A Legacy of Memorable Eateries that Lives on to This Day
Butte is a city born out of immigration. People from around the world — Ireland, England, Lebanon, Canada, Finland, Austria, Italy, China, Montenegro, and Mexico — flocked to the city in the late 19th century in the hopes of creating a better life for themselves and their families.
This immigration not only shaped Butte’s culture but also created a legacy of rich, unique food — a legacy that lives on in Butte today. Walk through Butte’s historic uptown and open your taste buds to all the city has to offer.
Here are five classic joints to get you started.
Opened in 1890, the diner used to serve miners 24/7 — its various owners ceremoniously tossing away the keys at the beginning of their tenure. From diner, to saloon, to gambling house (with a brief stint as a speakeasy during prohibition) the M&M has had many different faces but has always been a staple of the community and a gathering place for its residents for over 100 years.
Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the M&M has been refurbished with classic diner Art Deco and can be spotted down the street with its glowing neon sign. It’s known for its burger, but also makes mean French Toast and delicious Bloody Mary’s.
The quintessential neighborhood grocery that opened nearly 30 years ago is the heart of Butte, serving specialty, delectable foods that draws Butte citizens and tourists alike. Front Street operates a full-service Italian deli (with Cajun influences), known for smoked meats, a wide selection of gourmet cheeses, homemade sandwiches, wonderful pie and thousands of bottles of wine. Plus, the personality of its owners and friendly demeanor of the staff make the small little market a treat to visit
Joe’s is a low-key off-the-beaten-path diner that’s known for its classic Butte delicacy — pasties (A Cornish dish of meat, potatoes, and onions wrapped in a crust). Opened in 1947, Joe’s current owners (who bought the joint in the 1990s) still use the original pasty recipe. The family recipe is so delicious, Joe’s was featured for it on the Travel channel in 2017.
Known as the Wop Chop, Freeway’s legendary pork sandwiches were once the favorite of the daredevil, Evel Knievel and now the favorite of the entire city (which is saying something in a city full of pork sandwiches). Located off I-90, the diner opened in 1962 and still uses a top-secret, family recipe for its sandwich. Like Joe’s Pasty Shop, Freeway was showcased on the Travel Channel and is a favorite for both tourists and Butte citizens alike.
Not an eatery per say, the notorious distillery opened its doors in 2010 to celebrate Butte’s unique cultural heritage. Even their name, named after the headframes that lowered miners deep into the earth, is a nod to its home city.
Combine Headframe’s famous “Orphan Girl” bourbon, named after an old mine of the same name, with root beer and ice for a delicious, flavor explosion (that tastes like the adult version of a root beer float).
We’ve listed five classic Butte eateries, but with the city’s unique history, and its dedication to traditional, outstanding food, there are dozens of other restaurants that are worth visiting. For a small-town — Butte has a big appetite.