Breakfast Like a Local
Breakfast - the most important meal of the day before lunch and after last night's dinner.
If you’re going to grab a bite before hitting the office, which is a good idea because Jay Allen will most likely have eaten all the doughnuts, these are the top places your food-deprived feet can carry you in and around downtown. From one dollar sign all the way up to slightly more than one dollar sign, there is a place for every budget and certainly every taste. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous in the content and size of your order, you’re in Big Sky country after all.
MARKET ON FRONT STREET
Let’s start off simple and blissful with a place that fuels ATGers like no other. Market on Front supplies aircraft carrier cafeteria quantities of the most pleasure-inducing breakfast burritos known to man. Get ’em with or without bacon, on lettuce, or as a sandwich, but most definitely with the chipotle aioli. There is no other way to describe what these compact rolls of ecstasy provide for the ATG office than pure productivity power, and an excuse to skip the first internal meeting of the day for a 15-minute walk to 201 E. Front St. Say it’s for a “burrito break” and everyone gives you a pass and asks you to bring them one, too.
Sandwiched between office buildings is a classic café, a Missoula landmark, The Shack. This is a sit-down joint and one where a 15-minute wait for a table isn’t unheard of. The time will seem like a pittance once you dive into a buffalo pie – hash browns topped with ham, an egg, cheddar, and jack cheese, and smothered in gravy. Maybe something on the lighter side? Go with a blueberry buckle and warm cream. On second thought stick with eggs and cheese and order one of over 15 omelets (that’s how they spell it at the Shack) styles.
A mimosa and the best diner coffee around cleanse the palette and get you ready for lunch, which we’ll tackle in a bit. Walk next door to the ATG Main St. office and get back to the grind.
Mid-century modern meets art deco at The Catalyst Cafe. Serving super fresh, local fare in an environment that is multilevel in both taste, thinking, and seating, The Catalyst is the place you go when standard breaky joints just won’t do.
Grab a seat outside on the “patio,” quite literally the middle of the sidewalk, and people-watch as you wait for your order. An espresso to start and then The Heap, please – greasy gooey cheesy goodness mixed up with veggies and egg. Maybe opt for a side of cheesy potato casserole (with or without green chilis) baked in a ramekin, just like grandma’s.
There are a ton of gluten-free and vegetarian options, but make sure you smother whatever you order in C-4 hot sauce. They make it in-house and it’s a taste like no other. Grab your most open-minded friends and post up at 111 N. Higgins Ave.
THE HOB NOB CAFE
When the first thing you read on Yelp about the Hob Nob is a visitor’s ravingly positive review, you know you’ve come to the right place. Locals back up the tourist’s claims with comments between bites of food like “Mmmmm ittffsss soooo gooofffd!” and “Leave me alone I’m trying to eat. Get that microphone outta my face. No, you can’t sit down here.”
Go south of the border to start. Take a tortilla, scramble with eggs and a black bean burger. Top with cheddar, salsa, and sour cream. That first bite will have you saying, “olla a migas!” The dish is called the migas… get it? Anyways.
Jump to the bottom of the menu and go back in time to an old mining town in Southwest Montana called Red Lodge. More than just minerals came out of there. A scrumptious 75-year-old recipe for sourdough pancakes plus the starter was gifted to the Hob Nob by a miner named Alan. Add blueberries for just a couple more nickels and enjoy fruity, doughy heaven.
Just a short walk across the bridge to 531 S. Higgins Ave.
Two “F’s” means it's twice as good. Also, it’s an Italian thing and we were told to stop asking why they spelled it that way or we’d wake up with a horse head in our bed. So, about the food.
Caffe Dolce is just a bit outside of downtown but oh so worth the extra walk. They’re open for all six meals of the day (breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, supper) and just about everything over satisfies. For breakfast try something a little on the lighter side. The toasted campagne with bacon, tomato, and white cheddar is to the evolution of toast what humans are to apes. It’s a whole other level and learned to use tools long before other toasts.
Staying with the healthy options you’ll want to try the grapefruit brûlée. It’s caramelized ruby red grapefruit cooled off with yogurt topping and lime zest for a kick. Fresh.
Of course, they have the obligatory hipster favorite, avocado toast, and it’s elevated to genius level as well. You’ll get your fill of campagne at this joint.
But if you select nothing else from this cavernous homage to Italian cuisine, you must get coffee. Yeah, you’ve been to Naples (and pronounce it Napoli, we get it, you’re well-traveled) but Caffe Dolce Americanizes Italian coffee the right way. Order any latte with their house-made vanilla or caramel syrup and sip till you’re in caffeine heaven.
The short walk back from 500 Brooks Ave. will seem too short and sweet, and you’ll definitely make a return trip.
Ryan Corwin a Missoula native, is a bit of a dabbler.
By day, he is primarily the Marketing Director for Montana sporting goods stalwart Bob Ward's, but Ryan also dabbles as a writer, a radio disc jockey, a journalism teacher, a barely-exotic dancer, father to the world's cutest baby, and husband to our very own do-it-all Kymberly Corwin.