… A Little Town Offering Gluten-Free in a Big Way!
Today’s Tuesday’s Travels – gluten free finds us in Bozeman, Montana. I visited this budding college town, home to Montana State University, this past summer and fell in love with the valley farmland and the beckoning mountain views. They seemed to keep calling me closer and closer to them, asking me to visit the vistas and see the view of Bozeman from above.
Bozeman is located in the southwestern part of Montana and is the fourth largest city, and the county seat of the state, with a population of 37,280 recorded at the latest census in 2010. Bozeman’s size, by comparison to some well-known cities like Denver, CO with a population of 619,968 or Chicago, IL with a population in 2011 of 2,707,120, is “quaint”.
So what’s the significance of this little town? It has the gluten-free concept rocking in a pretty BIG way!
During my short visit, I discovered some restaurants and eateries embracing gluten-free dining, as well as a bartender who serves up his understanding of gluten-free alcoholic drinks to thirsty visitors. Yes, right?
To easily plan your gluten-free visit, I’ll share these dining finds in order of how you might like to visit them throughout the day … breakfast and lunch, dinner, and evening drinks. Of course, you can sport them in any order you find inviting.
The Nova Cafe – A fun, little cafe located on Main Street in historic downtown Bozeman. This is a perfect place to begin the day with breakfast or lunch (you know how those college students like to sleep in late). Open from 7 a.m.-2 p.m., they offer delicious and filling meals. They pride themselves on using only the finest organic ingredients and grass-fed beef, while offering many vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free choices as well. Love to start your day with fresh squeezed juice or a healthy smoothie? Nova Cafe offers plenty of flavors to complement your meal. I was so excited by the positive attitude and complete understanding our server had of what “gluten-free” means that I couldn’t resist temptation. I indulged in a large breakfast platter of seasoned potatoes, yolk-less eggs, and sautéd veggies … AND a smoothie. (Can you say, “Waddle this way?”) If you decide to dine al fresco, be sure to pop your head in the front door and visit Nova’s gluten-free bakery counter. I counted 12 bakery choices when I was there – ALL gluten free. None were dairy-free, however, so I shared my enthusiasm with the g-f approach and encouraged them to explore dairy-free as well. (Can’t wait to visit next summer to see if they heeded my suggestions :-D) The Nova Cafe is very casual dining and a huge hit with the locals, students and visitors. Be sure to check it out when you’re in town. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, they’ve been voted Best Breakfast by Best of Bozeman five of the past six consecutive years. Congratulations, Nova Cafe! We agree!
The Nova Cafe is located at 312 E. Main Street, Bozeman, MT 59715. To contact The Nova Cafe, call 406.587.3973. For menus or more information, check them out online at The Nova Cafe.
Montana Ale Works – Wow, Great atmosphere and energy here. If you’re looking for fantastic food, the best of “gluten-free friendly”, and a fun, let-your-hair down dining experience, you don’t want to overlook Montana Ale Works! Open from 4 p.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. (depending on the day), this very energetic restaurant and bar commands quite an all-evening dinner crowd. Housed in a “retro-industrial railroad freighthouse”, the ambiance finds itself in a mixture of relaxed dining coupled with a lively bar and billiards section. I liked being able to see the energy of the bar area without having to be right amongst it while enjoying my dinner. The food fare here includes local beef and bison burgers, hand-cut, grass-fed beef steaks, fish tacos and Mexican entrees, and gourmet French fries to die for.
I had the great fortune of having a waiter who not only knew his gluten-free “stuff”, but he had previously been the head chef of this very establishment. He knew every ingredient in each menu item and was thus able to tell me what options were safe for my gluten-free requirements, and could easily accommodate my restrictions on dairy, shellfish, soy, and peanuts as well. (I consider that quite a find, don’t you?) I had a delicious gluten-free pasta with sautéd vegetables and savory olives, bathed in a wine and herb sauce that tasted as though it definitely should have been “off-limits”. Fine dining in an unpretentious atmosphere … a must-visit!
The online menu says, “Please let us know if you have food allergies. We also have a selection of gluten-free cuisine and beers.” When I see this clearly stated right on the menu, it makes me so happy, and more importantly, it gives me confidence that “safe food” is understood at this establishment. (Always share your food intolerances and allergies so you leave nothing to chance.) Yes, this will be an item on my re-visit list next summer as well.
Montana Ale Works is located at 611 E. Main Street, Bozeman, MT 59715. To contact Montana Ale Works, call 406.587.7700. For more information, check them out online at Montana Ale Works.
Head straight to Santa Fe Reds for that before- or after-dinner drink and ask for Ben E. He’s your gluten-free libations and drinks go-to guy. He also happens to be the bar manager/bartender with big personality and a can-do attitude. Ben’s been in the mixology business for many years and has been re-creating drinks in a gluten-free way for a few years now. (We’ll be sharing more from Ben here at DailyForage in the future). When we inquired about dining at Santa Fe Reds, he was honest with us and shared that, at that time, they really didn’t accommodate gluten-free dining well. He’s actually the mastermind behind the great suggestions for The Nova Cafe and Montana Ale Works (his wife is celiac and they frequent those eateries regularly. I love suggestions from folks who live by what they preach, don’t you?)
Santa Fe Reds now has two locations. I have it on great authority that you can find Ben at both locations, depending on the day of course. Finish, or start, your evening with your favorite cocktail at Santa Fe Reds and be sure to say Hi to Ben for me.
Santa Fe Reds is located at 211 E. Main Street, Bozeman, MT 59715, and also at 1235 N 7th Ave. in Bozeman. To contact Santa Fe Reds on Main St., call 406.586-0483. For more information, check them out online at Santa Fe Reds.
Did you happen to notice that all three restaurants are on Main Street. Yes, they’re all within a few (easy-walking) blocks of each other. Be sure to take time to stroll along Main Street between your meals and enjoy the shops of Historic Downtown Bozeman. (I especially enjoyed that Bozeman is cowboy country. Though I grew up as a city girl, somehow I have cowgirl blood running through my veins. Love cowboy country! And the energy of college towns!)
Have you ever been to Bozeman, Montana? Do you know of these, or other, gluten-free food finds there? We’d love to hear from you!
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™