If you are in the mood for a Montana Valentine’s date that you will never forget or just need a little inspiration for a fun night out on the town, may we suggest a food and pub crawl?
Food and pub crawls are a blast, as they allow you to experience all the flavors of your neighborhood and try places you might ordinarily pass by. Here are a few ideas for the Bitterroot, Missoula, and Flathead Valleys to get you started.
Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday, so if you are celebrating on the actual day, you will have to get an early start (2:00 p.m.) due to Hamilton’s Tuesday business hours. If you are going to celebrate the Saturday before, you can get a later start, but reservations may be in order for a couple of these destinations.
Why not start the evening with Big Sky Candy, where you can sample homemade chocolate and candy? Nothing will ramp up your date night tastebuds like the sights and smells of traditional homemade sweets. Once you have primed your palette for an evening of taste sensations, we recommend you round the corner and visit Boilla for wine and tapas. Boilla’s has a delectable wine menu, and the appetizer menu features things like Tuna Poke and Red Curry-Coconut Chicken. (Note: Bouilla is only open until 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday – if you plan on going the Saturday before or after Valentine’s Day, Bouilla is open until 4:30 p.m. – make a reservation now!)
Image via Bouilla Facebook
Westslope Distillery is one block over from Bouilla and, as stated on the website, is “A community-oriented distillery that seeks to express the Montana experience through spirits distilled in small batches using the finest ingredients sourced from farms and fields throughout Montana.” If you love fly-fishing, you will immediately fall in love with the artwork and the signature cocktails named after flies (in fact, for you non-fly fishers, Westslope refers to the native Westslope Cutthroat trout).
2nd Street Sushi is a couple of blocks from Westslope Distillery and home to some of the finest sushi in Western Montana. Finding definitive hours can be challenging, so call first. They have a small bar where you can sip sake or wine and watch as the chef prepares your sushi. Be sure to sample their cucumber, blueberry, and strawberry salad.
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Once you have sampled some sushi, join hands and stroll back to Main Street to visit Naps Grill. While Naps is known for its iconic burgers, it’s not so well known for its extra premium selection of scotch and bourbon, making this the perfect place to end your date with a nightcap.
Image via Mission Bistro
Start your memorable Stevensville date night at Mission Bistro but be sure to book your reservation early for a Valentine’s Day dinner (they are typically closed on Tuesdays, but they are open for Valentine’s Day this year). Mission Bistro is one of the best places to eat in the Bitterroot AND Missoula. Their delectable appetizers – I can personally recommend the meat and cheese plate and the pan-seared scallops – and carefully selected wine list make Mission Bistro the ideal spot to start your romantic evening.
If Mission Bistro is booked for the night, start your Stevi food and pub crawl at Montana Distillery (if Mission Bistro does work out, let this be your second stop.) This historic-meets-modern-day distillery is a tasting room featuring 30 craft cocktails. Deciding what to drink may be challenging, but deciding to take home a bottle of your favorite spirit will not.
Now that you are warmed up consider heading down Main Street to the Tin Can. If Mission Bistro was booked and you haven’t eaten yet, try one of the Tin Can’s outstanding burgers (may we recommend the Hucked Up burger, slathered in huckleberry BBQ sauce?) or a basket of their crispy, beer-battered fries. Of course, this local sports bar also has a fully stocked bar to accommodate your favorite cocktail selection.
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Your food and pub crawl will not be complete until you visit Blacksmith Brewing and order their crafted on-site beer. This place has a fantastic local vibe, and often features local talent. Kick back a mug or two here, and if you want one more food stop before the evening is over, leave through the side door of the brewery, walk a few steps, and have a taste of excellent Mexican food at Fuego.
Image via Saketome Facebook
Start the evening at The Rhino, one of Missoula’s legendary bars, right up there with Stockman’s and Missoula Club. Its proximity to other ideal date night stops makes it the perfect place to start the party.
Right around the corner is the Top Hat, known to Missoulians for its incredible music scene and very chill early evening vibe. It’s typically not very crowded in the late afternoon or early evening, and their tapas are killer. Choose from chicken and waffles or taquitos, to name just a couple.
Now that you have a little something in your stomach cross the street to another legendary Missoula landmark – Stockman’s Bar. Here you can order a cheap drink, people-watch, and soak up the dive-bar vibe.
Just a couple of doors down from Stockman’s Bar, you’ll find some of the best sushi in Western Montana at Saketome. So make a reservation, even if you are just going in to share an appetizer or a sushi roll. Saketome’s small plate menu can be found here.
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Now you have a big decision to make. You can head next door to Montgomery Distillery for a nightcap (they close at 8:00 p.m.) OR you can carry on.
If you decide to carry on, may we suggest Pangea for apps and drinks, Plonk for a signature cocktail, and Thomas Meagher Bar (Mar Bar to the locals) for Scotch eggs (their craft mac-n-cheese is top shelf as well).
Image via ShowThyme Act II Facebook
Bigfork is a small town and spread out, so a food and pub crawl is slightly more challenging. Still, if you want to head downtown, you can accomplish much on foot.
For a memorable date night, you can make a reservation at either ShowThyme Act II or Saketome. ShowThyme Act II features culinary delights that will haunt your dreams for days. Saketome, like its Missoula location, has sushi that you would expect to find in more metropolitan areas. You could start with appetizers and wine at one location and then walk to the opposite one for dinner!
Once you have dined at either Saketome or ShowThyme Act II, you can stroll to the Garden Bar for a nightcap and some nightlife. Before 8:00 p.m., you can walk across the street to Sugar and Spice for a down-home dessert of Wilcoxson’s ice cream or a baked delight with coffee.
If you don’t mind driving a bit south, may we suggest all the date night wonders of Woods Bay?
Our favorite Montana tiki bar, The Raven, is closed this time of year, but its neighbor, The Sitting Duck, is open! Order your favorite cocktail right on the banks of Flathead Lake. From there, you can decide to stay seated and enjoy a casual dinner, or you can make reservations ahead of time at Montana Bonfire.
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Montana Bonfire is a celebration of farm-to-table and Asian flavors you would not expect to find in the quiet hamlet of Woods Bay. Whether you stop here for wine and appetizers or enjoy a full dinner, you will leave dreaming about your next visit.
Montana Bonfire is extremely popular in the area, so if they are booked on Valentine’s Day or your date night of choice, don’t forget about the wonderful menus at Mountain Lake Lodge. Riley’s Pub and Sports Bar at Mountain Lake Lodge offers both casual and fine dining options.
For your food and pub crawl in Downtown Whitefish, we suggest you start and finish at the Great Northern Bar and Grill. This is the party mecca of Whitefish – there is ALWAYS something going on, something to do, something to drink, and something to see. This place will set the perfect vibe for your date, and if you are still in the mood to do something after you eat and drink in Whitefish, you can circle back for whatever the Great Northern has in store for entertainment.
After visiting the Great Northern, you can head to Wasabi Sushi Bar, voted, according to their website, “#1 sushi in the Flathead and Whitefish again this year.” Here you can enjoy a taste sensation from the menu while you sip a glass of red or white wine or a cup of sake.
Now that you have enjoyed a little Whitefish flavor, why not sample an appetizer or splurge for an entree at Whitefish’s premiere restaurant, Latitude 48 Bistro? The artisan drink menu from the downstairs “Red Room Lounge” will entice you with festive colors and flavors. The mouth-watering starters and pizza menu may just hit the spot. If you are looking for more, feast your eyes and palette on the exclusive entree menu.
If Latitude 48 is full for the evening, another local favorite is Buffalo Cafe. If you want to get REALLY creative, you can skip date night and beat the crowds by having Date Morning! The Buffalo Cafe’s hearty, critically acclaimed breakfasts and mimosas will be the perfect start to your date day – you can enjoy delicious morning fare and then have the entire day to eat and drink across Whitefish. The Buffalo Cafe also has an exceptional dinner menu, featuring bison meatloaf and elk tacos.
Be sure to stop at the Bulldog Saloon, a dive bar steeped in history and attitude. Named for the local high school’s mascot, the Bulldog Saloon offers everything you need and want from a Northwestern Montana bar – reasonably priced drinks, fabulous burgers and fries, and local flare.
Now that you have a few date night ideas, map out a custom food and pub crawl. Western and Northwestern Montana are known for their friendly bars and exceptional food, which are the perfect foundation for a date you won’t soon forget.
Kat Hobza has lived in Montana since she was nine, and was raised in the mountains west of Victor, Montana. There she learned to hunt, fish, shoot competitively, chop and stack firewood, and drive on icy or muddy roads. Kat has over two decades of experience in professional writing and content marketing. When she’s not crafting copy for Glacier Sotheby’s International Realty, she’s either hanging with her hilarious adult kids or soaking up the sun somewhere – a riverbank, a golf course, or her deck.
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