After spending nearly all of my summers throughout college in West Yellowstone, Montana, you could say that the little town with a population of 1,321 townies has a special place in my heart. It’s a place where I made some of the closest friends, learned how to work ridiculous hours, and truly came to love the great outdoors. Alongside these swell times, I set out to try all of the West Yellowstone restaurants. In fact, the birth of Female Foodie began 8 years ago this summer with a post on Kiwi Takeaway, a delicious and no-longer burger joint ran by an audacious and wonderful woman named Ali.
So why all the fuss?? With over 30 West Yellowstone restaurants there are a lot of delicious (and not so delicious) options. I’ve put together a list of my go-to’s including casual, upscale, family friendly, whathaveyou for every possible dining scenario you might encounter this summer in West Yellowstone, Montana.
A list of the best West Yellowstone restaurants is incomplete without mention of Ernie’s. There is nothing over the top or spectacular about Ernie’s, but the food is consistent and the service is extremely fast and friendly. This is my go-to spot for breakfast on the go while I’m on my way out of town or headed out to hike for the morning. They also can make a “build your own box lunch” if you’re going into the park (FYI there is no good food inside of Yellowstone National Park unless you’re getting a soda or ice cream) that comes with a cookie, drink, and chips. The Ultimate Breakfast sandwich isn’t anything novel but it always hits the spot for me- bacon, egg, cheese, and hash browns served on a toasted Kaiser roll. Don’t forget your chocolate milk for the road too.
$$ Bakeries, Delis, Breakfast & Brunch
8. Las Palmitas (“The Taco Bus”)
If you talk to any local in town about West Yellowstone restaurants, the first thing they’ll tell you to try is the “Mexican Taco Bus”, otherwise known as Las Palmitas. Cruise down Canyon Street and you can’t miss the giant white bus with menu options and price points adorning the windows. Space is limited on the bus but there are plenty of picnic tables surrounding the premises. The shredded beef quesadilla is my personal favorite but other popular items include the pork and shrimp tacos.
$ Mexican, Food Trucks
7. Beartooth Barbecue
Among their saucy ribs, BBQ brisket, and cheese grits (fav), I’ll take up an offer for this juicy pulled pork sandwich any day of the week. The Beartooth Barbecue has traditionally been one of my favorite West Yellowstone restaurants due to its consistent service, quality BBQ, and upbeat western ambiance. The service is incredibly fast and family friendly. Grab a couple of friends, pull out a stack of fresh napkins, and enjoy my favorite place for barbecue in town.
6. Bar N Ranch
Bar N Ranch, a ten minute drive from town, is undoubtedly the most beautiful of all West Yellowstone restaurants. Over the years it has been a great place to go for a special occasion or a more “upscale” meal while you’re vacationing in West Yellowstone. As of the 2018 season, the restaurant at Bar N Ranch is under new ownership and the online menu looks completely different from offerings in the past with more casual options including smoked chicken and pork, burgers and steak, and basic sides like fries, beans, slaw, and salad. I can’t speak to the quality of this new menu but we have enjoyed the food here in the past and look forward to checking things out this year.
Bar N Ranch
$$$ American (Traditional), Breakfast & Brunch, Hotels
5. Grizzly Bar: French Onion Soup
If you’re fishing the Madison, on your way to Enis, or just looking for an excuse to escape the crowds, drive 30-40 minutes for this locals only spot right off the highway. This rustic Montana steakhouse on the world-famous Madison river serves a variety of their famous grizzly steaks from prime rib to a tenderloin fillet, however, I’ve enjoyed their french onion soup after cold and blustery days on the river more than a time or two. Combine that with the calamari or ahi tuna for one of my favorite Montana meals.
Grizzly Bar & Grill
$$ American (Traditional), Bars
4. Madison Crossing Lounge
Madison Crossing Lounge in the heart of town is located where the first school in West Yellowstone once stood. This family-owned and operated business pays special attention to detail and likes to provide customers with a full bar and menu service with some of my favorite menu items in town, and is undoubtedly one of the best West Yellowstone restaurants. Start off your meal with a charcuterie platter or their glutinously delicious bison nachos, followed by the stuffed pork chop or one of their nightly specials. And above all, be certain to finish your meal with their house-made blueberry white chocolate bread pudding. It’s rich, decadent, and everything you want in an upscale Montana dessert.
Madison Crossing Lounge
$$ American (Traditional), Cocktail Bars, Wine Bars
3. Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon
After working in this pizzeria for 3 or 4 summers, I can attest to the cleanliness of the kitchen, freshness of the ingredients, and the fact that it’s the BEST pizza you can get within miles. Owner Aaron Hecht has mastered the art of perfectly soft on the inside, crisp on the outside pizza crust paired with his family marinara recipe and freshly prepped toppings. Although I’m a sucker for nearly everything on the menu, be sure to try the Wild West Supreme (in pizza or calzone form), house-made macaroni & cheese, or the Branded Cowboy for one of the heartiest hot meat sandwiches you can find in town. Check out their website for live music schedules on the weekends- there is nothing quite like live country and a slice of cheesy, homemade pizza! Tourists and locals always agree that this is one of the best West Yellowstone restaurants.
Wild West Pizzeria & Saloon
2. Gallatin Riverhouse Grill
Another “off the beaten path” restaurant and my #1 recommendation for food between West Yellowstone and Bozeman. If you’re interested in one of the most gorgeous drives in the country and are willing to drive 30-40 minutes to the outskirts of Big Sky for world class BBQ, Galatin Riverhouse Grill is your one and only. My husband and I make a special trip there every time we’re in West Yellowstone because it’s downright some of the best barbecue we have ever had. With all the delicious and flavorful options, we recommend partnering up with a friend and ordering the BBQ Sampler Platter for 2. Yeehaw!
Riverhouse BBQ & Events
$$ Barbeque, Bars, Venues & Event Spaces
1. Campfire Lodge
Although I’ll admit that I frequent Ernie’s in town for their ultimate breakfast sandwich, Campfire Lodge takes the cake for best breakfast among West Yellowstone restaurants. Plan 20 minutes driving time from town to find this riverside diner. They’ve been on the Madison River since 1922 and know just how to cook up a mountain breakfast. Wake up with world-class fly fishing and finish off with a giant berry pancake served with thick slabs of bacon and eggs made to order. Campfire Lodge is open in the summertime only.
Campfire Lodge Resort