If a full breakfast isn’t necessary, head to the Coffee Traders (326 W. Center St., 406/756-2326, 7 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Sat., 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Sun.) for espresso drinks and scones. Right downtown, Ceres Bakery (318 Main St., 406/755-8552, 7 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Sat.) makes the region’s best (well, the only) artisanal bread and pastries.
South of downtown, one bright spot on the ugly Highway 93 strip is MacKenzie River Pizza (1645 Hwy. 93 S., 406/756-0600, lunch and dinner daily, $7–17), the Kalispell branch of the Montana chain that consistently puts out some of the state’s best pizza.
If you’re staying downtown, Norm’s News (34 Main St., 406/756-5466, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun., $5) is a place to stop in and join the group of retired gentlemen who gather at this well-loved Kalispell institution. Norm’s is a combination newsstand and soda fountain and a good place for a burger and shake.
Kalispell’s most renowned tavern, Moose’s Saloon (173 N. Main St., 406/755-2338, 11 a.m.–2 a.m. daily, under $10), is a place to spend an evening throwing peanut shells on the floor while drinking beer and listening to local musicians. Legend has it that this is where Evel Knievel came up with the idea to blast across Hells Canyon on his motorcycle. Pizza is the food of choice at Moose’s; sandwiches are also good.
Right downtown, the North Bay Grille (139 1st Ave. W., 406/755-4441, 11:30 a.m.–2 a.m. Mon.–Sat., 4 p.m.–midnight Sun., $14–33) is an elegant and trendy spot with the emphasis on fairly traditional preparations of steak, seafood, and pasta.
Kalispell’s best dinner restaurant is Capers (121 Main St., 406/755-7687, dinner from 5 p.m. Tues.–Sat., reservations recommended, $12–30), a chef-owned spot with a commitment to organic foods and high-quality meat, including grilled buffalo tenderloin topped with a huckleberry-port barbeque sauce. The wine list is also well thought out, with some really good wines available by the glass.
Cafe Max Soup Co. (20 Commons Way, 406/257-7687, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat., about $5), tucked into a mini-mall just off Hwy. 93 north of town (find it behind the car wash with the large cow’s head logo), serves about a dozen homemade soups every day, as well as good sandwiches and salads. Ingredients are fresh and often organic, and the soups, such as Cuban black bean with pulled pork and rice, make a substantial and tasty lunch.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition