Chef Daniel Roberts at Q Cuisine in Billings, Mont.
Buffalo Bill Cody strode up this street; Calamity Jane staggered down it. Teddy Roosevelt fired up a crowd here, and Chief Plenty Coups fell out of a hotel window. Laid out near the railroad, Montana Avenue, in Billings, Mont., once gleamed with cigar shops, restaurants, and hotels. In the 1940s its luster faded as travelers turned to the highways.
Then, late in the 1970s, the passenger trains stopped and the neighborhood withered. A recent rebirth has made the street a destination, and now it's a place to find old quilts and watercolors, buffalo steaks and tuna sashimi. Area code is 406.
- Once-crumbling depot buildings now house Traxx, a popular bar and grill (2314 Montana Ave., 896-9200), and the Depot Gallery, a Western art emporium with a heavy emphasis on bronzes, grizzly bears, and bison (2404 Montana Ave., 256-7114).
- Falafel, curried chicken, 27 microbrews, live music on weekends, and card tables tucked into an old meat locker—this could only be the Railyard Alehouse & Casino. 2526 Montana Ave., 867-2337.
- Find treasures at the Depot Antique Mall, from a $3,000 art nouveau statuette to a $2 can of Rainier beer circa 1975. 2223 Montana Ave., 245-5955.
- The Toucan Gallery displays fine but affordable art, including landscapes on canvas and wire horses that gallop off the wall. 2505 Montana Ave., 252-0122.
- A chef from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show opened The Rex in 1910. The restaurant is known for huge cuts of meat, including, naturally, buffalo. 2401 Montana Ave., 245-7477.
- The Western Heritage Center, a free local history museum, is the denizen of the city's most eye-catching building—a stone fortress with a turret. 2822 Montana Ave., 256-6809.
- Go-the-extra-mile menu items such as French toast with banana filling and fresh strawberries make the McCormick Café a favorite for breakfast and lunch. 2419 Montana Ave., 255-9555.
- What would Calamity Jane make of the fare—veal scaloppine, grilled ahi, and goat cheese pasta—at Q Cuisine? Well, the locals seem to like it. 2515 Montana Ave., 245-2503.
Photography by Janie Osbourne
This article was first published in July 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.