Breakfast takes on a more hallowed significance than other meals. And in Montana, a state steeped in farmers and other hard-working communities, it’s no surprise that we’re home to some of the best breakfast joints in the state. From diners, to restaurants, to bakeries, these 10 great breakfast places are among the best in Big Sky Country.
Simple and good is the name of the game. Especially for breakfast. This no-frills, roadside cafe is a comfort food stop worth trying. Impossible to miss in the small logging and outdoors town of Darby, the bare bones, short order breakfast and lunches here are ideal fuel for scenic drives along the Bitterroot Range.
Off Main Street in downtown Hamilton, The Kitchen is a hipper-than-normal rural cafe, boasting a decent lunch menu of sandwiches and the like. But its breakfast specialties are the real draws. Off course, there’re the obligatory eggs-and-breakfast-meats combinations, but the head-sized, griddle-crisped pancakes are truly satisfying: Warm, pillowy and faintly sweet.
The two merits of this otherwise ordinary breakfast-lunch cafe are its quality ingredients and a menu for any taste. Just off the main drag, on First Street, the ‘Rooster sports an approachable but discerning spread. A delicious matrix of create-your-own sandwiches for lunch is matched only by its breakfast: Ranging from the satisfyingly healthy steel-cut oats with fruits and brown sugar to an obligatory egg and cheese sandwich.
Good scenery always makes food less bland. And this spot has the dual benefit of being cradled by coniferous mountain silhouettes and the seven-mile long Whitefish Lake. Not to mention the town is home to the Whitefish Mountain Resort. With a population hovering well below 10,000, the mountain community exudes a small-town approachability that bleeds into its best casual diners. Swift Creek has a decently executed Eggs Benedict and a hearty breakfast burrito to preface winter skis or summer hikes.
On the pleasantly never-crowded two-lane stretch from northeastern Idaho, over the Bitterroots and Lolo Pass to western Montana, Stevensville is a perennially overlooked community with a few surprisingly delicious food joints. For breakfast (and lunch, too!), Stevi’s long menu is comfortingly nostalgic and frighteningly apt to inspire overconsumption. Not greasy, golden brown hash browns accompany a battalion of breakfast staples. Particularly good are the Denver omelet and any number of meats, hotcakes and sides a la carte.
This cool joint is riding the popularity wave of hip, northwestern breakfast experiences. As such, the codified pillars of local, approachable, sustainable and satisfying manifest in a menu of solid morning smorgasbord. Partial to Benedicts? House-made biscuits and gravy? Nova is the spot. All’re the delicious results of fresh and delicious and well-prepared.
The hometown of Carroll College, Steve’s is repeatedly voted the best breakfast by locals (every year, in fact). And there’s a menu of reasons with which to agree. It’s hard to go wrong with a hearty three-egg omelet, brimming with cheese, alongside hash browns still sizzling with hot butter from the griddle. Or for the sweeter tooth, the cafe serves pancakes by the stack.
Just like grandma used to make. That is if she engaged in the time-consuming and labor-intensive process of lovingly banging-out fresh donuts. This compact store is great for a quick breakfast, on the way to explore the wilds or speeding to work. Grab a hot coffee, a splash of cream, and dip into the sweet flakiness of Montana’s premier scratch donut shop.
Yes, it’s a nationwide chain. But sometimes chains are that way for a reason: They have a good product. And Einstein does bagels very well. The only location in Montana, Missoula is an obvious choice. It’s a university town with thousands of hungry students and their relatives, and a local food culture that appreciates simple, well-executed classics, especially for breakfast.
This gas station is too easy to miss. Along the sparsely-traveled highway between Salmon, Idaho and Darby, Montana, Sula is hardly a town. At 65 miles an hour, it’s a nondescript sign and a few gas pumps. But the humble kitchen inside is great for a quick bite to eat to cut the morning chill. Give the store a ring beforehand, and waiting will be a fried egg wedged into some bread, covered in cheese and crispy bacon, ready to take on the road.