Tasty Northern Italian cuisine appears at On Broadway (106 Broadway, 406/443-1929, 5:30–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) in a light, airy, red-brick atmosphere.
Another bastion of fine Italian cookery is Lucca’s at the Carriage House (234 1/2 Lyndale, 406/457-8311, www.luccasitalian.com, Wed.–Sun. 5 p.m.–9:30 p.m.) is a very intimate (just eight tables) restaurant with excellent appetizers, pasta, and meats, and a carefully chosen wine list. The lamb chops with mint pesto and balsamic-roasted shallots are $26.
The Mediterranean Grill (42 South Park Ave., 406/495-1212, 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Sun.) offers a pan-Mediterranean menu: Excellent pasta, pizza, and Italian dishes are paired with Moroccan and Turkish specialties (the owner is Turkish).
The Silver Star Steak Company (833 Great Northern Blvd., 406/495-0677, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) is at the center of the new Great Northern district. As one of Helena’s most popular restaurants, you’ll need reservations most evenings, but the steaks and atmosphere are both notable. Expect to pay $22 and up for prime rib and steak.
For two of Helena’s most unique dining experiences, you’ll need to leave town.
In the old near-ghost-town of Marysville near the Great Divide Ski Area, Marysville House (153 Main St., Marysville, 406/443-6677, from 5 p.m. Tues.–Sat. summer, from 5 p.m. Wed.–Sat. the rest of the year) doesn’t have a huge menu, but the 24-ounce T-bone steaks, grilled half chickens, and oyster skillets at this rustic frontier-era restaurant keep locals coming back for more. Marysville is seven miles north of Helena on I-15, then nine miles west along Highway 279, and a final six miles south along the gravel road to Marysville.
East Helena is a separate town from Helena, five minutes south on I-15. It was home to the smelter for the ores carved out of the famed Last Chance Gulch mines. Today, this workers’ town is a little worse for wear, but its historic red-brick downtown is a great spot for savvy restaurateurs looking for inexpensive rent.
Capella’s (24 W. Main, 406/439-2680) offers French- and Caribbean-influenced cuisine such as calamari served with jalapeno grits and herb-encrusted beef tenderloin with cognac sauce. The talents behind this new and notable restaurant have substantial résumés: The owner operates one of Helena’s top catering companies, and the chef previously cooked at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition