A couple of restaurants on South Higgins, just a block from the river, offer good dinners. At Scotty’s Table (131 S. Higgins, 406/549-2790, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 5–10 p.m. Sun., entrées $22–26), in the basement of the historic Wilma Theater, a casual bistro-style ambience complements the rather sophisticated fresh seasonal food. Here you’ll find innovative twists on standard dishes and sauces, such as a flank steak made with bison meat, and an aioli with cumin, stone-ground mustard, and edamame beans.
The other outstanding restaurant, Red Bird (111 N. Higgins, 406/549-2906, 5–9:30 p.m. Tues.–Sat., dinner entrées $22–35, wine bar small plates $9–20), right downtown tucked off the main lobby of the historic Florence Hotel, also uses local ingredients whenever possible, and buys whole animals to make tasty cured meats and sausages in-house. The food is great, and the restaurant’s architecture is stunning. Even if you’re not up for a somewhat spendy dinner, stop in at the restaurant’s wine bar and have a sandwich or small plate (try creamy herb-flecked gnocchi or duck and pear pâté).
Also delightful is the Pearl Café and Bakery (211 E. Front St., 406/541-0231, 5–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., entrées $19–35), with a gentle French influence on the bison steaks and grilled salmon.
A longtime local favorite is The Depot (201 W. Railroad, 406/728-7007, 5:30–10 p.m. nightly, $12–35) offers steaks, fresh fish, and seafood in conjunction with a vaunted salad bar.
Don’t let its setting in the Doubletree Hotel put you off: Finn and Porter (100 Madison St., 406/728-3100, 6 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, dinner $20–50) serves good steak dinners in a lovely riverside setting.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition