April 23, 2013

Veggie Burrito from Taco del Sol

■■■■□ 4.0 / 5 “Simple burritos at their best”

When I moved to Missoula in 2002, Taco del Sol was the place to get your mission-style burritos. People went nuts over that place! With lines constantly running out the door, you’d think you were getting soup from the Soup Nazi.

Burrito and ginger ale Bite Nachos

I remember eating a burrito from Taco del Sol in Missoula for the first time, peeling away the bits of tinfoil like a total noob and thinking “why the heck are these people so excited to eat burritos?”

As I started to better understand Montanans and the local culture, I realized that people loved the option to eat at a local company that rolls entire healthy meals into affordable ($5-6) burritos. These burritos are packed full of fresh veggies, protein, and fiber.

It turns out the Bozeman location isn’t all that different. Shortly after arriving, a wave of people showed up behind us until the line reached the door. A chalkboard menu is hung above the ordering counter displaying a short list of burrito, taco, nacho, and kids meal options. I’ll tell you right now that if you’re looking for the world cuisine fusion that you might find in the burritos at La Parilla, then you’ll be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a classic mission-style burrito like I enjoyed, then you’ll be plenty satisfied. With fresh food like that, it’s hard to go wrong.

If you asked what makes Taco del Sol unique, I’d have to say that it’s probably the simplicity of the restaurant. With a handful of food offerings combined with a clean interior and extra-friendly service, they’ve got the recipe for something quite rare in the area: a quick, filling, affordable meal in downtown Bozeman.

Reviewed by Craig Dugas

Address: 17 S. Tracy Ave., Bozeman, MT 59715
Web: http://www.facebook.com/tacodelsolbozeman
Phone: 406-404-1350

April 18, 2013

Burger and Fresh Chips from Heap Burger

■■■■□ 4.0 / 5 “Best food bus in town!”

Meet Heap Burger: the food bus. The more I think about it, the more I believe the food bus is just a natural successor to the space-limited food trucks that have been so popular these past few years. Pretty soon, we’ll probably be sitting down for a 5-course dinner in one of those double-decker buses they fancy over in England. Not yet, though… not yet.

If you’ve headed towards the Bridgers on North Rouse recently, chances are you’ve seen the giant red bus that’s serving up some of the top burgers in the Gallatin Valley. The menu is tight with 6 burgers, Heap nachos, a daily special, and a kids menu for the young-ins.

The Heap Burger Food BusA Heap Burger

I know the burger photo above isn’t great, but that’s just how a foil-wrapped takeout burger looks after unwrapping. I don’t think I’d change how they package it though, because when we finally sat down to eat the burgers about 10 minutes after receiving our food, it was still pleasantly hot.

The burger I had (which was pretty darn good) was the specialty of the day, which included Mountina cheese (local to Montana), bacon, caramelized onions, and a couple apple slices. You don’t see a burger like that around these parts often. The rest of the burgers range from classics to gourmet to the crème de la crème, the Heapin’ Heap. You should probably check out their Facebook page to see the Heapin’ Heap burger for yourself, topped with 2 x patties, 2 x mushrooms, 2 x bacon, 2 x caramelized onions, french fries, lettuce, with 2 grilled cheese sandwiches as BUNS! It’s a menu item like that which makes me think Guy Fieri will be stopping by Heap Burger on his next road trip.

Reviewed by Craig Dugas

Address: when we visited, it was parked on the east side of North Rouse just past the interstate underpass.
Web: http://www.facebook.com/heapburger
Phone: 406-589-1009

March 28, 2013

Agedashi Tofu and an Avocado Roll at Watanabe Japanese Restaurant

■■■■□ 4.3 / 5 “Agedelicious

I am amazed by how many Bozemanites I’ve talked to who have never eaten at Watanabe Japanese Restaurant on Main Street. Well, maybe not amazed since I’ve only been there twice myself, but honestly, it’s really good Japanese food – you should try it!



The Agedashi Tofu (or fried tofu in sweet fish stock) at Watanabe’s was excellent. The sweet and savory dish (technically, it’s classified as an appetizer on their menu) is served piping hot with no frills attached. It’s straight-up tasty.

I paired the tofu dish with a fresh avocado roll, which the waitress brought out early as sort of an appetizer to the appetizer. A special kind of satisfaction was enjoyed when it tasted exactly as I had expected. It was simple, fresh, and served with ginger and enough wasabi to clear out the entire town’s springtime common cold symptoms.

The only thing they need to change is their CD player and speakers, which were in desperate need of an update. However the fast and friendly service gave them some bonus points to counteract those lost by the CD player. Now that I’ve told you to go there, I’m going to take my own advice and start frequenting Watanabe Japanese Restaurant more often.

Reviewed by Craig Dugas

Address: 1234 West Main Street, Bozeman, MT 59715 (across from the high school)
Web: http://www.watanabebozeman.com
Phone: 406-522-3989

March 21, 2013

Chef’s Salad at Food For Thought Specialty Deli

■■□□□ 2/5 “They do say people think more clearly on an empty stomach”

I have mixed feelings about Food For Thought Specialty Deli. On the one hand, I’ve enjoyed meals from their catering services on numerous occasions. On the other hand, the few times I’ve been to their Bozeman deli, I’ve always been a bit underwhelmed with the portion (especially for the price).

Case in point: The Chef’s salad for $10. I’d let the photo of the 6 ounce salad speak for itself (yes, that includes the plastic bowl and dressing), but I’ll explain my thoughts on this particular meal in more detail. The assortment of greens was great. Really, they were very fresh and enjoyable mixed baby greens. But the “avocados” I read about on the large print menu didn’t quite live up to my expectations. (QUICK TEST: locate the avocados in the first photo below). As for the meat and cheese on this salad, they’re sliced deli thin and torn into tiny pieces, you can imagine from the photo that they really didn’t do much for this salad.



Did you find the avocados? They ended up being about a tablespoon of avocado mash dolloped in the center of the bowl :/

The only other thing I couldn’t quite figure out was the Green Goddess dressing that comes with the chef’s salad by default. My best guess is that they combine fresh vinegar, sour cream, something green, pepper, and healthy few glugs of club soda in a blender. Really, I can’t imagine any other ingredients put together to make the flavor that I tasted in that version of Green Goddess. Not my favorite, but I’m guessing some people might dig it.

I’ll continue to enjoy their catering services, and probably stop by the deli again to try another dish, but unless I’m looking for really light eats, it probably won’t be the chef’s salad.

Review by Craig Dugas

Address: 270 West Kagy Unit B, Bozeman, MT 59715
Web: http://www.fftdeli.com
Phone: 406-587-4454

March 16, 2013

MOBB Salad at The Nova Cafe

■■■■□ 4.3/5 “Think Organic Denny’s. And then realize that’s actually a compliment.”

If you’re driving down East Main Street on a weekend morning, it’s likely that you’ll see a bunch of people waiting outside for a table at one of Downtown Bozeman’s iconic breakfast/brunch/lunch eateries, The Nova Cafe.


Locally sourced ingredients is the pitch at The Nova Cafe. The menu is a solid collection of breakfast and lunch items that should satisfy pretty much any diet, including locavores, vegetarians, vegans, omnivores, gluten-free-goers, health nuts, hearty meal lovers, and so on. After you soak up the eclectic interior, you’ll find that the posters on the walls, cards on the table, and menu in your hands let’s you know where your food was sourced. It’s even worth mentioning that the coffee was recently switched over to local coffee bean roasting company Ghost Town Coffee Roasters, because it’s a wicked good cup of coffee.

I ordered the MOBB salad this visit since I’ve been interested in locating healthier eats in and around Bozeman. Topped with a generous handful of Gorgonzola cheese, thick bacon, and 1/4 of an avocado, the salad definitely satisfied. What made this salad a bit different was chilled sauteed squash and zucchini with herbs, an odd topping that definitely added a little something to the meal.

As one reviewer on Yelp put it: “Think Organic Denny’s. And then realize that’s actually a complement [sic].” I can’t help but chuckle when I read that, since it’s definitely understandable. Of course if I had to pick between Denny’s and The Nova Cafe, you’d find me eagerly waiting outside for a table at the local alternative.

Reviewed by Craig Dugas

Address: 312 E. Main Street, Bozeman, MT 59715
Web: http://www.thenovacafe.com
Phone: 406-587-3973