Anthony Bourdain in Montana: 6 Spots Where Tony Ate
Aptly nicknamed “Big Sky Country,” there is perhaps no better way to describe the vast open spaces of Montana. Even in the cities, it’s not hard to get a sense of the vast scope of this northern state – and be inspired by what adventure it might hold so far away from the crowds in other parts of the country.
Anthony Bourdain visited Montana twice, to film season 5 (episode 14) of No Reservations and again to film season 7 (episode 4) of Parts Unknown. These were his only two on-screen visits to Montana, and they go beyond the bigger cities to show off the smaller towns and local spots Tony was always so great at finding.
If you’re planning a trip to or through Montana, you might consider stopping at some of these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Montana. In short, he visited Emigrant, Livingston, and Butte – hopefully, that helps you plan your route if traveling in Tony’s footsteps is one of your travel goals. Ready to dive in?
Want to watch the episodes where Anthony Bourdain visits Montana?
The No Reservations episode is available on Amazon and Apple TV, and the Parts Unknown episode is available on Amazon and Apple TV too.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla, Apsáalooke (Crow), Tséstho’e (Cheyenne), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Niitsítpiis-stahkoii ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ), and Michif Piyii (Métis) peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
No Reservations (2009)
Tony’s first trip occurred while filming No Reservations, in the middle of the show as it hit its stride. Unsurprisingly, this means Tony didn’t follow the tourist track during his travels, and stayed well away from even Montana’s “big” cities.
The Old Saloon
For his first stop, Anthony meets up with Livingston, Montana native, Dan Laren, at The Old Saloon in Emigrant near the Wyoming and Idaho borders. The two share a couple of rounds of Budweiser and a conversation on how Montana keeps its natural wildlife and untouched land.
Next, Bourdain and Laren head over to Pinky’s Café in Livingston to try one of Montana’s popular foods: the pasty (pronounced “pah-stee”). Pasties are common foods for a number of Central European cultures, and a pasty is similar to an enormous pierogi, a generous ball of dough stuffed with potatoes, onions, herbs, meat and smothered in brown gravy.
Instead of coffee or tea, Anthony and Dan have a few shots of Bushmills whiskey and some Heinekens to wash these pasty’s down.
The Murray Hotel/2nd Street Bistro
The historic Murray Hotel in Livingston has hosted notable patrons like Buffalo Bill, Sam Peckinpah, and, well, Anthony Bourdain.
Bourdain heads downstairs from his room to meet with Jim Harrison, author and poet, for some beer and whiskey. For their meals, they head to the Hotel restaurant, also known as 2nd Street Bistro, for some buffalo, elk, and chicken galantine. They also get an order of the pork rillette, fried to a crisp, and a paupiette of braised whitefish, stuffed with smoked trout and topped with whitefish caviar, beurre blanc – or a white butter sauce – and served on a bed of local spinach.
On top of these dishes, Tony and friends try the local potatoes, formed into a cake with bacon, goat cheese, and a lavender-crusted rack of locally bred lamb. If that weren’t enough to feed twelve men, they are also served some local grass-fed beef braised short ribs and locally foraged morels.
Parts Unknown (2016)
Bourdain’s second trip to Montana was when he was equally in his stride on Parts Unknown. He visits new parts of Big Sky Country and returns to familiar grounds too.
Lydia’s Supper Club
Bourdain’s second trip to Montana starts at Lydia’s Supper Club, where he meets up with Aaron Parrett, a Montana local, historian, and professor of literature at the University of Providence in Great Falls.
Opened in 1946, Lydia’s is a Butte staple that serves “Meaderville” style food, which was a prominently Italian neighborhood in Butte. Beginning with an antipasto first course, Tony has sliced beets, sweet potato salad, salami and cheese, side salad, pepperoncini, and breadsticks. For his entrée, he chooses a thick cut of tenderloin beef and French fries along with a martini.
Silver Dollar Saloon
Next, Tony meets up with former state congresswoman, Amanda Curtis, and the owner of Silver Dollar, Brian McGregor, to discuss the history of Butte over some beer and cocktails. This local watering hole is quintessential Bourdain style.
The Mint Bar
Bourdain’s final stop is another spot for a tipple: The Mint Bar in Livingston – nearly back where it all began.
Opened in the 1920s, The Mint Bar holds the oldest liquor license in the entire state of Montana. There, Tony meets up again with his friend Dan Laren for some beers and more conversation on wildlife conservation and the beauty of Montana. It’s a lovely bookend for the two episodes showing off different corners of what Montana has to offer.