Be prepared to loosen your belt buckle after breakfast at Stella’s Kitchen & Bakery, which is known for its hearty portions of eggs, bacon and pancakes but is especially famed for enormous homemade cinnamon rolls and sticky buns. Harper and Madison is a neighborhood joint near the hospital that’s packed on weekend mornings; owner Joanie Swords briefly closed the popular café and bakery in late 2015 to create a joint business with Lilac on Montana Avenue and expand her menu – but will continue to provide one of Billings’ best wake-up calls in 2016.
What’s a Stroopwafel bakery? Find out at Caramel Cookie Waffles, where the chewy waffles are hand-baked and flame-fired. But that’s not all: locals love the Dutch café’s homemade soups and Paninis. If you’re just hankerin’ for a slab of beef, you can’t go wrong at The Burger Dive downtown, routinely chosen the best burger in Billings and even the entire state. The beef and buns are local, the French fries are homemade and the joint is always busy.
Among a surprising array of excellent choices for an evening out, we continue to find ourselves drawn to The Rex and its outdoor patio on Montana Avenue. The steaks and seafood are always fresh, the beers locally brewed, the wine selection one of Billings’ best and The Rex merits some admiration for being among the first to invest in the blighted area.
If you have time for just one evening meal, though, Billings’ top vote-getter might just be Juliano’s, located in a converted 1902 stable in a residential area northeast of downtown. The chef is Hawaiian and the menu has a definite South Seas tint. For sheer elegance, make a reservation at Ten in the Northern Hotel and savor luxurious accents with your steak. And the beauty of Billings is it’s OK to wear jeans, a button-down shirt and cowboy boots.