Montana is a popular vacation destination for many Chattanoogans, who visit the Big Sky Country to hunt wild game, snow ski, or sightsee in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. If you’re planning a trip, the state has introduced a 600-mile Burger Trail through southeastern Montana, with 27 stops promising mouth-watering burgers.
“The Visit Southeast Montana team wanted to create a trail that would move visitors off of Montana’s major highways to the region’s smaller communities, showcasing the charming small towns of Southeast Montana and showing off some of the best burgers in the Montana,” says Nicole Gonzalez. with the Montana Tourist Board.
Tennessee’s tourism pipeline has resumed, she says, since Allegiant Air began offering nonstop flights from Nashville to Bozeman, Montana.
“Tennessee is a great emerging state,” Gonzalez says.
The Burger Trail is a natural fit in a state known for its grass-fed cattle. The beef industry brings in nearly $2 million in annual revenue.
“The beef is great and local,” says Chattanooga native Melissa Davis Gehrig, who often visited Montana when her daughter was a student at Montana State University. “We threw a graduation party and grilled burgers for all the kids that showed up. You know the tenderness of beef comes from caring for cattle on local ranches.”
Former Chattanoogan John Martin, once a familiar face as a morning news anchor on WRCB-TV Local 3, has just started a job as an evening anchor at NBC affiliate KULR 8 News in Billings, Montana. He’s already made a few stops along the Burger Trail, starting at Billings’ most popular burger joint, The Burger Dive.
“I had the Best of the Bash burger,” he says. “It’s one of their award winners, and I can absolutely see why. It’s juicy to perfection with all the bold flavors that complement each other.”
Which restaurants in the Chattanooga area serve the best burgers?
The Burger Trail has more than burgers. Each town has its own personality, offering hikes through the Badlands, dinosaur digs, museums filled with regional art, or pieces of western history. Here are five to give you a sample.
‘ In Billings, head straight to The Burger Dive. This place has won numerous awards, including winning the World Food Championships for its I’m Your Huckleberry burger made with goat cheese and Hatch blueberry/chili BBQ sauce. It won “Best of the Bash” at the Food Network’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival Burger Bash and was featured on the television series “Man vs. Food.” theburgerdive.com
‘In Little Forsythe you’ll find huge flavors and portions at Joseph Cafe. Owners Alecia and Richard Smith have honored the city’s railroad history by naming their burgers using railroad jargon, such as the Broken Knuckle Burger, a massive creation with Pepper Jack cheese, bacon and a cheese-stuffed jalapeno. cream. “The Burger Trail has been quite popular,” says Alecia. “People love to road trip – you really have to road trip when you’re in southeast Montana.” facebook.com/thejosephcafe
‘ Continue to Miles City, where a visit to the Waterworks Museum and its impressive collection of works by regional artists can be topped off with a burger at Tubb’s Pub. The pub is nestled between two popular bars, making it a lively area every night – or afternoon for that matter. Your choice of burgers isn’t extensive, but it’s enough to satisfy. The stuffed burger wraps two 1/4 pound patties with a choice of cheeses and stuffings, including onions, mushrooms and banana peppers. Pat yourself on the back if you can complete this one. themontanabar.com
The Burger Trail continues to Terry, a small community that has one of the most popular burgers along the trail, as well as, by far, the best fries to go with it. Roy Rogers Bar, Grill & Casino’s burger is best described as west meets south with its Montana beef burger topped with a fried green tomato and bacon. The restaurant’s cowboy decor makes it a favorite with the local crowd. facebook.com/royrogersbargrillcasino
‘ After a full day exploring the trails of Makoshika State Park in Glendive, refresh yourself with a cocktail and satisfy your hunger with a burger at Gunners Ridge Bar & Grill. On a nice evening, sit outside on the covered patio and take in the view of the lazily flowing Yellowstone River. The featured track burger is a large Kobe beef patty on a toasted brioche bun with havarti and blue cheese crumbs, lettuce and tomato, hence the name, the red, white and blue burger . Facebook.com/GunnersRidge
For a complete list, visit southeastmontana.com.
Contact Anne Braly at [email protected] or annebraly.com.