The back bar at the Livingston Bar and Grill (130 N. Main St., 406/222-7909, 5–9 p.m. nightly, entrées $23–32) dates to the early 1900s and comes from the original Livingston Bar, which was supposedly Calamity Jane’s favorite spot in Livingston. Calamity probably wouldn’t recognize much on the menu today, which includes a chipotle-barbecued pork chop. And she probably wouldn’t know her way around the extensive wine list either. The dining room is beautiful but relatively casual.
The specialties at Montana’s Rib & Chop House (307 E. Park, 406/222-9200, 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Mon.–Fri., dinner from 5 p.m.nightly, $5–29) are ribs, hand-cut steaks, and Louisiana-style seafood. The atmosphere is casual and friendly, and its dining room is spacious and stylish.
At the Murray Hotel, the 2nd Street Bistro (201 W. Park St., 406/222-1350, dinner from 5 p.m. nightly, $16–24), the simple wood tables and chairs and big windows allow diners to keep an eye on downtown Livingston. That is, if they lift their faces from their crab cakes and Mediterranean fish stew; the food here is quite good.
Chadz (104 N. Main St., 406/222-2247, 7 a.m.–2:30 p.m. daily, $2–7) is a good place to spend the morning hanging out with the locals, who gather at the tables or sip coffee and read on the comfy couches. Stop in for coffee and a scone or lunch on a rice bowl.
Stop for a burger and a shake at a local institution: Mark’s In and Out (Park St. and 8th St., 406/222-7744, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, Mar.–Oct., about $5) has been around since the 1950s and is a good place to sample the locally made Wilcoxson’s ice cream (which is also available in most grocery stores throughout the state).
The Sport (114 S. Main St., 11 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, burgers $8, dinners $17–28), is another local institution where the old-time Montana atmosphere comes with the burgers and beer.
Don’t be surprised to find yourself propped up against a bar in Livingston. The town’s wild reputation is supported by a wealth of bars. The bar at the Murray Hotel may host tea-drinking hotel guests early in the evening, but it eases into rowdiness later at night. Spot Livingston’s literati at the Murray or the Owl (110 N. 2nd St., 406/222-1322).
Just east of downtown, the microbrews at Neptune’s Brewery (110 N. L St., 406/222-7837) are quite tasty, and because it’s a full bar rather than a brewpub, the taps don’t shut down at 8 p.m.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition