Like many of the best towns in Montana, Winston has a sort of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it quality. From Highway 287, the entire town seems to consist of four buildings and a fishing access sign. And yet, I was completely unsurprised when, in two completely separate conversations, Winston was not only mentioned, but received what are, in my opinion, some of the highest stamps of approval that any one town could ask for.
My dad mentioned in a recent email that he had lunch at “what I think is one of the best burger joints in Montana, the Winston Bar.” Which is basically a Michelin star review, as far as I’m concerned. This is a man who can name a cafe or restaurant in nearly every one of Montana’s counties (we tested him once, and we never could stump him), so if he says that the Winston Bar is one of the best, then it’s definitely going on the top of my list.
There’s been a bar and restaurant in Winston serving travelers between Townsend and Helena since the town’s beginnings as a railroad siding in the late 1800s. Today, the Big Bull Bar and Grill occupies the building where a Winston Bar has stood since the 1950s, and the Big Bull is in the best tradition of Montana roadside burger joints. Whether you’ve been down on Canyon Ferry, up in the Elkhorn Mountains, or, like my dad, in the middle of a long drive, nothing can beat one of their classic burgers or sandwiches.
Like my dad, my editor is always happy to jump in a car and head out to the remoter corners of Montana. And she’s always on the lookout for new places to stop. So, again, it came as no surprise when she mentioned that she had discovered a new favorite in Winston, the Stonehouse Distillery. John and Snezhi specialize in small batch rum and whiskey using locally grown wheat, rye, and corn. Once again, Winston scores top marks.