The one thing about traveling with families is someone ALWAYS has to eat. While bringing your own food and saving some money is great, sometimes it is so necessary for the sanity of everyone to get out of the car, stretch your legs and get some fresh food.
This post will be updated throughout the summer as we eat our way across Montana. And don’t be fooled – some of the BEST food is in some of the most unlikely places!
In case you missed it, be sure to check out our post all about what to do and where to stay in Virginia City and Nevada City too!
This post is sponsored by the Southwest Montana Tourism, which we are so thankful for. However, our experiences and what we tell you here are exactly what we have told (and will tell) our family and friends!
Virginia City/Nevada City
Let me start by saying that we ate at a lot of different places in this area and there was really nowhere we wouldn’t recommend. Here are our first-hand tips and suggestions!
Star Restaurant in Nevada City
This is actually the only restaurant in Nevada City….but it’s a really great one! We were surprised by very fresh salads and homemade chips. It’s a great place to take the family with seating outside when the weather is favorable. Previous to this year, the Star Bakery and Restaurant were one in the same, but the bakery was sold this year so they are no longer connected inside. Very cute and highly recommended!
Star Bakery in Nevada City
Not to be missed for a breakfast treat on the way to the train. The cinnamon rolls were some of the best we have EVER tasted. They also have fresh cookies, bars, scones and ice cream. What more do you need?!?!
Nacho Mamas in Virginia City
This seems to be the most “bang for your buck” in the area. We fed our family of 6 (with left overs) for $35. Their burritos are HUGE and are just $9. Plus quesadillas and nachos for the kids, along with tacos. The menu isn’t super extensive, but it was fresh and very, very good! Plus the atmosphere is very family-friendly inside, even for families with a “pile” of kids like us!
**NOTE: We also ate at their other restaurant in Ennis a couple weeks later and it was just as good!**
Wells Fargo Steak House in Virginia City
Want a date night? Or just a really, really great meal? This is it! There’s plenty of white noise from the crowds to drown out kids if needed, and paper on the tables for coloring too. So, don’t feel like you need to leave your kids behind. Note that there is no specific kids menu, but options for pasta and meatballs that our kids loved.
Mtn Papa was thrilled with his steak and I enjoyed a Chicken Marsala. Side dishes are big enough to serve family style so everyone gets a taste.
And don’t forget dessert – the gelato was AMAZING and we are still talking about it. Prices are also likely the highest in town, but you’re getting the best!
Bob’s in Virginia City
We grabbed a quick pizza from here and took it to eat while we waited for the train. It was fast (about 15 minutes), fresh and really good!
Virginia City Creamery
Another “don’t miss this one”! Homemade ice cream made right in the shop. Worth spending $20 on to feed the whole family (and going back another day too). This place is busy all.the.time – we witnessed plenty of people having ice cream for breakfast (which you can totally do on vacation!) Go ahead and try some different flavors – we were not disappointed!
Cousin’s Candy Shop in Virginia City
In my opinion, taffy is really great fresh (and not so great when it’s not). They pull their taffy right in the window so you can watch and then sell it for under $12/pound in the shop. Again, we “vacation splurged” (um, maybe I see a theme arising here!) and were incredibly impressed. The shop is also full of pretty much every imaginable candy there is out there, plus fresh chocolates and fudges. The fudge is also worth every penny! Parents, be prepared to either let your kids look around as they like or keep a tight rein. It’s a busy shop and there is a LOT to touch and see and WANT! You know the saying…. “like a kid in a candy store”…..
Helena is such a bigger area than Virginia/Nevada City, so there is a wide range of restaurants and eateries available. The following are the ones we have visited and loved! As always, we welcome YOUR suggestions too in the comments!
Great southwestern food with an awesome deck for outside eating (the inside is a bit limited). Slightly more spendy than Nacho Mamas mentioned above, but still in the “family friendly” price range. Even their mild food is slightly spicy, so something to note if you have anti-spice kids! I loved their salads (pictured below) and the kids thought the nachos served “dipping style” were excellent (once they got past that slightly spicy taste). They also have a fire pit that I wonder if they light on summer nights…but we didn’t get to see it in action.
Big Dipper Ice Cream
Awe, there is just something amazing about fresh and homemade ice cream, even if it does cost $20 to feed the whole family (a worthwhile vacation splurge in my opinion!) The kid sizes are super generous, the flavors rich and full and a steady line out the door. I highly recommend the Mexican Chocolate (basically cinnamon in chocolate) – super yummy!
We ate dinner at Karmadillos (above) and then walked down to Big Dipper to “earn our ice cream”. It’s really not that far, but mostly slightly downhill on the way there and enough of an uphill on the way back to work off a little sugar for the kids. The path back is also friendly towards kids running and jumping and generally being kids.
Somehow I did NOT get a photo of this place, but wanted to include it if you’re looking for somewhere to go that is super kid-friendly (for loud kids like mine). Quite honestly, I can’t fully recommend it because the service was less than amazing and the food took FOREVER (30+ minutes). But the food was decent and it was nice to be able to not worry too much when the kids got tired of sitting and wandered a bit. Price range was about average.
They serve many of their sandwiches in “Clubfoot” bread, which is basically a round tube that makes it more of a vertical sandwich. A bit challenging to eat, but good and fun for something different.
Be sure to check out the menu before you go online or while you’re waiting. There are a TON of choices, which was overwhelming for me ordering for the whole family. You do order when you come in and then sit and wait for it to arrive.
I’d love to hear other’s opinions about this place too – hoping they were just having an off day!
© 2017, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.