Excellent | Worth a Detour
Red Lodge Cafe
Review by: Michael Stern
What to expect at Red Lodge Cafe
The Red Lodge café is a good reflection of the character of Red Lodge, Montana: eager to please with all modern facilities, yet ingenuous and charming like a mid-20th century tourist stop. The town (once, the home of mountain man Jeremiah Johnson) has been discovered by skiers and tourists heading down through Montana on the scenic route to Yellowstone Park, but it has not been overrun. The town is the real west, and this colorful café serves food to match.
What to eat at Red Lodge Cafe
For breakfast, you’ll want to eat jumbo omelets or blueberry buckwheat pancakes, and sip coffee long enough to eavesdrop on the conversations of locals and passers-through. The lunch menu features such stalwart items as country-fried steak and potatoes and buffalo burgers, as well as some fine deluxe hamburgers. For dessert, everybody has pie: apple or berry pie or, best of all, banana cream pie, which is a tender pillow of pale yellow custard that eats better with a spoon than a fork.
The restaurant itself has a western theme, but there is something for everyone from morning to night: keno, weekend karaoke, and the strangest-shaped pool table we’ve ever seen. Lighting fixtures above the dining room are made of wagon wheels, the ceiling is stamped tin, and the walls are bedecked with painted wooden totem poles and spectacular murals of scenery along the 11,000-foot Beartooth Highway that leads from here to Yellowstone. The two-lane highway is closed by snow in the winter, but once it’s open, it is a spectacular trip. Charles Kuralt once called it “America’s most beautiful road.”
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