Whitefish is a great place to eat breakfast. The
Buffalo Cafe (514 3rd St. E., 406/862-2833, 6:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Sun., $5–8 for breakfast and lunch) is populated with an easy mix of locals and tourists. The breakfast menu features about half a dozen variations on huevos rancheros and at least as many omelets, and it’s all really yummy! When we visited in the spring of 2008, the Buff was remodeling in order to serve dinners.
Other good breakfast spots are Loula’s (300 2nd St. E, 406/862-5614, 7 a.m.–4 p.m. daily summer, 7 a.m.–3 p.m. daily winter, $4.50–8.50), which is perhaps best loved for its berry pies, and Mama Blanca’s (306 2nd St. E., 406/862-3640, 6 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, $4–16), serving delicious Latin American food with elements from Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican cuisine.
If you’re heading south of town and want some coffee for the road, stop at Montana Coffee Traders (5810 Hwy. 93 S., 406/862-7633, 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat.). Their downtown shop (110 Central Ave., 406/862-7667) is more a place to linger.
Third St. Market (corner of 3rd and Spokane, 406/862-5054) is the local health-food store. Many of the towns in this part of Montana have small health-food stores, but this one is more of a complete food store and community rendezvous than most.
The Great Northern Bar and Grill (27 Central Ave., 406/862-2816, 11 a.m.–2 a.m. daily, mostly around $6) is a friendly, low-key bar with sports on the TV in the front and sandwiches and spaghetti served at the tables in the back. It’s open for lunch and dinner, and usually has live music in the bar on weekend nights. The local brew, Black Star, is made in the brewery across the street and served on tap here.
The Tupelo Grille (17 Central Ave., 406/862-6136, 5:30–10 p.m. daily, $17–30) has become a local favorite. It focuses on Southern specialties, such as shrimp and grits, and Cajun food. Don’t miss dessert here; the bread pudding deserves all the raves it gets.
The most flat-out-fun dinner restaurant in Whitefish is the casual and noisy Ciao Mambo (234 E. 2nd St., 406/863-9600, 5–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., until 9 p.m. on winter weekdays, $10–18), with a brassy New York Italian atmosphere, delicious food in that same tradition, and a wine list worthy of Wine Spectator’s notice. For real entertainment, eat at the bar that surrounds the kitchen area.
Another great choice is, believe it or not, a sushi restaurant. Wasabi (419 E 2nd St., 406/863-9283, dinner from 5 p.m. Tues.–Sun., $8–25) has delicious fresh fish and a soothing, elegant atmosphere.
Check out Pescado Blanco (235 1st St., 406/862-5285, 5–9 p.m. nightly, $13–18) for Mexican dinners that veer well away from cheesy Mexican-American platefuls served at most Montana Mexican restaurants. Here you’ll find something more like Montana-Mexican fusion, such as bison enchiladas.
The Bulldog Saloon (144 Central Ave., 406/862-5601, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. for food; bar open until 2 a.m., $5–8) is a good bar to hang out in and maybe munch a burger.
Casey’s (101 Central Ave., 406/862-8150), a casino bar, is housed in Whitefish’s oldest building. It was built in 1903, when Whitefish was a rollicking railroad town, and after a day on the slopes, many still find it an excellent place to rollick.
For something more of this century and a little more refined, the Craggy Range (10 Central Ave., 406/862-7550, kitchen open 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, entrées mostly $12–20) has standard bar food and good pasta and dinner entrées.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition