Rooted in the Latin phrase “to please,” the delicatessen has long been a culinary, social, and familial hub. First introduced in New York, the meat-and-bread trend spread rapidly westward, with the term “deli” emerging in the middle of the 20th century. Though the “expensive” and “exclusive” connotations of European delis have since dissolved, the dedication to quality product remains. Here are the best delis in Montana.
The Italian verb tagliare refers to “cutting” (tagliatelle pasta comes to mind): an uber-appropriate descriptor for this, or any other, delicatessen. But more specifically, the word implies rusticity and straightforwardness: quality product treated with respect, expertly executed. Here, the Italian culinary pillars of fresh ingredients, unfooled-around-with, are tantamount. And the proof’s in the pudding… or, in the sandwich. The music-friendly menu items satisfy any palate: the crowd-pleasing Pretender sandwich melds mozzarella, basil and tomato, and the Clash combines the salty and briny with salamis and olive relish.
About as close as Montana gets to the window-wrapped, street-side delis of the East Coast, Worden’s has long been a go-to lunch spot (and boutique grocer) for Missoulans. The first grocery store in the area, circa 1883, the deli has become an oasis in Missoula’s long-bourgeoning downtown. No matter one’s taste, rest assured the ingredients are as local as possible, supremely fresh, of high quality, and served by enthusiastic and smiling staff. The Bleu Moo, with stilton and roast beef, pleases any and all carnivores; and the Fungart is a mushroom-laden veggie delight.
It’s hard to beat. Hot and cold sandwiches, breakfast, salads, wraps, great coffee: all enveloped by the rugged greenery of the Big Sky Ski Resort. Thirty years in the making, the Moose has been a vanguard in not only utilizing fresh and local produce, but supporting local farmers and producers. Entwined into the culinary and artistic fabric of Big Sky, this deli backs up its stellar community reputation with a commendable food menu. The meat-free avocado and tomato surprises with its simplicity, and the hot Reuben reminds all of its deli menu dominance.
The Smiling Moose is Rocky Mountain through and through. It’s rugged and nature-based, emphasizing local, fresh and approachable, while still being responsibly-sourced and keeping-up with the modernizing tastes of today’s diner. While it’s breakfast sandwiches are top-notch with a cup of coffee (they’re served all day), the lunch options are stellar. The wraps and hot sandwiches are mounded high and warm the belly, but the seasonal options keep the palate entertained. The Bacon & Bleu Mo’ is a timely indulgence: beef, bacon and bleu cheese.
Co-ops are carving out a unique and increasingly prominent space in the grocery/food industry. These member-owned, independent and uber-organic ventures cater to the community and the environment, melding affordability with high-quality. With a decent average income, thriving tourism and a vibrant culture, Bozeman provides a fertile backdrop to a successful Co-op. Per the common layout, this branch features a decent hot bar, salad bar, and most notably, a deli packed with the freshest, most local sandwich artistry in the region. While prices may be higher than the local commercial grocer, the assurance of a delicious, guilt-free meal is hard to beat. Menus change daily.
The “buffalo” sign near Big Sky has become synonymous with delicious sandwiches and Montana meat. Since the mid-70s, Chalet’s evolved from a structure to sell local ranchers’ product to a premium market and deli. This store is a great one-stop for locally-raised meat and locally-produced charcuterie. While the selection isn’t as extensive or customizable as strict deli operations, the unpretentious sandwiches, using the highest quality ingredients, raised just hours away, more than compensate. As the seasons and availability of product change, so do the sandwich and soup specials. Check website for details.
The name Wheat Montana has become synonymous with organic breads in the Northwest. As such, their deli outlets dot the Big Sky landscape, and are often home to some of the best sandwiches in the Inland Northwest. With locations in Three Forks, Missoula, Kalispell and Great Falls, a great bread-wrapped delicacy is only a short road-trip away.