complete with a wide selection of wines, beers, spirits, and hand-crafted cocktails. The atmosphere at Walker’s is a little fancy, but the clientele is all over the map – so don your cowboy hat or evening gown, and come here for a night of delicious food and socializing.
The Burger Dive in Billings sounds like a simple, straightforward burger joint. But, in reality, The Burger Dive is far from a regular burger restaurant, with unique and one-of-a-kind burgers filling their menu. The Burger Dive features a whole menu of creative burger choices, hot dogs, sides, shakes, and drinks. Some of the original burger concoctions at The Burger Dive are the “Garlic” Burger, featuring roasted garlic and garlic mayo, the “Santa Fe” Southwestern Burger, with pepper jack cheese and chipotle mayo, the “Magnum” burger, with pepper jack cheese, fresh guacamole, salsa, and jalapeño, and the Thunderbolt Burger, boasting 1/3 lb of pepper jack cheese, 2/3 lb burger, habanero chile peppers, Sriracha, and chipotle mayo (the restaurant offers a challenge to finish that one in 10 minutes). Vegetarians have options at the Burger Dive too, with its Spicy Tuna Burger and its Geezer Butler veggie burger. The atmosphere is completely casual and unpretentious, and the prices match – you won’t pay more than $9.25 for a regular burger (the Thunderbolt costs a bit more at $14). The Burger Dive is only open during lunch hours – so make sure to come by while the sun’s still out.
Photo Courtesy of Ron Dollete