We had many visitors this summer, each of which had different experiences in our new hometown. These experiences included many a good meal, of course. It gave us the chance to highlight just a few of the countless "locavore" and unique establishments during their time in Missoula. Also, it gave me an excuse to go to some of my favorite eateries!
My sister, Julie was our last visitor of the season, so I have decided to feature her trip first since it was the most recent. The first day of her stay, Jordan and I picked Julz up from the airport and didn't waste any time. We went straight to the "L" for an intense hike...well, according to Julie at least. She wasn't really acclimated to climbing MOUNTAINS yet, I guess :)
After the hike, we got her fishing license and took her FLY FISHING in the Clark Fork River. Surprisingly enough, she caught a fish!! That provided us with our first dinner of her visit.
Actually...that was a joke. She kindly let the fish go.
I figured then that our only option was to go to BIGA PIZZA.
The ANTIPASTI platter here is to die for! Homemade focaccia, prosciutto, fresh mozzerella, provolone, olives, basil, pepperoncini, pickled vegetables, parmesiana, pears, house made pepperoni, etc.
Half artichoke, kalamata olives, feta cheese, red pepper / Half prosciutto, arugula, tomato, mascarpone cheese / Wholly delicious
Next stop: TEN SPOON WINERY
This is located in the Rattlesnake district of town up in the mountains. What a gorgeous setting to enjoy a tasting! They use grapes from their on-site vineyard but also feature wines made from berries, cherries, pears, and apples from the Northwest region.
Take note of the fact that Julz decided to try out a random scooter we found in the parking lot.
Some might find value in eating the endless breadsticks they provide at Ten Spoon. However, we like to think of ourselves as a bit more innovative...
The GOOD FOOD STORE is a local, Whole Foods-ish establishment at which one can do everything from buying weekly groceries, eating lunch, grabbing a coffee with a friend, ordering fresh-squeezed juices, or taking a cooking class! There are always so many options, so we decided to "do lunch" there. (I love that term. It makes eating together sound like more of an activity or event...which I always view it as such.)
Remember the aforementioned note of Julz attempting to try out a wheeled mode of transportation while tasting local wines? Well, her first sample of local beer was not much different. She got a bottle of Big Sky Brewing Company IPA and decided to go for a spin on Jordan's longboard. Noticing any humorous parallels here?...
The sweet highlight of anyone's trip to Zootown...as far as food is concerned, of course. BIG DIPPER!! Matching dark chocolate dipped waffle cones filled with creamy goodness! I love how we bundled up just so that we could sit outside and eat our ice cream comfortably. Because, hey...there is no other seating option BUT outdoors at Big Dipper!
So...Julie felt a bit under the weather especially on the day that we took her up to Glacier National Park. It is a bit chillier up there in the mountains, so when we got back into town she was CRAVING a particular meal. Those of you who do not have the absolute pleasure of knowing my sister probably do not understand the weight of this word when it comes to Julie. "Crave". I might "crave" chocolate, but if it's not around, I'm okay with that. I move on with life.
However, when Julie "craves" something she NEEDS it! And generally, she acts upon it. Her craving that sticks out in my mind is the one she gets (not so occasionally) for Taco Bell during which she begs me to go with her to the nearest drive-thru...at 11:00 p.m.!!
This evening in Missoula, her particular craving was for Ramen noodles with Thai chili garlic sauce like we add to our hot bowls of fresh rice noodles when visiting Thailand. At least it was a cheap craving, right?! I added some rotisserie chicken to add some substance for my sick little sister, and it actually turned out to be quite satisfying! Especially along with the nacho cheese Doritos we got because she happened to be them craving as well....
BREAK ESPRESSO is probably my favorite local coffee shop in Zootown. I love the over-sized wooden tables, exposed brick walls, and open layout. I also love the over-sized slices of triple berry pie. Dare I say it as a "not-so-keen-on-pie" foodie?? Alas...this particular pie has won me over.
I can confidently say that CAFFE DOLCE is my favorite all-around restaurant in Missoula...so far... Julz and I shared this dinner one night - it is the dish that drew my loyalties to the Italian-inspired establishment. I'll give you a hint...Mary had one...until Caffe Dolce came along...
Dolce's LAMB BURGER made of local lamb from the guy who lives across the street from the restaurant (no joke!) Imagine this medley: thick, tender, melt-in-your-mouth lamb burger...crispy, local thick-cut bacon...sweet caramelized onions...a tart yet creamy addition of goat cheese...fresh arugula...chewy, grilled homemade ciabatta bread... You might want to just keeping imagining...
On her last morning in Missoula, we decided to treat Julz to breakfast at a favorite hole-in-the-wall on the Hip Strip of Higgins Avenue downtown. The HOB NOB is trendy, yet low-key and innovative in their menu without being too outlandish. It is a cozy place adorned with local art, staffed by friendly hipsters, and furnished with only about 5 small tables. So make sure you really like the people you are eating with.
We couldn't decide on sweet or savory, so Julie and I split two dishes. One was a staple at the HOB NOB...Banana bread French toast. The other was called "Migas". It was a thick flour tortilla perfectly grilled and layered with scrambled eggs, cheese, salsa, black beans, and sour cream. I decided the MIGAS are quite delectable - filling but not too heavy, good variety of flavors, and besides...it has a fun name...