Livingston Eats

Whether it’s seafood, steaks, or just plain old burgers you crave, the Livingston area offers plenty of opportunities to pig out. Tourists are the answer to the overabundance of eateries (more than 25) in or nearby the small town. Burke Moran, owner of Montana’s Rib and Chop House, says that tourism played a major role in his decision last year to move the restaurant from downtown Livingston to the newly remodeled Chamber of Commerce building on East Park.

“There were more visitors (in Livingston) than dining seats before,” he says. “We have twice as much room now… it’s a heck of a deal for us.” Moran says the new Chop House location has a historic “back in 1942 feeling” that adds flavor to an already-tasty offering of authentic New Orleans-style dishes like Cajun Marinated Catfish and Louisiana Pasta Jambalaya. “We even ship our spices from Louisiana,” he says. “We spend the money and the time to give people the right flavors.”

Some restaurants, like Russell Chatham’s Livingston Bar and Grille (known as the Bucket of Blood Saloon in the late 1800s) and Martin’s Cafe, the original Northern Pacific “beanery” at the Livingston Depot (built in the early 1900s), enjoy a well-established historic connection to the town. The 2nd Street Bistro also capitalized on history when it opened last year in an old downtown Livingston landmark, the Murray Hotel.

“We were looking at several different spots, but the Murray has such unique character and history,” says John McNaughton, one of the Bistro’s owners. “And the restaurant was already there.” The Bistro offers up “good old-fashioned bistro fare” including slow-roasted meats, pizza, homemade bread, and salads. Also opening its doors in downtown Livingston last year, O’Ryan’s Family Sports Pub offers beer and wine along with traditional Irish fare and good old American burgers. Pasties, the Butte-inspired meat-and-potato pies, are shipped in from the Mining City, and beer-battered fish and chips (made with Guiness) are also on the menu. Springer says his Irish stew, made with local Livingston lamb, has become a big hit.

A drive up the Paradise Valley can also yield yummy delights, whether it’s breakfast at the Pine Creek Café, lunch at the Emigrant Saloon, or dinner at Chico Hot Springs, where swimming, lodging, and live music can also be found. From the 1950s feel of a burger at Mark’s In and Out drive-in or the Paradise Valley Pop Stand to the elegance of a candlelit dinner at Chatham’s or Chico, the Livingston area beckons the culinary tourist. “Restaurants help to entertain,” says Moran. “It’s no longer just feeding your belly.”