After a morning of exploring Southwest Montana, I find I usually need a mid-afternoon boost of energy. Especially in the winter, I find myself craving somewhere to settle down for the afternoon. Somewhere cozy and warm where I can thaw, chat, snack on something delicious, and, yes, drink something tasty.
Fortunately, sitting and chatting over a tall cup of something delicious is as much a Southwest Montana institution as the mountains and wilderness and history. Every town has a watering hole or two–somewhere cozy and warm where friends gather to chat and escape the wind. Without leaning too far into the bloggers-and-coffee-shops stereotype, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorites. A list that, frankly, barely scratches the surface.
Helena locals know that a stop by the General Merc on Last Chance Gulch is the ideal way to start your day, and locals in the know know that the conversation and lattes (they even have great tea lattes) at the General Merc are the perfect afternoon treats too. If, however, you find yourself in Butte, then you’ll want to stop by Oro Fino after a morning of exploring the richest hill on earth for a cup of coffee and pastries from The Butler’s Pantry. If, however, your wanderings take you in the direction of Anaconda, stop by the Coffee Coral for your energy boost.
Further south, why not try Sweetwater Coffee in Dillon. Something about the name perfectly captures the delicious drinks, friendly atmosphere and outstanding food of this Beaverhead staple. Sometimes a coffee and a pastry doesn’t quite cut it, and if you are looking for something a bit more substantial, the Shack in Twin Bridges has you covered. On the other hand, sometimes a coffee and a pastry is exactly what you need, and the fresh donuts at Mountie Moose in Townsend will definitely hit the spot.
Somehow, two Ennis watering holes managed to managed to sneak their way onto the list. Willie’s Distillery has developed a reputation as a fun and relaxing old-style saloon kind of place, but we all know that the real draw is their world-class spirits and hand-crafted cocktails. For a more caffeinated take on life, you can’t go wrong with the classic coffees, pastries, and breakfast bits at Maple’s, on the other end of town. And finally, did you honestly think that we would get through a blog without mentioning a brewery? There are too many to choose from, but for a cozy, rejuvenating atmosphere, you can’t go wrong with Ruby Valley Brew in Sheridan.